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Cooking with Oil in a Lowfat Kitchen

The single most important oil in a lowfat kitchen is no-stick vegetable oil spray. A lowfat cooking technique is to use a cooking spray — instead of coating a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil — to keep foods from sticking. But sometimes you just need (or want) to use pourable oil. Here are some healthy choices if you want to use oil:

  • No-stick vegetable oil spray: No-stick spray is great because you use far less oil than you can when pouring out of a bottle. Use spray oil for sautéing, stir-frying, roasting vegetables, making your own pita chips, and greasing baking sheets and cake pans.

  • Canola and safflower oil: Use for salads, sautéing, and whenever you use oil.

  • Olive oil: The important feature to look for in olive oil is its grade, usually printed on the front of the bottle: extra-virgin, superfine, fine, or pure (virgin).

    Olive oils are graded according to the degree of acidity they contain, with the finest oils containing the least acidity. Extra-virgin olive oil is the result of the first pressing (the crushing process that releases the oil from the olives), and consequently has the richest aroma, the strongest flavor, and the least acidity.

  • Flavored oils (chili, garlic, basil, and lemon oils): A little bit of one of these oils goes a long way.

    Instead of sautéing or cooking with flavored oils, you can use a drop or so to enhance a dish — and add much less fat.

  • Nut oils (such as walnut and hazelnut): Light, sweet, and delicate, these oils are great on salads, sprinkled over freshly cooked vegetables, and in cookies and cakes.

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