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How to Cut Fat, Calories, and Carbs when Cooking

Part of the Cooking Basics For Dummies Cheat Sheet

To reduce fat, calories, and carbs, try these alternatives when cooking your favorite dishes. You can create healthier meals without sacrificing flavor just by trying these simple substitutions. Bon appétit!

  • Substitute lowfat or nonfat dairy products for full-fat dairy products. For example, use 2 percent or skim milk rather than whole milk or cream, lowfat or nonfat cottage cheese and yogurt rather than the full-fat versions made with whole milk, or lowfat or nonfat cheese for regular cheese. These products often give soups and sauces a thinner, less creamy consistency and may influence the texture in other dishes, but the health benefits may be worth it.

  • Substitute lowfat or nonfat mayonnaise for regular mayonnaise and lowfat or nonfat salad dressing for regular salad dressing. Find brands you like so you don’t feel deprived.

  • Looking for lower-fat meat options? Try ground turkey rather than ground beef, or choose ground beef that is at least 95 percent lean. (Just be aware that hamburgers made from very lean beef will be dryer and less juicy than those made with a higher fat ground beef.) Choose white meat over dark meat poultry, and find cuts of beef with the words loin or round in them.

  • Choose olive oil and canola oil over butter when sautéing. These ingredients contain monounsaturated fats, a healthier option than saturated fats for heart health.

  • To cut carbs, use lettuce leaves rather than bread for sandwiches or wraps. Just roll up lean meat and lowfat cheese with a dash of mustard inside a Romaine lettuce leaf.

  • Decorate your salads with hard-cooked egg whites and walnuts rather than croutons and full-fat cheese.

  • Avoid processed foods, especially those made with white flour, sugar, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, which are found mostly in prepared meals that come from a box or package.

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