Healthy Cooking

Learn new and creative ways to bring great flavor and variety to favorite foods; discover cooking techniques that cut out high fat, yet don?t compromise taste. And in no time, you will be on your way to a healthful way of cooking–and enjoying it!


The First Steps

The decision to lighten up your cooking style can be a big one. Whether it?s a result of a specific health issue, a desire to change your weight, or simply a matter of taste, there are a few road rules to follow to make the transition easier. Though the motivations for change may be different, the guidelines are similar.

The first step is identifying your goal, eg lose weight, lower fat, lower salt. This accomplished; you are ready to examine the dietary modifications you must make. Once you understand a few of the basic rules in making dietary modifications, you?ll be on your way to a great new way of cooking that can be just as creative, delicious, and most importantly, good for you!

The Road Rules

Enhancements
This includes the addition of an ingredient for any of the following reasons:


  • To compensate for the loss or reduction of another ingredient
  • To achieve optimal nutritional balance (by adding fiber, or protein, etc.)
  • Or, most importantly, to add flavor and/or texture!
Substitutions
We have all seen the wide variety of fat-free and low fat products that are now readily available. This option definitely makes our decisions easier. When we substitute a specific ingredient however, we need to understand what the function of that ingredient is in the dish we are making, in order to make the most appropriate substitution choice.

Techniques/Tools
Changing our cooking techniques and/or tools can also contribute to a lighter cooking style.

Enhancements Defined

Each of the Road Rules warrants in depth exploration and explanation. We will examine each of these points individually. For today, let?s explore Enhancements a little bit further.

I choose this topic to explore first because I think it is perhaps the most important, and least understood. One of the most important uses of enhancements in low fat cooking is to add flavor and texture, both of which are lost, when we reduce or eliminate fat. Let?s face it; it?s not easy to stick to a new way of eating if it doesn?t taste good.

Perhaps the best example of enhancement is the addition of herbs and spices, which really gives us unlimited creativity. The addition of enhancements may take place during different stages of the cooking process.

Enhancement Suggestions

In the initial stages of cooking, enhancements may be made with a marinade or a dry rub. A marinade is a liquid typically containing an oil, an acid, (such as lemon juice, wine or vinegar) and a variety of herbs or spices. The acidic component helps to tenderize the meat. Avoid using salt in marinades because it draws the moisture out of the meat. The purpose of a marinade then, is not only to tenderize, but also, to add flavor, or enhance it!

A dry rub is a mixture of herbs, spices, and sometimes a paste of onions and garlic. Because they don?t contain liquids, dry rubs do not tenderize, but they are fat free and great flavor boosters! Enhancements in the form of spices or herbs may also be incorporated during the cooking process. Fresh herbs may also be sprinkled over a dish as garnish or at the last moment to retain their fresh flavors.

As you can see, the possibilities for using enhancements are numerous. But when we consider seasonings borrowed from regional and/or ethnic cuisine, the options are endless! Here is a sampling of an ethnic menu that is light in the fat department, yet bursting with flavor!

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