Remember that old saying about being able to fool only some of the people some of the time? That applies to cooking as well. We’re always looking for ways to cut the fat in some of our favorite dishes. But that’s not easy to do in many cases because of the flavor that fat gives to the dish. Also, many methods of lowering fat involves lots of artificial ingredients, flavorings and chemicals. In my opinion, that’s not always a worthy trade-off.
But in many cases we can replace a substantial part of the fat in our recipes with a little creativity. But I must warn you that you will have to make these judgements for yourself. There are things I’m not willing to give up that you might, and visa versa.
Milk. The difference in fat between whole milk and skim is about 8 grams per cup. That’s not a tremendous amount, but it depends on how much you use. This is one of those cases where you will have to determine if this is fat you need to cut back or maybe even eliminate from your diet. You need to keep your daily fat intake to 30 grams or less, so that 8 grams can be a big help if you drink a lot of milk. Personally, I don’t like skim milk, it tastes too watery. But adding back in some fat, like only one or two percent, makes it taste for like real milk. Whole milk has about 3.5% fat.
There are many Alternative Milks out there, usually made from grain or seeds. These are made similar to how one would make a coffee or extract. The grain to be “milked” is ground up. Hot water is passed through the grounds and a filter. For me, it depends on the application. Almond milk in a bowl of breakfast cereal is really good; it brings a new flavor to boring flakes. But I would never use it in my mashed potatoes. I tried that and it didn’t work the same.
Cheese. There’s a lot of fat in cheese. One cup of grated cheese has 80 grams of fat. So use it sparingly. There are fat-free cheeses out there and they can be okay in some uses, but not all. You’ll have to decide for yourself. Again, there are now dairy products not made from milk.
Cream cheese. I’m not a big fan of fat-free cream cheese. It just doesn’t seem to have the flavor I want from cream cheese. A good substitute is goat cheese, which is very low in fat and has a tangy flavor that works really well on a bagel. Sheep’s milk is also a good alternative.
Meat and Eggs
Ground Turkey for Ground Beef. This is a tough one. In most cases, ground turkey is very lean and you will have to add fat just to cook it. But if you use olive oil, you can at least add better quality fat than what’s in meat. I would recommend staying away from frozen ground turkey. I just don’t like the way it acts when it thaws out. I find it gets all watery and nasty. But the fat savings are substantial, 115 grams of fat per pound between them.
Egg Substitute. Eggs are not the worst thing in the world, even if you have cholesterol problems. I’m not convinced medical science has a firm handle on this issue. Real eggs have about 6 grams of fat each more than egg substitutes. That’s not a huge savings. Egg substitutes don’t work well on their own. I find the grainy texture and lack of flavor of scrambled egg substitute not worth the fat savings. However, it does work well in baking or a breakfast casserole. Real eggs also have beneficial compounds the fake stuff doesn’t have. Also, the substitutes are filled with artificial ingredients and chemicals. I just don’t think that’s such a good trade off. And don’t get me started on egg whites. Definitely, there are uses for egg white, like when you’re making a souffle. But they should not be used for eggs by themselves. The taste makes me gag. I’d rather do without.
Oil by definition has fat in it. But some fats are better than others. Olive oil, for example, we know has lots of good fat which far outweighs the bad. But here’s a tip. In most baking, you can replace the oil in the recipe with unsweetened applesauce. It does a good job of replacing the volume and retaining moistness like oil does. But it doesn’t work in yeast breads.
Little things can cut the fat without sacrifice taste or giving over to lots of chemicals. Just be a little creative and choosy. We all need some fat for our bodies to work properly. But we don’t need so much.