This week we will take a look at some of the different methods you can use in the kitchen and which are the best cooking techniques for a low fat diet.
One of the simplest and least disruptive ways to lower the amount of fat you consume is to change the way in which you cook. Trying new recipes, even if they have familiar ingredients, is great fun. It will also lead you to eat even more delicious meals that are healthier than ever.
If you are looking to cut down on fats, avoid frying!
This is without any doubt the technique that most drastically raises the level of fats in your diet.
Do not confuse this with the need to immediately abandon fries and sausages permanently. It is sensible, though, to make sure that you have them as an occasional treat rather than your staple diet. Everything in moderation.
For true fried food fans, it’s worth bearing in mind that ingredients absorb far more fat when shallow-fried than they do during the process of deep frying. This does not give you carte blanche to deep fry on a daily basis, though!
If you are partial to a shallow-fried dish from time to time, invest in a high quality, heavy-based, non-stick frying pan. This is often known as a skillet. Using this tweak you will require far less oil.
Choose a vegetable oil for frying – these are high in polyunsaturates – rather than a solid fat. Don’t just tip in the amount you need but measure it instead. A handy alternative is a spray oil. This way you can precisely control the amount you use.
The Chinese technique of stir-frying is another excellent way to reduce the fat absorbed. By cooking the ingredients very rapidly using just a small amount of oil you can enjoy the taste without the damage. Food will retain more color, flavor, texture and nutritional content.
This approach is a great way to sidestep frying.
Grilling is also sometimes termed broiling. It’s a wonderful alternative to frying. Grilling produces a similar crisp and golden coating while remaining moist and tender inside.
Any ingredients which can dry out easily or have a delicate texture – white fish and chicken breasts, for example – will need to be brushed with oil. Any red meat or oily fish can usually be grilled without using additional fat (providing the heat is not too extreme).
Consider marinating fish and meat in wine, cider, sherry or soy sauce. Add some herbs and spices. This will not only tenderize the meat but will also provide additional flavor. Brush on the marinade during grilling.
Remember: Always place your food on a rack while broiling so that any excess fat drains away nicely.
Poaching is an ideal technique for any ingredients with a subtle flavor or delicate texture. Chicken and fish are prime for poaching. It’s also completely fat-free.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that poached food needs to be bland or uninteresting. You can take advantage of all types of liquids including stocks, wine or acidulated water. Use the cooking liquid as the basis for a sauce to kick out some extra flavor as well as preserving any dissolved nutrients.
Like poaching, steaming is another fat-free technique which is becoming increasingly popular.
Steaming is superb for cooking meat, fish or vegetables. Ingredients retain their color, flavor and texture. Fewer nutrients are leached out and it is very economical because you can stack steamers one on top of the other.
Adding herbs and other flavorings to the cooking liquid or directly to the ingredients being cooked results in a fantastically aromatic dish.
An added advantage to steaming is that when meat is steamed, the fat melts and drips into the cooking liquid. Make sure that you do not use the liquid for making gravy or sauces as this will undo your good work!
Braising and Stewing
Slow cooking techniques produce succulent dishes that are especially welcome in winter.
Trim all visible fat from the meat and make sure you always remove the skin from chicken. If red meat is to be browned first of all, think about dry-frying it in a heavy-based pan, draining off any fat then continuing with the recipe.
A classic way of preparing braised food is to strain off the cooking liquid, reducing it then skimming off the fat before serving. This not only concentrates the flavor perfectly but reduces the fat content into the bargain. Win-win!
With roasting, fat is an absolutely integral part of the procedure. Without fat, meat or fish would simply dry out and become much too brown.
If you are planning on a roasted dish, stand your meat on a rack over a tray or a roasting tin so that the fat drains off. When making gravy, opt for stock or vegetable cooking water rather than the meat juices.
The vast bulk of baked dishes are virtually fat-free.
Foil-wrapped parcels of meat or fish are always a game-winner.
Simply add a little fruit juice or wine in place of oil or butter. This will give you a moist texture along with a delightful flavor. Enjoy with no feelings of guilt!
Put simply, food prepared in a microwave almost never requires any additional fat.
Some people assume that a microwave is only good for reheating leftovers or firing up a quick frozen meal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Check here for some awesome recipes if you need some inspiration.
Not everything can be cooked to perfection in a microwave and many people prefer some dishes cooked using more conventional methods. You can, though, enjoy a very wide range of different foods and get them from fridge to table in no time.
If you are looking to adopt the best cooking techniques for a low-fat diet, this article should clarify what to avoid and what to take advantage of.
Frying is clearly something best given a swerve while the trusty microwave allows you to cut down on fat without compromising on taste.
If you are still looking for more ideas then check here for some ways to microwave popular foods.