Cooking light and cooking right!

Barbara Wilson

Many low fat foods are crammed full with sugar and salt to make them as delicious as the full fat version. But low fat foods can still be as tasty – even without excess sugar, salt, e-numbers, preservatives, colours, artificial flavourings- the list goes on!

So how can we cook light but still cook right? Just follow these tips and try the recipes below:

Remove the fat! Trim all visible fat from meat and drain excess fat from cooked meat. Skim fat from foods such as stock, soup and stews.

Replace the fat! Use egg whites in place of whole eggs and replace fat or oil in many recipes with mashed banana or stewed apple – see our cookie recipe below which uses only a little oil but includes banana for moisture and sweetness.

Dodge the fat! Don’t add extra fat when cooking and use healthy cooking methods – grill, steam or bake instead of roasting or frying, use non-stick pans which don’t need to be greased or add a little stock instead of oil when cooking. When adding fat, use the minimum amount possible.

Read the labels! Be sure to read ingredients and nutrition information labels on the backs of packs – not just the information the manufacturers want you to see in bold lettering on the front!

Use naturally low fat foods! Fruit, vegetables, pulses, complex carbs and lean protein sources are all naturally low in fat. Our chicken recipe below uses foods which are all naturally low in fat, along with chilli and lime flavourings so you don’t need to add salt or artificial flavourings.

Biscuits and buns are among the foods most often advertised as being anything from 85-99% fat-free. Well, these coconut cookies have fewer calories and less fat than most Reduced Fat varieties of biscuits and rely only on fruit and nuts, not e-numbers and additives, for their taste and texture.

Fruity Coconut Cookies

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Add a little hot water to 40g creamed block coconut and stir until softened. Allow to cool. Sieve 150g self-raising flour into a mixing bowl and rub in 40g cold polyunsaturated margarine. Stir in the coconut, along with 40g soft brown sugar and a lightly beaten egg white to make a stiff dough, adding a little milk if necessary.

Flour the worktop and roll out the dough to about ½ cm thickness and cut with a pastry cutter. Place on a baking tray and brush lightly with a little milk. Place in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire tray.

Makes 36 biscuits.
Nutritional information: 39 calories, 1.8g of fat and 5.4g carbs (½ Unit) per biscuit.

Curry and cooking sauces are also often labeled as Healthy Eating or Reduced Fat. This recipe uses naturally low fat foods and healthy cooking methods to keep the fat and cals low but the flavour high!

Chilli, Lime and Yoghurt Chicken

Trim all visible fat from 2 chicken fillets and make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts across the fillet, without cutting through completely. Squeeze the juice of a lime over the chicken and add 1 or 2 chopped chillies, depending on taste. Now pour over a carton of natural yoghurt, mix to ensure the chicken is coated, cover and leave to marinate for around half an hour.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and cook the chicken until the juices run clear. Add the rest of the marinade into the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Pour this over the chicken and serve with rice or naan bread and green salad.

Makes 2 servings.
Nutritional information: 190 calories, 4.7g of fat and 5.1g carbs (2 Units) per serving.

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