These are my go-to tricks for cutting back on unhealthy fat and salt in the kitchen. I’m truly convinced that with a few tweaks and additions, you can still eat the foods you love while keeping great flavor.
A spice that can serves as salt-replacement. It can be added on almost any dish. It has an onion-like flavor, but better. You can think of it like Parmesan, or soy sauce: it gives dishes a savory element, but without any sodium.
Experiment not just with savory dishes but also sweet dishes. I love to add cinnamon and cayenne pepper to cookies, so if I’m cutting down on fat these are great replacements for flavor.
Whether it’s a lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit, when it’s organic I automatically zest the fruit too and sprinkle it onto anything just like you might add salt to a recipe. Try sprinkling some zest onto a pasta dish instead of Parmesan cheese. Zest can really add some interest to a turkey burger or any recipe that calls for lean meat.
Use them like they are vegetables and not just garnishes. In a lot of recipes you can actually double the amount of herbs a recipe calls for. But knowing which herbs can be doubled and which can’t is crucial. You can end up killing the dish if you go too heavy on the stronger herbs. As a rule of thumb, ‘heavy’ herbs can be classified as the harder woody stemmed ones such as rosemary or thyme. If you’re working with soft-stemmed herbs, such as cilantro, parsley and basil, go ahead and double them up.
Not just for baked goods anymore, flavor extracts can be mixed into all sorts of dishes to pump up the flavor without upping the fat factor. Try increasing the amount of vanilla extract called for in a recipe by half a teaspoon and you’ll notice a slightly elevated flavor and less need for added fat and sugar. Almond and coconut extracts can be used in many savory recipes.
Add creaminess with beans
To make a creamy soup or sauce without adding high-fat cream, you can use puréed white beans. For fuller flavor, use darker kidney beans. A good rule of thumb is to pair beans color- and flavor-wise to whatever vegetable you’re working with. Use this trick for salad dressings too. Satisfy a craving for creamy dressing by puréeing beans until smooth. Or try the same technique with an overripe fruit you were going to toss – blend with a touch of olive oil and vinegar for a refreshing, fruity dressing.
Fat-free Greek yogurt
Use Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise in sandwich fillings, toppings or dips. Swap in Greek yogurt for cream to give body to sauces or enliven salad dressings. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or stir through some roasted garlic to bump up the flavor.
Replacing butter in baked goods
Unsweetened applesauce is the butter alternative that works best in cake-like recipes. For cookie-recipes, a mashed banana works best. And healthy fat alternatives offer plenty of choices: coconut oil, peanut butter, olive oil, etc.
Any other good tips for bumping up flavors while controlling calories?