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Once you get into the swing of it, making healthy food choices is easy. This guide will help you adapt your favourite recipes and make the right choices with the food you eat.

How to reduce fat

Fat in the diet is essential for good health. However, too much fat can contribute to you being overweight, developing heart disease and some cancers. On average, Australians consume around 50 percent more fat than is considered healthy.

When adapting recipes, you can use the same quantity of a low-fat ingredient to replace a high-fat ingredient – and save on calories and fat. You can also prepare and cook foods in ways that reduce fat content.

IngredientAlternative
Full cream milkSkim milk
YoghurtLow-fat yoghurt
CreamSkim evaporated milk

Low-fat ricotta cheese blended with skim milk

Coconut milk/creamLow-fat coconut milk

Low-fat evaporated milk with coconut essence

Sour creamLow-fat natural yoghurt

Buttermilk

Low-fat ricotta cheese blended with low-fat yoghurt

Cream cheeseLow-fat cream cheese

Low-fat ricotta cheese

Cheddar cheeseUse low-fat varieties in smaller servings

Use 1 Tbsp of parmesan cheese to replace half a cup of full-fat cheddar cheese as it has a stronger flavour, so you need less

ChickenRemove the skin

Control portion sizes (100g, uncooked, per person without bones, 200 g with bones)

MeatTrim all visible fat

Choose lean cuts

Control portion sizes (100 g, uncooked, per person)

BaconTrim off all the fat

Use lean ham or mid-eye bacon instead

Use 97 per cent fat-free varieties

Butter, margarineChoose low-fat spreads

Use apple puree in baking to keep cakes moist

OilCooking spray

Use apple puree in baking to keep cakes moist

MayonnaiseLow-fat natural yoghurt

Low-fat or no-fat mayonnaise

How to reduce sugar

It’s not a sin to occasionally enjoy sugary foods. The problem is that Australians consume, on average, around 40 kg of refined sugar each year, or some 22 teaspoons everyday. Only 25 percent is added sugar. The rest is hidden in processed food products such as soft drinks, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, sauces, canned fruits, icecream, jelly and breakfast cereals.

On average, sugar contributes an extra 440 calories each day – enough to make the difference between a person being normal or overweight. Reduce sugar in your cooking and save calories!

IngredientAlternative
Sugar – white or rawArtificial sweeteners in a liquid or powder form

Reduce sugar in recipes by half.

How to increase fibre

Increasing fibre in your diet is much easier if you substitute whole-grains for white or refined grains, such as white flour and white rice. As well as containing valuable fibre, whole-grains are a nutritious source of vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

IngredientAlternative
White flourWholemeal flour

Half wholemeal and half white flour.

White riceBrown rice
White pastaWholemeal or vegetable pasta
White breadWholemeal or wholegrain breads
BreadcrumbsUse wholemeal breadcrumbs or natural bran
Fruits and vegetablesLeave the skin on where possible

Alternative cooking methods

Where possible, use cooking methods that result in less fat. Here are some ideas for cutting back on fat when cooking:

Conventional methodAlternative methods
Sauté or shallow fryingUse a non-stick pan

Use a cooking spray

Grill or barbecue instead

Dry-fry on medium heat, stirring continuously

Use stock or water for sautéing instead of oil

Microwave food first, then crisp it up in the oven or under the grill

Deep fryingBake in the oven on a lightly greased tray

Partly cook in the microwave and allow to brown in the oven

White sauceReduce the amount of butter or margarine you normally use by half

Thicken with cornflour

Use skim milk

Thickening sauces with flourBoil rapidly to reduce the amount of liquid

Thicken with extra pureed vegetables or tomato paste

Add natural bran

Use 1 Tbsp of cooked lentils

Recipe Adaptation Examples

Here are two examples of recipes where the high-fat ingredients have been substituted with low-fat alternatives.

Savoury beef rolls

Serves 4

Original recipe: 545 calories per serve

Modified recipe: 250 calories per serve

Save 295 calories (1235 kj) per serve

IngredientModification
1 kg rump steakToo much meat for four people. Reduce to 500 g.
90 g cream cheeseUse low-fat ricotta
1 Tbsp oilReduce by half
2 Tbsp creamUse low-fat evaporated milk
½ tsp mixed herbs

Flour, salt & pepper

1 tsp soy sauce

½ cup beef stock

2 tsp parsley

Use as stated

Tomato and basil quiche

Serves 6

Original recipe: 485 calories per serve

Modified recipe: 245 calories per serve

Save 240 calories (1005 kj) per serve

IngredientModification
Pastry:
1 cup plain flour

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Use as stated
90 g butterReduce by half or replace with low-fat spread
1 egg yolkOmit. Add more water if necessary.
Filling:
30 g butterReduce to 5 g (1 teaspoon) or use reduced-fat spread
300 ml creamUse 150 ml skim milk blended with 150 g ricotta
¾ cup grated cheeseUse ½ cup of low-fat cheese
2 eggs

1 leek

Salt, pepper

3 small ripe tomatoes

¾ cup basil

½ cup parsley

Use as stated or replace eggs with egg substitute

 

Calorie King
CalorieKing's mission is to provide the best information, tools and education to Australians to help them conquer their weight.

CalorieKing is the brainchild of Allan Borushek, registered dietitian, co-found here at food.com.au and author of "Allan Borushek's Pocket Calorie & Fat Counter", Australia's best-selling calorie counter for over 30 years.
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