of June 27, 2004
for Converting Desserts Recipes:
you make all your own desserts, you will know
exactly what they contain and can feel comfortable
that the ingredients are within your boundaries.
Here are some little tips for the cook who would
like to lower the fat in some of their old favorites.
NOTE: These substitutions will not work the same
in all recipes. These are just some of the tips
that I have found that work well or fairly well.
It is advisable to try one substitution at a time
in a recipe, or to substitute only half of an
ingredient for another (like 2 eggs with 1 egg
and 2 egg whites). Never assume that you can easily
substitute a fat-free counterpart of an ingredient
and get the same results. Many fat-free or reduced
calorie foods are made with extra water or other
added ingredients, such as gelatin, that will
break down when heated. The water can sometimes
be compensated for, but the gelatin breakdown
is tough to get around.
are not iron clad rules, but suggestions for the
adventuresome cook who would like to convert favorite
recipes for a healthy lifestyle. Cooking is an
art form and it may take one or two tries to perfect
the recipe. Keep in mind that some recipes may
not be suitable for conversion.
Milk and Cream. Try the milk step-down.
If a recipe calls for cream, try fat-free half
& half or evaporated skim milk. If it calls
for whole milk, try 2 percent milk or if the recipe
is suitable, try buttermilk. If it calls for two
percent, try skim milk. You can always add a tablespoon
of dry Butter Buds® to skim milk to give it
a richer flavor.
a recipe contains evaporated milk or sweetened
condensed milk, you can often substitute fat-free
evaported milk or fat-free sweetened condensed
milk or the low-fat versions.
Cream Cheese. When substituting low-fat or
fat-free cream cheese, here is a good rule of
thumb that will work most of the time. If the
recipe is going to be cooked or baked, it is often
(but not always) best not to use fat-free cream
cheese. Use low-fat cream cheese. It will not
separate as easily. If the recipe is not to be
cooked, like a trifle or no-bake cheesecake, you
usually can use fat-free cream cheese without
Margarine, Butter and Oils. For breads,
cakes and brownies that use butter, oils or margarine,
substitute applesauce or other pureed fruit for
1/2 of the margarine/butter in a recipe.
While you may use many other trans fat-free margarine
spreads for use on toast and pancakes, the best
that I have found for cooking and baking is "Smart
Balance®". It is a (67%) margarine/spread
designed for cooking, baking and sautéing.
For baking, only very small adjustments may have
to be made (if any) for the water content, which
is a little higher than full fat (80%) margarine
and butter for which most common recipes were
written. Usually one teaspoon of flour per one
cup of margarine substituted for butter will compensate
for the extra water content or slightly adjust
the amount of liquid added to the recipe. Like
I said, it really is not much of an adjustment
Eggs. Use less whole eggs. If a recipe calls
for 3 eggs, try using 1 whole egg and three to
four egg whites. You usually will not be able
to tell a difference in texture or flavor.
you may use egg substitutes. They are made with
egg whites with coloring and other added ingredients.
I have a couple of favorites, mainly because of
flavor and price, but most brands work equally
well (read the labels, some have more added oils
cup equals 1 whole egg (except in cakes)
1/4 cup for 1 egg yolk, however if the recipe
calls for more than 2 egg yolks, it may not
turn out well.
cakes, use 1/3 cup for each egg called for and
you will get better volume results
egg content is high (3 - 4 eggs), reduce liquid
by 2 tablespoons to compensate for the added
liquid in egg substitutes.
Sugar. Substitute artificial sweeteners
for sugar. It is so easy to work with Splenda®
which is measure for measure the same as sugar.
It will work in most any recipes (with the exception
of recipes that use oils - the texture is sometimes
compromised). See more ideas and sugar free recipes
at the SplendaŽ
Whipped Cream. When substituting whipped
cream for a topping, you may use some of the aerosol
fat-free whipped creams, frozen whipped toppings
or a dry mix you whip with skim milk called "Dream
Whip®" made by Kraft, which can be found
in the grocery isle next to the pudding mixes.
I always use this when making a pudding based
pie. It makes a firmer filling that will hold
up better than frozen whipped topping. Check out
web site for recipes using Dream Whip.
Remember to substitute skim milk for whole milk
and sugar free pudding mix to cut calories and
Chocolate. Substitute 3 tablespoons cocoa
powder for each 1 ounce of baking chocolate. If
a recipe calls for chocolate chips (like in cookies),
use mini chips and use 1/2 half the amount so
the chips are distributed evenly throughout the
Sour Cream and Yogurt. Fat free sour cream
will often work fine in chilled recipes but like
fat-free cream cheese, fat free sour cream is
often not suitable for cooked dishes. Try low
fat sour cream or fat free or low fat yogurt.
When using non-fat yogurt for a cream sauce or
in cooking, mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1
tablespoon yogurt and stir into the rest of the
yogurt. Stir over medium heat until thickened.
This will prevent separation.
baking, I prefer using buttermilk over yogurt
because I find the recipe turns out less dense
and has a finer grain. (Unless of course, you
are wanting to achieve a dense grain). I also
prefer its tangy flavor. If you take both and
whip them, the buttermilk aerates better because
To stabilize yogurt in a chilled product, add
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin dissolved in two
tablespoons of hot water.
Salt and Sodium. If salt is omitted or reduced,
other spices or flavorings in the recipe should
be increased slightly to compensate. Citrus zest
can also be added to enhance flavors.
In yeast dough, salt slows yeast fermentation.
Omitting or reducing the amount of salt in yeast
dough can cause the dough to rise too quickly,
adversely affecting the shape and flavor of bread.
Reduced salt bread will usually have a courser
things like baking powder and baking soda which
are very high in sodium have no substitutes.
Nuts and Peanut Butter. When using nuts,
try cutting the amount used in half. If you toast
the nuts, you will get the same amount of flavor,
just less crunch. In baked goods, you may also
substitute 1/2 or all of the nuts with a crispy
rice cereal to get that added crunch.
only substitution for peanut butter is using a
sugar-free reduced fat peanut butter.
Shortening. Anything is better than shortening.
Hydrogenated shortening should be avoided at all
costs.The rule of thumb is to substitute one solid
fat for another (ie: butter for shortening), and
oil with another oil (vegetable oil for canola
oil). That's because when a fat is solid, it acts
differently in a baking recipe than a fat that's
liquid. Substitute a non-saturated margarine like
also makes a fat substitute called Baking Healthy®
Oil & Shortening Replacement for Baking. Sadly,
not many places carry it. Other fat replacements
made of fruit purees for baking are also available.
They can usually be substituted for 1/2 and sometimes
up to 3/4 of the total amount of shortening.
these methods do not work, pass on the recipe.
Shortening is one of your worst enemies when trying
to stay heart healthy. The recipe just is not
Greasing and Flouring Pans. Stop using
shortening to grease and flour your pans. Try
a neat little product called Baker's Joy made
by Nordic Ware® - it has the flour and the
oil all in one. You can usually find it by the
cooking sprays at most larger grocery stores.
It is definitely less messy to use than trying
to use cooking oil spray and then flouring the
method is to spray pans with cooking oil spray
and then line the bottom of the pans with waxed
paper. Either way is preferable to the use of
of June 20, 2004
wonderful sweet bell peppers are in abundance,
you may want to freeze some for use later.
It does not matter if they are green, red, orange,
yellow or purple - they are all delicious and
packed with vitamins. Just one half cup provides
the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin
C, lots of vitamin A and E but contains only 12
calories with no sodium or fat. Peppers also naturally
contain cancer fighting antioxidants.
To freeze bell peppers: Wash and core peppers.
Chop, dice or slice according to how you will
cook with them. (You may blanche peppers like
you would other frozen vegetables, but it is not
Line a cookie tray with wax paper. (This keeps
them from sticking to the tray) Spread peppers
in a single layer on tray. Place tray in the freezer
for an hour or longer to freeze.
Remove pepper pieces from the tray and pour into
zip-lock freezer bags. Discard wax paper. Immediately
place sealed bags in the freezer. Remove as much
air as possible from the bag. The pepper pieces
will remain separated for ease of measuring and
will not stick together. Simply remove as many
as you need, reseal the bag and return to the
NOTE: Frozen peppers retain some of the crispness
when you thaw them first before using. If you
are going to use chopped ones and cook them for
a long period of time (like in a marinara sauce),
you can use them straight from the freezer.
You can even use them raw in dishes like pasta
salad when using this method of freezing, then
thawing them. They will retain much but not all
of the crisp texture.
You can also cut the tops off, seed them, freeze
them whole, then thaw and stuff and bake them
in the usual manner.
method will also work well with many other peppers
like pepperoncini and banana peppers. Because
the papery like skin, poblano peppers work best
if roasted and peeled, then frozen.
of June 12, 2004
am sure with Father's Day coming up, you will
be heating up the grill to favor Dad with good
lean grilled entrees.
you know, grilling a chicken breast with a little
salt and pepper tastes fine, however, you can
greatly alter the flavor by marinating that same
chicken breast in a spicy aromatic mixture. The
resulting flavor can be magnificent. The flavors
that you can add to your marinade are limited
only by your imagination and the spices you have
on hand. Just use ingredients that taste good
together. It can be fresh or dried herbs and spices
or fresh and dried chili peppers, onions, shallots,
garlic, ginger and citrus zest. Condiments of
mustard, ketchup, plum sauce and marmalades can
also be added. Do not EVER use salt in your marinade.
Salt will bleed out the moisture, so do not add
salt to the meat or poultry until just before
cooking. Otherwise you will end up with dry and
you add sugar or sweet ingredients to the marinade,
the sugars on the surface of the meat will caramelize
when exposed to high heat, giving the meat a nice
browned color and rich flavor as well as a tinge
of sweetness. Use sugar, marmalades, jellies,
corn syrup, honey, fruit juice and sodas (colas,
etc.) for this purpose.
small amount of oil in a marinade will add moisture
to foods. Use pure olive oil, sesame, walnut or
chili oils. These work best.
two most popular types of marinades are acidic
(made with citrus, vinegar, or wine) and enzymatic
(made with ingredients such as pineapple and papaya).
Although both types work primarily on the surface
of the food, they lead to different results: highly
acidic marinades can actually toughen food, while
enzymatic marinades can turn the surface of the
food to mush (meat tenderizers you buy are enzymatic).
For true tenderizing, the most effective marinades
are those that contain dairy products.
products are the only ingredients that can actually
tenderize meat all the way through while retaining
the original texture. Buttermilk and yogurt work
especially well for this. Yogurt is slightly acidic
and helps break down protein tissues in beef,
fish, chicken and other meats, and allows absorption
of flavors from herbs and spices.
marinades work faster than oil counterparts. When
deciding how long to marinate, consider the texture
of the meat or fish. In general, open-textured
flesh like fish fillets needs only a few minutes
of soaking (Fish will take as little as 20
minutes). Food with a tighter texture, such
as chicken, pork loin or lamb, can tolerate several
hours in a marinade, even one that's mildly acidic.
Marinate chicken for no more than 4 hours.
Marinate beef for 6 hours, turning once or twice.
DO NOT EXCEED recommended time as the meat will
toughen as the acid actually "cooks"
of June 6, 2004
with the Microwave
in the kitchen may be fun when the weather is
cooler, but when the mercury zooms above 90 degrees
F., the last place anyone wants to be is in a
steamy, hot kitchen.
The microwave is perfect for steaming vegetables;
you can cook them in the same dish you use to
serve them and it does not heat up the kitchen!
It is easy and fast. Just add a small amount of
water to the bottom of the dish, cover it with
a microwave safe lid or a piece of plastic wrap
making sure to leave a little room for the steam
all pieces to a uniform size to ensure even cooking.
Then (depending on the thickness of the vegetables,
microwave on high for 4 to 8 minutes. This is
a great method for steaming veggies because not
only is it hassle-free, but since very little
water is used, nutrients that are lost are minimal.
Microwaves vary greatly, so just to be sure, consult
your manufacturers manual for your particular