If you cook for yourself or others and are trying to reduce your family's intake of high fat, high sugar or preservative-laden foods, you know how hard it can be to ‘pull one over’ on them (them being the husband or kids that grew up on full fat, full sugar everything). But, prepared correctly, some ‘diet’ foods can so easily be mistaken for the real thing. Here are just a few tricks to make them absolutely as delicious as the original.
Konjac or shirataki noodles come in many different pasta-like varieties but the versions that are most similar to wheat pasta are angel hair, fettuccini and linguine noodles. Add a robust sauce (I think a red arrabbiata sauce is amazing) and a well-seasoned protein and very few guests (or family) will know it’s not Barilla!!
Low-fat (but not fat-free) cheese
I make mac and cheese every Thanksgiving with a multitude of cheeses. Since it is such a high-calorie dish but also the most satisfying when made well, it’d be a shame to remove too much of the cheesiness. Use a 2% cheddar as your main cheese and a skim mozzarella if you use mozzarella while keeping your other more flavorful, pungent cheeses (gouda, goat etc.) full fat. Since there is usually more cheddar than other cheeses, using the 2% here helps substantially reduce overall calories. I’ve been reducing the overall fat in my mac and cheese for almost a decade and not even my very food-fussy husband has ever noticed (although I guess he knows now!).
Oh, and I don’t recommend using shirataki elbows for mac and cheese (they don’t generally bake well and to be honest I find them a little bit slimy).
Canadian Bacon instead of ham
In recipes that require ham, try using Canadian bacon instead. Lower in calories and added sugar (ham usually has sugar or honey) and higher in protein, it can replace ham in the fanciest of dishes. Try using it instead of ham in chicken cordon bleu or in your Sunday brunch ham and cheese omelet. One place it doesn’t quite taste the same though is in a sandwich where the ham is more thinly sliced.
So that's three simple ways to switch out a couple of things in your cooking to create a lower calorie, potentially healthier meal for you and your crew. Undercover cooking at its best - enjoy!
Common sense nutrition.