Low Fat Kitchen Makeover
by Amy Hunt
As they always say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This not only works for little kids, but also for those who consider themselves grown up. If fats are not in our kitchens, we will be reaching for more nutritious snacks instead. A low fat kitchen does not mean that you will be grazing on broccoli and soybeans for the rest of your life. It just means that the high fat items will be replaced with not only low fat but “good for you fat” items. So give up those Twinkies and stock up on granola bars (low fat granola bars) instead.
In the article The Low Fat Kitchen by Fiona Hayes, a low fat kitchen is described. Hayes lists ways that we can commit ourselves to a low fat diet by changing the items that we keep stocked in our pantry and refrigerator. And yes, this means that those boxes of fat-laden mac and cheese will have to go.
Hayes offers the following advice for your pantry and then refrigerator:
- Oils Olive oil, canola oil, nonstick cooking spray, safflower oil, flavored oils
- Canned Fish Water-packed tuna, salmon and sardines
- Canned Vegetables and Fruit Peas, carrots, corn, beets, mushrooms, asparagus; peaches, pineapple, pears - in light syrup
- Canned Tomatoes Whole, diced or crushed tomatoes, tomato purees, tomato sauces (with no added salt)
- Pulses and Grains Canned or dried black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), kidney beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas; rice, lentils, barley, couscous, quinoa, bulgur, kamut
- Pasta Whole wheat spaghetti, penne, lasagna sheets and other noodles
- Jars Anchovies, capers, pimientos, peppers, artichokes, pickles, sundried tomatoes, minced garlic
- Soups and Stocks Low fat, low sodium canned soups and soup mixes; low sodium, fat free broths, bouillon cubes and stock concentrates
- Flavorings Herbs, spices and seasonings; whole garlic, garlic paste, tomato paste, chili paste, bottled ginger, low-sodium Worcestershire sauce, soy sauces and bottled marinades
- Dressings Vinegars, mustards, low fat or fat free salad dressings and mayonnaise
- Breads and Cereals Whole wheat breads, rolls and bagels; whole wheat flour; cereals such as oatmeal, bran flakes or low fat granola
- Dried Fruits Cranberries, cherries, blueberries and raisins
- Nuts and Seeds Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, pecans; pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and poppy seeds
- Sugars Honey, molasses, maple syrup
- Snacks Pretzels, low fat microwave popcorn, wholegrain crackers; sugar-free/fat free pudding and jello, applesauce
This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives us an idea of what kinds of things to stock so that we have flavorful, nutritious ingredients on hand. Including nuts, seeds, oils and fatty fish in our diets is fine in moderation, as most of the fat from these sources is heart healthy. Be sure, also, to buy plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to the canned variety.
- Mayonnaise and oil-based dressings
- Shortening, though there is at least a trans fat-free version available
- Oil-packed tuna and fish
- Canned meats
- Cream soups and chowders
- Boxed mac and cheese
- Flavored pasta and rice mixes
- Refried beans
- Gravy mixes, cheese sauces, pancake and biscuit mixes
- Sugary cereals
- Anything with "partially hydrogenated" on the label (cookies, cakes, donuts, muffins)
- Potato chips, corn chips
- White bread
- Coffee creamer
Okay--- so this list isn’t too bad. I was sad that I would be loosing my Rice A Roni. But I will not despair because there are many low fat products available these days, an alternative to Rive A Roni will be easy to find. So we made it through the pantry now for the refrigerator.
Many of us have already made the switch from whole milk to some kind of lower fat milk. But truthfully, drinking 2% milk isn’t all that much better for us. It still contains 5g of total fat and 3g of saturated fat per one-cup serving. We should really aim for nonfat milk at best, and 1% milk at least. But it doesn’t end there. Choose low fat or nonfat ice creams or yogurts over full fat versions, and do the same for sour cream.
Choose low fat or fat free cottage cheese, cream cheese and hard cheeses. True, some hard cheeses don’t melt as well in cooking. Part-skim ricotta cheese or mozzarella are adequate lower fat substitutes, though there are also fat free versions. Try stronger cheeses such as Gruyere, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Parmesan to add maximum flavor per ounce used.
Butter and Margarine
The problem with butter is its high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol; and the trouble with margarine (especially stick margarine) is its high levels of trans fats, which arise from the hydrogenation process that converts liquid vegetable oils into solid fat. Tub margarine and liquid spread contain fewer or no trans fats, and some spreads contain special ingredients that actively lower bad cholesterol. These would be better choices.
Yes, they do contain high levels of dietary cholesterol, yet in other ways they pack a heavy nutritional punch, as a great source of vitamins and minerals. But you might want to consider using egg whites or egg substitutes instead, especially if you have to watch your intake of dietary cholesterol. And even if you don’t, you should use whole eggs sparingly.
Fresh meat and deli meats should be as lean as possible. Watch out for sodium content in the latter. Substitute turkey or chicken hot dogs for beef ones, and try veggie burgers instead of beef patties.
We can use only what we have at hand in our kitchens, so make sure your pantry and refrigerator are stocked with plenty of low fat, nutritious ingredients that can help you create healthy meals and snacks for you and your family.
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *