With just a few tricks, it is easy to lighten up most recipes. Here are some of my best tricks I use to lighten up the calories and fat.
1. In cakes, substitute half of the butter for non-fat Greek yogurt.
It is not an exact 1 for 1 swap. You actually need half the amount of Greek yogurt. For example, if a cake requires 1 cup of butter, I will use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt. That is what I did in my Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake.
2. For denser baked goods like breads and donuts, you can use all yogurt instead of butter.
I did that in my Carrot Cake Bread. When you put less fat in baked goods, they are going to be denser. So you have to choose wisely. You still really need fat to make a decent cake (except for Angel Food that is)
3. When making a vinaigrette, throw out the ratio of 3:1 oil to vinegar.
Vinaigrette’s are loaded in fat and calories from the oil. One tablespoon of oil (pretty much any type, has 120 calories and 14 grams of fat). We do need fat in our diet so I usually do not make fat-free recipes but a trick that works well is 1 to 1/2 to 1/2. What that means is I usually use 2 tbsp of some type of vinegar, 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp water. If I need to increase the recipe, I keep that ratio. If I want 1/4 cup of vinegar, I know I want 1/4 cup of oil/water mixture so it would be 2 tbsp of each. My Kale, Apple & Pistachio Salad is a good example.
4. Yogurt can take the place of oil in marinades.
This is one of my favorite tricks. I got the idea from making Chicken Tandoori. The chicken in marinated in a yogurt sauce so why couldn’t that work for other recipes. My favorite was yogurt in place of butter in my Thanksgiving Thyme, Rosemary Turkey Breast. We use to mix all the herbs into butter and massage into the turkey. Now we use Greek yogurt. The turkey was incredibly moist and flavorful.
5. Replace meat with tofu or mushrooms.
Last year, my husband’s cardiologist suggested he go Vegan. Since it was cold outside, I was craving some of my favorite stews and casseroles. I decided to use make them without meat. I used mushrooms to replace beef in my Provencal Bean & Mushroom Stew and Jalapeno Bacon Burgers with Pimento Cheese. The trick is to brown the mushrooms really well. This helps bring out their meatiness in texture and taste.
Tofu worked really well in place of chicken in my No Chicken Tofu & Biscuits. Tofu will take on whatever flavor it is cooked with. Since I wanted it to taste like chicken I tossed it in poultry seasonings. I was not holding out much hope the first time I made this but we really did not miss the chicken. The tofu added protein to the dish and a little more substance. My daughter also happens to love tofu, big added bonus. (Since my husband’s last surgery, his cardiologist took him off a vegan diet. He was anemic and had lost a little too much weight. I have a feeling we will be back to it a night or two a week once his weight is back up.)
I hope you enjoyed reading about these 5 tips. I have a few more I’ll share another time. If you have had success lightening up some of your favorite food, I would love to hear about. What are some of your tricks?