12 Ways to Cut Fat and Calories

We all love to eat. I’m not talking about eating to survive here, I’m talking about eating for pure pleasure – lip smacking, eye rolling, finger licking pleasure. But we should also keep it as healthy as we can to fit into those clothes that make us feel good about ourselves, right? To make sure that we look after ourselves, I’ve got 12 handy little hints you’ll find useful. Most of them you wouldn’t even notice the change, some may take some time to get used to and others you won’t even touch with a 10 foot barge pole – which is okay because if you’re doing most of the others, you can afford to keep those important indulgences. What would life be without indulgences!

Milk Glass1Make some of these healthy swaps:

1.    Full fat milk for light milk
In your coffee, cereal and cheese sauce anywhere you would use full fat milk, swap it for a lighter option and reap the benefits. Switching from full fat to low fat (1% fat) will save you 48 calories and 7.5 grams of fat on 1 cup of milk. That’s only 2 lattes! Go even lighter for a skim milk option and your savings skyrocket to 83 calories and 9.7 grams of fat. If you just love your full fat milk, start off slowly and decrease it over time.

2.    Full fat cream for light cream, light evaporated milk or even low fat milk.
All depending on what you’re cooking in many of the cases you can swap out full fat cream for much lighter options. Using 1 tablespoon of light cream instead of full fat will save you 30 calories and 3.4 grams of fat. Go even further and use light evaporated milk and save 40 calories and 6.7 grams of fat. Of course, this is not suitable for everything, say if you’re using cream as part of a setting agent, but for most other uses, go for it I say.

3.    Full fat sour cream for low fat sour cream or buttermilk
I love a bit of sour cream on a baking potato or dolloped on anything inspired by Mexico but did you know that one tablespoon of sour cream will cost you 108 calories and 10.8 grams of fat? Swapping over to light sour cream saves you 48 calories and 5.4 grams of fat and if you take it even further and use buttermilk you save a whopping 94 calories and 10.5 grams of fat. Sure buttermilk won’t always be appropriate but it’s great in baking, soups and salad dressings instead of sour cream, trust me.


Lean chicken1
4.    The skinny on skinless
Okay, I know that chicken skin tastes a-maz-ing but there’s a price to pay. Removing the skin on a medium drumstick will save you 44 calories and 4.3 grams of fat. Now before you tell me that you just can’t eat your chicken without the skin, try using herbs and marinades for extra flavour and you’ll be a healthier happier you.

5.    Breast is best – swap thighs and legs for breast meat
Now I know you’re thinking “but chicken breasts always go dry” and you’d be right unless you know my top two tips for keeping chicken breasts moist:

a.    Slice the breasts in half horizontally so you have two thinner steaks and pan fry in a little oil spray. The chicken will take far less time to cook and less cooking time means less opportunity to lose moisture. Go for 2 minutes per side for a medium sized breast.
b.     Brown each side of the chicken breast in a little oil spray, add a tablespoon or two (up to ¼ cup) of stock and clamp on a lid to finish the process. The stock keeps the breast meat lovely and moist.

6.    Fillets not chops
Choose your cut of meat wisely as it really can make all the difference. 120 grams of nice juicy pork chop with fat and rind will cost you 228 calories with 16.1 grams of fat, while a lovely lean butterfly steak or pork fillet reduces that to 122 calories with only 1.4 grams of fat. Oink!

7.    Get smart with Tuna – lighten up the oil
Yes, oil in fish is good oil but everything in moderation, right? 100 grams of tuna in oil is 213 calories and 13.2 grams of fat. Tuna in springwater is only 110 calories and 1 gram of fat.  But if you just can go without a little oil in your tuna, choose a light option and it’ll only cost you 127 calories and 3.3 grams of fat.  Perfect!

Healthy cooking methods1

8.    Don’t fry, bake!
Hands up who likes a good hot chip? Oh me too, me too. I certainly would not be advocating going without – life may not be worth living without a bowl of hot chips – and you can have your chip and eat it too. I make chips in the oven and at only 168 calories and under 5 grams of fat you can see why. But if you can’t be bothered and need to shake from the freezer, go ahead and it’ll only cost you 200 calories and 7.1 grams of fat. So much better than your local chippy with a gynormous 347 calories and 15.4 grams of fat!

9.    Try poaching
Poaching chicken breast, turkey, fish and lean pork fillet is a tastilicious way to cook. You can spice up the poaching liquid with anything you like – start with a base of stock and add whatever herbs suit your dish. Add a bruised garlic clove, bay leaves, mustard seeds, cinnamon sticks – the choices are endless. It’s best to poach slowly – place the chicken, turkey, pork or fish into low simmering liquid and cook low and slow. A chicken breast should cook in about 12-15 minutes this way.

10.    Spray not lug
Jamie Oliver is famous for the measurement of a lug of oil, and whilst there are many, many things I love about Jamie, the lug is not one of them. Firstly, what is a lug? How much is a lug? And why do we need to lug at the beginning of cooking, in the middle and sometimes finishing with a final lugging flourish? I like to spray, myself. I keep several flavours of oil spray in my kitchen and find that on most occasions, a simple mist of my fave is all I need. If you’re not a fan of oil spray, reduce the lug down to 1 or 2 teaspoons at most and you’ll make all the difference.

11.    Make your salad dressing
I like to make my own salad dressings, they taste better and you know what’s in them. Most chefs will tell you to add 3 parts oil for 1 part acid (lemon juice or vinegar). I tend to use a ratio of 2 parts oil to 1 part acid or sometimes even 1:1 if I’m after something really tangy. The way to achieve this without it being too sour is to add a little water and not to forget that your dressing is usually going onto plain greens that could use a little lift with a tangy dressing. Swapping from a 3:1 to a 2:1 ratio will save you 36 calories and 3.6 grams of total fat.

12.    Pump up the vegetables
Add more vegetables and you’ll eat less meat. This is a fantastic way to cut out fat and calories, not to mention that it’s so much better for you.  Most nutritionists will agree that the average plate should be half filled with vegetables, with a quarter lean protein and a quarter carbohydrate.

Do you like to find ways to lighten up your cooking? What has worked for you?

Healthy eating!




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