6 Basic Tips for Low-Calorie Cooking

You may wish to cut calories from your cooking for various reasons, but just don't know where to start. And if you think that lowering calories equals little flavor and no flair, but don't despair. Here are some cooking techniques that can reduce calories, yet please your palette.

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    Minimize Fat

    Only the freshest ingredients for this chef. PeopleImages/ DigitalVision/ Getty Images

    As you might expect, ounce for ounce cooking oils and fats add more calories than any other ingredient. Instead of adding butter, margarine, oil, or meat drippings to your dish, use cooking sprays to prevent sticking, meat broths to add flavor, and unsweetened applesauce to replace half of the fat in baked goods.

    Another less obvious source of fat comes from dairy foods. Ditch the full-fat versions of milk, cream, and cheese, and opt for their many reduced and low-fat counterparts that are available at the supermarket

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    Choose Lean Meats and Poultry

    Begin with a lean cut of meat or poultry. Lean cuts of meat include round, loin, and sirloin. Most people think that by choosing poultry they are choosing a lower calorie alternative, but keep in mind this is only true if you select white meat from the breast without the skin.

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    Use Less Sugar

    Did you know you can trim the sugar by about half in many sweets and baked goods? Of course, you will lose some of the sweetness, but if the recipe calls for vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, or cinnamon, you can add a little extra of these ingredients to help replace the flavor.

    As an alternative, there are many sugar replacements available in the baking aisle. Do be cautious with sugar substitutes as some do lose their sweetness when cooked at high temperatures.

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    Choose the Right Cooking Method

    Avoid frying, sauteing, and the dreaded deep fat fryer which requires a lot of added oil. Instead stick with baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, or steaming, which all use little, if any, added fat. Broiling and grilling are terrific for meats because the drippings are allowed to fall away from the food while cooking.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Veggies, Veggies, Veggies

    Those bright and colorful vegetables add aesthetic appeal to your dish and are packed with important vitamins and minerals, yet contribute few calories. Use chopped vegetables to replace some of the meat in all types of recipes such as soups, stews, casseroles, and meatloaf.

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    Flavorful Ingredients

    A little goes a long way when using flavorful ingredients. For example, when using cheese, select a strongly flavored variety such as gorgonzola or sharp cheddar, and use only a small amount so as to not add a lot of calories. Also, chop fresh herbs in place of their dried alternative to add a lot of low-calorie flavors.