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Light Cooking

Adding Fiber to Bread

My husband loves bread made in our bread machine, but he generally only likes plain white bread or sourdough bread. I wanted us to get more fiber in our diets, so I tossed a cup of high-fiber…

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Alternative Egg Salad

I discovered this trick when trying to find a lower-fat alternative to mayonnaise for my egg salad recipe. Simply add a few spoonfuls of low-fat cottage cheese. The texture of the cottage cheese…

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Angel Food Cake

I found that if I freeze an entire angel food cake overnight, it slices up nicely. Sandy F., Olivia, Minnesota

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Apple Pie a la Mode Alternative

Like to enjoy apple pie a la mode for dessert, but can’t afford the calories? Try this trick. Heat up some applesauce in the microwave and pour it over a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Then…

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Applesauce Bread

I use unsweetened applesauce instead of butter in bread machine recipes. My bread comes out just the same as if I’d used butter. Ronda V., Columbus, Nebraska

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Baked French Fries

My family loves French fries and steak fries, but we bake them to avoid all the fat from deep-frying. For every medium to large potato, we put a tablespoon of olive or canola oil in a resealable…

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Baked Fried Chicken

Instead of frying chickens in oil on the stovetop, I place it in a casserole dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. I bake the chicken for 45-60 minutes at 375°. My family likes this…

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Baking Light Tips

Whether you’re stirring up a batch of from-scratch cookies or making a packaged cake mix, eggs are usually among the ingredients. Eggs are essential in most baked goods. Both the whites and…

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Baking Light with Cocoa

Just because you’re trying to eat lighter doesn’t mean you have to swear off those chocolaty desserts you’ve come to love. Savvy cooks learn to substitute baking cocoa for some or all of the…

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Baking with Applesauce

I keep a six-pack of lunch-box size applesauce cups in my pantry. Anytime I’m making banana bread or other baked goods, I use one in place of some of the oil. Each measures about 1/2 cup of…

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Begin the Day The Lower Fat Way

Enjoy your morning toast topped with fat-free cream cheese, apple or pear butter, all-fruit jam or even a spritz of butter-flavored refrigerated spray. You'll save on calories and fat.

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Bread Crumbs

Whenever I have a roll or bagel, I scoop out some of the bread inside to cut down on calories and provide some room for filling. I put the scooped-out bread in a resealable plastic bag and keep it…

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Bread Heel Uses

Since nobody in my family likes the heels of bread, I store them in our freezer. When I make a meat loaf, I defrost the bread, place it in the bottom of a baking pan and top it with the shaped…

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Breaking Uncooked Spaghetti

Are you tired of those little pieces of uncooked spaghetti dripping all over the floor and stove when you try to break those long noodles to the desired length before cooking them? Try wrapping…

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Broccoli Stems

When we cook fresh broccoli, we prefer eating the tender florets rather than the thick stems. So I slice these stems into thin rounds, then place them in freezer bags. When I’m making vegetable…

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Brown Sugar Carrots

As a diabetic, I’m always on the watch for healthy food that tastes good. Here are a few of my hints. We like carrots as a side dish but find they are even better topped with butter-flavored…

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Butter Substitute

When a recipe calls for something to be rolled in melted butter, I spray it with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray instead. Then I roll it in crumbs or whatever the recipe calls for. This…

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Butter vs. Margarine

There appears to be some confusion as to how margarine is defined. Margarine is a butter substitute made with vegetable oils. Both butter and margarine contain 80% fat, so margarine can generally…

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Butter-Flavored Spray

In place of butter or margarine, I use butter-flavored refrigerated spray on steamed vegetables, corn on the cob, etc. I also use it on bread and toast. It saves on calories, fat and cholesterol,…

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Butterscotch Pudding Dip

Sugar-free instant butterscotch pudding made with low-fat milk makes a good low-calorie fruit dip. I had a neighbor who prepared this as a low-cal treat for her diabetic husband. Faye H., Gresham,…

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Carrot and Raisin Salad

For a quick salad, grate some carrots and add a handful or two of golden raisins. Toss with the juice of one or two oranges. This combination is simple and nutritious. For a little different…

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Carrot Tomato Sauce

When making a tomato-based sauce, add finely shredded carrot to the mixture. The sweetness of the carrot will reduce some of the acidity, and it’s a sneaky way to add extra vegetables to your…

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Celery Slices

I love to serve those cute little peeled carrots on veggie trays when I’m entertaining. To make the celery look just as nice, I wash the ribs, then cut them on a diagonal into 1-inch slices. I…

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Chicken Salad with Water Chestnuts

Our family doesn’t like raw celery in recipes for chicken salad or potato salad. So I substitute the same amount of chopped water chestnuts. They provide bulk, crunch and a mild flavor that we…

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Cinnamon Pasta Sauce

For a subtle change from the usual pasta sauce, add a touch of cinnamon. It tastes great. Mario P., San Rafael, California

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Cinnamon Tortilla

Try this idea for a quick dessert. Spritz a flour tortilla with refrigerated butter-flavored spray and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar and a couple dashes of cinnamon. Broil 2-3 inches from…

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Clean-Plate Club

If you're a member of the "clean-plate club," here are a few tricks to ease your guilt and trim calories. When you "fill" you plate, start with smaller portions and don't go back for seconds. If…

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Color Swirled Cake

Preparing angel food cake from a boxed mixed as a light dessert? Dress it up after stirring together the batter by pouring half into the pan. Then put drops of food coloring in different areas and…

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Colorful Appetizer

When serving healthier appetizers such as fresh vegetables with low-fat dip, I like to dress up the serving platter. So I cut the tops of red or green peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.…

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Cooking Spray

Whether I’m cooking, baking or frying, I use nonstick cooking spray instead of oil or butter. The spray cuts down on the number of fat and calories, and the flavored varieties help to punch up the…

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Cooking Spray Alternative

I prefer not to use commercial nonstick cooking spray. So I went to the kitchenware area of a department store and bought a spray bottle made just for cooking oil. I fill it with canola, olive or…

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Cooking Spray Tip

Coating a baking dish or pan with nonstick cooking spray can be messy. The “overspray” often leaves a residue on my counter. To avoid this, I open the door of my dishwasher and hold the item…

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Corn Tortillas

To lighten up Mexican dishes, substitute corn tortillas when flour tortillas are called for in recipes. Yellow or white corn tortillas have less fat and fewer calories than flour tortillas. L.…

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Corn with Cream Cheese

When preparing corn for dinner, instead of adding a pat of butter, try a little reduced-fat cream cheese. Let it stand a minute to melt, then stir and serve. You’ll have rich-tasting corn with…

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Corned Beef Herbs

My wife and I enjoy corned beef and cabbage, especially the seasoning that comes in the packet with the beef. But we don’t like the little bits of herbs and spices on our food. Last time, rather…

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Cream Substitute

I’ve spent the last 10 years adapting my favorite recipes into lighter versions. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use fat-free evaporated milk whenever the recipe calls for cream or…

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Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I make mashed potatoes without adding butter or milk. First, I boil four to five medium potatoes and mash them. Then I stir in one undiluted can of 98% fat-free condensed soup (any cream variety…

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Crisp Salad Greens

To make salad greens crisp, I wash them, use a salad spinner to remove the water and put them in a serving bowl. I place a wet paper towel over the top and pop the bowl in the fridge. The greens…

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Crumbled Bacon

I like to keep a supply of cooked crumbled bacon in the freezer. By sprinkling a little into scrambled eggs, folks feel like they’ve had “bacon and eggs” for breakfast with only a fraction of the…

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Crunchy Coleslaw

For a good, crunchy coleslaw, add about 1/2 cup peeled and shredded broccoli stems to the cabbage mixture. We also like to add a small amount of jalapeno pepper to perk up the taste. Cornelia W.,…

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Cut the Fat from Broth

Pour cooled broth from meat or poultry into a glass jar with a secure lid; refrigerate upside down. The fat will harden and remain in the jar when you pour out the liquid to use in recipes. —Val…

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Cutting Chicken with Scissors

To save time and effort when cutting chicken breasts, I use my kitchen scissors rather than a knife. Sarah T., Mouth of Wilson, Virginia

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Cutting Cholesterol in Egg Recipes

My mother shared an idea for cutting cholesterol in our favorite egg recipes. It works well when preparing egg salad. If an egg salad recipe calls for eight hard-cooked eggs, use four whole…

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Diabetic Dessert

My husband and I both have diabetes, so I’m always trying to find delicious desserts that don’t have a lot of sugar and fat. For a sweet treat, I simply spoon a can of light apricot halves…

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Draining Canned Beans

The reason for draining canned beans is to remove the excess salt used in the canning process. You may use the liquid, but be sure to adjust the salt level in your recipe.

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Easy Corn Cobs

When my family is in a rush for dinner and we are having corn, I put the corn cobs (husk and all) in the microwave for about 2-1/2 minutes per cob. The husks seal in the freshness and steam the…

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Easy Pudding Snack

To make sure my kids got plenty of calcium, I used to keep a quart jar filled with 2 cups of milk in the refrigerator. When my teens needed a snack, they selected their favorite instant pudding,…

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Egg Slicer

One of my favorite kitchen tools is an egg slicer. I leave one on the counter so I can quickly slice a banana in the morning to top my cereal. It’s so easy that kids can even slice their own…

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Eggplant Lasagna

When preparing lasagna, substitute eggplant slices for the lasagna noodles. (I slice the eggplant lengthwise.) If it’s tender, there’s no need to peel it. You can also use cubed eggplant instead…

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Eliminating Fat from Ground Beef

To help eliminate fat from ground beef, cook it in a microwave-safe strainer or colander in a microwave-safe bowl. Break up the ground beef with a fork and stir it frequently as it’s cooking until…

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Evaporated Skim Milk In Place of Whipping Cream

Here's a sweet substitute: Evaporated skim milk can replace whipping cream in many recipes.

You can bake with reduced-fat evaporated milk but note there may be some changes in texture and…

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Fat-Free Dressing

I don’t care for bottled fat-free dressings, so I make my own. I start with a packet of ranch salad dressing mix and fat-free milk and mayonnaise in place of the regular milk and mayonnaise called…

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Fat-Free Frosting

My husband, who is diabetic, and I are watching our weight and trying to cut fat in our diet. For a treat, I make low-sugar cupcakes and muffins. Then I top them with fat-free sugar-free frosting.…

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Fish Fillet Substitute

I recently became allergic to fish, and I really miss it. I’ve discovered, however, that many of my recipes for white fish can be easily adapted for chicken breasts. I pound the breast meat a…

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Fishy Flavor

To get rid of “fishy” flavors with just about any type of fish, I cover it with milk. I let it soak for 30-90 minutes and cook as directed. This seems to get rid of some of the fishy taste. Sandy…

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Flavorful Beverages

I have two tips for flavorful beverages. When serving punch for a party, cool it with an ice ring made from the punch instead of regular ice cubes. The large ring is more decorative, melts slower…

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Flavorful Chicken Breasts

I’ve found that skinned and boned chicken breasts cooked in sauce can be quite bland. The sauce flavor doesn’t seem to penetrate the meat very well. Often, I’ll cut the chicken in strips or cubes…

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Flavorful Herbs

Here’s what I do to get the most flavor from the dried seasonings and herbs called for in recipes. I put the desired amount in the palm of my hand, then rub my hands together over the pot, letting…

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Flavorful Roast

When preparing a pork or beef roast, I insert slices of garlic in slits on top of the roast before baking. It infuses the meat with flavor without adding fat. You can also add sprigs of rosemary…

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Foil Pan Lining

Here is a hint that helps with healthy cooking as well as cleanup. Whenever I cook something in the oven, I use aluminum foil in my pans. I crumple up a sheet of foil and then straighten it out a…

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Food Scale

To measure out the correct amounts of foods listed in a recipe or on a diet plan, I use a food scale that is accurate to the ounce. It’s so easy to get the right amount of an ingredient, such as…

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Free Food for Diabetics

A free food for diabetics is any food or drink that contains less than 20 calories or less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Some examples of free food include 1 tablespoon fat-free…

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Freezer Chicken Broth

I recently boiled a 5-pound hen to make chicken salad sandwiches for a potluck. I didn’t want to waste the broth, so I strained it and poured it into ice cube trays. Once the cubes were frozen, I…

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Freezing Okra

I like to use okra in soups and other good-for-you veggie recipes…so I try to keep some on hand in my freezer. I wash fresh okra, blanch it, cool it quickly, then drain it well on a paper…

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Freezing Tomatoes

When tomatoes are tasty and abundant, wash them and freeze whole in resealable plastic freezer bags. Take them out of the freezer all year as needed. The skins will come right off…and you’ll have…

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Fresh Cucumbers

I’ve discovered a great way to keep cucumbers fresh longer. I have a plastic “lettuce keeper” that keeps my lettuce fresh for at least 2 weeks. So I bought another one and placed six cucumbers in…

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Fresh Spices

One of the best ways I’ve found to jazz up a light recipe is to use fresh ginger and garlic instead of the dried powdered spices. The difference in the flavor of my dishes, especially stir-fry…

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Fresh Vegetables

I chop sweet red peppers, green peppers and onions separately, place them in glass jars, then keep them in the fridge. When cooking eggs, a stir-fry, hamburgers or any recipe that calls for…

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Fried Fish with Italian Dressing

I recently experimented with a lighter and zestier version of fried fish. I lightly brushed tilapia fillets with fat-free Italian salad dressing, and then coated them with bread crumbs. I…

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Frozen Cantaloupe

I like cantaloupe but don’t like buying it out of season when it’s expensive. So when it’s in season, I buy several cantaloupes. I remove the seeds and rind and slice the melon into chunks. Then I…

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Frozen Cherries

When preparing sour cherries for the freezer, wash them first in a water-filled pan. Those that are wormy will float to the top, so they’re easy to discard. Drain the cherries, pat them dry and…

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Frozen Fruit

Frozen fruit sometimes doesn’t have as much juice as I’d like after thawing. So I’ll stir in a bit of white grape juice, which blends nicely. Maxine B., La Quinta, California

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Frozen Lemon Juice

I like to keep fresh lemon juice on hand because it’s such an easy way to add refreshing flavor to many recipes. After juicing the lemons, I freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Then I simply…

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Frozen Milk Cubes

I live alone, so I don’t always use up my canned milk or regular milk before it starts to spoil. To save it, I pour it into clean ice cube trays and freeze them. When they’re frozen, I put the…

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Frozen Soup Stock

I save the cooking liquid used for boiling vegetables and store it in a container in my freezer. It makes perfect stock for a very tasty and nutritious batch of vegetable soup. Barb S., Pandora,…

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Frozen Yogurt Cups

Freeze a variety of low-fat yogurt flavors in a nonstick muffin pan, then remove the yogurt cups when they’re frozen and store in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag in the freezer. When you’re…

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Fruity Ice Cubes

I freeze leftover fruit juices in an ice cube tray. I use these fruity ice cubes to add extra flavor to lemonade and iced tea. They’re handy to have on hand when someone drops in to visit because…

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Gelatin Angel Food Cake

We have two diabetics in our family, so I’m always trying to come up with appropriate desserts for them. They like angel food cake, so I dress up cake batter with flavored sugar-free gelatin. I…

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Gelatin Cheesecake

I’ve found fat-free products to be less appealing in most cases than the regular versions. But fat-free cream cheese is one exception—it’s almost as good. I have found, however, that it…

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Gelatin Shapes

To make sugar-free gelatin more appealing, I came up with this fun way to serve it. I found ice cube trays that are shaped like a variety of fruits at a local discount store. I spritz the trays…

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General Zucchini Tips

Handle zucchini carefully; they’re thin-skinned and easily damaged. To pick the freshest zucchini, look for a firm heavy squash with a moist stem end and a shiny skin. Smaller squash are…

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Grated Carrots in a Hurry

Need grated carrots in a hurry? Pop some of those baby carrots in your food processor. Just a few spins and your carrots are ready! Mildred B., Boulder, Colorado

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Greasing Pan for Cake

Instead of greasing and flouring the baking pans for cakes or breads, I coat them with low-fat shortening and a sprinkling of granulated sugar. The cake or bread is easily removed from the pan and…

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Grilled Cheese Alternative

Want a grilled cheese sandwich without all the calories and fat that come from butter? Simply spray each slice of bread with butter-flavored cooking spray and cook as usual. My family never…

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Grilled Cheese Without Butter

To make “grilled” cheese sandwiches without added butter, first toast the two slices of bread. Immediately put cheese between the slices and microwave the sandwich just long enough to melt the…

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Ground Beef with Rice

Instead of using the pound of ground beef called for when making taco meat, sloppy joes or soups, I cook a half-pound of ground beef. After draining the meat, I add 1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice to…

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Ground Turkey

When cooking with ground turkey in recipes for lasagna or spaghetti sauce, I increase the amount of seasonings and leave the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. The turkey seems to pick up more…

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Handy Recipe Clip

To remind myself to use recipes I’ve earmarked to try, I clip them to a clothespin attached to a hanging basket in my kitchen. This also keeps the recipes at eye-level when I’m cooking and baking.…

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Healthier Fruit Salad

At family dinners, I am usually asked to bring fruit salad. Typically, I combine pineapple chunks, orange sections, banana slices and miniature marshmallows and dress it all with whipped cream.…

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Healthier Peanut Butter Sandwich

If you love peanut butter on bread, here are two healthier suggestions. First, use reduced-fat peanut butter. Second, be sure your bread is warm or toasted so the peanut butter melts and spreads…

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Healthy Kettle Corn

I love kettle corn, but I know that the high fat content and calories aren’t good for me. So I came up with a healthier version. I pop the popcorn in an air popper. As I layer each batch in the…

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Healthy Meal Alternatives

I came from the “clean your plate” era and feel obligated to finish everything on my dinner plate. So I’ve found it works best for me if I put less food on my plate in the first place. When…

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Heavy Cream Alternative

I substitute heavy cream with a thickened low-fat milk. I blend 1 tablespoon flour into 1 cup milk and use it in cooked dishes, such as soups, sauces and casseroles. It provides the consistency of…

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Herb Chart

Instead of reaching for the salt shaker to season our favorite meals, I turn to a handy herb chart I have taped inside my cabinet door. It’s convenient to use because it lists herbs and the…

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Homemade Beef Broth

When I’m preparing a beef stir-fry, I cut the sirloin into thin strips. But some strips have more fat on them than we care to have. When I cut off the fat and there’s still meat attached, I use…

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Homemade Chicken Stock

I don’t need to buy salt-free chicken stock because I make it myself. I put three pounds of chicken, several black peppercorns, a celery rib and carrot in my slow cooker. I quarter an onion and…

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Keeping Hands Clean

Whenever I have a “hands-on” job like forming meatballs or skinning chicken breasts, I wear inexpensive disposable rubber or plastic gloves to keep my hands clean. Paul V., Whiting, New Jersey

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Lean Ground Beef

In an effort to reduce the fat in my family’s diet, I use 97% extra-lean ground beef in any recipe that calls for ground beef. I brown the ground beef in fat-free beef broth instead of oil. The…

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Leftover Raw Vegetables

When I have leftover raw vegetables from salad or veggie platters, I cut the larger ones into bite-size pieces and put them all in one heavy-duty plastic bag in the freezer. The next time I make…

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Leftover Rice

Whenever I have leftover rice from a stir-fry, I use it to make stuffed peppers later in the week. Or I open a can of chicken broth and make chicken rice soup or a can of tomato soup to make…

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Lemon Flavoring

I use lemon in place of salt to bring out the flavor of meats and vegetables. Gladys H., Denver, Colorado

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Lemon Juicing Tip

When I cut a fresh lemon in half on an angle instead of straight up and down, it seems easier to squeeze and the juice flows out faster. Helen R., Tampa, Florida

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Light Cinnamon Toast

I have always loved cinnamon toast, but I’m watching my calorie intake these days. So I toast slices of diet bread and spray them with with Parkay no-calorie spray. I mix cinnamon with a little…

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Light Fried Tortillas

Being on a low-fat, low-sodium diet has its challenges. I like to substitute fresh parsley for salt called for in most recipes. To keep the parsley fresh, I cut 1/2 inch off the bottom of a bunch…

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Light Stuffing Mix

My family loves stuffing made from a boxed mix to go with turkey for holidays and special occasions. But rather than following the directions to prepare the stuffing with water and butter, I…

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Lightening Up Gravy

To make a lighter gravy, brown flour in a skillet. Cool slightly, then add some instant chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon granules and warm water. Cook and stir until thickened, then add salt…

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Lightening Up Soup

When trying to trim down, I ate a lot more soup than usual, reports Lee Ann O. It filled me up without causing me to overeat. Soup is also great for finishing off leftovers such as chicken, and…

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Lighter Cream

I’ve substituted liquid Coffee-Mate in several recipes that call for half-and-half or light cream, and the outcome was great. Gerri D., Hampstead, North Carolina

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Lighter Moist Cake

For a lighter moist cake, use any flavor cake mix and beat in a 12-ounce can of diet soda. Try diet lemon-lime soda with white or yellow cake mix and diet cola with a chocolate cake mix. Do not…

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Low Calorie Desserts

Here are some of my favorite lower-calorie desserts. I like to freeze bananas or fresh strawberries and top them with fat-free whipped topping or fat-free vanilla yogurt. Then drizzle with…

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Low-Calorie Buttery Popcorn

Love popcorn but not the calories? Pop the corn kernels in an air-popper, then spray the popped corn with butter-flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle it with your favorite powdered popcorn seasonings.…

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Low-Calorie Omelets

To cut some of the fat and calories in omelets, I bake the bacon in parchment paper-lined baking pans at 350° until crispy and drain on paper towels. Then I fix the omelets, using 1/4 cup egg…

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Low-Cholesterol Soup

We need to watch our cholesterol, so I make a large batch of low-cholesterol soup. I start with dried beans, peas, barley and rice, and add several seasonal vegetables and seasonings. I can keep…

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Low-Fat Crust

When making a crumb crust for a dessert, I reduce the amount of butter or margarine by one tablespoon and press the crunchy mixture into the pan. Then I spray the crust with nonstick cooking…

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Low-Fat Fried Potatoes

We love fried potatoes, but not all the fat that comes with frying them in oil. So I came up with this method. I coat the sliced potatoes with nonstick cooking spray, then spritz a nonstick frying…

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Low-Fat Ground Beef

To lower fat in recipes that call for 1-1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef, I use 3/4 pound extra-lean ground beef mixed with one can of rinsed, drained pinto beans instead. I brown the beef as usual…

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Low-Fat Sausage Gravy

My husband loves sausage gravy over biscuits for breakfast. Since we’re trying to eat less fat, I make a plain white sauce, then add salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper and sage. It tastes just…

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Low-Fat Vegetable Saute

I try to use low-fat cooking techniques. When sautéing onions or other vegetables for a recipe, I spritz the pan with nonstick cooking spray rather than adding oil. As the vegetables cook, I add…

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Low-Salt Diet Tips

On a low-salt diet, I’m allowed just 1,000 mg of sodium per day. So I use Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Seasoning Blend and cider vinegar instead of salt at the end of cooking dishes such as stews, soups…

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Low-Sodium Stir-Fry

When my husband had to lower his sodium intake, we discovered two tricks for adding flavor to stir-fries without adding sodium. First, we use a small amount of sesame oil along with olive or…

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Lower-Fat French Fries

“For French fries without a lot of added fat, I bake them after shaking on an equal amount of salt and chili powder,” says Sharon B. of Houston, Texas. “These seasoned fries are a hit.”

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Mashed Potato Deviled Eggs

Want a unique way to make healthier deviled eggs? Try using up leftover mashed potatoes. I hard-cook the eggs, peel them and cut them in half. Then I discard the yolks, stir the seasonings and…

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Mashed Potatoes with Peels

My family loves mashed potatoes. But I never like peeling the potatoes, so I rarely made them. Then I decided to leave the peels on. I simply clean the potatoes, cook them and mash them—peels and…

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Mayonnaise and Sour Cream Topping

I mix together equal parts of fat-free mayonnaise and fat-free sour cream. Then I use this to top Mexican dishes and mashed potatoes instead of regular sour cream. It tastes great and drastically…

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Measuring Portions

My husband is diabetic and watches his diet carefully. To help, I try to fix portions in the correct measurements so he doesn’t have to struggle with determining how much is appropriate. For…

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Measuring Salad Dressing Portions

In order to be more accurate with portion sizes of items like salad dressing, I use one of those small measuring cups that you get when you buy cough medicine. I keep it in a resealable plastic…

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Microwaving Potatoes

After a long day, I like to prepare a light meal that’s quick, too. Instead of turning on the oven and heating up my kitchen, I cook a medium baking potato in the microwave. It only takes about 6…

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Milled Flaxseed

Milled flaxseed is packed with heart-healthy oils and is a good source of fiber. Besides sprinkling it on cereal or blending it into smoothies, it can be substituted for some of the fat in breads…

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No Crust Pies

My family doesn’t care for pie crust, so I make pie fillings without the crust, which means less fat and fewer calories! For pumpkin pie, I double the filling recipe, pour the mixture into a…

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No-Fat Dill Sauce

Here’s a great tip a friend shared with me. To make a no-fat dill sauce to serve with salmon, just add fresh dill or dried dill to fat-free ranch salad dressing. It tastes wonderful, and I…

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Nut Substitute

Many of our favorite vegetable and fruit salad recipes call for a sprinkling of toasted pecans or almonds on top. On one occasion when I was out of nuts, I used broken pretzel pieces instead. I…

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Oatmeal with Preserves

For a tasty breakfast, add a spoonful of all-fruit preserves to hot oatmeal instead of sugar, then sprinkle with a little wheat germ. Dianne M., Lakemoor, Illinois

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Oatmeal with Vanilla

For a change of pace at breakfast without adding calories, I stir a couple of drops of vanilla or almond extract into my store-bought instant oatmeal before cooking it in the microwave. Marlys P.,…

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Onion Soup Mix Substitute

I am on a very low-salt diet and struggle when making some of the old recipes my husband likes. For example, several casseroles call for very high-sodium ingredients like onion soup mix. So I came…

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Paprika and Garlic Salt Mix

I buy 3.75-ounce containers of paprika and garlic salt, mix them together and put them back in the containers. I use this blend in place of regular salt at our dinner table to cut down on sodium.…

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Peach Zucchini Bread

While making zucchini bread, I ran out of the fat replacement I usually use in my recipe. Since I had fresh peaches on hand, I peeled several, blended them with my food processor and added a pinch…

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Powdered Buttermilk

When I didn’t have the 3 cups of buttermilk called for in a bread recipe, I used powdered buttermilk blend (found near the powdered milk in many grocery stores). I mixed the powdered buttermilk…

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Prepared Seasoned Chicken

When I buy chicken breasts, I remove the skin and put the number I need for a meal into a freezer bag. I add marinade right in with the meat. Then all I have to do is pull a bag from the freezer,…

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Pumpkin Pudding

To enjoy a bit of pumpkin at any time of year, I add several heaping tablespoons of canned pumpkin pie filling to a package of sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix. I make the pudding with 2%…

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Quick Breakfast Idea

For a quick, nourishing and filling breakfast, layer cottage cheese, yogurt and fruit in a glass or bowl. Sprinkle with a plain bran cereal for a lovely nutty crunch. This also makes a great…

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Quick Snacking Tips

I buy 1/2-cup size reusable plastic containers and fill them with healthy foods for quick snacking. Good choices are fat-free cottage cheese, chickpeas, kidney beans, sliced fruit, no-sugar-added…

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Ranch Baked Potatoes

Instead of butter and sour cream, we top our baked potatoes with fat-free ranch dressing. It tastes great and is guilt-free. Beth H., Valley City, Ohio

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Ranch Fish Fillets

For an easy, delicious and different way to prepare fish, combine fat-free ranch dressing and picante sauce, then spread over fillets. Wrap them in foil and grill or bake until the fish flakes…

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Red-Hot Baked Apples

To make baked apples, I wash, core and place them in a baking dish. Then I pour some red-hot candies in the center of each apple and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar substitute. I…

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Reduced-Fat Meatballs

To reduce the amount of fat in meatballs and cut cleanup time, I bake them in a 400° oven for 20 minutes instead of frying them on the stovetop. Baking them on a rack in a broiler pan allows…

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Reducing Fat in Gravy

Here’s how I dramatically reduce the amount of fat in my gravy from roasted meat. I boil off most of the liquid until all that’s left are the brown caramelized juices on the bottom of the pan and…

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Reducing Sodium

You can substitute regular soy sauce for reduced-sodium (light), but your dishes will have a saltier taste. If using canned vegetables, you may want to rinse them to remove some of the sodium…and…

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Removing Fat from Broth

Here is a great way to get rid of the extra fat from broth if you don’t have a fat separator. Slightly cool the broth before pouring it into a large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. After a few…

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Removing Fat from Gravy

Before making gravy from meat drippings, I add a few ice cubes to the broth. In a few minutes, the fat cools and solidifies, making it easy to remove. It’s quicker than waiting for it to cool and…

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Removing Fat from Pan Juices

Leftover pan juices from roast chicken or beef add great flavor to soups and potpies. Here’s an easy way to remove the fat: After the meat is cooked, pour the pan juices into a bowl. Set it in the…

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Removing Fat from Stock

When removing fat from chilled meat stock, chill your strainer, too. After spooning the solid fat off the top, pour the liquid through the cold strainer to catch even more fat. Sallie N., Cascade,…

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Removing Pear Cores

A melonballer is the perfect tool for removing the core from pear halves. Mary M., Brantford, Ontario

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Rice Flour

I am either allergic to or cannot tolerate wheat, corn, dairy products, soy and mint. So when I’m making gravy or thickening sauces or stews, I use rice flour instead of all-purpose flour. Loraine…

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Rinsing Dried Beans

I used to rinse dried beans in a big colander, but it was a tedious job. I felt like I was wasting water and was never sure if I’d rinsed the beans enough. But my new trick is to simply place the…

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Salmon Bones

Some people like to remove the bones from canned salmon…but they are edible and can add calcium to your diet. If you don’t like the texture, mash the drained salmon in a bowl with the back…

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Salt Substitutes

A bay leaf is a good substitute for salt when cooking pasta. Mace will do the same thing for mashed potatoes. Lois D., Guilford, Connecticut

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Savvy Fat Substitutions

If you’re patient, you’ll find that there are some good alternatives to the traditional fat that’s called for in most recipes. Once you find a suitable substitute, be sure to mark your recipe…

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Scissors-Cut Green Onions

When a recipe calls for green onions, I find it easier and faster to cut them with a kitchen scissors than with a knife. If the recipe calls for quite a few, grab a bunch at one time and snip…

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Scooping Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit are so tasty and nutritious, but they can be messy to peel. When my daughter was 10, she discovered that she could just cut the top off a kiwi and scoop out the fruit with a spoon. Angie…

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Scrambled Egg Whites

When making scrambled eggs, I separate the eggs and beat together only the egg whites. Then I add a drop of yellow food coloring to the beaten whites before cooking. The scrambled eggs have a nice…

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Seasoning Blend

If you’re watching your salt, try this healthier seasoning blend that adds great flavor: combine garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, white pepper and salt-free lemon-pepper seasoning.…

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Secrets of Baking Light

Sour cream isn’t the first ingredient folks think of when they’re eating light. But it can be a real boon to bakers. Although sour cream isn’t a substitute for shortening, butter or oil in…

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Shaping Cookies

When making cookies, I use a fork to flatten the dough. I spray it with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to the dough. This works nicely and creates a pretty crisscross pattern.—Alta…

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Simple Applesauce

This is a very simple hint, but it is luscious. Take four red apples, slice them fine (core, but do not peel) and blend them in the blender. Then chill the sauce. This tastes so good! Sheila D.,…

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Simple BLT

To make a simple bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, I toast two slices of reduced-calorie bread, spread on a little reduced-fat mayonnaise and sprinkle with real bacon bits (the store-bought…

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Simple Frosting

Here’s a simple way to frost an angel food cake or any other cake. Simply thaw a large container of light frozen whipped topping and fold in one package of any flavor sugar-free gelatin powder.…

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Simple Salt Cutbacks

Choose fresh vegetables when possible, or frozen or canned vegetables with no salt added. Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some of the sodium. Cook rice, pasta and hot cereals…

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Simple Smoothie

Here’s a tasty way to get a good start on those recommended fruit and milk servings for the day. Pour 2 cups of fat-free milk in a blender. Add 2 cups of any kind of frozen fruit, a packet of…

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Slicing Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is a great fat-free treat, but it’s difficult to slice since it squashes easily under pressure. I use my electric knife to make perfect slices every time. Helen W., Empire,…

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Slicing Beets

After peeling and cooking small fresh beets, I place them in my egg slicer one at a time. I get perfectly sliced beets every time—without stained fingers. Rose S., Bellevue, Kentucky

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Smart Substitutions

Whether you want to serve your family more meatless meals or simply reduce some of the meat in family favorites, consider the following ideas for savvy standbys: Cut back with casseroles.…

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Soup for One

I use a small can of mixed vegetables and a small can of vegetable juice to make a tasty soup for one person. I combine the veggies and juice in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave it until it’s…

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Souping Up Recipes

It’s easy to bring smile-fetching soup to the front burner of a food-smart meal plan. Keep the following secrets in mind when you’re lightening up your soup du jour. Skip the salt. Set down the…

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Spicy Seasoning

Since I cook almost salt-free, I came up with a spicy seasoning for ribs, chicken and chops. I mix equal amounts of white pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic…

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Steamed Apples

While steaming broccoli one day, I decided to add thin slices of apple to the pan to change the taste a bit. The apples steamed to a transparent consistency and the taste was delectable. Since I…

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Stuffed Vegetables

Whenever you’re scooping out the insides of any produce (from jalapeno peppers to squash) use a grapefruit spoon. It easily removes the membranes as well as the seeds. Leander A., Birmingham,…

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Stuffing-Coated Chicken Legs

I like to make what I call “stuffed” chicken legs. I remove the skin, and I coat them in chicken broth instead of melted butter (if using no-salt-added broth, spice it up with some garlic or…

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Sweets for Good Eating

When you need a bite to treat yourself, try these: Beyond-compare biscotti. Usually served alongside mugs of coffee or hot chocolate, most of these crunchy-twice baked cookies are wonderful…

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Switch to Lighter Ingredients

Many food items are available in fat-free or reduced-fat versions, especially dairy products, salad dressings, mayonnaise, crackers and soups. If you are not already using these items, start by…

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Tasty Topping for Cakes

Need a tasty topping for cakes and other desserts? I add a little extra flavor to reduced-fat frozen whipped topping with different extracts, such as coconut, cherry, lemon, etc. My family thinks…

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Thawing Frozen Spinach

When a recipe calls for frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, I use my salad spinner. It makes it easy to get rid of the excess water without straining my arthritic fingers. Edith L., Longwood,…

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Thickening Salad Dressing

Here is a way to make salad dressing thick without adding fat. Xanthan gum, a white powder available at health food stores, has great thickening powers. You’ll see this ingredient on the label of…

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Tilapia Fillets

If you’re looking for fish that doesn’t taste “fishy,” I recommend tilapia. I spritz my indoor grill with nonstick cooking spray before cooking tilapia fillets on it. It has a very mild flavor and…

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Toast Alternatives

Instead of spreading butter or margarine on your morning toast, try pear or apple butter, marmalade, all-fruit jam or a mashed banana. Measure for measure, you’ll get half the calories and none of…

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Tofu Peanut Butter

I have a suggestion for lowering the fat content of peanut butter while increasing your soy intake. I buy reduced-fat natural-style peanut butter and blend it in my food processor with an equal…

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Trimming Fat from Chopped Nuts

I trim fat and add flavor to recipes and sauces that call for chopped nuts by adding extra spice grinders with whole roasted peanuts, almonds and sesame seeds. When I want to add one of those to…

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Tuna Salad with Beets

For a different tuna salad, I mix chopped pickled beets into the tuna. There’s no need for mayonnaise or salad dressing, so it’s lower in fat. I just add enough beets to a can of tuna to make it…

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Tuna with Oats

I recently came up with this money-saving idea that’s healthy, too. I make tuna sandwiches by emptying an undrained 6-ounce can of water-packed tuna into a bowl, then stir in about 1/4 cup of…

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Uses for Pineapple Juice

When making fruit salad, I often include canned pineapple tidbits packed in their own juice. I drain the juice from the pineapple and use some to coat apple slices and keep them nice and white.…

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Vegetable Soup Shortcut

Here’s a terrific shortcut to use when making vegetable soup. Instead of buying a head of cabbage, pick up a package of coleslaw mix. Since the cabbage and carrots are already washed and chopped,…

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Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce

When I serve spaghetti, I add either fresh or frozen broccoli to the sauce, then cook it about 5 minutes before serving. It adds taste and texture to the sauce as well as adding nutrition to the…

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Veggie Pizza

Here’s an easy way to serve veggie pizza as a good-for-you appetizer. After spreading the reduced-fat cream cheese mixture on the crust, I cut the pizza into pieces. Then, as I add the veggies, I…

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Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

I add shredded zucchini and carrots to my spaghetti sauce to add extra nutrition while disguising those good-for-you vegetables from my husband. I’ve also been known to put them in my meat loaf,…

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Waffle Toppings

I’ve found a tasty replacement for the syrup and butter that used to top my waffles. I mix equal parts of fat-free fruit-flavored yogurt with fat-free whipped topping. This also makes a refreshing…

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Weight Watchers Recipe Tips

I belong to Weight Watchers and have a system to try new recipes. I read through the recipes I want to try that have nutritional information and calculate the Weight Watchers points for each. I…

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Whipped Topping with Vanilla

I’ve been preparing low-fat foods since my husband’s heart attack a few years ago. I find that stirring 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into an 8-ounce carton of low-fat whipped topping improves the…

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Yogurt Banana Bread

Recently, I was making my favorite banana bread recipe, I didn’t have the sour cream it called for. I substituted an equal amount of low-fat strawberry yogurt, and the bread was scrumptious! Fran…

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Yogurt Muffins

To reduce the fat in most muffin, cookie and cake recipes, I use fat-free vanilla yogurt in place of milk or sour cream. It also adds a bit of sweetness, so the amount of sugar in many recipes can…

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Yogurt Popsicle

For a refreshing summer treat, push a Popsicle stick through the foil cover of a small fat-free yogurt. (Be sure to remove the plastic lid first if there is one.) Pop it in the freezer until it’s…

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