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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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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 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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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-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 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-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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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