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Low-fat and calorie counting


Just because you're dieting doesn't mean you have to eat boring, bland foods. Delia reveals her secrets and tips for cooking low-fat foods and proves you can still eat well while losing weight.

You can adapt recipes so that they contain less fat; to do this, substitute full-cream and full-fat products with half-fat products. Use fromage frais instead of cream, 0 per cent Greek yoghurt instead of full-fat and semi-skimmed or skimmed milk instead of full-fat. Remember, though, that you will lose some creaminess of texture and flavour as a result.

It also makes sense to choose leaner cuts of meat and fish, and eat more chicken than red meat. Bear in mind that oily fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon) – although very good for our health – has a higher fat content than white fish (cod, haddock, monkfish). Cut all fat off meat before cooking and grill or stir-fry rather than frying or roasting using a lot of fat.

As many of you will know, we have been featuring some lower-fat recipes on the website. You can find these via the link below.

Click here for a collection of lower-fat recipes

Delia’s advice on diet products:

Here are some of Delia's favourite low-fat foods, taken from How to Cook Book Three.
Fromage frais The best low-fat versions I’ve found are one from Isigny in Normandy (a version with 8 per cent fat) and La Faisselle, the strained fromage frais. Both are divine eaten just as they are, or with fruit, or even spread on bread instead of butter – you’ll be amazed how this can give you a real dairy taste without all the fat. I also use fromage frais a lot in cooking in place of cream. There is, if you are seriously cutting down, an Isigny fromage frais with virtually no fat at all.
0 per cent Greek yoghurt A brilliant product – still thick and ‘creamy’, with no fat, no sugar and no artificial flavour. This, together with fresh fruit, is a delight for breakfast.
Natural low-fat yoghurt Although I prefer the Greek yoghurt for eating, I have found natural, low-fat yoghurt is sometimes better for cooking.
Quark A soft, white, skimmed-milk, very low fat cheese. For an instant snack, try it spread on sesame Ryvitas with Marmite, or add it to scrambled eggs or mashed potato.
Cottage cheese The slimmers’ friend, sprinkled with chives and served with a salad.
Buttermilk Since embarking on this chapter, I have discovered that buttermilk makes a wonderful marinade ingredient. Both fish and chicken respond beautifully to it, becoming moister and more luscious.
Semi-skimmed milk I’m afraid I can’t cope with skimmed milk, so I opt for semi-skimmed, which still has some residual creaminess. When I’ve really needed to cut down, I have allowed myself 5 fl oz (150 ml) per day.
Light evaporated milk Great for cooking, as it’s the nearest thing to cream without all the fat (see Slimmers’ Wild Mushroom Risotto on the site).
Half-fat crème fraiche Useful, but do add it sparingly, as it contains more fat than the ingredients above.
Oriental ingredients In my recipes I have included Japanese soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), Shaosing (Chinese brown rice wine) and Thai fish sauce (make sure you buy an authentic one, as some of the fish sauces available are over-salty). All these are really helpful as you can add lots of flavour with little or no fat. Even toasted sesame oil, though it is an oil, is so strong and assertive you need only a minimal amount.
Oil, butter and cheese Not, as you might have thought, banned totally, but to be used in minute quantities – I’ve confined myself to using no more than a teaspoon of oil or butter per person when creating the diet recipes in this chapter. Strong-flavoured cheeses, such as Parmesan and Pecorino, give a fair amount of cheese flavour without too many calories.


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