You may not always have a choice of healthy, low-calorie meals when you eat out, but you can make healthy home-cooked meals that are lower in calories. All it takes are some simple changes in the way you cook and making some modifications in food preparation to ensure that you are serving up low-calorie dinners and lunches.

Start by Choosing a Low-Fat Cooking Method

Low-calorie cooking means you’ll need to be a bit more creative when it comes to cooking methods. Throw away your deep fryers! If you must fry or sauté something, you can lightly stir-fry or sauté it using cooking spray or a small amount of vegetable oil or by adding reduced sodium broth to the pan. Rather than sauté mushrooms in butter, I prefer to sauté them in broth. The mushrooms cook up deliciously moist and without all that fat.

Prepare all your foods using these cooking methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Microwave
  • Roast (vegetables and skinless chicken)
  • Steam
  • Stir fry or sauté in broth
  • Grill (seafood, chicken or vegetables)

Avoid Adding Calories at the Table

Once you’ve prepared a low-calorie meal, it’s important not to undo all your good intentions at the dinner table. Did you know that adding two tablespoons of butter to a baked potato adds 200 calories and 22 grams of fat! Why not spice things up instead and add 1/4 cup of salsa with zero fat and only 18 calories!

Similarly, two tablespoons of Italian salad dressing adds 136 calories to your healthy salad and a whopping 14 grams of fat. Using reduced fat Italian dressing adds only 30 calories and just 2 grams of fat.

Cook with Low-Fat Flavorings

Low-calorie cooking need not be bland. There are plenty of ways to spice things up without adding unnecessary calories and fat. Here’s a quick list of flavorings you can guiltlessly enjoy. Use these in food preparation or add them at the table instead of salt, butter and oils. Experiment with flavorings on your own or get yourself one of the many terrific low-calorie cookbooks that are available and start cooking with…

  • Herbs – parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil, rosemary,
  • sage and thyme
  • Spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper or paprika
  • Reduced-fat or fat-free salad dressing
  • Fat-free or reduced-fat sour cream
  • Fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Fat-free or reduced-fat yogurt
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Salsa
  • Catsup
  • Mustard
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Horseradish
  • Vinegar
  • Fresh ginger
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Sodium-free salt substitute
  • Butter-flavored crystals

Get creative and have fun! You’ll soon be shedding pounds and enjoying new tastes that are satisfying and exciting.

Other Low-Fat, Low-Cal Tips

Remember, you can usually substitute whole milk with low-fat or skim milk, use low-calorie margarine (if you must) or use jelly or fruit preserves on toast. And, if you must have a sugary dessert, bake with a sugar substitute; but, generally try to replace sugary desserts with delicious fresh fruits.

Have fun in the kitchen and enjoy the new slimmer you!