Low fat cooking methods | Chef Dez

By Chef Dez | Jan 21, 2014

The first month of the year is upon us once again, and the newly grown crowds at the local gym are in abundance.

Congratulations on your will power. To assist you, I want to provide you with cooking method options that will hopefully help to add variety and keep some excitement in your meals.

Let's be honest, how many more dry pieces of toast, boiled eggs or plain salads can you stomach before you lose your faith to the burger and fries that haunt you in your dreams?

Included in the top 10 most common New Year's resolutions are: lose weight, exercise more and eat better.

Although I am not a dietician or a personal fitness trainer, I can assist you in the kitchen.

Having a backyard barbeque is a popular event during the summer, but year-round it provides a great low fat cooking method.

Grilled meats, fish and even vegetables always taste great because of the distinctive flame-licked smoky taste and caramelization.

Very little fat needs to be added to items to keep them from sticking and there are no pots and pans to clean up.

A low-fat cooking spray applied to the cold grill before igniting can also ease the cooking process and help to make those wonderful grill marks.

One of the few health concerns is the amount of carcinogens when food is over-cooked over a flame.

The blackened bits ideally need to be removed if this is a concern for you.

Poaching in a savory broth or wine is a great way to not only infuse flavor but also keep your chicken or fish extremely moist.

I find that poaching is very misunderstood. It is not the same as boiling.

One of the last things I would want to eat is boiled chicken. The culinary definition of poaching is to cook gently in water or other liquid that is hot but not actually bubbling, about 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wine poached salmon with a dollop of seasoned no-fat sour cream is amazingly delicious and incredibly moist.

Braising meats is another way of reducing the amount of fat in your meal. Braising is the process of quickly browning meat for flavor and then cooking it covered with a small amount of liquid.

Inexpensive tougher cuts of meat that are cooked using this moist heat method over a longer cooking time will become very tender.

The liquid (wine, broth, beer, juice, etc.) helps to break down the unpalatable connective tissue found in these bargain provisions.

However, braising also works with leaner products like skinless chicken breast or pork loin - just don't cook them as long.

We have only scratched the culinary surface, but hopefully this will aid you in bringing some enthusiasm to your kitchen adventures.

Don't forget about the abundant number of non-fat bottled dressings in the local supermarket.

They are not only ideal on salads, but also use them as marinades, dips and sauces with certain dishes to help add variety quickly. Just remember "non- fat" doesn't mean "no calorie.”

Always read the nutrition labels.

Dear Chef Dez,

I am on a diet and looking for ways to add flavor to my meals without adding fat or too many calories. Any suggestions?

Dawn W.

Langley, BC

Dear Dawn,

Herbs and spices are the way to go. Dry spice rubs and fresh herbs add a ton of flavor without adding a number of calories.

Try cooking with fat-free broths. Stay away from condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce, as they are loaded with sugar.

Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary instructor and cookbook author. Visit him at www.chefdez.com.

Write to him at dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.




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