Of course, everyone knows that high-fat diets have been linked to obesity, heart disease, certain cancers and other health problems. But that doesn't mean that all fats are bad for you; in fact, some fats are even considered healthy. Omega-3 fats, which are found in some fish, are believed to be good for your heart. Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive and canola oils, are healthier for your heart than saturated and trans fats, which are found in animal products and processed foods.
Overall, though, we eat far more fat than is good for us, and cutting back is a good health strategy. According to the American Heart Association, about 30 per cent of our calories should come from fat and only about 10 per cent from saturated fat. But who wants to count grams of fat? Here, we make lowering your fat intake easy – and delicious – with 101 ways to get you started.
1. Choose English muffins, bagels, pita breads or toast over croissants, muffins, doughnuts or Danish pastry.
2. Spread jam on toast instead of butter. Fifteen millilitres (one tablespoon) of butter contains 11 grams of fat; jam none.
3. Try apple butter as a topping for toast; it's an apple purée that contains no actual butter and has little – if any – fat.
4. Top pancakes, waffles and French toast with fresh fruit, jelly or maple syrup rather than butter.
5. Instead of greasing muffin tins, use paper liners or spray them lightly with a nonstick cooking spray.
6. Drink skim or 1% milk instead of 2% or homogenized milk.
7. Omelettes made with one egg and two egg whites are light, fluffy and lower in fat than the three-egg version. Cook them in the microwave so you won't have to add any fat.
8. Eat a high-fibre cereal with low-fat milk – it will keep you feeling full until your next meal.
9. Make low-fat muffins using less oil – they taste great and are much lower in fat than those found in coffee shops. But be careful not to put them in paper liners because they might stick.
10. If you want bacon, have the leaner Canadian bacon, or back bacon, instead of the regular high-fat side bacon. Two slices of Canadian bacon contain four grams of fat; two slices of side bacon, about seven.
11. Choose broth-based soups, such as beef barley, vegetable or chicken noodle, instead of cream-based soups.
12. Spread sandwiches with spicy mustard, horseradish, cranberry sauce or low-fat mayonnaise instead of regular mayonnaise. Fifteen millilitres (one tablespoon) of mayonnaise packs 11 grams of fat, while the equivalent amount of the other spreads contains less than one gram (note, though, that you're not always saving on calories).
13. Choose canned fish packed in water or broth instead of in oil.
14. Instead of regular mayonnaise in tuna, salmon and egg salads, use a small amount of light mayonnaise, low-fat sour cream or fat-free ranch dressing.
15. Choose lean or low-fat deli meats, such as chicken and turkey, over the high-fat varieties, such as salami and bologna.
16. Crackers can contain lots of hidden fat. Look for those with two grams of fat or less per 100-calorie serving, such as soda crackers and melba toast.
17. With a few exceptions (avocados and coconuts), fruits and vegetables are low in fat, so eat more of them – at least five to 10 servings every day.
18. Go crustless with quiche, or have a frittata instead.
19. Add flavour, texture, fibre and colour to your sandwich with fresh, roasted or grilled vegetables, such as peppers or alfalfa sprouts, or sliced fresh fruit.
20. Try yogurt cheese flavoured with garlic and herbs as a sandwich spread. To make yogurt cheese, combine one litre (four cups) of Balkan-style yogurt with one millilitre (1/4 teaspoon) of salt. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth or a dampened coffee filter and place over a bowl. Pour the yogurt mixture into the sieve; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Discard the liquid in the bowl; add another millilitre (1/4 teaspoon) of salt and your favourite herbs to flavour as desired.
21. Brown-bag it. Pack up leftovers from your healthy dinner to take for lunch the next day – it takes the guesswork out of making the best choices in fast-food restaurants and saves you money as well.
22. Instead of a turkey club sandwich with bacon and mayonnaise, order a plain turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard – you'll save about 18 grams of fat.
23. Try a roasted-garlic spread on bread or crackers or to flavour dressings and sauces – it's delicious and has little fat. To roast garlic, cut off the top of a head of garlic to expose tips of cloves; brush cut side with oil. Place, cut side down, in greased pie plate. Roast in 375F (190C) oven until softened, about 25 minutes; let cool. Squeeze out cloves into food processor; purée.
Page 1 of 3 – Find tips to cut unnecessary calories from your dinner plate on page 2.
24. Use nonstick sprays so you can fry foods without adding fat.
25. When preparing salad dressings, use oils that have stronger flavours, such as olive and sesame oils – a little goes a long way.
26. Invest in good-quality knives; they can make the difference in how thin you slice portions of meat and cheese and how well you trim fat from poultry and beef.
27. Steamers are great for cooking vegetables, rice and even fish. Steaming requires no added fat and allows the food to retain most of its nutrients.
28. Use parchment paper to line baking pans so that no oil or shortening is needed to prevent sticking.
29. Good-quality nonstick skillets that require little or no fat to cook are must-haves in the kitchen. They come in a variety of sizes and prices.
30. A grill pan is an excellent addition to the kitchen because it allows you to cook without added fat.
31. Measure oil – don't eyeball it. The 50 millilitres (1/4 cup) of oil that you pour over your salad or into your skillet contains 46 grams of fat and about
400 calories. If you must use it, measure it out – you're bound to use a lot less.
32. Cook foods in broth, wine or tomato juice or other fruit juice instead of in oil.
33. Cook beef or poultry on a rack to allow the fat to drip away from the meat.
34. To ensure that you're not overdoing it, use a grater instead of a knife whenever possible – you'll think that you're getting more than you actually are. Fifteen millilitres (one tablespoon) of grated Parmesan cheese has only 1.5 grams of fat and adds flavour to pasta.
35. When making spaghetti sauce, brown extra-lean beef in a nonstick skillet and drain any fat or juices before adding other ingredients.
36. Instead of deep-frying chicken or fish, bake it after using this three-layered coating: coat in flour, dip in lightly beaten egg whites and then add a crispy coating, such as cornflake crumbs.
37. Make your own low-fat croutons. Cut leftover bread into cubes and bake, on a baking sheet, in a 325ºF (160ºC) oven until toasted and golden, about seven minutes. Use different breads for a variety of flavours.
38. Make meat go further (and cut fat) in soups, chili, casseroles and stir-fries by adding extra vegetables, pasta or rice.
39. Use leaner cuts of meat, such as flank steak, tenderloin, eye of round, sirloin, stewing beef, centre-cut pork loin roast or leg butt, or pork tenderloin. Stay away from high-fat meats, such as sausages, hotdogs and marbled beef.
40. Eat more fish – it's either very low in fat or, if fatty, such as salmon or mackerel, contains healthy omega-3 fats.
41. If you're buying frozen dinner entrées, buy the low-fat varieties. If they seem small, supplement them with a salad, soup or steamed vegetables.
42. If you're making soup, stock or stew, make it the day before and let it cool overnight in the refrigerator. Before heating, skim the fat off the top.
43. Remove the skin and all visible fat from chicken and turkey.
44. Instead of basting poultry with butter or other fats, try tomato or lemon juice, stock or wine.
45. Top pasta with a tomato-based sauce instead of a cream-based sauce.
46. Make your own low-fat french fries. Cut four medium-size potatoes into wedges and coat with about 25 millilitres (two tablespoons) of olive oil. Bake in the oven in a nonstick pan. Homemade fries have about five grams of fat per 100-gram serving. Prepared frozen fries weigh in at about the same, but fries from a fast-food restaurant pack about three times the fat.
47. Instead of using bacon or sausage to moisten poultry stuffing, use chopped apples, pears, apricots or raisins that have been soaked in juice. Also, try coarsely chopped cranberries, grated carrots or chopped onions or peppers.
48. Buttermilk may sound high in fat, but it actually has the same amount of fat as 1% milk. Use it in baking or as a base for salad dressings.
49. Top your baked potato with low-fat yogurt or sour cream instead of regular sour cream – you'll save about two grams of fat per 15 millilitres (one tablespoon).
50. Plan some meatless meals. Try a meatless chili or lasagna, a lentil soup or stew, or a vegetable curry. Beans and lentils are low in fat and high in fibre and other nutrients.
51. Don't be fooled by the “light” labels on oils – they're usually lighter in colour, but not necessarily in fat or calories.
52. Make your own salad dressing, reducing the amount of oil by half and using flavourful vinegars, such as balsamic or tarragon, combined with other interesting herbs. If it's too sour, add a pinch of sugar.
53. Replace the oil in homemade salad dressing with chicken or vegetable broth. Combine 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of broth, 50 millilitres (three tablespoons) of white wine vinegar, 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of Dijon mustard and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix well and store in the refrigerator.
54. Buy plain frozen veggies rather than those in butter, cream or cheese sauce.
55. Cook onions, garlic and other vegetables in broth instead of in oil.
56. Make your own pizza with low-fat mozzarella cheese and lots of vegetables. Skip the fatty bacon, sausage or pepperoni and opt for leaner meats, such as Canadian bacon or low-fat ham.
57. If a recipe calls for coconut milk, look for the lighter version.
58. Evaporated 2% milk can taste as creamy as regular 18% cream. It can be used for rich-tasting desserts and also provides a generous helping of calcium.
59. Invest in a couple of low-fat cookbooks. Anne Lindsay's Anne Lindsay's Lighthearted Everyday Cooking (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), offers heaps of healthy, tasty meals, as do her other low-fat cookbooks.
Page 2 of 3 – On page 3, discover how to lighten the calorie load when you're craving a snack, or out for a meal.
60. Instead of a heavy, fat-laden dessert, create a light and delicious fruit salad by combining berries, mangoes and kiwifruit. Or keep it simple by mixing orange and grapefruit sections.
61. Reduce the fat in quick breads and muffins by substituting applesauce, banana or other puréed fruit for part of the oil or butter the recipe calls for.
62. Try low-fat cookies, such as gingersnaps or Fig Newtons, that contain about one gram of fat each instead of shortbread or chocolate chip cookies, which contain three or four grams of fat per cookie.
63. Choose sherbet, sorbet, frozen yogurt, light ice cream or low-fat gelato instead of gourmet or premium ice cream. There are 17 grams of fat in a 125-millilitre (1/2 cup) serving of a typical gourmet ice cream; frozen yogurt has about 4.5 grams, and sorbet is fat-free.
64. Make pudding with low-fat milk.
65. Instead of bringing chocolates or cake to a dinner party, bring a tray of dried fruits or a selection of mustards, chutneys, salsa, flavoured vinegars or jellies.
66. Serve angel food cake or a meringue topped with fresh fruit at the end of a meal instead of high-fat cakes or pies.
67. Can't resist that decadent dessert? Split it with a friend - you'll save half the fat.
68. Make a low-fat hummus or bean spread. Use it as a dip or spread for crackers and bread. As well as being low in fat, it's also a great source of fibre.
69. Banana chips may sound healthier than regular potato chips, but they're fried in oil just like other chips. A 30-gram serving has about nine grams
70. Invest in a hot-air popcorn maker. It uses no fat and saves calories big-time.
71. Make your own low-fat chips using pita breads, flour tortillas or bagels. To make bagel chips, cut leftover bagels in slices, each about three millimetres (1/8 inch) thick, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 400F (200C) oven until crisp and golden, about 12 minutes.
72. Combine different-shaped cold cereals, such as toasted-wheat squares and toasted-oat circles, and add pretzel sticks and raisins to make your own low-fat trail mix.
73. Buy snacks one serving at a time – one scoop of ice cream will satisfy your cravings and is far less tempting than having four litres in the freezer.
74. For a great chocolate hit, have low-fat cocoa or a caffe latte topped with chocolate shavings.
75. For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, make a shake with low-fat yogurt, skim milk, fresh berries and/or a banana.
76. If you're at a cocktail party, keep your hands out of the peanut bowl. About 50 grams (1/4 cup) of nuts, approximately one handful, contains 15 grams of fat. But some nuts are healthier for your heart than others: nibble on almonds for fibre or walnuts – both contain unsaturated fats.
77. Serve low-fat tortilla chips with salsa at your next party instead of regular chips with guacamole.
78. Nibble on a dill pickle rather than a handful of olives for a between-meals snack. One dill pickle contains less than one gram of fat, while five green olives contain about five grams of fat.
79. Look for menu items that are steamed, poached, roasted, baked or broiled. Steer clear of items that are sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, creamed or buttered – these are all high in fat.
80) Choose à la carte items instead of those from the fixed-price menu – you'll have more control over what ends up on your plate.
81. Seafood – oysters, shrimp, steamed mussels or sushi – can make great low-fat appetizers. Order them without butter and ask for the sauce on the side.
82. Ask for salad dressing on the side. Also ask for less and use it sparingly.
83. Watch out for fats that can add up quickly: butter on bread; high-fat appetizers, such as fried calamari or creamy fish chowder; and rich desserts.
84. Order low-fat soups, such as consommé, gazpacho, minestrone (hold the cheese), vegetable and bean.
85. Stay away from croissant sandwiches. Order your sandwich on a lower-fat bagel or kaiser or on whole wheat bread.
86. If you're craving french fries with your meal, share an order with a friend or order the small or kiddie size.
87. At the salad bar, bypass prepared salads with mayonnaise; marinated vegetables swimming in oil; and coleslaw, if it's dripping with oil or mayonnaise. And go easy on toppings, such as croutons or seeds.
88. Order your after-meal cappuccino or caffe latte skinny, made with low-fat or skim milk. Have it instead of a dessert – it's filling and low in fat.
89. Be careful with some of the specialty coffees in restaurants – many are high in fat from the whipping cream or chocolate syrups used. For example, a 375-millilitre moccaccino with whipping cream contains about 22 grams of fat.
Fast food and take-out
90. When ordering pizza, ask for a thin crust, skip the fatty toppings and select chicken or shrimp with vegetables instead. If it arrives oily, sop up the extra oil with a paper towel.
91. Order a plain burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle instead of cheese, bacon and sauce.
92. If you love fast-food chicken, order the grilled chicken sandwich rather than the fried chicken.
93. Watch the extras. Skipping the extra cheese and bacon can shave more than 20 grams of fat from your fast-food meal.
94. At a submarine shop, ask for deli meats, such as turkey, chicken or lean ham, on a whole wheat bun with lots of vegetables. Hold the cheese and mayonnaise or ask for low-fat mayo.
95. When ordering a stir-fry or noodle dish in a food court, ask if they can cook it without oil.
96. Stay away from fast-food fish sandwiches – they may sound healthy, but the deep-fried breading and mayonnaise-based tartar sauce make them high in fat.
97. At the food-court, order a sandwich with turkey, chicken breast, lean corned beef, pastrami or roast beef, accompanied by a dill pickle and a salad without the dressing. These are the deli choices that are lowest in fat.
98. Unless you have a big family, skip the family-size meal specials; they contain much more food – and more fat – than you need.
99. Watch portion sizes. Large muffins or Caesar or Greek salads often contribute more fat than you think.
100. Low-fat is not necessarily low-calorie. A low-fat brownie can have the same number of calories as its higher-fat counterpart. If you're counting calories, too, read labels carefully.
101. For the next 101 days, make one change a day. You'll end up with some amazing and enjoyable new healthy eating habits.
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