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Chefs' Secrets for Healthier Cooking

4 top chefs share tips and recipes for lighter dishes that don't scrimp on taste and style.
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'Such a Pretty Face' continued...

She has a similar rule about cooking burgers: "People always say that extra-lean burgers taste dry – so they don't eat them," she says. The mistake here: "Squishing" the burger with a spatula to push out the fat.

"You think you are squishing out the excess fat, but what you are really squishing out is all the flavor and juices -- that's why it's dry and tasteless," she says. Instead, let the burger cook naturally, and leave the juices inside.

And yes, she says, buying extra-lean instead of lean makes a difference.

"One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is buying lean ground turkey instead of extra lean -- the packages say 7% fat vs. 1% and they think 6% can't be all that much difference, but it is," says Alexander. Flip the package over, she says, and you'll see that extra-lean turkey has 15 calories from fat, while the lean has 90 calories from fat. That's almost half the calories in a serving.

Another tip: Get the right tools for the best healthy cooking job.

"Invest in an ultrafine shredder and you'll find you can cover more surface with less cheese. You'll get flavor in every bite, but far fewer calories," she says.

Other healthy kitchen essentials, she says, include a food scale (so you know how big your portions really are); an olive oil sprayer, to add flavor with minimum calories; and a mallet to tenderize low-fat meats.

The Go-To Chefs

As one of the Culinary Institute of America's top instructors, Michael Garnero is the go-to chef many turn to when they want to learn healthy cooking.

He says he's turned away from "no fat" cooking to what he calls "smart fat" eating.

"No-fat cooking tastes terrible, but if you exchange the bad saturated fats for healthy monounsaturated fats, the food tastes better, and you're doing something good for your body," he says.

Still, even with healthy fats, it's possible to get too much of a good thing. And Garnero has some tricks up his sleeve for cutting back on fat without cutting back on flavor.

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