Chefs' Secrets for Healthier Cooking
4 top chefs share tips and recipes for lighter dishes that don't scrimp on taste and style.
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
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.
Among his favorite tips: Substitute low-fat yogurt for some of the high-fat
ingredients in salad dressings.
"The trick is to strain it through a fine mesh colander or cheesecloth
overnight, which allows all the whey and liquids to separate," he says. The
result is a thicker, full-bodied and flavorful yogurt that more easily binds to
other ingredients, including spices.
He also suggests using fruit purees or reduced fruit juices to pique the
flavors of dressings or side dishes.
The concept of pumping up the flavor is also embraced by culinary instructor
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, at the Art Institute of New York City, where she teaches
restaurant chefs to change their high-fat ways.
"The most famous chef quote is fat equals flavor, but I am
teaching them to turn towards adding more flavor with more flavors:
spices, herbs, fruits, purees, sauces -- and the more exotic, the better,"
Among her favorite healthy fat substitutions: Using fruit purees instead of
butter and fat in baked goods, and using tofu as the basis for everything from
chocolate cream pie to soybean smoothies.
"The rule of thumb in my kitchen is that you can't make a face until
you've tried it!" says Amidor.
Healthy Chefs' Recipes
In her book Fast Food Fix, Alexander offers healthy alternatives to
name-brand, fast-food dishes. Here is one of her favorites:
Devin Alexander's Version of Starbucks Pumpkin Pound
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one serving as 1
medium dessert + 4 ounces yogurt, plain or with artificial sweetener.
Alexander's version will save you 64 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 1.5
grams of saturated fat over the original.
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt (not artificially sweetened)
3 egg whites
1 cup canned pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Mist an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch nonstick
loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- Sift flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves and nutmeg
into a mixing bowl; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, yogurt, and egg whites. Using a
sturdy whisk, mix until thoroughly blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the dry
ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until no flour is visible. Pour into
the reserved pan; bake for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the
center comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake to the rack to cool
completely. When cool, cut into 8 slices.