Foiling fat in the kitchen: seven secrets

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D.

May 2010

Our Stone Age ancestors didn't have much saturated fat in their diet, the stuff that makes food taste so good and that gives baked goods a wonderful flaky texture. The saturated fat that they enjoyed in their meat was chemically different from that in our grain-fed beef and there was no dairy industry in those days. If you feel that it might be a good idea to limit your intake of saturated fat because it increases cholesterol levels or helps to pile on the pounds — and it does both — consider some alternatives.

In some of these examples you won't even notice the difference; in others you might have to persevere until your taste buds adjust to the newness. Considering that there are lots of calories in fat, these changes could make the difference between gaining a couple of pounds in the next few months and losing a few.

Have you noticed that gravy or chicken soup left in the refrigerator have a layer of fat on top? It takes just a minute to scoop away most of the fat and you probably won't notice the difference in taste.

In hot gravy the fat rises to the top so if you use a gravy pitcher that has the spout on the bottom you'll get all the rich-tasting stuff and none of the fat.

Do you sauté using oil or butter? Have you tried broth, water or wine?

Lots of recipes that call for fat turn out pretty well when you use only half as much. If they don't, try replacing the fat with unsweetened applesauce, which helps to maintain the texture and smoothness that fat usually provides.

Beans make a great substitute for meat in dishes like soup, stew, tacos or burritos. They also have lots of protein and fiber.

A secret weapon: bananas. You can use them to thicken pureed dressings and dips and to make them creamier. In some baking recipes they can replace some of the fat while maintaining flavor and moistness.

In recipes that call for whipping cream (52 calories and 5.5 grams of fat per tablespoon) you can substitute evaporated skim milk (12 calories and no fat per tablespoon).

We'll never get back to the low saturated fat intake of our Stone Age ancestors but we can do better. No one ever accused sat fat of being a health food.

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is the author of Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Better Life Publishers 2005. Contact him at drphil@stoneagedoc.com.