Happy Herbivore Blog

How to Replace Fats in Cooking

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

My techniques will teach you how to cook without oil and help you lighten up any savory recipe that calls for oil, butter, creamy or other fatty ingredients.

Tip #1: Saute in Water or Broth

Most recipes begin with sauteing onions or garlic in oil. To make the dish low-fat, cook onions, garlic or other ingredients in water, vegetable broth or vinegar over high heat. Start with 1/4 cup of liquid, adding more as necessary to prevent sticking and burning, and continue to cook over hight heat until the ingredients are cooked thoroughly and most of the liquid had evaporated. 

Tip #2: Bake, Don't Fry

When a recipe calls for frying or browning in oil, bake instead. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Place food on the cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Flip and bake 10-12 minutes more, continuing the cycle until the food is cooked with a crisp outer crust. If you have a non-stick skillet, you can also try to "fry" that way.

Tip #3: Use Spices (not Fat!) for Flavor

Instead of using butter or oil for flavor, ramp up your spices. Similarly, if you remove fat from a recipe, consider doubling the spices called for.

Use This, Not That:

  • substitute soft or silken tofu for heavy cream
  • use low fat and fat-free non-dairy milks instead of dairy milks
  • use low fat and fat-free meat alternatives instead of meat products
  • substitute peas or edamame for avocado (see my mockamole)
  • use coconut extract instead of coconut
  • replace nuts or seeds with roasted chickpeas or mushrooms

Hummus and plain, unsweetened (vegan) yogurt makes a great alternative to mayo, by the way -- and you can also make your own low-fat mayo and sour cream using my recipes in The Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

Download a handy PDF of this blog post

Also, check out my video "low fat cooking tools" - mighty helpful tips!

re: steamers (in the video) I use this electric steamer (bought on sale for $20). You can also use a metal steamer basket ($8), which are cheap and don't take up any extra kitchen real estate since you can store it in your pot. 

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