Tips for low-fat cooking can fall into one of four categories: food choice, cooking methods, food modification and recipe substitution. In many cases, the easiest way to reduce the amount of fat in cooking is to start with foods that are already fat-free or low in fat. Cooks can further reduce fat consumption by using fat-free or low-fat cooking methods. In situations where a cook is working with food that contains fat, it is sometimes possible to reduce the amount that diners consume by cutting away or removing the fat during the food preparation process. Finally, cooks can modify recipes by substituting non-fat or low-fat products for high-fat ingredients and oils.
Individuals who rely on low-fat cooking for health or personal reasons may wish to first reassess the foods that they eat. Some, such as vegetables, fruits and grains are virtually fat-free. By using these foods in cooking and selecting recipes that incorporate them, cooks can easily reduce the fat content in the dishes that they serve. Cooks can also reduce the amount of fat in some foods through various preparation methods: skin can be removed from chicken, fat can be trimmed from steaks and chops and egg yolks can be discarded during the preparation of omelets.
Other low-fat cooking techniques include learning how to make appropriate recipe substitutions. In some cases, this may be a matter of using a low-fat version of an ingredient, such as skim milk instead of whole milk. In other cases, low-fat cooking may call for substituting an ingredient that provides texture for a cooking fat or oil: applesauce is typically substituted for oil when preparing baked goods. Some food manufacturers have also developed low-fat versions of common foods, such as fat-free half-and-half cream or low-fat egg substitutes. These ingredients are commonly used in low-fat cooking so as to provide diners with an acceptable substitute for favorite foods and recipes.
Low-fat cooking methods reduce or eliminate the need for added fats. One of the simplest ways of reducing cooking fats is to use non-stick cookware. Another option is to use a commercial cooking spray or an oil mister on pans to create a slick surface that does not add significant calories or fat to the food. Other low-fat cooking methods include poaching, baking, broiling and roasting. Cooks using these methods may decide to pay special attention to the flavor of the low-fat foods, adding additional salts and seasonings to make up for the flavor that fats often add to recipes.