Pictured: Loaded broccoli brings bits of goodness without taking calories too far.
As the site continues to grow, I get more contact from readers wondering how they can make some of the high fat dishes low carbers tend to enjoy lower fat to fit their healthy lifestyles. I know not everyone sleeps with their fists filled with bacon at night like I do (don’t judge), so how can you cut the fat if you’re watching your calories or following a lower fat regimen?
1. Leaner protein-er
If you see a recipe for chili or tacos or other beef-based dishes, try subbing in chicken or fish instead, as I did for this easy, gluten free pizza crust. There’s no crime in chicken chili or fish tacos.
Tip: These meats tend to be slightly more dry so be sure to take that into consideration and use food moisturizer (OK, so that doesn’t exist).
Tip: Turkey pepperoni packs less fat per round than your standard pork.
2. Cheese choices
If you’re using a high fat cheese (like my mascarpone, pictured right), consider switching to a lower fat or skim cheese. You might also check out soy or rice based cheeses as well, though they will likely add a few carbs to the equation. My pizza crust recipes use low fat mozzarella and they turn out fabulously.
Tip: If you follow a ketogenic/lower carb lifestyle, pay attention to those labels. You might swap out a high fat cream cheese for a low fat one, only to find out the number of carbs per serving has tripled. When manufacturers remove fat, they tend to up the sugar content.
Tip: Go with a more flavorful cheese. Feta, sparingly sprinkled across a pizza, as an example, lends a ton of flavor with very little fat.
3. Cream the cream
Whether it’s cream soups, ganaches or other dishes, cream is pretty calorically dense. You can, however, cut the fat slightly by switching to half and half, coconut milk or almond milk for at least part of the recipe. Even soups like my mushroom bacon soup (left) can be tweaked with coconut milk, almond milk, or half and half (and turkey bacon).
Tip: Please note that since non-creams be thinner liquids, you might want to consider adding gum (xanthan or guar) or a flour (like arrowroot or amaranth) to thicken.
Tip: A little lower fat cream cheese added into a dish contributes gums/thickener back to the dish, along with some flavor and a dairy feel.
4. Add vegetables
What you take away in meat and fat can, to some degree, be made up with vegetables. Crunchy vegetables, from cabbage to cauliflower, or more filling vegetables, like daikon radish or cauliflower, go a long way in extending a dish. You can even add more spaghetti squash to this Mexican Casserole and less meat.
Tip: Drained sauerkraut added to taco meat or hamburger in the cooking process for tacos and casseroles, especially coupled with kicking spices, lends a shredded beef texture to the dish, and a slight amount of delicious acid.
5. Egg whites
I am not the hugest fan in the world of egg whites in the Marvel Universe, but if you want a lower fat dish, removing most of the yolk is an easy solution. Oopsie rolls, like these, can be made by subbing out some of the yolk, and changing out the cream cheese for either cottage cheese or a lower fat cream cheese.
Tip: Read more at Taste of Home for tips of egg substitutions.
6. Flour power.
Almond and coconut flours tend to contain fat, so there are other options available, such as garbanzo bean flour, amaranth, arrow root, soy flour, oat flour, rice flour and potato flour. These Cranberry, Macadamia White Chocolate Chip cookies are a prime example of a flour swap that could be changed again to lower fat content slightly.
Tip: Please note that the lower fat flours contain more carbohydrates, so seriously– if you use them, be aware of that. Check this page for information about alternative flour counts: Bob’s Red Mill
7. Cottage cheese.
While replacing cream cheese with cottage cheese is what made me hate Atkins in the 80’s, it works. These mini cream puffs are a perfect example of swapping out cream cheese for cottage cheese instead.
Tip: Since cottage cheese is less solid than cream cheese, take that into account when using in recipes. Consider some low carb starch or gum if necessary for thickening.
8. Parchment paper
It prevents sticking, makes cleanup a cinch, and has that cool, vellum vibe going on. I love lining my pans with it for baking, and it eliminates added fats to prevent sticking. You can see it working its magical Richard Simmons unicorn charm underneath this freaky awesome pan pizza (right).
Tip: Don’t confuse waxed paper with parchment. Waxed paper melts when heat is applied to it. Ask me how I know.
Do you have other tips for reducing the caloric and fat contents of your lower carb meals? Share them below!
Kathy Ledesma says
Thanks, Jamie……I especially like your warning about looking at the carb value, tho. Manufacturers really do lower fat and up carbs ! It is a fine balance, isn’t it?
It really is! It’s funny because fat adds such satisfaction that manufacturers have to add something to stimulate brain chemistry and make someone feel satisfied for the lac of fat. I’ve met so many bummed people who, like me, found out the hard way that cream cheese (as an example) easily doubles in carbs when fat is removed, so one really has to account for that.
Excellent suggestions! And proves my point about how many different ways there are to live a low carb life. I’m still trying to lose weight, and when I lower my fat intake right now, I stall. But, I suspect as I get closer to my goal these suggestions will help me immensely. Thanks Jamie!
R Bayne says
No need to lower fat. It’s good for us and does not make us fat! I thought we were past this? Reining back overall caloric intake … maybe. A highly qualified maybe … IF one has been really over doing it. Cutting calories below one’s metabolic baseline will only slow the metabolism, thus lowering the baseline. Our bodies like homeostasis and will do what it takes to achieve that. Do we need a refresher from Gary Taubes?
Hi, Lissa! I am a high fat connoisseur, but a lot of my readers follow lower fat plans like Stillman’s, HCG, or South Beach. I sometimes forget we have so much variety even in our low carbohydrate community, so when I’m reminded that people need this information, I try to provide it. I just sometimes forget unless reminded.
Heck. sometimes I park in front of my house and wonder who’s blocking my mailbox…
And yet another low carber reminding others that we don’t have to worry about fat. If you’re lowering fat, you’re lowering health. Cut the carbs, not the fat! If you cut both, you’ll be hungry all the time! And if you (low fatters, not Jaime) don’t believe us, do more research!
anne h. says
I’m on the verge of giving up on liking food.
I’m glad you come up with such great subs and recipes!
I get that way, too! I am always thinking of the next thing I feel like I’m missing.
You’re the bacon man! What are your thoughts on Canadian Bacon. I mean the real deal Canadian bacon. Not the little rounds of ham we get at the grocery store!
I looove bacon! Yeah, Canadian bacon is less fatty, so it’s definitely a good addition! The texture is also pretty wonderful.
Nice girl! Great tips ya gots there chicka!
Thank you, Susie! It is so good to see you again! I’ve been thinking of you and sending good vibes.
for #7, if you use cottage cheese instead of cream cheese…what do you think of draining the liquid out of it with cheese cloth? Like you can do with yogurt to get the whey out of it? Wouldn’t that make it denser like cream cheese or am I the dense one??? lol
That is a really good idea, Anna! If you did that, a lower fat yogurt, also drained, might work nicely, too… though the yogurt definitely is much softer than drained cottage cheese.
Eeek. This is a rather misguided thread. Carbs are not what you need to worry about – refined sugars and simple carbs are. Complex carbs are necessary for brain function. Additionally, throwing bacon, cheese, and 4 tablespoons of sour cream on a bunch of broccolli is NOT a healthy alternative. Being healthy is about eating natural, whole foods and UNSATURATED fats in moderation. This type of diet is not healthy whatsoever – you need complex carbohydrates for a multitude of reasons including fiber intake and brain power. Replacing all carbs with high amounts of saturated fat (bacon, sour cream, cheese, butter) is not the answer. Eating moderate amounts of complex carbs with unsaturdated fat, such as olive oil, nuts, avocado – is a much better bet. If you must have your sour cream and cheese (as I must!) moderation and balance is a much better approach. America has become obese because we constantly cry out against a food group as a whole (fat in the 80’s, carbs in the 90s) – this is a dated approach that has done us little good. Look at whole and unprocessed foods, fruits and veggies, lean protien, and complex carbohydrates. Don’t deny yourself the good stuff if you want it – but do it in moderation.
Hi, Meg! I think it’s a ‘your mileage may vary’ kind of situation. Saturated fats in the absence of refined carbohydrates and sugar is very healthy; it’s combining the two that tends to cause disease. You are right, though; when you up the complex carbs you must cut the fat. Atkins stated the same thing in his diet plan (he agreed with you–and vice versa), which is why he advocated high fat/low carb amounts in the beginning (a 65% fat, 5% carb ratio) and a much lower fat intake as the carbs increase. I can’t have complex carbs often without feeling hungry, but I know others who fare well on complex carbohydrates. I love that you wrote! Thanks for sharing your experience.