Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Diet recipes that don't use low-fat ingredients?

12-06-2008, 10:03 PM
Is there such a thing? I'm trying to figure out how to cook healthy for my entire guy doesn't like low fat ingredients and my daughter is a toddler so she can't really eat them. I know I can always do the baked chicken/steamed vegetable type dinner but that gets old.

Anyone know of more healthy recipes that don't use low fat cheeses and such? Right now I've only figured out spaghetti w/ veggies and pizza w/ turkey pepperoni and such (since mozerella is a lower fat cheese anyway).

12-06-2008, 10:28 PM
There are thousands, if not millions of health-conscious recipes that don't use low-fat ingredients (if by that, you mean fat-free products and not naturally fat-free foods like vegetables).

Also, there's no reason not to substitute a smaller amount of a full-fat version when a recipe DOES include fat-free products.

Even if you're not low-carbing, you can lose weight without using any reduced-fat products.

If you're counting calories, exchanges, points, or carbohydrates, you can use any ingredient.

If you're low carbing, fat actually helps you feel full on less. However, the carb/fat combo can be trigger foods for some folks, so if you find this true for yourself, you may have to be careful.

Even if you're not on South Beach, the South Beach recipes are good choices for most diet plans (except extreme low carb plans).

Flavor does not have to be sacrificed, but you do have to know a few things. Fat = flavor. So, if you want to cut the fat in a favorite family recipe, you may have to increase the seasonings. Also, all fats aren't equal, and they aren't all bad. A little bit of fat goes a long way to increase flavor, so you don't have to remove all the fat from every recipe (in fact, a no fat diet, isn't a healthy diet).
If you google "healthy recipes," "healthy low fat recipes" (if you're looking for that) you'll find an endless supply. But, remember that healthy can mean different things to different people, so the recipes with nutritional information included are the best ones for you to evaluate based on your own concerns.

Granola is often thought of as healthy, but it can be very high calorie. Also what is healthy to an underweight person is different than what is healthy for an overweight person, so there are no "perfect" recipes for any person or family.

Variety and using food ingredients in their most natural forms are your best bet as a general rule.

Check out the recipe sections here, and the library will have tons of books filled with recipes as well.

A few of my favorites:


Cooking chicken or lean pork in a salsa, plain yogurt (Indian seasoning packets are especially good and you can find them in the ethnic section of most grocery stores) or spaghetti sauce on the stovetop in a dutch oven or deep skillet, baking in the oven in a casserole or baking dish, or in the crockpot. Simmering sauces and marinades are also easy to find in the grocery store just read the labels to see if they're reasonable in their fat and sodium content or contain ingredients you object to).


Using light (or regular) italian dressing as a marinade for chicken pieces is excellent. If I use a regular italian dressing, before shaking I just pour off some of the oil (it will be on the top). I marinate the chicken for a few hours, or even overnight and then drain it (throwing away the marinade) and broil, bake, or grill the chicken pieces.

tacos, fajitas, taco or fajita salads, and buritos are easy to make for a family of different health needs. With or without fat-free products if you put the ingredients on the table to serve buffet style, the dieting family member(s) can create their tacos or taco salad using fewer high calorie ingredients and more lower calorie ingredients.

You can use a similar process for a baked potato, salad, hot dog bar supper, or even a pizza bar supper using traditional individual sized pizza crusts, or pita bread, french bread slices, or flour tortillas for pizza crusts.


My favorite veggie recipe (for nearly any veggie, except maybe lettuce), is to shake about a tablespoon or two of a heart-healthy oil (olive oil or canola oil, in my house. I LOVE walnut oil too, but it's pretty expensive) in a ziploc bag with about a pound of fresh veggies cut in bite-size pieces. Because this is at least four servings of veggies, there's only 25 to 50 extra calories per serving). Then when the veggies are damp, I add dry seasonings to the bag and shake again (I like to use dry ranch dressing mix powder - a couple tsps. I buy it in bulk - some ranch dressing mixes contain starches and sugars so if that's a concern you should check first and find seasoning mixes without those ingredients). I've used other premixed mixes and have also created my own (sometimes as simple as salt, garlic, and pepper).

Then pour into a baking dish or cookie sheet and bake until desired tenderness at 400 degrees. Potatoes take up to an hour, and very tender vegetables like zucchini can take as little as 15 minutes. Even my life-long nemesis, brussel sprouts taste wonderful this way.

12-06-2008, 10:50 PM
What kaplods said. Off of the top of my head I can think of several dozen things that are low fat that don't require any recipe changeups.

Meatloaf (made with 1/2 lean ground beef 1/2 lean ground turkey)
Veggie soup
Oven baked "fried" chicken breasts
Baked or grilled fish (salmon, mahi, etc.)
Chicken or pork stir fry
Lentil veggie soup/stew
almost all veggies can be roasted/baked rather than steamed, for variety
roasted or grilled pork loin or pork loin chops
whole grain pastas with any number of veggie/sauce combinations
hamburgers (again made with lean ground beef or turkey)
fritattas (sort of baked omelet type things w/ veggies and/or meat)
tuna casserole

Those are just some of the things we've eaten in the last few weeks that are low fat and reasonably low calorie per serving.

But like kaplods suggested ... do look through the recipe selections here. There are a lot of great ideas!


12-06-2008, 11:22 PM
One thing that really, really does help is to realize that your food choices are only limited by your imagination.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking "there's nothing I can eat," but really your choices are nearly as endless as everyone else's. Being open-minded and even a little adventurous helps a great deal.

But you can't be imaginative without knowing what's out there. Reading about foods and how to prepare them can help. The line between research and food porn can be thin, but there are tons of great books on vegetables and how to prepare them or healthy cooking, or ethnic foods....

Community colleges and hospitals often have healthy cooking classes.

12-06-2008, 11:30 PM
My favorite website is

Tons of recipes and no 'diet' ingredients.

12-07-2008, 01:58 AM
I'm actually having a hard time trying to figure out what I cook that DOES have "diet" ingredients in them.

Veggies, veggies and more veggies - spaghetti squash, butternut squash, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus - roasted, grilled, broiled, sauteed, etc. Seasoned with garlic, thyme, parsley, onions, basil, rosemary, pepper, oregano, cumin, chilli powder, lemon etc. Not a "diet" ingredient in there.

Chicken, fish, turkey - roasted, grilled, sauteed, broiled, baked - with all different herbs, chicken broth, wine, lemon, etc... No diet ingredients here either.

Salads - romaine, spinach, cukes, tomatoes, onions, avocado, bell peppers, etc... served with balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with slivered almonds.

Chilli, soup, stews........

Cooking is a great website for lots of recipes and ideas. You can also just do a google search on, say, "Healthy Cooking" and I'm sure tons of sites will come up.

I'd have to agree that a bit of imagination is required. The possibilities are limitless. Do some experimenting. Have fun with it. :)

12-07-2008, 09:58 AM
I'd agree with Robin as well. Other than the occasional stevia, I don't use any 'diet' ingredients. I read labels on things to make sure they meet my requirements but I buy lots of 'whole foods' type stuff such as beans. whole grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.

12-07-2008, 12:26 PM
These are strictly low-carb recipes (Atkins friendly). There is nothing "diet" about them. They are delicious and I've lost over 100 lbs. eating them:)

12-07-2008, 12:38 PM
I do very little with low fat ingredients, and I don't think any nonfat (that is, altered to be nonfat). I use 2% Greek yogurt, and that's all I can think of at the moment. The only artificial sweetener I use is in Diet Coke, and I try to have that very infrequently.

Mostly, I pay attention to reducing fat in recipes that isn't really necessary, but keeping the fat that makes it tasty and satisfying. So, I might saute in 1 tsp or 1T of oil (depending on quantity of veggies), instead of the several called for in a recipe. I might sub a little broth for oil in a dressing, but there's still a fair amount of good quality olive oil in there. I like to add my fats by way of nuts and avocado, and a sprinkling of strong cheeses. But some oil helps the flavors of dishes.

I've been in the very low fat, high food volume camp before, and thought it was great. I'm swinging more in the direction now of food a bit richer, but in smaller portions. Haven't found my sweet spot yet, but I have lots of time ... :) I'll probably swing back the other way after a while :dizzy:

12-07-2008, 01:51 PM
I think that low-fat diets rarely work very well when you do eat a lot of processed low-fat foods, because they generally replace the fat with sugar, and I think there's more and more evidence that sugar and refined carbs like white flour just makes most people want more flour and sugar. I know that I've read and have definitely experienced myself that combining fat with protein fills most people up longer (as in eggs or steak), but that combining fat with starch or sugar tends to make a person hungrier and more likely to keep eating even after being full (think crackers and a creammy cheese spread or frosted cake).

I'm not sure I know where I'm going here, except there's a lot of conflicting information out there, and it's hard for a person to evaluate any of the claims without doing a lot of reading and being both open-minded AND skeptical (I don't know the magic of getting that right either). Basically, my own standard is that if no one else is saying what the author is - he or she may have a crackpot theory (although many established theories started with a crackpot theory).

It's hard learning to live in shades of gray, because I want ANSWERS not guesses, but the state of nutritional theory, especially for weight loss, at this point is mostly guesses (some are wild guesses, and some are educated guesses - whenever possible follow the educated guesses).

Clear as mud, huh? It's really not that bad. Experiment and pay attention, and you'll find what works for you.

I think a variety of fat/carb/protein levels can work, especially when eating foods that our ancestors ate, and the further back we can imitate the better.

I've been doing a lot of reading on the "ancestor" and no-grain diets, and I'm starting to wonder whether grains and/or gluten are a problem for me. I've read that there may be a connection between grain consumption and autoimmune disease, arthritis, and fibromyalgia (I have all three). Since I've been trying to reduce carbs, my autoimmune disease has stopped progressing (at least at a pace the tests have detected), and I can't say for sure there's a connection, because I can't rule out other causes or even coincidence.

But this past month, I've been eating more carbs, especially sugar and white flour (and blaming the holiday season), and I'm feeling crappy again. Again, I can't dismiss the possibility of chance (and the cold weather), but all of my cummulative experience tells me that a large amount of carbs, hurts me more than helps (or perhaps the culprits are sugar and grains, since I've never eaten a high carb diet that didn't include plenty of one or the other).

It's so hard to know what is healthy, especially during weight loss. There are so many theories, and even going to the research, the results are often difficult to interpret or conflicting. Perhaps different folks have different nutritional needs (which I'm certainly starting to suspect, and there aren't a lot of researchers trying to determine if this is true, and if so how to find out what is best for each nutritional type - though I think this is changing).

12-07-2008, 02:15 PM
I firmly believe that each person has his or her own nutritional needs. Over the last couple of years I've learned that what works for me might not work for someone else ... and that having a one size fits all diet just isn't going to happen.

Obviously the large picture is the same for everyone. But the devil is in the details as they say .. and we all have different details. :)


12-07-2008, 03:02 PM
Even my kids, all teenagers when I started this venture, can't get over the fact what good and tasty and satisfying food we're eating. To this day, way over 2 years that I'm doing this, they still mention to me fairly frequently, just how much they LOVE what I'm feeding them now and what a huge VARIETY of foods we're eating.

Before I made the switch to healthy eating, it was always some kind of heavy fried chicken cutlet dish with either rice or potatoes. Or some pasta loaded with cheese. Now it's delicate and flavorful chicken or fish prepared with all sorts of different spices and seasonings along with some wonderful vegetables. Or some spectuacular tasting soup or chili. You really get to appreciate what you're eating now. It's enhanced with only more good things. Not smothered in - excuse my French - crap.

12-07-2008, 04:10 PM
I was talking to hubby about this today. I eat better when I'm being careful and watching and making an effort - and I don't mean just healthwise. That choosing "amazing" food doesn't have to be high in calorie. It's when I get careless, I end up eating "sloppy."

It isn't that boxed mac and cheese taste better than healthier alternatives. It's fast and cheap. When I'm not feeling well, or the budget is straining, it can be tempting to go for cheap, fast, bulk over something that takes a little more time, effort or money to prepare (there are cheap, healthy foods. There are fast, healthy foods. Heck there are even fast, cheap healthy foods. It's just that there are a lot more junky cheap/fast/easy choices than good ones - and the junky ones are the ones advertised in the commercials, so they're the ones that pop most easily into my head during during a weak moment when I'm strapped for time or cash).

12-07-2008, 05:33 PM
kaplods - maybe you have to find your 'staple' recipe that will fit into your overall plan. I have a staple recipe and its the following:

2-3 cans of different beans (black, pinto kidney, cannelini, etc)
1 can of diced tomatoes
dried onions and dried garlic
some various spices. It really depends how I feel but chile powder is common.
throw all of the above, possibly with a little water into a pan and cook for 20 minutes.
(You can also through some TVP in as well or a can of pumpkin puree)

Then cook a grain. Well I have a rice cooker so its simple. If you like couscous though, all you need to do is boil some water and pour over it, stir wait 5 minutes then fluff.

Then pull out a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer and cook them in the microwave.

For myself, I will usually skip the grain or have very little and I'll eat the veggies and the beans.

It takes me probably 5 minutes of effort and dinner can be ready in 30 minutes. If I'm in a bind for dinner, that is usually what we have.

12-07-2008, 05:51 PM
nelie - I completely agree. It's one of the projects I've undertaken is to create my own fast/easy recipes that fit into my food plan (and star the ones that are also cheap).

I've done it before - I'm a big "list maker" and journaler, but I don't organize the bits of writing, so I misplace the lists and recipes/food ideas. So my goal for this coming year is to become more organized about it, so that the good stuff is as second nature as the not-so-good stuff.

It's like I've got flying down, I just don't have the ability to put it on auto-pilot yet.