Step away from the stovetop
Grilling and roasting don’t take extra oil or butter like pan-frying does. Throw meats and veggies on the grill or in the oven for all of the flavor but none of the extra fat. When reheating, a microwave oven is a good bet. Don't miss these healthy food swaps that save money.
Pick the right cookware
Sautee the right way
To get back some of the flavor you’re missing on the stove without oil, try using another liquid. Cooking wine or vegetable stock will make your vegetables flavorful and tender. If oil is your only option, use nonstick vegetable oil spray instead of your regular pourable bottle. These are chef secrets for cooking with vinegar.
Find new veggie condiments
If you wrinkle your nose at plain steamed vegetables, don’t assume butter is the only way to make them more appetizing. Squeeze on lime or lemon juice, or add a splash of seasoned rice vinegar. Here are cooking tricks to make veggies you hate taste way, way better.
Thicken soups without cream
You can still get that creamy consistency without your go-to dairy add-in. Toss in instant mashed potato flakes or a cooked and mashed potato, then make it smooth with an immersion blender. Don't worry, potatoes aren't the starchy, empty calories you think—they're just one of many "unhealthy" foods you should stop demonizing.
Tweak dessert recipes
A lot of times, the butter and oil that cake recipes and other baked goods call for are fairly arbitrary, meaning you can reduce the amount without majorly changing the texture or taste. Try cutting the suggested amount of half—if it’s too thick, add a bit more liquid. You can also experiment with subbing in applesauce, canned pumpkin, or mashed banana for some of the fat.
Bake open-top pies
Skip the top crust on pies (apple pie! peach pie! yummm) to immediately cut out butter or shortening. With a delicious fruit filling and a tasty bottom crust, you won’t miss that extra layer on the top. These are other healthy ingredient substitutions you never thought to try.
Choose homemade salad dressing
Even homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes can be chock-full of oil. Sub out all or some of the oil for vegetable stock, bean cooking liquid, or seasoned rice vinegar. For a thicker consistency without mayonnaise or sour cream, heat a tablespoon of cornstarch and a cup of water over the stove, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and clear.
Don’t go nuts
Depending on the recipe, an overload of nuts could be adding a ton of extra calories to an already high-fat dish. To keep that crunch you crave, replace excess nuts with crisp diced vegetables, fruit chunks, or a low-fat cereal like Grape-Nuts. But don't cut all your good fats quite yet—these are clear signs you need more healthy fats.
Big portions, big weight loss
Dr. Barnard is a physician and founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit that advocates changing federal nutrition policies. His eating program aims to help you choose foods that will boost your metabolism and drop pounds. To learn more about it, check out his book Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight: The Negative Calorie Effect.