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Ways to slim down your meals: cooking light

Bake, roast, poach, steam, boil or grill foods instead of

frying them. Or try stir-frying, with very little fat, using a nonstick wok.

Wherever possible, avoid using butter, ghee, lard and other sources of saturated fat. Replace them with small amounts of unsaturated fats (eg. vegetables oils such as corn oil, groundnut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil or olive oil). aclepsa.com

Saut? meat or vegetables in broth, fruit juice, wine or Worcestershire sauce, instead of oil.

Nix one-fourth to one-third of the oil, ghee, butter or margarine in most conventional recipes. It won't affect the flavour of the food.

Make sure the oil is sufficiently hot before you put in food for frying. Cold oil tends to soak into the food.

Try lemon juice, vinegar, herbs or spices to season foods instead of butter or margarine.

Brinjal absorbs more oil in cooking than any other vegetable — four times as much in deep-frying as potatoes. Try baking or steaming it instead.

Shred or grate cheese whenever possible. It helps a little cheese go a lot further.

Rinse regular cottage cheese (paneer) by placing it in a strainer under cold running water. This removes a considerable amount of the cheese's fat (as well as some of the sodium.)

Add a rich "meaty" flavour to a vegetarian stew without upping the fat or cholesterol by adding two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the pot.

Bake, rather than deep-frying, onion rings for, say, a steak accompaniment.

Toast, rather than frying, bread cubes for croutons.

Make a creamy but low-fat blend for mashed potatoes, using a puree of equal proportions of low-fat cottage cheese and skim milk.

Use skim milk (and less sugar) in puddings.

While baking, you can always:

Use low-fat curds or low-fat sour cream when sour cream

is called for.

Replace one whole egg with two egg whites in recipes for cookies, cakes and shortbreads. The fat (and cholesterol) are in the yolk, not in the white.

Include sweet spices such as cinnamon and all-spice to make up for the flavour that is lost when fat is reduced. Grated orange rind perks up flavour, too.

Use fruit juice instead of some of the fat in cakes.

Replace whole milk with low-fat or skim milk.

Make soft-drop cookies; they generally contain less fat than rolled cookies.

Make single-crust pies: for instance, try a crust made with 1 cup of cream-cracker crumbs and 3 tablespoons of soft margarine.

WATCH IT! Try not to eliminate fats completely when baking. Non-fat muffins, for instance, tend to be rubbery; if you use just a small amount of fat, it brings in the texture and taste you'd expect from muffins. The minimum amount of fat you need for muffins and quick breads is 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat per cup of flour.

The minimum for cakes is 2 tablespoons of fat per cup of flour.