Secret Substitutions to Make the Foods You Love Even Better
We found deliciously sneaky ways to make lighter tuna salad, a lower-calorie noodle dish and even better-for-you bacon.
Instead of mayonnaise, try...
Cottage cheese. This classic diet food is a surprisingly effective binder for chicken and tuna salads—it has that salty, tangy taste you find in mayo, but a fraction of the calories if you use a low-fat version. You can also use cottage cheese on sandwiches or burgers; just toast the bread first to make spreading easier.
Instead of white pasta, try...
Shirataki noodles. This Japanese wonder is made from a plant root, and, amazingly, has no calories
. New York City chef Jesse Schenker, who cooks at the restaurant Recette
and recently lost 60 pounds, says he often prepares them for lunch or dinner. The noodles are packed in water, and while you can boil them just as you would regular pasta, Schenker likes to skip that step, and instead rinse and dry them, then turn them into a crispy pancake. He tops the dish—which closely resembles the pan-fried noodle dishes you find in Szechuan restaurants—with seared shrimp, roasted broccoli, chopped tomatoes and basil.
Get the recipe: Shirataki Noodle Pancake with Shrimp and Broccoli
Instead of bacon, try...
Baked ham. There's a way to get hot, crispy slices of pork without all the fat: Follow the advice of chef Jeff Mahin, chef at the pizzeria Stella Barra
, which has two California outposts. He lays slices of deli ham on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; covers them with another piece of parchment; and then presses another sheet pan on top, to keep the meat flat. Mahin bakes the ham at 275 degrees until crispy (about 25 minutes). It's perfect in an egg sandwich, crumbled on top of mac ‘n' cheese or chopped and sprinkled over salad.
Instead of eggs, try...
Pureed pumpkin. Whether you're baking sweets or making a savory dish that calls for an egg as a binding agent (such as meatballs), Celine Steen, who blogs about vegan cooking at Have Cake Will Travel
, says you can use pumpkin puree instead. She knows the squash may seem out of place, but promises you can't detect the flavor—and you'll be rewarded with moist, light baked goods—or even meatballs (vegetarian or not). Use about a quarter-cup of puree to replace/as a substitute for each egg.
Instead of soy sauce, try...
Bragg's Liquid Aminos. This bottled ingredient
sounds like something you'd find in a science lab, but chefs and home cooks swear by its ability to add a salty, savory (some call it "umami") dimension to dishes without loads of sodium (it has about 100 mg less per serving than low-sodium soy sauce). Liquid aminos are made from soybeans, and you can add a few shakes to anything from stir-fries to sautéed spinach to meatloaf. Ric Scicchitano, head chef of the Corner Bakery Cafe
chain, buys it in a spray bottle and uses it on steamed rice for instant flavor.
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