How to use less sugar, fat and salt

October 14, 1997|By Lynn F. Little

Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage eating a diet low in fat and moderate in sugar and salt. If you want to alter frequently used recipes, how low can you go for these three ingredients without sacrificing taste and quality?

Sugar and fat affect tenderness and volume of baked products. Sugar, fat and salt and all add flavor to foods. However, you often can use less of these ingredients and still enjoy the finished product.

Herbs and spices may be used to enhance flavor when reducing sugar, fat and salt. Start with about 1/8 teaspoon for four servings and then let your taste buds be your guide. Here are some guidelines for reducing sugar, fat and salt:


* Use 1/2 cup sugar per cup of flour in cakes. Cakes with less sugar may be more like a quick bread than a cake.


* Use 1 tablespoon sugar per cup of flour in muffins and quick breads.

* Use only 1 teaspoon sugar per cup of flour in yeast breads.

* Add a small amount of vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg to sweet baked products to enhance flavor when you reduce sugars.


* The minimum amount of fat for muffins, quick breads and biscuits is 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup of flour. You usually can reduce fat by at least one-third to one-fourth in baked products.

* Some yeast breads, such as English muffins and French bread, can be made without any fat.

* Use low-fat (1 or 2 percent) skim milk. Substitute evaporated skim milk in recipes calling for regular evaporated milk.

* Oil may be omitted when cooking pasta and rice.

* In casseroles and main dishes, cut back or even eliminate added fat. For example, browning meat in added fat is unnecessary because some fat will drain from the meat as it cooks. Use a nonstick pan and/or cooking spray.

* Substitute fruit purees for fat in recipes where the fruit will enhance the flavor of the finished product.

* Use two egg whites or egg substitute product instead of one whole egg. In some recipes you can decrease the total number of eggs.

* Use vegetable oil instead of solid fats. To substitute liquid oil for solid fats, use about one-fourth less than the recipe calls for. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) solid fat, use 3 tablespoons of oil.


* Use 1/4 teaspoon salt per cup of flour in yeast breads. Salt helps to control the action of yeast.

* Use only half the amount of salt called for in baked products (other than yeast breads.)

* Salt can be reduced or omitted when using other ingredients containing salt, such as cheese, canned soup, canned vegetables, ham or other cured meat.

* Add no more than 1/4 teaspoon salt per pound cooked meat.

* Salt is not necessary when cooking pasta, rice and hot cereals. Try cooking pasta and rice in unsalted broth or tomato juice.

* Use onion and garlic powder rather than onion salt, or other seasoned salts. Start with about half as much powder as of the salt.

Most of us could benefit by modifying what we already eat. One way to modify our diet is to make adjustments in the types and amounts of ingredients in recipes, so the end result is just as satisfying but fits better with Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Maryland Cooperative Extension Service's programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little is an extension educator, family and consumer sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland.

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