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Any idea's to make low fat exciting and delicous?

My sister just had her gall blader removed a few weeks ago and has to be on strict low fat diet for a while. She also says that salad runs right through her (is that because of the dressing? I'm not sure.)
At the same time I would like to enlighten her and her husband to a healthier diet, (ever since the move from London to Atlanta it's been downhill).
I have some of my own ideas... like buttermilk panna cotta and low fat muffins and I have to look into some whole grain recipes, but I need some good brainstorming before I cook for her this weekend.

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  1. Different and interesting seasonings - maybe buy her a gift box from Penzey's with interesting seasoning mixes?


    1. Have you ever tried Middle Eastern foods? They're extremely low in fat and generally healthy. Two books to get you started are Claudia Roden's "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food" and Paula Wolfert's "Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean". Ana Sortun's "Spice" has creative recipes based on Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cooking.

      I really enjoy this kind of food, it has lots of flavor thanks to the spices. You don't feel deprived which is important if you're making a change in your eating habits.

      Indian cooking is also low fat, high in grains and fiber and delicious because of the wonderfully fragrant spices. A good book to look at is Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking".

      If you do a google search, you should find a lot of recipes for these cuisines online so you can experiment to see if either interests you.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cheryl_h

        I recently bought Ana Sortun's "Spice" and I love it, but I havn't had much opportunity to make anything from it yet. I wish I had it with me at the moment. Any recipes from it you would point out yet?

        1. re: Ida Red

          I've eaten at Oleana, her restaurant so that's why I recommend the book. The food is straightforward, delicious without being too fussy. I recall the carrot puree which changed my attitude towards carrots completely. And there's a recipe for chicken with lemon and za'atar which is also served at her restaurant - simple and delicious. There's a recipe for beef with tamarind (I think, I could be mixing this up with a similar dish on the restaurant menu) which sounds like great cold weather food. And someone else posted something about the lamb kibbeh which sounded good.

          I've also been thinking of making her almond ice cream, but I don't think that's low fat.

      2. It is the fiber in the salad and it is a problem that may never go away. I had my gall bladder removed ages ago and still suffer as a friend of mine does too. I am very cautious about a lot of veggies with good reason and rely on good old V8 a lot to get some vegetables in safely and not having to spend most of my day close to the facilities. Watch it on raw fruit and some cooked ones like blueberries.

        Look in your library to see if they have any of the cookbooks from Eating Well magazine and check into the magazine as well. When we used to do low fat I relied on Eating Well for good well flavored low fat dishes. Cooking Light also has some good stuff too but I found that they are really into desserts. I think they both may have web sites and of course at Epicurious you can specify low fat in the advanced search.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          Eating Well's website is excellent, in my opinion: http://eatingwell.com/

          1. re: Candy

            Candy, so does "caution with vegies" mean that whole grains are a problem for her as well? Or are vegi fibers unique only with that problem?
            It sounds like juicing is a good way to get the vitamins in without the fiber there... but I'm wondering if whole grain breads or muffins will be a problem with her, and lentils and beans as well...
            I seem to remember there's two classes of fibers: dietary and _____?

            1. re: Ida Red

              beans don't bother me and one of my favorite comfort foods is the classic French salad of green lentils with leeks carrots bacon lardons a light vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg.

              I frequently enrich my yogurt with ground flax seed which is very heart healthy and does not bother me. When I do eat bread which is not much not often I use a reduced carb bread enriched with vegetable fiber.

              Some of this is just so individual, more trial and error to find out what will work for her and what her system will tolerate. Raw peppers are an issue for me roasted and peeled are okay etc. It will be several weeks before she is over the effects of the gall bladder disease so take it easy on introducing a lot of fiberous things.

          2. I think cheryl's on the right track...lentils and beans are great for low-fat sources of protein. I made a Dal recipe (that I think someone posted on this board) last weekend that was so tasty because of the spices ...chickpeas are awesome too. I'm really getting into tofu now also but that might be way out there for them. Will they eat fish? Please e-mail me if you think they can use any of these recipes, valnaples@aol.com.

            1. Pasta,Pasta,Pasta! Grill the vegetables and the meats, toss with garlic, herbs and olive oil. The combinations are endless, the flavors exciting, the cost low, and very fast to make.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mattrapp

                Yes...and they make really tasty whole grain pasta's now..some with flax in them.

              2. I recommend Chef Paul Prudhomme's book "Fork in the Road," which is a low-fat cookbook that he developed after his own gallbladder surgery. Although many of the recipes use fruit juices to add flavor, I've found it's not always necessary (I substitute non-fat chicken stock). I make a few of the recipes quite frequently, and don't think of them as low-fat - just delicious.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Akatonbo

                  I'll pick it up tonight... but do you think it's an intimidating cookbook for someone who doesn't cook "out of the box" too often?

                  1. re: Ida Red

                    Not at all - some of my favorite recipes from the book are very easy, like the Oven Fried Talapia (his spelling); some are a little more work, but still not very complex, like the Smothered Flank Steak; and some you can make partly ahead of time, like the filling for the Turkey Tacos (as I said, I substitute chicken stock for the apple juice).

                2. Sally Schinder's "A New Way to Cook" might be a good place to start. Its an excellent resource with a wide range of recipes from many culinary traditions, plus a lot of general techniques and recipe outlines that can improvised on. Easy to follow, very tasty.

                  1. Chilis! Fresh, dried, whatever. They add incredible zest to almost any dish (not so much with cold cereal I've found). It doesn't have to be incendiary, either. There are lots of very mild peppers with loads of great taste.

                    1. For a dessert treat: Angel Food cake! I have mine with berries (fresh or frozen/defrosted, depending on the season) and top it with (sorry Chowhounds) fat free cool whip. If the berries are a problem, she could top it with another fruit, or chocolate syrup.
                      Another good dessert (can you tell I've been on Weight Watchers for years?) is "No Fudge" brownies. The mix for these is available at Trader Joe's and other stores. You mix it with vanilla yogurt (I use non-fat) stick it in the microwave and ina minute (literally) you have a yummy chocolate treat. You can make one serving at a time in the same bowl you eat it from. Again top it with Cool Whip Free and it's quite a tasty fat free snack.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Lgalen

                        We grill Angel Food cake and then top with grilled peaches... in fact, I think it's in our low-fat grilling cookbook!

                      2. Indian and Mexican>Both involve lots of veggies, tomatoes, chiles, spices, rice, beans and other goodies. Plus, you can limit the meat, cheese and oils if you cook at home.

                        1. Well, how helpful and timely--I just had my gall bladder out two weeks ago.

                          1. I like the Moosewood Low-Fat Cookbook and also Moosewood Daily Specials for soup and salad recipes. My low-fat salad dressing is 2T orange juice, 1 T wine vingar, 1 1/2T olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and I add 1/2 tsp lemon pepper which was in an old Curves diet book. I hope she will be able to eat whole grains because according to my husband's nutritionist, they are very important to a low-fat diet. His favorite weekend lunch is buffalo burgers on whole wheat hamburger rolls, both of which are readily available in our local grocery chains. (Buffalo comes in vacuum sealed packages.) Frankly, I don't care for ground turkeyburgers. It helps to have meals that don't require the addition of butter. I love whole wheat couscous instead of baked potato, for example. For vegetables that we think need butter (i.e. corn on the cob) we use the "I Can't Believe it's Butter" or similar spray found next to the margarine. Avoid foods with hydrogenated oils. I find plain brown rice to be boring. We much prefer a mixed brown rice from Lundberg Farms. The easy way to make it more interesting is to add some frozen green peas during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
                            Watch out for low-fat products that contain more carbs than regular. This is true of a lot of ice creams. During cooler months I make a weekly soup meal which I than finish up for brown bag lunches. I'm very impressed with the seasonings and flavors in the Moosewood cookbooks. Many of the recipes are ethnic. For inexpensive spices and herbs, I buy at our local health food store where you can measure out just what you need instead of buying a bottle. After all, I don't like anatto that much!

                            1. I find a great way to add rich creaminess without the fat is to drain some non-fat yogurt. Just put in a coffe filter or cheesecloth and let drain over a bowl for a few hours. The result is rich and creamy. I stir in lemon zest or any sort of herbs to make a yummy spread for sandwiches, garnish for soups and pastas, or dip.


                              1. I have had good luck substituting applesauce for part of the fat in muffin and quick bread recipes. For instance, if a recipe calls for 2/3 cup oil, I might use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil. Also, if the recipe calls for 2 eggs, use 1 egg and 1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt. I also tend to cut back on the sugar and substitute some King Arthur white whole wheat flour for part of the white flour. I end up with a much more healthful result.

                                Sarah C

                                1. Just as an FYI, the gallbladder stores bile, which breaks down fat, so the body is in the process of re-figuring out fat digestion after the GB is removed.

                                  Garlic and onions are great flavor additives, as are fresh herbs.

                                  For a less exciting, but soothing, low low cal dessert/snack, make popsicles out of crystal light or sugar free kool-aid.