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Whether you believe all the recent hot weather we’ve been having is due to global warming or that it’s just another hot summer in Southeast Michigan, one thing is for sure: hot weather is the perfect time to enjoy a “Lite” and satisfying meal.
Just what is a “Lite” meal?
“Lite” (Light) meals are generally low in calories but high in nutritional value. They provide enough carbohydrates to maintain energy and enough calories and protein to produce a lasting feeling of fullness. High-calorie meals, especially those high in fat and or sugar, are “heavier” and often lead to uncomfortable feelings of overindulgence, drowsiness and bloating. Focusing on light meals can help eliminate these problems while still providing your body with the calories and nutrients it needs.
How do I know if my recipe is “Lite”?
Quite simply, “Lite” recipes use low-calorie ingredients like nonfat dairy products, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. They use added fats sparingly, and include whole grains instead of “processed” ones.
Eating “Lite” Throughout the Day
It may seem as if skipping breakfast is the best option for reducing caloric intake and making a healthy diet work, but that’s not the case according to many experts. Consider eating a big breakfast and gradually reducing the size of your subsequent meals throughout the day. A stack of hot pancakes with lots of butter and syrup, coupled with sausage and bacon may be tempting, but a breakfast of whole-grain cereal with skim milk, fresh fruit, juice and low-fat yogurt is a MUCH better choice if you want to eat “Lite.”
It’s also a good idea to reduce the portion sizes of those mid-meal snacks and your subsequent meals later in the day, focusing on larger portions of fruits and vegetables while keeping your meat choices lean and more sparing.
“Lite” Cooking Techniques
Thankfully, there are MANY cooking techniques that can produce fabulous “Lite” meals. It’s more the ingredients than the method actually. With the exception of breaded, deep-fat-fried foods, most every cooking method can achieve “Lite” results. For example:
- A roasted chicken
- A meat and fresh-vegetable stir fry (Use a spare amount of vegetable spray instead of liquid oil.)
- Steamed anything
- Pan-seared fish or lean meats (not breaded)
- Broiled meats (Don’t be tempted to then finish with butter or a heavy cream sauce.)
- Grilling To grill “Lite,” avoid oily marinades and sweet barbecue sauces, and trim your steaks of excess fat.
- Microwaving, like steaming, pretty much eliminates the need for fats and other “heavier” ingredients.
Other “Lite” Tricks
- Use broth instead of oils to simmer meats and seafood rather than sautéing them.
- Use fresh herbs and spices to help eliminate the need for oils, butter and salts.
- Cream-like sauces can be made from low-fat milks and reduced broths, thickened with arrowroot or even cornstarch to eliminate the use of butter and a flour roux.
- Consider low-fat cheeses and egg whites instead of whole eggs (or yolks). Keep in mind that one egg yolk contains just slightly more fat than does one pat of butter.
- Low-fat ricotta cheese or plain low-fat yogurt can replace sour cream.
- Non-stick cooking spray can replace oil when sautéing.
- Remove the skin from chicken before cooking to reduce unhealthy calories in your meal.
- You can remove even more fat from soups and gravies. Colander under warm water to remove even more fat.
- Admittedly, fat adds flavor, but spicing up your foods with a little heat can mask the fat’s absence.
Ok, ready to try some “Lite” recipes? Here’s a half dozen to get you started. And they’re waiting for you in Nino’s recipe archives!
- Blackened Yellowfin Tuna with Fresh Pineapple Salad
- Pulled Rotisserie Chicken Bistro Saute
- Chilled, Asian Chicken Chop
- Pan Seared & Roasted Cod with Portofino Sauce
- Garden Vegetable Nicoise Salad with European Greens
- Sesame & Teriyaki Grilled Spinach Salad
What are some of your favorite “lite” recipes?