By Louise Whiteside

            If you’re like me, you can remember a day when dieting meant bland, uninteresting foods and plenty of forbidden fare. You were warned not to eat (or to limit severely) sugars, fats, simple carbohydrates, and basically, all the ingredients that made food taste good. A diet in years gone by meant drudgery and deprivation.

Well, no longer. Nutritionists, dietitians, food book authors and others who just enjoy eating have discovered ways we can have all the delicious foods we crave while maintaining and/or losing weight. In addition, and good news for diabetics, most of the techniques useful for weight loss also help to maintain a favorable diabetes meal plan. The bottom line today is that eating for pleasure and eating for good health need not be mutually exclusive.

Part of the secret for preparing both delicious and nutritious meals involves learning to make creative substitutions. Here are a few examples of wholesome ingredients that can be used in place of less healthful ones, while creating tasty results at the same time.

Agave nectar.  This sweet syrup from the agave plant tastes similar to sweet, light honey. However, its glycemic index — the ability to raise blood sugar — is far lower than that for sugar or honey, making it a good option for those who must watch their blood sugar.

Buttermilk.  Low in fat and calories, it adds good flavor to recipes and tenderizes baked goods.

Cocoa powder.  This gives excellent chocolate flavor to recipes without the fat and calories.

Cooking and baking sprays.  A wonderful way to reduce fat.  (Use the sprays sparingly.)

Cottage cheese.  When creamed in a blender or food processor, this high protein food can be used in recipes that require cream or milk.

Dairy products.  Although nonfat varieties of milk, yogurt, cheese and sour cream are available, low-fat or reduced-fat products have more flavor and better texture, and still offer a healthful option.

Eggs.  To keep total fat at a healthy level, a higher ratio of egg whites to yolks is a good option, and tastes better than egg substitutes.

Ground beef and ground turkey.  A low-fat food plan calls for 93 per cent lean ground beef and turkey. The two can be combined to produce flavorful ground meat.

Light whipped topping.  This has far less fat than real whipped cream and adds flavor and creaminess to recipes. The reduced-fat type has a better taste and texture than the nonfat kind.

Nonfat half and half.  This has the richness of regular half and half, without the fat.

Oats.  Old-fashioned and quick-cooking oats are high in fiber, and are excellent for toppings.

Orange juice.  An excellent sweetener. Light orange juice offers the taste of the regular type, but contains only half the sugar, carbohydrates and calories.

Pasta.  Whole wheat and multigrain pastas have more protein and fiber, plus more vitamins and minerals, than white pasta.

Strained baby food prunes and other strained baby fruits.  These are wonderful for low-fat baking.

Granulated artificial sweetener.  This may be purchased in bulk or packets, and reduces the sugar and calories of any recipe that calls for sugar.

Tortillas.  Reduced carbohydrate, high-fiber tortillas can be used to create low-carb and calorie-conscious sandwiches and wraps.

Zests.  The grated rinds of oranges, lemons and limes give wonderful flavor (without calories) to a variety of foods.

Flavorings.  Good quality spices and flavorings make a huge difference in reduced-sugar and reduced-fat recipes. (Use genuine vanilla extract.)

Here’s a delicious and not-forbidden recipe to try:

Two-Bite Double Chocolate Muffins  (Makes 24 Muffins)

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large egg whites

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated artificial sweetener

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a nonstick 24-mini-muffin baking pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together first six ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, combine next six ingredients. Stir. Create a well in the center and add the buttermilk mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling each cup two-thirds full.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until center springs back when lightly touched.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing.

Calories per muffin:  100;  fat: 3.5 gm.  carbs: 15 gm.

The reference below offer hundreds more healthy, taste-good recipes.


Koch, Marlene.  Eat What You Love.  Running Press, Philadelphia (2009)     











Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.