In this day and age, people are searching and yearning for a healthier lifestyle.

The glory days of high-fat sauces that make the heart nearly seize up at the thought are replaced with low-fat, lighter versions by some of today’s top chefs. Burgers and fries are giving way to wraps, rolls and health-conscious fast food. Even the ballpark, home to the hot dog, has been inundated by modern, lighter, fusion cuisines and Cajun recipes.

Obviously, since these trends have indicated to the “movers and shakers” of the industry to change the way they design their menus totally, most of us are interested in lowering our fat intake and living healthier.

In keeping with this movement, here are my 20 TIPS to help you achieve your goals. These will help you cook more healthy meals for you and your family, and assist you in maintaining a proper weight and just plain “feel great”!!!

1. Trim all meats well before cooking, regardless of the method you are using. This will cut down on fat directly at the source.

2. Don’t use fat drippings for making gravy and sauces. Although some flavor is lost in the process, this will be made up for by lower overall fat content.
You can remove the fat in a few easy ways.

a. allow to sit for 5minutes, then skim with a spoon or ladle
b. chill and remove from the top very easily
c. My Mom’s trick, toss ice cubes into hot stock, fat sticks to the cubes ;-)

3. Use herbs, spices and additional flavorings to make up for removing fat. Since fat makes everything taste good (hence the reason we’re hooked on it), compensating with things like basil, chillies, garlic, ginger, etc....will enhance the flavor of the dish so you won’t miss it. Hey, you might even create a new recipe to call your own!

4. Use low-fat methods instead of frying. Grilling, broiling, poaching, roasting, etc. are excellent ways to prepare food without adding unnecessary oils or fats.

5. Marinate meat, fish, chicken...almost anything, including tofu, before cooking. This locks in flavors and gives you a base to work on when you create your dish. Sky’s the limit!!

6. If you are roasting or broiling, put meats on a rack to allow the fat to drip from the meat. You don’t want it to act like a sponge and soak up any fat.

7. Don’t cook well-trimmed beef to anything more than medium, it will be dry and tough. You’ve already trimmed off the fat, and with it, a lot of moisture.

8. Season in layers. Adding a pinch of salt when you add each set of ingredients will build flavor, like a foundation. It will require far less salt as an end result.

9. Instead of reaching for the salt to finish seasoning, try a bit of lemon juice or maybe your favorite variety of vinegar. A lot of the time, the acid will accent without any added salt.

10. Reduce or cut out the fat in your recipes by adding other liquids. Milk, soy milk, wine, stock, etc. may be used as a replacement for the quantity removed, depends on the recipe.

11. Use non-stick sprays instead of oil for sauteeing or frying. There are pumps available that allow you to use the oil of your choice, and save you money on the spray variety.

12. Saute your veggies in wine or a well seasoned stock instead of using oil at all. This will also flavor the dish, resulting in less salt being used.

13. When you do use oils, choose unsaturated ones like canola and olive oil. Olive oil is a known anti-oxidant to keep your body running smooth. Delish too!!!

14. In order to maximize the flavor of stocks, reduce them to half of their original volume. You will be amazed at the flavor. Remember to season after, it will become very concentrated!

15. Use different methods of thickening your sauces and gravies. Pureed vegetables, bread crumbs, flour and water, cornstarch.....even instant or leftover mashed potato work well.

16. Consider being at least part-time vegetarian. Vegetable proteins are processed by the body much easier than animal proteins, thereby helping your body work much more efficiently. Most vegetarian diets are low-fat/high-fibre, exactly what your body needs.

17. Look at soy products like tofu (yes, tofu) as a meat alternative. Soy is an excellent source of protein calcium, vitamins and minerals and is low in fat.

18. Check out various, healthy, Old World cuisines. The Asian and Mediterranean styles of eating have long been known to be the most healthy diets anywhere in the world. Visit the Cajun recipe blog and learn how to make various spicy and delicious meals. And the possibilities...endless.

19. For low-fat snacks, brush pita bread or tortillas with olive oil, then season with your favorite blend of spices. Cut into wedges, brown lightly in the oven and serve with low-fat dip or salsa. You’ll never open another bag of chips again!!!

20. DO THIS DAILY...drink 6-8 glasses of water (not juice, not pop, water!) This may seem trivial, but our bodies are 75% water and it is essential for our maximum health. Not only that, but drinking 8 glasses of ice water a day burns 200 calories just by your body having to warm it up to 98 degrees!
There you have it, 20 great tips for a healthy diet. Remember to play with your food!

Author's Bio: 

If you are looking for Cajun recipes, visit Spicy Cajun Kitchen for more information.