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Last week we talked about spicing up our dishes, both in the literal and the menu sense-this week I'd like to talk about using spices to "lighten" up our dishes.  

By using spices and herbs we add heaps of flavor, possibly texture and therefore we can drop the extra fat and calories-if we do it right.

To lighten up recipes in a figure saving sense-you probably all know how to start:

Don't fry-use the 3 B's:  Bake, Broil, BBQ

Use marinades or rubs to add a lot of flavor to your proteins.  Yes, they have oil in them, but you leave most of it in the Ziploc or bowl, not on the food.  

Don't be afraid to use a good deal of whatever mix you chose.  Remember, it has to be absorbed into the protein (or veggies for that matter), if you go "sparingly"-the taste will be spare.

Use baked chips and oven "fry" potatoes.  Use olive oil spray and then toss the veggies with whatever spices you're using.

Swap out low fat yogurt that you've drained in some cheese cloth for sour cream or even cream cheese.  Use low-fat versions of cheeses and dressings.  Add the herbs and spices so that the missing fat isn't as noticeable.  Use skim milk for full fat.  Use buttermilk in dressing that call for mayo or sour cream.

In baking-start small, but swap out part of the fat with unsweetened applesauce, pureed bananas or prunes.  Hydrate the prunes first in some hot water or juice for an hour or so before blending.

I've trimmed the fat and skin off of whatever I can for probably all my cooking life.  And try a vegetarian meal  once or twice a week-but don't add a pound of cheese to whatever you're making.  Try tofu, beans and rice, a vegetable pasta dish with just an ounce of a low fat cheese.    

Friday we'll share some low cal versions of our favorites.

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