Cooking Tips To Lighten Up

Believe me, cooking is not my strength. I’m known for many ‘flambés’ but not the good kind. I’m often convinced that weight management for me is simply a result of poor cooking skills on my part.


Then again, there’s always an abundance of good food everywhere: from the amazing food friends can cook up, to restaurant visits to just plain old junk out there, I have plenty of opportunity to fatten up if I didn’t pay attention.


I think one of the reasons I’m not a stellar cook is that I’m always looking for ways to lighten things up or increase their nutritional density. (Often with disastrous results.)


You’re likely going to be WAY more successful in the kitchen than I am with these tips, but never the less, I’ll share my top tips to creating (edible) and healthy food.



(I know that the two of these things aren’t mutually exclusive, just in my kitchen…must have something to do with the altitude or lighting, ha!)


  • Recipes are simply ‘suggestions’. That is, if you’re willing to accept the odd disaster, you can substitute a variety of ingredients to increase nutrition and decrease fat and sugar. Be prepared for a few near misses and don’t cook for your mother-in-law or anyone you want to impress first time out. You’ll be more apt to be successful with your substitutions with practise, so write down ingredients and quantities that you change up.


  • Consider the method of cooking. I know this should be a no-brainer. I’m not against using fat for cooking as I once was in my ‘no fat’ bodybuilding days, but you can lighten up a recipe by sautéing veggies or the like in vegetable broth instead of cooking oil and save some healthy fat for use in another dish.


  • Spice spice spice! Did I mention spice? Use a ton of spices in your cooking to add flavour and interest to any dish. In addition, spices have some amazing health benefits from increasing blood sugar sensitivity (cinnamon), to increasing immunity (garlic).

  • Kiss a Greek – That is, for creating high protein, low fat Greek yogurt. You can substitute this in for sour cream, in dips, as a thickening agent.


  • Make it ‘old’ or ‘sharp’. I’m referring to cheese here. If you’re cooking with cheese, or even eating it, choose cheeses that are strongly flavoured and you don’t need to use or eat as much to get your cheese fix.

  • Cottage cheese is your friend. In recipes that require ricotta or feta, swap those out with half low fat cottage cheese. You’ll keep that cheesy taste and texture and lose some of the fat.


  • Make your own marinades. Marinate lean meats in vinegar and citrus combos (with a bit of oil added) rather than a pre-made oil-based dressing. You can also try a fruit juice or wine. These agents will still tenderize and flavor the meat, and a mix of herbs and spices will bring out the flavor! (You’ll also save sodium by not using the store-bought varieties!) Try cutting the meat in strips before dousing it to really let the marinade take effect.


  • No skin. Avoid the skin on chicken and turkey, although tasty, there’s no nutritional value there. Cook chicken and turkey with the skin on to retain moisture, but resist that temptation to eat it.


  • Play ‘hide and seek’ with veggies. You can add body to soups and sauces as well as increase nutritional density by pureeing veggies and hiding them there. You’ll increase nutrients and fibre and no one will be the wiser.

  • Drink up. Enjoy loads of lemon-flavored water or other no calorie beverage. Good food often goes with good drink, but your meal can be sabotaged when it’s chased with high calorie drinks, alcoholic or not. You can check this post to see what happens when alcohol is added to the mix.




For as poor a cook I am, I never give up in the kitchen. I think that my cooking is better for me over time than constantly eating out. Eventually I cook up a winner so this intermittent re-enforcement keeps me trying new recipes in the kitchen.


If you’re looking for help with your nutrition, you can give my online nutrition program a try. I feel like anyone can be a good cook if they don’t pay any attention to nutrition. Use this program to get your nutrition in check, you can even add recipes and get nutritional feedback. Get a nutrition report card based on what you’re eating, choose from 1000’s of meal plans, dial in your specific needs, best of all, test drive it for a week for free. Click here to find out more.


Do you have any tried and true tips you can share with us?






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