If you're looking for ways to trim calories and saturated fat from your family's diet without sacrificing taste, you can literally trim fat from the meat dishes you serve. In many instances, you save more calories if you trim the fat before cooking rather than after. However, you can also cut the fat and calorie content of the meats you cook during the cooking process.
A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards. A serving of lean meat has approximately 45 calories and up to 3 g of fat; a serving of high-fat meat has at least 8 g of fat and more than 100 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fat also plays a large role in keeping meat juicy and flavorful as the fat melts into the meat during the cooking process. The more fat your cut of meat contains, the more fat the meat absorbs during cooking. To reduce the amount of fat absorbed into meat, trim the fat before you cook.
Baking, broiling or roasting your meat dishes is less fattening than frying. Using a drip pan in the oven while you cook allows you to leave some fat on the meat to retain moistness, while eliminating some of the excess fat. Boil meat in a soup or stew and refrigerate the dish overnight. The next day, skim the fat from the surface. Use canola or olive oil and nonstick cookware for meat dishes to reduce the saturated fat content. Try cooking methods such as steaming and simmering to keep meats moist and juicy. Flavor lean meats with spices, herbs or dry salad dressing mixes.
Much of the fat contained in poultry is concentrated in the skin. If you're watching your weight, don't eat the skin. However poultry contains much less fat than red meat, so it's OK to cook poultry, especially turkey, with the skin on to retain moisture and juiciness. Baking, broiling and roasting poultry also reduces the fat content. Concentrate on the lean portions of the bird such as the breast, rather than the thighs and drumsticks.
Fish is a low fat alternative to red meats and poultry, although some species of fish may carry high mercury content. If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or breastfeeding, do not consume fish with high mercury content: king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish. Focus on other types of fish to provide a tasty, low fat source of protein for your family. Many species of fish are high in Omega-3, an essential fatty acid, providing an additional health bonus.
- Valley Health System: How Meat and Poultry Fit in Your Healthy Diet; June 2011
- KVAL.com; Diet Detective's Fast and Extreme Weight Loss Guide For Weddings, Reunions and Bathing Suit Season; Charles Stuart Platkin; April 2011
- All Chidren's Hospital: 20 Things You Can Do to Reduce Fat in Your Diet; 2011
- MayoClinic.com: Exchange list: Meat and Meat Substitutes; 2011
- West Michigan Heart: Healthy Cooking Techniques
- Recipe Tips: Beef Tips and Techniques; 2011
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