Get more flavor, but fewer calories

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By The Staff

 Looking for ways to make fewer calories deliver more nutrition? 
Search for recipes that help you trim energy intake. Make sure to read all available nutritional information. You can even find phone apps that help you count calories and track other nutritional information such as vitamins, fiber and sugar.

Sometimes, you may need to use a little of “the real thing” to get the flavor you crave. Start by reducing fats and sugars rather than cutting them out completely. Here are some tips for cooking to add flavor without too much fat or added sugar:

For some foods, like cheese or salad dressings, try reduced-fat instead of fat-free products. You may want to try using a ratio of two-thirds reduced-fat product to one-third real thing.

Try using one-third less sugar in your recipes or using a sugar substitute like stevia.

Make your sweet treats count. Cook with fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy ingredients in muffins and in desserts like banana pudding or sweet potato pie.

Add whole-wheat, soy, flax, or oatmeal to pancakes for more flavor and fiber.

Try roasting or smoking vegetables to give them more flavor without added calories.

Herbs and spices give foods distinctive flavors. When food is flavorful we may be satisfied with a smaller amount. Experiment with herbs like marjoram, thyme or rosemary to see what tastes good to you. Buy herbs and spices on sale to stock your shelf with many possible ways to flavor your foods.

Garlic, onions and celery add a lot of flavor with few calories.

When cooking a rice or pasta side dish, add frozen spinach or canned mushrooms to cut calories and add flavor.

Try new recipes and experiment with flavor profiles! Check out this low calorie, low sodium coleslaw recipe.


Apple Coleslaw


2 apples (1 red, 1 green), cored and chopped

1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded (3 cups)

1 cup shredded carrots

1 tablespoon honey

3/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt

Optional: raisins or grapes



1. Mix yogurt and honey in a large bowl.

2. Add other ingredients, mix together lightly.

Nutrition Facts

Makes 12 servings. Serving size: 1/2 cup. Cost per recipe: $3.38. Cost per serving: $0.28. Nutrition facts per serving: 45 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein.


Find more healthy recipes like this on the Oldham Count Extension website, oldham.ca.uky.edu/recipes.



Written by Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist for Food and Nutrition, and Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant. Recipe from Debra Cotterill, Director of Kentucky Extension Nutrition Education Program.