Choosing the right pans for low-fat cooking: A guide

Lana Bandoim's picture
Meat in a pan

If you are trying to lose weight, then altering what you eat and how you cook can be some of the most important changes you make. Although choosing healthier foods by swapping dark meat for white meat or selecting fruit over chips for a snack is easy, learning to cook in a new way can present bigger challenges. It may even require some new kitchen equipment. Before investing in new pots and pans, you want to take a closer look at what makes cookware great for low-fat food preparation. The following are features to look for in your kitchen tools.

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Go for the grill

You do not need to own a big backyard grill to enjoy the benefits of this low-fat cooking technique. You can buy grill pans that fit on a traditional stove. The benefit of grilling comes from grill grates, the raised portions of a grill pan, allowing you to cook meat, so it does not marinate in its own fat. Instead, you can use low-fat marinades or seasonings that give a big burst of flavor. You may want to try vinaigrettes, citrus and herbs.

The nonstick pan option

Nonstick pans are the obvious choice when learning to cook low-fat foods. If they are nonstick, you do not need to use fats to prevent foods from sticking to the pans. Unfortunately, some cooks hesitate to use nonstick pans because they are worried about Teflon, which is a material frequently used to create the nonstick quality.

Teflon is also written as the compound shorthand PTFE, and some brands like WearEver’s Pure Living line advertise that they are PTFE free. On the other hand, other well-reviewed products like Paula Deen’s Signature line of pots openly discuss the value of Teflon coating. So, what is the big controversy?

Many people believe that it is dangerous to eat food prepared in Teflon pans because metal implements can scrape off the coating, and it can be ingested. Although this is a concern, it is also dangerous to overheat Teflon because it can produce toxic fumes.

Responsible use of Teflon pans makes it unlikely that any of these issues will pose a significant health issue. You do not want to use metal tools on your Teflon pans because it will damage the nonstick coating and do not leave the pan empty over high heat. The dangerous fumes are typically only produced well above the smoke point of cooking oils, so it is not a danger in normal cooking practices.

Classic cast iron

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It is hard to go wrong with a cast iron pan when choosing cookware. This classic material heats evenly and holds heat well, and with proper use, they are also nonstick. Cast iron does require extra effort to maintain it.

You will need to season a new cast iron pan, a process that involves treating it with oil and heating it, so that the oil is baked into the pan. Although this may not sound like the healthiest process, baking a small amount of oil into the pan during the seasoning process will dramatically reduce the amount of oil you have to use in your day-to-day cooking.

Treated properly, a cast iron pan will outlive you, so these pans make great investments and can always be passed along to future generations if you no longer use them. However, as any cast iron pan user will attest, once you have got well-seasoned pans, they are impossible to give up.

To fry or not to fry

Of all the cooking possibilities, frying gets the worst rap, so it is likely the first cooking strategy you will try to ditch as you work toward healthier eating. Does this mean you cannot fry anything again? The answer is more complicated.

If done properly and in moderation, you can still fry things occasionally, and other than a grill pan, your new nonstick skillets and cast iron pans will allow you to do this. What matters most is what you fry and how long you fry it because it takes time for the food to take in oil. If you stop before oil is absorbed, you can fry foods without causing them to become too greasy or fatty. Nevertheless, for most people, it is easier to learn new cooking techniques than to learn the precise method for frying food this way.

Getting past the learning curve

Any task is easier to do if you have the right tools, which means it is important to invest in appropriate pans when learning to cook low-fat foods. You do not need many pans, but you do need a few that will allow you to do the job right. You will be surprised how easy it is to change your eating habits when you set yourself up for success.

Image from Pixabay.com and used with permission.

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Comments

Thanks. Such a great and helpful post. Great job,