Sometimes low-fat doesn't have to mean low in fat. And it never has to mean low in flavor.
When looking for ways to eat healthier, it's always smart to consider fat intake. And as everyone knows, reducing how much of it you consume is an important way to reduce calories and eliminate harmful saturated and trans fats.
But fat is more complicated than that. Some dietary fat is good, largely because the body needs it to function. But fat has also been found to play a key role in helping the body absorb other nutrients, including many of the nutrients in produce.
The key is to opt for good fats, such as vegetable fats and those found in fish. Which is why sometimes, less isn't best.
That principle is particularly true when it comes to flavor. Horrible diets and diet foods from the '70s and '80s have convinced many people that healthy eating is inherently tasteless.
But that's what big flavors are for, says Sandy Gluck, food editor for Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. As in, spicy chipotle peppers, Parmesan cheese (a little bit adds a lot of flavor) and olives.
Spiking healthy dishes with high-flavor ingredients adds plenty of appeal without weighing the dish down with calories.
This recipe for salmon tacos from the January/February issue of Gluck's magazine is a good example of both principles - combining moderate amounts of healthy fats with high-impact ingredients, in this case cilantro.
(Start to finish: 20 minutes, 10 minutes active)
1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
Eight 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 medium carrots, peeled into strips
Place the salmon in a shallow 2 1/2 -quart microwave-safe dish with a lid. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Sprinkle the fish with the scallions and 1/4 cup of the cilantro.
Cover and microwave on high for 7 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. Pour off any liquid and flake with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together sour cream and remaining lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When the fish has cooked, stack the tortillas between white paper towels. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, or until warmed through. Arrange lettuce and carrots down center of each tortilla, then top with salmon and drizzle lightly with sauce. Fold in half.
Makes 4 servings.
(Recipe from the January/February issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine)
Nutrition information per serving: 434 calories, 17 g. total fat, 37 g. protein, 32 g. carbohydrates, 18 g. dietary fiber.