Making the switch to a low-fat diet is not the easiest change you'll ever make in your life, said Robin Rifkin, home economist and low-fat cooking teacher at Heart Felt Cooking in Wynnewood, Pa. "It seems as if fat coats your taste buds so you don't taste anything but the fat. When you give it up, you go through this transition and have to learn to taste other things . . . We all have to clear out our palates," she said.
Here are hints gleaned from Rifkin and dietitians Catherine Angotti and Denise Vilvin, as well as cookbook suggestions that will help make the transition to low-fat cooking.
* Make a crumb pie crust by mixing half oatmeal and half Grapenuts, flavoring with cinnamon and binding the mixture with apple juice. Press into the pie dish, add filling and bake.
* Drink skim milk from an amber glass to disguise its bluish color.
* After cutting liquid fat in recipes, make up for lost moisture with defatted broth, skim milk, wine or fruit juice.
* Use skim milk, fruit juice or water in place of fats for making a roux.
* When you don't have time to chill and defat a soup or sauce, run an ice cube over the top and lift off fat.
* Substitute low-fat yogurt for sour cream in dips.
* Mix equal amounts of yogurt and mayonnaise for sandwich spreads.
* If thickening hot soups or sauces with yogurt during cooking, thoroughly blend a tablespoon flour per cup of yogurt before whisking it in.
* Substitute cottage cheese for riccotta or sour cream in casseroles.
* Broil, roast or bake meat on a rack so fat drips off.
* Salad dressings of tomato juice or fresh lemon and herbs is less acidic than straight vinegar.
* Eliminate nuts (not necessary for recipe to work) from baked dishes or grind finely and sprinkle on top of dishes or use as a garnish.
* Use unsweetened fruit spread or a mashed ripe banana on top of breakfast toast instead of butter.
* Use wine, broths, or unsweetened pineapple juice to saute'. Caramelized onions add rich brown color to saute'ed food.
* Partially freeze evaporated skim milk and whip it slightly, flavor it and use it as a dessert topping.
* Fat keeps food hotter longer, so you will need to get food to the table more quickly once you eliminate or reduce the fat.
* Use nonstick pots and pans such as Silverstone, T-Fal and Castoflon.
* Share restaurant servings of high-fat foods. Cookbooks T"The American Heart Association Cookbook," David McKay Company, Inc., $12.95.
"The American Diabetes Association, The American Dietetic Association Family Cookbook," Volume II, Prentice Hall, $15.95.
"Weight Watchers Quick Start Program Cookbook," by Jean Nidetch, New American Library, $17.95.
"The Living Heart Diet," by Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Lynne W. Scott and John P. Foreyt, Raven Press/Simon and Schuster, $19.95.