Cheryle Finley: Spices add flavor to fat-free offerings | Lifestyles

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I am truly blessed when it comes to family and friends.

When it comes to food — not so much.

Many of us will be making New Year’s resolutions regarding eating and exercise with goals of better health. I started early making good food choices. After a severe gallbladder attack, I am striving for a fat-free diet until I can get it removed.

While such an attack never happens at a good time, next to my birthday, the holiday season is next in line for the worst. I always say that I like to cook but love to eat. Seeing food that looks good or just smelling it makes eating even more enjoyable. Smelling a skillet of fried potatoes and onions might throw me over the edge right now.

When my doctor says to avoid fat, that becomes a priority in order to avoid another attack. Skinless chicken, grilled or roasted, is a mainstay, as is white fish.

Grilling and roasting also works well for veggies. Chopped or halved, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts roast best if parboiled for 4 to 6 minutes before roasting. Vegetables such as peppers, cauliflower, beets, zucchini and cabbage can go straight into the oven.

I’m thinking about seasoning now more than ever. Something as simple as garlic and onion can make a big difference in food that is lacking fat, which can mean lacking flavor. Herbs, seasonings and even rubs can add great flavor.

Lemon pepper is my new friend. Onions and peppers mean a little crunch. Thanks to Lawry’s and McCormick, variety becomes a reality.

Finding a fat-free food makes my day, except when it doesn’t. Maple syrup has no fat, but put it on pancakes or French toast and it becomes a bad bite. Loving to eat but needing fat-free food is a challenge, but doable with a few sacrifices.

The chicken recipe, from food.com, relies on the mayo for moisture and the seasonings for flavor. It’s a super-easy slow cooker dinner.

Dessert, from yummy healthyeating.com, is as simple as two ingredients. Serve it with fat-free whipped topping and fruit, and you won’t feel deprived.

Happy New Year and happy eating.

Fat-free Parmesan chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup water

1 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1/2 cup grated fat-free Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon each pepper and paprika

Place chicken and water in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 2 hours.

Combine remaining ingredients; spread over chicken. Cover and cook on high 2 1/4 hours. Yields 8 servings.

Fluff cake

1 (16-ounce) angel food cake mix

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

Mix both ingredients together. Pour into sprayed 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Yields 12 servings

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.