An easy way to fight fat is to fake out your taste buds with products that mimic butter.
Several companies make butter-flavor sprinkles. Butter Buds Mix a powder that, when mixed with water, makes a fat-free approximation of melted butter. Molly McButter's latest offering, a garlic-butter sprinkle, joins its butter, sour cream and cheese flavor sprinkles.
Vegetable coating sprays also come in flavors now, and savvy fat-fighters have discovered new ways to use them.
Molly McButter, for example, suggests this faux version of garlic bread: Spray warm toast with vegetable spray and top with garlic-butter sprinkles.
Perhaps the most versatile of all is Butter Buds Mix, which can be used at the table. Although the product has been available more than a decade, recent interest in low-fat diets has put it in the spotlight.
"Butter Buds Mix was one of those products that was there before its time," says its spokeswoman Gail Becker, a registered dietitian. "The whole focus on lowering cholesterol and reducing fat in the diet has really accelerated that whole product category."
Butter Buds is made from a butter extract that's dried and made into a powder.
"I use it for everything," says Pam Mycoskie, who recently published "Butter Busters: The Cookbook."
"I use Butter Buds for all my cakes, most of my cookies, all my breads. . . . I haven't used oil in about two years.
L "No one can tell the difference. It's a very buttery taste."
The makers of Butter Buds suggest replacing one-fourth to one-half the fat in a baking recipe with either the sprinkles or liquid Butter Buds.
Ms. Mycoskie also uses liquid Butter Buds to make a fat-free grilled cheese sandwich with fat-free bread and fat-free cheese.
She's less enthusiastic about butter-flavor sprinkles. When serving a baked potato, for example, she makes her own mock sour cream from low-fat cottage cheese, non-fat yogurt and lemon juice.
"The sprinkles work best on a hot, moist food," says Ms. Becker.
Her suggestion: Sprinkle the product on as soon as you break the potato open, to take advantage of the steam within.
New flavors of vegetable oil spray suggest uses beyond spraying muffin tins and saute pans.
Butter-flavor sprays can go directly on vegetables or pasta. Olive-oil sprays flavor sauteed vegetables.
Patty Kirk, a registered dietitian, tailors her spray to what she's cooking.
"If I'm baking something, I use the regular Pam. On the other hand, if I'm doing something with chicken, I'll use the olive oil-flavored Pam.
"It allows you to really cut back on that extra fat from oils."
The calorie savings is impressive. Most oils pack 120 calories per tablespoon. Covering a 10-inch skillet with Pam adds about 6 calories.
Karen Seaman, a registered dietitian at Baylor University Medical Center, suggests spraying olive-oil Pam on the bowl before mixing a salad: "You don't have to add as much oil to the salad."
And: "When you have air-popped popcorn, nothing sticks to it. . . . just spray the popcorn in the bowl with Pam. And then seasonings will stick."
Using butter-flavor products
* Add sprinkles to skim milk or hot chocolate to give a richer flavor.
*Sprinkle on popcorn, eggs, steaks.
*Brush toast lightly with olive oil; add butter, cheese or garlic sprinkles.
*Use Butter Buds Mix in place of margarine in making a graham cracker crust.
*Saute vegetables and meat in liquid Butter Buds.
*Pour liquid Butter Buds Mix over vegetables or pasta.
*Take Butter Buds Mix on camping trips; it doesn't need refrigeration until after it's combined with water.
*Use Butter Buds Mix to replace vegetable oil in marinades.
*Use butter- or cheese-flavor sprinkles to flavor omelets or frittatas made mostly with egg whites.
Using vegetable sprays
L *Spray air-popped popcorn before adding garlic powder, Cajun
spice or other seasonings.
*Cut corn tortillas or pita bread into wedges; spray lightly. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for a few minutes, until crisp.
*Coat bread with olive-oil spray; rub with a cut garlic clove. Cook on grill over low heat.
*Spray cooked pasta with butter-flavor spray.
Garlic Molly dip
1 cup 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese
3 tablespoons Molly McButter Garlic Butter Sprinkles
In a blender or food processor, blend cottage cheese until smooth and creamy. Scrape sides of bowl. Add sprinkles. Blend until well-mixed. Refrigerate before serving. Store, tightly covered, in refrigerator.
Comparing butter substitutes
Here's how butter-flavor products stack up against butter and margarine; amounts are for equivalent flavor.
..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... Butter..... Butter
..... ..... ..... ..... ..... Molly..... Buds....... Buds
..... ... Butter.. Margarine.. McButter.. Sprinkle... Mix
Teaspoons:.... 2....... 2.......... 1/2 ..... 1/2 ........ 6 liquid
Calories..... 67...... 67 ......... 4 ........ 4 ....... 6
Fat (g) ...... 8 ...... 8 ......... 0 ........ 0 ....... 0
(mg)......... 22 ...... 0 ......... 0 ........ 0 ....... 0
Sodium (mg).. 78 ..... 67 ........ 90 ....... 65 ...... 85