30 Low-Fat Meals in 30 Minutes


By Faye Levy

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 1, 1995. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

This book will prove that you can prepare quick meals that are low in fat and still taste great. The recipes will make use of bold seasonings that instantly add flavor without the need for long simmering. The book is organized around main courses, with chapters broken down into menus with poultry or meat, menus with fish or seafood, vegetarian menus and pasta menus. In addition, an introductory chapter will offer strategies for quick, low-fat cooking, including tips on picking fresh ingredients, stocking a pantry and cooking techniques.

The menus will follow today’s flexible dining habits. Some menus serve two, and others serve four. Most menus will include three recipes, but they will not all follow the traditional pattern of appetizer, main course and dessert. Sometimes, for example, there will be a main course with two accompaniments. Those menus that do not include desserts will have suggestions for simple desserts (usually seasonal fruit, frozen yogurt or other desserts already in the book) that would complement the menu well.



"Faye Levy has studied and taught cooking in France, Israel, and the United States. She ranks among the most imaginative and careful of all cookbook authors, so her recipes are inspirational and accurate."

Boston Herald

"As an instructor and inspiration in the kitchen, Faye Levy is without peer.… Levy gives us clear, concise, exhaustive instructions. Without talking down to us, she hovers over, guides, encourages. Goof-ups are practically impossible. And the results are terrific."

—Maureen Clancy, San Diego Union

"Levy is one of our brightest new cookbook authors. As meticulous and painstaking as she is creative, Levy, always the teacher, gives impeccable instructions."

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Levy is one of the most knowledgeable and reliable food writers in the country."

—Judith Hill, food editor, First for Women

"Levy is one of America's top culinary columnists and authors."

Elle magazine

"I'm partial to any cookbook by Faye Levy. Her recipes always work and the information she imparts is always easily understood by every level of cook."

—Muriel Stevens, Las Vegas Sun


Faye Levy's International Vegetable Cookbook

Faye Levy's International Chicken Cookbook

Faye Levy's International Jewish Cookbook

Sensational Pasta

Sensational Chocolate

Fresh from France: Dessert Sensations

Fresh from France: Dinner Inspirations

Fresh from France: Vegetable Creations

Classic Cooking Techniques

La Cuisine du Poisson (in French, with Fernand Chambrette)

Faye Levy's Favorite Recipes (in Hebrew)

French Cooking Without Meat (in Hebrew)

French Desserts (in Hebrew)

French Cakes, Pastries and Cookies (in Hebrew)

The La Varenne Tour Book


All rights reserved.

Warner Books, Inc.,

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com

First eBook Edition: December 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56723-7

Dedicated to the memory of
Gregory Usher and Robert Noah,
Americans in Paris,
quintessential culinary professionals,
dear friends


Cooking at home is the key to a healthful diet. In our own kitchens we control what goes into our meals. When we eat out, however, we must trust strangers who may not really care about our nutritional needs. So why doesn't everyone eat in more? Many of us are busy and have little time to spend in the kitchen.

In this book my goal is to solve this dilemma by providing a month's worth of easy, light, and lively menus. The menus and the many tips on cutting time and eliminating fat from your cooking are a good starting point. Once you are comfortable with these menus, you may be inspired to create many more low-fat, thirty-minute meals for you, your family, and your friends.

My guidelines are to follow the advice of most nutritionists: use as little saturated fat as possible and limit the calories that come from fat to 30 percent or less. In this book, the menus have an average of 25 percent of their calories from fat; some go as low as 10 percent, but none is over 30 percent. Following these low-fat menus will make a dramatic difference in most people's diets.

People often ask me why I am not overweight. They figure that, as a culinary professional, I must cook and taste a lot. I tell them that in my family, too, cooking with little fat is important. However, instead of going on diets, we simply cook nutritious food most of the time.

The first cookbooks I wrote featured many recipes rich with butter and cream. Over the years I have reduced the fat more and more. In this book, I take my quest for healthful food one step further by keeping within the 30 percent fat guidelines.

In 30 Low-fat Meals in 30 Minutes, I have challenged myself to create healthful menus, with an emphasis on speed. However, because of my classical French culinary training, I refuse to compromise taste. The result of these seemingly conflicting goals is a book of delicious yet quick low-fat meals.

Even in trimming the fat from our food, moderation is the secret to success. If you reduce the oils too drastically and the food is no longer tasty, chances are you will soon give up the pursuit of healthful eating. But if your meals are pleasing instead of punishing, it is easy to keep to a nutrition-conscious eating plan.

Although some of the recipes in this book are suitable for entertaining, the emphasis is on menus for everyday cooking. Most menus are designed for family meals and for quick, casual suppers with friends.

The menus follow today's flexible dining habits. Most include three recipes but do not necessarily follow the traditional pattern of first course, main course, and dessert. Sometimes there is a main course with two accompaniments, or a salad, a main course, and a side dish.

I use fresh ingredients as much as possible, although in the interest of speed I do buy a few ready-to-eat foods. I don't buy prepared salad dressings, for example, since it's so easy to make quick and tasty dressings at home.

For timing the menus, I assume you already have the ingredients and pots at hand. If you hunt for your oregano for ten minutes and find you must run to the store, there's no way the menu will be ready in half an hour!

Some of the menus may take more than thirty minutes the first time you prepare them. After you are familiar with a menu and know which pans and utensils you like to use for each dish, you will go faster.

Nobody wants to spend much time cleaning, especially when there's little time to cook. In developing these recipes, I have used as few pots and pans as possible to save on cleanup time.

I hope you will find these speedy, simple low-fat meals great tasting. Remember, it's best not to say no to fat, but to say "just a little." I wish you happy and healthful cooking and eating!



There are many ways to serve freshly made home-cooked meals in minutes instead of ordering pizza or serving TV dinners. The key to fast and easy low-fat meals is an overall strategy that includes efficient shopping, menu planning, and cooking. By choosing fresh, lean ingredients that cook rapidly, by using streamlined cooking techniques, and by keeping a selection of the right items in your pantry, you can gain time in the kitchen while cutting fat from your diet.


Economizing on time and minimizing fat begin before you enter the kitchen. Efficient shopping is an important step in achieving these goals. Be sure your pantry contains the makings of quick, low-fat meals for those days when you don't have a chance to buy fresh ingredients. (See list of pantry ingredients, page 4.)

Choose Fast-Cooking Meats and Fish that Are Also Lean

Boneless chicken breasts, turkey breast slices, ground chicken and turkey, fish fillets, scallops, and shrimp are prime examples of desirable meats. In some markets you can find ground turkey breast, the leanest ground meat of all.

Many markets now offer different types of lean ground beef; at my local market you can buy it with 15 or 7 percent fat. At many markets the type lowest in fat is called "extra-lean." Naturally, choosing the leanest version makes a big difference in the amount of fat in your menus.

If you're cooking steak, use the leaner Select grade of beef rather than Choice or Prime, and choose the lower-fat cuts such as top sirloin, top round, or tenderloin. Flank steak is fine too, but it requires marinating before broiling or grilling. Lamb and veal loin chops and pork tenderloin are other fairly lean meats with brief cooking times.

Whichever cut you choose, always trim the visible fat. Even chicken breasts often have small blobs of fat that should be cut off before the meat is cooked.

For quick cooking when you don't have much time to shop, keep frozen fish and seafood on hand. Individually frozen shrimp and scallops thaw swiftly and can even be cooked from the frozen state.

Use Ready-to-Eat Meats and Fish as Ingredients

Fish departments of well-stocked supermarkets usually carry cooked shelled shrimp, cooked crabmeat, cooked lobster tails, smoked fish, and barbecued fish. You can also find smoked fish in the deli section, as well as smoked and roasted meats such as roast turkey and lean roast beef. These are flavorful additions to cooked pasta, rice, and salads, turning them into satisfying main dishes. If used judiciously, they don't add much fat.

Use Plenty of Vegetables and Fruit

We all know that eating a generous amount of vegetables and fruit is a key to good health. There is a wealth of choices for incorporating them effortlessly into your menus.

Check out the produce section of your supermarket. New, ready-to-eat fresh ingredients seem to be coming in every month. You can buy beautiful, delicate, mixed baby lettuces; robust romaine lettuce leaves in bite-size pieces; and hearty escarole mixed with endive and radicchio. With so many varieties of cleaned, ready-to-eat greens on display, there is no excuse for serving meals without salads.

And there's more than just lettuce. Another health-promoting vegetable that comes prepared is cabbage. You can buy shredded red and green cabbage at most markets, sometimes sold as "coleslaw mix." Or try "broccoli slaw" made of shredded broccoli stems, carrots, and red cabbage; it's delicious with just a tiny bit of oil and vinegar.

Busy cooks no longer have to stem and wash fresh spinach, as rinsed spinach leaves are readily available in packages. Fresh broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, sugar snap peas, asparagus spears, banana squash sticks, and carrot slices are sold in microwave-safe trays. You can prepare these ready-to-cook vegetables by a variety of methods, not just steamed in the microwave. For a main-course vegetable, make use of soaked black-eyed peas, which are available in bags and cook in only fifteen minutes.

Alongside the carrot sticks, celery sticks, and cleaned radishes, you are likely to find jicama sticks, cantaloupe balls, fresh diced watermelon, and pineapple cubes. Prepared, ready-to-eat raw vegetables and fruits are useful to have on hand as snacks, as quick appetizers, or even to munch on while you're preparing dinner!

At home we don't have apprentices or helpers as restaurant chefs do. So let the store do your mise en place, or preparation. Buy your broccoli already trimmed, your mushrooms sliced, and your spinach washed.

In planning menus, choose from the following categories:

  1. Vegetables that cook rapidly and are simple to prepare: Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, crookneck squash, green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas.
  2. Ready-cut and cleaned fresh vegetables: Shredded green and red cabbage, peeled baby carrots, shredded or sliced carrots or carrot sticks, shredded celery root, broccoli slaw, cleaned spinach, sliced mushrooms, rinsed lettuce mixtures, broccoli and cauliflower florets, celery sticks, jicama sticks, cleaned radishes.
  3. Frozen vegetables: Peas, lima beans, black-eyed peas, corn, mixed vegetables such as a Chinese medley that includes water chestnuts.
  4. Canned vegetables: See list of pantry ingredients, page 4.
  5. Fresh seasonal fruit: Both cut and whole, for desserts and snacks.
  6. Frozen fruit: Especially berries, for making quick sauces, sorbets, and other desserts.

Have a Pantry Well Stocked with Quick-Cooking, Low-Fat Ingredients

Most traditional cuisines rely on a few key bottled, canned, or dried ingredients as flavorings. These staples allow people to whip up a meal in minutes, and include main-course foods as well as seasonings to enhance recipes. Keep these valuable pantry items on hand for fast, light cooking, so that weekday shopping is easier.

  1. Staples from the base of the USDA food pyramid: Many of these staples can be the basis for a meal—pasta in a variety of shapes; couscous, white rice, instant brown rice, bulgur wheat. In your freezer, keep fresh pasta, which is now available in light and low-cholesterol varieties, as well as lighter versions of stuffed pastas.
  2. Canned and bottled vegetables: Bottled roasted peppers, canned diced chiles, peeled tomatoes, diced tomatoes, water chestnuts, marinated artichokes, and marinated mushrooms add interest to rice and pasta dishes, salads, meat and vegetable medleys, and many other dishes. Canned corn and beans of many types, such as chickpeas, black beans, and white beans, are convenient foods for practically instant main courses. Choose beans canned in water and salt, rather than in sauces that contain fat.
  3. Canned fish: Tuna and salmon are handy for a quick lunch, with pasta, rice, or good bread and a green salad.
  4. Bold seasonings: Choose seasonings that instantly add flavor with no effort and no need for long simmering. Some examples are sun-dried tomatoes (both dry-pack and oil-pack), dried mushrooms, dried herbs, spices, wine, extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, herb vinegar, mustard, capers, a few bottled Chinese sauces, canned chicken and vegetable broth, and canned tomato sauce.
  5. Frozen desserts: Don't forget the freezer as a source of low-fat desserts. Keep frozen berries for making quick sauces and toppings, and good-quality sorbets and low-fat frozen yogurts for snacks and desserts.


To get a good meal on the table in short order, it helps to be organized. Try a new approach to cooking. Devise a plan of action to make the best use of your time. Have several simple dishes going at the same time. Instead of preparing all the ingredients before starting to cook, dice one ingredient while another is cooking.

Cook by various techniques, not necessarily those you have always used. Focus on the rapid methods and use them with less fat.

Broil and Grill

Grilling, barbecuing, and broiling may be the most popular cooking techniques in America. With their delectable, slightly charred crust, meat, poultry, and fish cooked by these methods are most appealing. And the food is not only delicious but also fast-cooking and low in fat. "Meaty" vegetables such as eggplant, mushrooms, and peppers also taste great when grilled.

For rapid cooking, choose broiling or grilling over baking or roasting. Broiling is more practical for speedy cooking than charcoal barbecuing; after all, coals take about half an hour to heat up, while the broiler is hot almost instantly. It's also much easier to check the food for doneness when it is in the broiler than on the barbecue. When grilling, use a gas barbecue or stovetop grill to save time, rather than waiting for charcoal to heat. Use a minimal amount of oil to brush on the food to keep it moist; with red meats, you can omit the oil.

Like grilling, broiling is a dry-heat cooking method. The food is set on a rack, so the heat circulates underneath and the food doesn't steam. But to minimize cleanup time, you can put the food on a double piece of foil.

Simple seasoning is best for broiled or grilled foods, especially in the case of fish. A little salt and freshly ground pepper, a dash of cayenne, and a sprinkling of thyme, oregano, or rosemary are all you need, plus a little fresh lemon juice and olive oil to rub on the fish so it won't dry out as it cooks.

Broiled fish is a superb choice for low-fat cooking in minutes and is easier to prepare than grilled fish. Many broiler racks have nonstick surfaces, but fish often adheres stubbornly to grill racks. And of course, in the broiler there is no problem of bits of fish falling into the coals as the fish is turned over.

The Canadian method of cooking fish, allowing ten minutes per inch of thickness, works well in the broiler. On the grill, the fish cooks slightly faster. To check if the fish is done, insert the point of a thin sharp knife into the center of the fish and look inside: the flesh should look opaque; in other words, it should have the color of cooked rather than raw fish.

Chicken or turkey should always be cooked until well done. Check with a knife; the meat should no longer be pink. Try not to overcook the meat on the grill or in the broiler, however, or it will be dry. To minimize dryness, use a stovetop grill rather than a broiler for cooking boneless, skinless chicken and turkey.

Grilling and broiling are excellent techniques for quickly cooking steaks and chops. Remember to serve fairly small portions to keep the meal low in fat.

Low-Fat Sauté or Stir-Fry

Choose sautéing or wok cooking as a speedy way to cook boneless chicken, turkey, lean beef, and vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini. Even when you use just a little oil, it imparts a lovely flavor to the food.

To use these techniques in low-fat cooking, follow these guidelines:

  1. Use just enough vegetable or olive oil or oil spray to barely cover the base of the pan with a thin layer. Oil spreads as it heats, so you should add even less than enough oil to cover if the pan is cold. If you have poured too much oil in the pan, wipe off the excess with a paper towel.
  2. Use a heavy pan so the food won't burn, especially if very little oil is added.
  3. Sauté the food with the lid on instead of uncovered. This way you take advantage of the steam to help keep the food moist. This technique is perfect for poultry and vegetables.


Choose brief braising as a leaner alternative to classic sautéing or stir-frying. Traditional braising is designed for long, slow cooking of tough meats but quick braising is ideal for tender meat and poultry.

Begin by sautéing the food in a little oil, then add canned broth or other liquid to finish cooking. This is a wonderful technique for steaks (as in Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Red Wine, page 15), turkey breasts, boneless chicken breasts (as in Speedy Sweet-and-Sour Chicken, page 41), and vegetables (as in Easy Eggplant Stew, page 99).

Poach in Sauce or Soup

Cook fish, shellfish, chicken breasts, and tender vegetables in sauces or soups instead of in water and then preparing a separate sauce. This not only cuts down on the number of pots you use but also makes serving simple. Some examples of this cooking method are Cioppino (page 73), in which scallops and shrimp cook in a tomato-wine sauce or Quick Chicken-Noodle Soup with Broccoli and Garlic (page 36).



On Sale
Mar 1, 1995
Page Count
208 pages