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    This is a classic Italian dish, but with cheese and cream and butter in the traditional version, you can get a whopping seventy grams of fat in a single plateful. For this conversion, well replace those fatty ingredients with substitutes such as evaporated skim milk, fat-free milk, Butter Buds, and a great cheese-like substance made from straining yogurt with a coffee filter.

    To easily prepare this useful ingredient, well use a technique that I picked up from watching Graham Kerr, the once-galloping gourmet. Graham loves to use this yogurt cheese in many of his low-fat dishes that require a creamy white sauce, traditionally made with fatty foodstuffs. This fat-free substitute is made by straining the whey from the yogurt with a coffee filter. Place a filter into a large strainer or metal steamer basket in a covered saucepan overnight in the refrigerator. As the hours tick by, the whey slowly drips from the yogurt, leaving a thick, creamy substance in the filter. The liquid in the bottom of the pan is chucked out, and you measure the yogurt cheese left in the coffee filter for the recipe.

    Using this technique, we can shave something like forty-nine grams of fat off the traditional recipe for fettuccine alfredo presented at the country's largest Italian restaurant chain. This recipe makes two huge dinner-size entrees like they serve at the restaurant, though you might prefer to divide this into four more modest servings.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–4 cups
    Total servings–2 
    Calories per serving–1035 (Original–1236)
    Fat per serving–18g (Original–67g)

    Source: Low Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Fresh salmon filet, marinated and mesquite grilled." 

    It is said that Americans eat an estimated 63 pounds of beef per capita, and we get a lot of it in chain restaurants. But for those of you who want something other than beef, Lone Star has additional selections including the Sweet Bourbon Salmon.

    Don't worry if you can't mesquite grill your salmon, it's the sweet bourbon marinade that makes this dish so tasty. Not only is this marinade good on salmon, but on other fish and chicken as well. If you do happen to use a charcoal grill and have some mesquite smoking chips on hand, soak a handful of chips in water for a couple hours and then arrange them on the red-hot coals. This will give your salmon a taste even closer to the original.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 3

    The American restaurant business has been shaped by many entrepreneurs, so determined to realize their dreams of owning a hot dog cart or starting a restaurant that they sell everything they own to raise cash. Food lore is littered with these stores, and this one is no exception. This time the family car was sold to pay for one month's rent on a converted World War II army tent, an oven, refrigerator, rolling pin, and some hand tools. It was 1948, and that's all Marie Callender and her family needed to make enough pies to start delivering to restaurants in Long Beach, California.

    It was the pies that started the company, but soon the bakeries became restaurants and they started serving meals. One of my favorites is the Famous Golden Cornbread and whipped honey butter that comes with many of the entrees. What makes this cornbread so scrumptious is its cake-like quality. The recipe here requires more flour than traditional cornbread recipes, making the finished product soft and spongy just like Marie's.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    McDonald's introduced its new sandwich in 1996 with a $200 million marketing blitz aimed at winning over grown-ups. We watched Ronald McDonald golf, dance, and hang out with sophisticated human beings, rather than his usual gang of puppets. These messages were supposed to tug at the adult market lost to more inspired sandwich creations from chains like Wendy's and Arby's and Carl's Jr.

    Did the campaign work? So far, the sales figures have been less than stellar for the burger with even more fat in it than a Big Mac. But the sandwich, with its specially developed Dijon mustard-mayo sauce, does have its share of devoted fans. Perhaps even more of us would get on Team Arch Deluxe if we could make a clone using reduced-fat ingredients to knock the fat down to nearly one-third that of the original, as I have here.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 burger
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–430 (Original–550)
    Fat per serving–11g (Original–31g)

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Sure, KFC's potato salad is good, but have you ever wondered why they don't sell a fat-free version? It really wouldn't be so tough to substitute fat-free mayo for the regular stuff, then just sweeten it up with some sweet pickle relish and sugar. Throw a few spices in there, some bits of veggies, and the recipe might look something like this.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–5.6 ounces
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–90 (Original–230)
    Fat per serving–0g (Original–14g)

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    In 1991, the world's largest chicken chain introduced a new logo to better reflect the addition of non-fried chicken products. Kentucky Fried Chicken morphed into KFC.

    One of the chain's classic side dishes is the tasty macaroni and cheese, which has been on the menu for years. Using the light version of Velveeta cheese and some reduced-fat Cheddar, we duplicate the taste while cutting the fat grams in half here in this reduced-fat conversion.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–4.5 ounces
    Total servings–6
    Calories per serving–95 (Original–180)
    Fat per serving–4g (Original–8g)

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 11

    To celebrate the Olympic Winter Games in February 2010 McDonald's introduced this new Asian-inspired dipping sauce for the chain's McNuggets. The sauce quickly became a top-requested favorite and the cloning requests for it have been coming in. McDonald's says the sauce will only be available for a limited time, so I had to get on the case right away if I was going to reverse-engineer this one. It took me about eight attempts to discover the right proportion of corn syrup to granulated sugar for the perfect consistency and sweetness. Cayenne pepper provides the necessary kick along with chili sauce, which you can find at the grocery store where the Asian foods are parked. It also goes by the name Sambal Olek, or just Sam to its close friends. Use this as a dipping sauce for your home-cooked chicken fingers and nuggets.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    In the 1970's, food conglomerate General Mills expanded its growing restaurant business. A research team was organized to study the market, and to conduct interviews with potential customers on what they want in a restaurant. Seven years later, in 1982, the first Olive Garden restaurant opened its doors in Orlando, Florida. Today it is the number one Italian restaurant chain in the country with over 470 stores.

    One of the all-time favorites at Olive Garden is the Italian salad dressing served on the bottomless house salad that comes with every meal. The dressing was so popular that the chain sells the dressing by the bottle "to go." You won't need to buy a bottle, though. With our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe you can make your own version that tastes just like the original, and it's way cheaper. The secret to thickening this dressing is to use dry pectin, a natural ingredient often used to thicken jams and jellies. Pectin can be found in most stores in the aisle with baking and cooking supplies or near the canning items.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.67. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "An Outback Ab-Original from Russell's Marina Bay."

    If you go to an Outback Steakhouse expecting exotic Aussie prairie food that someone like Crocodile Dundee would have enjoyed, you're gonna be a bit disappointed, mate. Except for a little Australia-themed paraphernalia on the walls, like boomerangs and pictures of kangaroos, the restaurant chain is about as "down under" as McDonald's is Scottish. The three founders, Tim Gannon, Chris Sullivan, and Bob Basham, are all U.S. boys. And the menu, which is about 60 percent beef, contains mainly American fare with cute Australian names like The Melbourne, Jackeroo Chops, and Chicken on the Barbie.

    The founders say they chose the Aussie themes because "Most Australians are fun-loving and gregarious people and very casual people. We thought that's exactly the kind of friendliness and atmosphere we want to have in our restaurants."

    In only six years, Outback Steakhouse has become the number one steakhouse chain—in part because of the Bloomin' Onion: a large, deep-fried onion sliced to look like a flower in bloom that was created by one of the restaurant's founders. What makes the appetizer so appealing besides its flowery appearance is the onion's crispy spiced coating, along with with the delicious dipping sauce, cleverly presented in the center of the onion.

    The restaurant uses a special device to make the slicing process easier, but you can make the incisions with a sharp knife. It just takes a steady hand and a bit of care. This is how they did it in the early days of the chain.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.50. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "Six colossal shrimp dipped in beer batter, rolled in coconut, deep-fried to a golden brown and served with marmalade sauce."

    The three founders of Outback Steakhouse are an experienced lot of restaurateurs. Tim Gannon, Chris Sullivan, and Bob Basham had each worked for the Steak & Ale chain of restaurants at one time or another, as well as other large casual dining chains. When the three got together to open a few restaurants in the Tampa, Florida area, they had modest ambitions.

    Basham told Food & Beverage magazine, "We figured if we divided up the profits with what we thought we could make out of five or six restaurants, we could have a very nice lifestyle and play a lot of golf." The first six restaurants opened within 13 months. Eight years later the chain had grown to over 300 restaurants, and the three men now have a very, nice lifestyle.

    Coconut Shrimp is a sweet and crispy fried appetizer not found on most other menus, especially with the delicious marmalade sauce. Outback servers claim it's a top seller.

    At the restaurant chain, you get six of these shrimps to serve two as an appetizer, but since we're taking the time to make the batter and use all of that oil, I thought I'd up the yield to a dozen shrimp in this Outback Steakhouse coconut shrimp copycat recipe to serve four as an appetizer. If you don't want to make that many, you can use the same recipe with fewer shrimp and save the leftover batter to make more later or just pitch it.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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