How to Give Your Best Dishes a Health Kick

This is a collaborative post.

Want to whip up healthier versions of your favourite dishes without compromising on taste? Fear not. Check out the tips below to help you tailor your much-loved meals, so they contain less fat, sugar, calories and more fibre – without changing your diet drastically.

Swap White for Sweet Potatoes

White potatoes are a staple for many Brits but swapping them for sweet potatoes can make a massive difference on the path to a nutrient-rich diet.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes have their nutritional plusses, but the latter surely come out on top. They offer fewer calories per serving than white spuds. They’re rich in vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant.

So, how about opting for sweet-potato fries alongside your burger instead of regular oven chips? We love McCain sweet potato fries – simply sprinkle the delicious sea salt and three-pepper seasoning over the fries, shake, then bake.

Cheese

Mature Cheddar and blue cheese are both great for adding flavour to savoury dishes. But you don’t need as much of them as you might think – using less can be just as effective. If strong cheeses aren’t your thing, choose their lower-fat equivalents.

Also, it’s a good idea to grate cheese rather than slicing it, so it can be easily spread across your dish – and you’ll use less, too. And consider swapping cream cheese for low-fat cream cheese.

Reduce Fats

When it comes to frying foods, make sure you select a decent non-stick pan and dry fry. This is especially good for frying off mincemeat, and you’ll lower the calorie count of your meal.

Food feels dried out? Rather than piling on more oil, add a splash of water. And opt for fats and oils that are rich in good fats (poly- and mono-unsaturated fats). Good options include olive oil. The key? Use less than the recipe suggests.

Use Less Salt

These days, many recipes suggest throwing on a lot of salt. Swap salt with other seasonings like pepper, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar and herbs. Then, if you need any salt, add it separately after tasting it. You’re more than likely to add less. It’s quite possible you’re consuming more salt than you think.

Mayo

Sure, we all love a dollop of mayo in our burger or squirted over salad. But using natural yoghurt or low-fat fromage frais is much better. Alternatively, use vinaigrette dressings and serve them on the side. And when rustling up a sandwich, don’t go for mayo and butter – choose one or the other.

Moderate Sugar Consumption

Do you really need to add all that sugar in that cake you’ve baked? Actually, most cakes will work just fine, even if you reduce the amount of sugar by half. Fruit scones and cakes can be created without adding sugar, as the fruit (such as banana) will provide the sweetness.

Go Veggie-Mad

Rather than reaching for the butter or oil to flavour veg, throw on more herbs. And switch up the meat in dishes like shepherd’s pie, casseroles and lasagne) with veggies and pulses (lentils, beans and peas). Eating a vegetable-rich diet as innumerable health benefits. It’s also a wonderful way to encourage fussy feeders to eat more vegetables, as they’re disguised by the flavours.

Up Your Fibre Intake

Instead of plumping for white pasta or rice, consider their brown alternatives. By using wholewheat pasta, rice and bread, you’ll feel fuller for longer, as there’s more fibre in brown produce.

You could use wholemeal flour rather than white flour when baking. Or when whipping up an apple crumble, use porridge oats to make the top crunchy and add more fibre. If you’re making pastry-based foods like beef pie, top it with mashed potato instead.

Meat

When prepping meat, trim off the fat and get rid of skin from poultry prior to cooking. And rather than frying the meat, grill, bake, microwave, poach or roast it instead. And if you’re cooking minced meat, char it and drain off the fat before adding any other ingredients.

Skim off the Fat

When making a soup, broth or stew, make sure you skim off the fat that collects on top of the liquid. And consider swapping some of the usual fatty meats in stews with pulses such as beans, peas and lentils. This way, you’ll pack in the fibre without adding too many calories or too much fat.

Portion Control

These days, portion sizes are so big you may not know what a true portion or serving is. Teach yourself by using smaller plates, spoons and cups. And train yourself to use everyday visual cues to understand servings — one serving of wholegrain cooked pasta is roughly the same size as a hockey puck, for example.

Regardless of how much you cut down, swap or skip ingredients, as some recipes can still contain a lot of salt, sugar or fat. So, shrink your portion size instead – it can really help you maintain a healthier diet.

Slow Down

Give your body a chance to understand the fact you’re filling up by eating your meals more slowly. Put your fork down between bites – doing this will encourage you to eat less.

And when you’re dining out, it’s easy to eat a little too much. Try sharing a dish with your dining companion or skip the bread basket. Or take home a doggie bag and enjoy the rest the next day

Low-Fat Sauce and Dips

When it comes to concocting sauces and dips, substitute cream, whole milk and sour cream with semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, or low-fat yoghurt.

Reduced-fat fromage frais and yoghurt can be used on hot or cold puddings and in dips rather than cream, double cream or Greek yoghurt.

It’s not hard to put a healthy spin on your favourite recipes. Use your imagination to find other ways to whip up nutritious recipes. You might even make your grandmother proud.

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