Top 10 ways to make your dishes healthier

Do you want to cook healthier versions of your favourite recipes without losing the taste? Never fear, here are a few tips that will help you adapt your favourite recipes to reduce fat, sugar, salt, calories and increase fibre without changing your normal diet radically. 

1. Cut down on fats

If frying, use a good non-stick pan and dry fry (e.g. in the case of mince). Leaving out the oil could cut 45 calories per teaspoon in your meal. If your food is drying out, don’t add more oil, add a little water. Use fats and oils that are high in good fats (poly- and mono-unsaturated fats), e.g. olive oil and try using less than the recipe suggests.

steak with garnish2. Cut down on salt

Most recipes indicate that you need to add salt. Replace salt with alternative seasonings such as pepper, herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar or mustard. Allow people to season their own food after tasting it - they are likely to add less. You could be eating more salt then you think, use our salt calculator to find out how much salt really is in your food.

3. Cut down on sugar

Experiment by using less sugar when you bake – most cakes will work even if the quantity of sugar in the recipe is halved. Items such as fruit cakes, fruit scones and tea breads can be made without adding sugar as the dried fruit will provide sweetness.    

4. Increase fibre

Use brown alternatives of rice, pasta and bread to increase the fibre content of recipes which will help you feel fuller for longer. Instead of using all plain white flour in recipes, use a mix of wholemeal and plain flour when baking, e.g. when making apple crumble – you can also add porridge oats to make the top crunchy and add more fibre! Top dishes usually requiring pastry, such as chicken pie, with mashed potato instead.

chunky soup5. Soups and stews

Allow your broth, stew or soup to cool and skim off the fat that gathers on top of the liquid. Replacing some of the traditional fatty meats in stews with pulses like peas, beans and lentils can save calories and fat as well as adding fibre. 

6. Sauces and dips

Replace cream, whole milk and sour cream with semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, or low fat yoghurt. Low fat yoghurt and fromage frais can be used on hot or cold puddings and in dips instead of cream, double cream or Greek yoghurt. Fromage frais is fresh, skimmed cow’s milk cheese but is more like natural yoghurt. It is not suitable for use in cooking. 

7. Cheese

Use strongly flavoured cheeses like mature cheddar or blue cheese in savoury dishes - you can use less and still get all the flavour. If you don’t like the strong taste of such cheeses simply use low fat alternatives of your favourites. Grate cheese instead of slicing as it will spread across a dish more easily and you can use less. Replace cream cheese with low fat cream cheese.

8. Mayonnaise

Replace mayonnaise in salads with natural yoghurt or low fat fromage frais.Better still, try using vinaigrette dressings and serving them on the side. When making sandwiches, choose mayonnaise or butter, not both.

a sir fry and wooden spoon9. Vegetables

Flavour cooked vegetables with herbs instead of butter or oil. Replace some meat in dishes such as shepherd’s pie, casseroles and lasagne, with vegetables and pulses (peas, beans and lentils). It is a great way to disguise vegetables for those fussy eaters.

10. Meat

Trim the fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking. Then bake, grill, microwave, roast or poach instead of frying it. When roasting, place the meat on a grill rack – this allows the fat to drip away. If you are cooking minced meat, brown it and drain away the fat before adding other ingredients.