Do you want to cook healthier versions of your favourite recipes without losing the taste?

In this post we will talk about some small tweaks you can make to adapt your favourite recipes to reduce fat, sugar, salt, calories, syns and increase fibre without changing your normal diet radically. 

We are all guilty of adding extras to our meals for convenience or out of habit. With just a few simple tweaks and changes you can cut calories and syns without losing the taste. This isn’t one of those posts where I tell you to swap a double cheeseburger for a mushroom! These tweaks are genuine and you will wonder why you never tried them before!

1. Cut down on fats

  • If you are frying food try to use a good non-stick pan and dry fry if you can. Minced meat (even lean) and bacon both dry fry very well. Otherwise, just use a little cooking spray such as Frylight or add a splash of water or stock if food starts to stick.
  • Use fats and oils that are high in good fats, such as olive oil.
  • If a recipe tells you to use 2 tablespoons of oil, cut this by half! Jamie Oliver is famous for using far too much Olive oil!
  • Try using the Air fryer.. bacon is amazing!

2. Cut down on salt

  • Most recipes (including mine) tell you to add salt. Try replacing 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. My hubby always salts pasta and potatoes. I tend not to and let people add it themselves.

3. Cut down on sugar

  • Experiment by using less sugar when you bake – most cakes will work even if you halve the amount of sugar in the recipe. Every Sunday my hubby makes us all pancakes.. every week he adds more sweetener and less sugar. We barely notice a thing!
  • Fruit cakes, fruit scones and tea breads can be made without adding sugar as the dried fruit will provide sweetness.    

4. Increase fibre

  • Swap white rice, pasta and bread for wholewheat versions. They are full of fibre and will keep you 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
  • Use mashed potatoes instead of pastry on top of pies 

5. 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. Try some of our healthy soup recipes here.

6. Sauces and dips

  • Replace cream, whole milk and sour cream with semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, or fat free yoghurt. I use fat free yoghurt in all of my curry recipes now.
  • Fat free yoghurt and fromage frais can be used on hot or cold puddings and in dips instead of cream, double cream or Greek yoghurt.
  • Scrap the ketchup and bbq sauce.. replace with lighter than lighter mayonnaise or nothing at all.

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 reduced 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.
  • Replace mayonnaise with fat free yoghurt when making tuna “mayo”.
  • When making sandwiches, choose mayonnaise or butter, not both.

9. 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.
  • Swap chips for roasted carrots and parsnip. 
  • Swap rice, pasta, potatoes with stir fry vegetables. I quite often serve a chilli alongside broccoli instead of rice.

10. Meat

  • Always trim the fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking if possible.
  • 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. Kitchen roll works wonders!

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