While tackling a new diet can be tough, there are some easy changes you can make to create a healthier, lighter recipe to your favourite dishes while keeping taste and textures intact. For example, using a low-fat milk and cheese instead of full-fat versions in homemade lasagne will trim at least 50% of the fat and kilojoules from that recipe!
REDUCE OF REPLACE FATS
Focus on reducing the amount of ‘unhealthy’ saturated fats in your favourite recipes, such as fatty meats, butter, and full-fat dairy products, by replacing these with more beneficial unsaturated fats including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado.
Try swapping full-fat dairy products for low-fat varieties like low-fat cheese, low-fat yoghurt and skim milk. For stir-frying and sauteing, use olive oil or canola oil instead of butter; for spreading on bread try avocado, low-fat spreads or a smear of mustard.
Choose lean cuts of meat and trim all visible fats off before cooking. By brushing meats with a marinade before barbecuing or roasting, you can retain moisture in the meat and create a tasty, healthier option.
When baking butter can be replaced by a variety of options to suit taste preference including mashed banana, low-fat cream cheese, evaporated milk and low-fat yoghurt. Be creative!
Remember all fats are high in kilojoules but by replacing ‘bad’ fats with ‘good’ fats you can ensure your body is benefitting by the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are synonymous in unsaturated fats.
REDUCE OR REPLACE SUGAR
The sugar in of recipes can be cut by 25-30% with no other changes to the recipe. Try adding other flavours to the mixture in the form of vanilla, citrus zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or cardamom. Use brown sugar instead of white sugar to save about 60grams of carbohydrates per serve!
REDUCE OR REPLACE SALT
Keep added salt to a minimum when cooking. Your salt preference for a certain level of saltiness is determined by how much salt you usually have, as your body becomes accustomed. If you reduce your salt intake you will begin to enjoy the new taste within a few weeks.
Rinse canned legumes and pickled vegetables, olives and capers. Look for reduced salt canned legumes, tomatoes stock, soy sauce and packaged foods. Instead of table salt, add powdered sea vegetables like dulse and kombu, which have much less sodium and beneficial minerals like potassium and magnesium; also try salt-free herb and spice blends.
CHANGE THE COOKING METHOD
Instead of deep-frying, try oven-baking, grilling, barbecuing, steaming or poaching. Use flavoursome liquids like homemade broth, wine or organic fruit juices for poaching and add aromatic citrus, spices and herbs for even more flavour without the added kilojoules.
ADD HEALTH BOOSTING AND HIGH FLAVOUR INGREDIENTS
In casseroles and other homemade recipes, add plenty of vegetables, you can even sneak in finely chopped or pureed vegetables wherever you can. Add nuts, legumes and fresh or dried fruits to green salads.
For extra fibre in baked goods, use wholemeal flour and/or rolled oats in place of half the white flours.
To boost the taste of a recipes add high-flavoured herbs like garlic, chilli and fresh herbs, or intensify the flavour with spices, nuts and seeds.
Trimming kilojoules, fat and sodium from homemade recipes is often a matter of a simple switch in your cooking ingredients. So keep these tips in mind for shopping wisely to help improve your health and wellbeing without compromising on flavour!