Healthier dinners: 3 tips to makeover your recipes

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 21 June 2013.
Tagged: dinner, healthy cooking, healthy eating, portion size, vegetables

Healthier dinners: 3 tips to makeover your recipes
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We all have meals we love, the ones we look forward to, crave even, but so often these favourite dinners are not the healthiest. They might be packed full of cream, fat, cheese, carbs and stodge, which is not good for you or your waistline. Here's how two passionate foodies Kathryn Elliott and Lucinda Dodds re-work their recipes to make them healthier and better for you.

Guest post by Kathryn Elliott and Lucinda Dodds

In the latest issue of An Honest Kitchen, we've taken on the challenge to revamp some of the most popular meals around. Our Makeovers include the traditional roast, pasta meals, fish and chips, egg based meals and even tacos.

Along the way we've deconstructed traditional recipes, changed different elements, adjusted the portions, added lots more vegetable and worked out tricks to boost the flavour while cutting back on the kilojoules. We've also uncovered some golden rules, guidelines which we used in our own recipes and you can use to makeover your own favourite dinners

1. Always add more vegetables

FWLotsOfVegSo many recipes have pathetic amounts of vegetable. One onion, a couple of carrots and a few sprigs of parsley is barely enough veg for one person, let alone a family of four. So your first aim when making over a recipe is to add more vegetable.

 The easiest way is to simply double or even treble the vegetables which are already used in the recipe.

If you're uncertain about doing this then serve dinner with a big side salad or a pile of steamed vegetables.


2. Slash the cheese and cream

Both cheese and cream provide texture and a rich flavour to meals. However they also add lots and lots of kilojoules. It can be hard to cut back on the cheese and cream without also cutting back on the flavour, but we've found these tricks work almost every time.

  • If a recipe uses cream, sub in either plain natural yoghurt or yoghurt that has been whisked together with some ricotta. Stir through at the end, just before serving, to prevent the yoghurt from splitting.
  • Reduce the overall quantity of cheese you use. To maintain a full flavour while using less we used strong tasting cheeses like vintage cheddar, feta or parmesan.
  • Boost up the flavour with other strong tasting ingredients, like mustard, fresh herbs, vinegars, chilli and citrus. These balance out flavours, add depth and ensure the meal is as tasty as possible.


3. Change the portions on your plate

FWTacosIf you look through food magazines or watch cooking shows you'll notice the vast majority of meals are organised around the protein and grain foods, with vegetables often added as an afterthought or forgotten entirely, not the best approach for good health.

Try to boost up the vegetables in every meal, making vegetables about half of the bulk of each meal.

There's no need to go "carb free", but aim to make the grain or potato portion of your meal about a quarter of the bulk on your plate.

  • Think about whether you need to reduce your portion of protein-containing foods like meat, chicken, fish, eggs and tofu. Aim for a piece of meat or chicken the size and thickness of your palm, or a piece of fish the size of your hand. As a general rule, make the protein portion of your meal about a quarter of the bulk on your plate.

Kathryn & Lucy





For more ideas on making over the meals you love take a look at our publication An Honest Kitchen: Makeovers. An Honest Kitchen is a regular publication all about real food that's good for you. Each issue is full of simple recipes, practical cooking information and healthy eating advice. Our latest edition, Makeovers, in which we revamp popular meals is available in e-format from 11 June.