20 ways to make your favourite recipes healthier

25/06/2015 Healthy Eating, Help for Parents, Recipes

Update your homemade recipes using these 20 tips to include more of the good stuff and less of the bad.

According to government website eatforhealth.gov.au, traditional recipes can often be modified to include more fibre, more fruit and vegetables and less saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and less kilojoules.

Up the fruit and veg

  1. Vegetables and fruit are lower in kilojoules than most other foods, so adding more to a recipe will lower the kilojoule content of the total dish.
  2. Swap some of your favourite protein for cooked or canned legumes.
  3. Replace meat or chicken with chopped or grated veggies.
  4. Add more vegetables to pasta and rice dishes, and extra to soups. Try carrots and zucchini which are fresh, vibrant and tend to hide well from fussy eaters.
  5. If you’re baking, swap half of the refined white flour for wholemeal flour.
  6. Swap white pasta for whole grain pasta, and white rice for brown rice or barley.
  7. Add chopped or ground nuts to salads, stuffed vegetables, stir fries, casseroles, crumbles and pasta.
  8. Turn your pikelets, pancakes, scones and muffins from sweet to savoury (and back again) by adding chopped or grated vegetables or fruit.

Watch out for saturated fat

  1. Using less saturated fat is good for heart health and also reduces the kilojoules in your family favourites.
  2. Swap high fat ingredients for low fat alternatives, such as using yoghurt instead of sour cream in recipes.
  3. Use smaller amounts of high fat ingredients. Try using less cheese by swapping to a reduced fat stronger Parmesan cheese so you still get the flavour you want.
  4. Remember that unsaturated fats, while better for heart health, are also high in kilojoules. Use only small amounts, especially if trying to lose weight.

Use less sugars

  1. Often the sugars in a recipe can be reduced by a third or even half without affecting the final product. Sometimes it works well to reduce the amount gradually and let taste buds adapt more slowly.
  2. Reducing the sugar content also means fewer kilojoules.
  3. Adding fruit to a recipe can add sweetness and flavour and reduce the need to add sugars.
  4. Remember that honey, raw sugar, brown sugar and golden syrup are some of the alternate names for sugar and have similar kilojoules to sugar.

Lower your salt intake

  1. You might not think it, but taste buds adapt to less salt in recipes. Similar to sugar, reducing added salt gradually works well, but most of the salt in a recipe actually comes from the ingredients themselves than physically adding table salt.
  2. Use ‘no added salt’ products when you can, such as no added salt tinned tomatoes and tomato paste.
  3. Read labels to compare products and choose the ingredient with less salt (sodium).
  4. Use smaller amounts of high salt ingredients such as sauces, and add more low salt flavours instead such as herbs, spices, garlic or ginger.


Adapted from information provided at eatforhealth.gov.au under the ‘Eating Well’ tab.