From macaroni cheese and burgers to a good old steak pie and chips, some of our favourite foods are just no good for us – no matter how much green veg we might pile on the side.
But if you’re trying to eat healthily, there’s no need to give up your favourite indulgent foods completely. Instead, make a few changes to your normal recipes to cut calorie counts without losing flavour. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips on how to make your favourite indulgent foods healthier.
Making a healthier lasagne
Lasagne is one of the nation’s favourite Italian dishes – but with all that red meat, cheese and buttery bechamel sauce, it can be pretty calorific. For a lower calorie option, try making a vegetarian lasagne or Quorn lasagne instead of your usual meaty variety.
Not willing to compromise on meat? Try changing a few other ingredients instead. The Hairy Bikers’ skinny lasagne recipe, for example, uses blanched sheets of leeks instead of pasta. Not only does it significantly cut down on the amount of calories in the dish, it’s also great for anyone following a gluten-free diet.
Tips for healthier curries
If you’re partial to a butter chicken with pilau rice on a Friday night, you’ll probably know how calorific the dish can be – no matter how delicious it is. But instead of eliminating it from your diet entirely, consider making the dish at home yourself instead of buying it from a takeaway – it’ll almost certainly have fewer calories. This butter chicken recipe from food blog Half Baked Harvest is cooked in a slow cooker, and makes some healthy substitutions.
For cooks who regularly make their own curries at home already, hold the butter and cream and look for healthier alternatives. Instead of butter or ghee, try rapeseed or groundnut oil when cooking. Also consider replacing cream with low fat yoghurt instead. If you don’t want your yoghurt to split, beat in a tablespoon of gram (chickpea) flour before adding it to the dish. This will give your curry the same creamy texture and appearance, without the actual cream. Cooking Light has a few more tips on how to cook with yoghurt.
Healthier chicken recipes
Fried chicken, roast chicken, chicken kiev – we could keep going. Why is it that some of the best chicken dishes are also the most indulgent? There are, however, a few simple ways to drop the calorie count of your favourite chicken dishes.
This recipe for inside-out chicken kiev, for instance, is a great way to enjoy its buttery, garlicky goodness in a healthier way. It’s also much easier to prepare: instead of stuffing the chicken with garlic butter, coating in breadcrumbs and deep frying, you simply pat the top of a chicken breast with a smear of garlic butter and breadcrumbs and then grill.
Ellie Krieger’s oven fried chicken recipe dips chicken pieces in a mixture of egg whites and yoghurt before coating with corn flake crumbs instead of breadcrumbs. It’s then baked with cooking spray instead of being deep fried. Not only is it delicious and healthier, but it’s much easier to cook at home than regular fried chicken.
And if you don’t usually eat the skin on a roast chicken, try doing away with a roast altogether in favour of a whole poached chicken. Not only is it better for you, it’s also succulent and much less likely to dry-out – Jamie Oliver’s poached whole chicken recipe is an excellent introductory recipe.
So tell us: will you try our easy ingredient swaps?