“You don’t win friends with salad, you don’t win friends with salad”

 

Those of us who were watching too much TV in the 90’s may remember Bart and Homer parading around their living room singing these lines which have since become quite a soundbite, particularly with you men out there! Well, whether that is true or not – many people have this idea that to eat better or lose weight that they have to forgo all the foods that they love and exist on ‘rabbit food’.

However, this is simply not the case and the following suggestions are just a few seriously simple ways for you to swap just one or two ingredients in your favorite dishes and cut their energy content by a third or even sometimes up to a half, while not compromising (or compromising much!) on taste and usually adding more veg – always a bonus!

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Lasagna – This is one of my favourites but between the high carbo load and the decadent béchamel sauce – it can certainly pack a good punch in the calorie stakes! Swap: Some or all of the lasagna sheets for slices of pumpkin or zucchini (about 1cm thick works quite well), add extra vegetables to the bolognese sauce and if you’re really serious – go for a lighter version of the béchamel sauce – such as this one from Epicurious. (Note if entertaining though – this will not plate up as easily as traditional lasagna)

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Shepherd’s pie – What better on a winter’s night?! Swap: The buttery mashed potato that after a few bowls is sure to spike your blood sugar with some blended sweet potato and cauliflower. Also, in the interests of both health and laziness, why not serve it straight from the oven tray and skip the pastry? – Of course, while you’re at it, up the vegetable content of the filling too!

Macaroni and cheese – a hit with the kids (both with the small and overgrown kids alike!). Swap: The creamy cheesy sauce for some cauliflower or pumpkin sauce (trust me…) Basically just cover a few cups of your vegetable of choice in some vegetable stock and boil. When soft put the vegetable in a blender (retain the stock though!) and blend it up really well with some garlic that has been gently fried in a touch of butter. Add a little stock, 2-3 tablespoons of greek yoghurt and even a bit of milk as required to get a nice smooth consistency. Then add only a small handful of tasty cheese like parmesan or mature cheddar and stir through your cooked pasta.

Steak and chips – Though we are generally eating too much meat (both for health and environmentally!), steak holds a special place on many a dinner plate. However, if you are looking to both cut your saturated fat/energy intake and positively impact the environment, the consider a swap to kangaroo meat. Kangaroos produce far less methane and require far less resources compared to traditional livestock farming. Additionally, per 100g, compared to beef – kangaroo meat has approximately a third less energy, 15% of the total fat, slightly more protein, 2-3 times more iron (though half the zinc) and higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. Finally, swap the fried chips with crunchy baked sweet potato wedges.

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Note that if you don’t like the more ‘gamey’ taste of kangaroo or very patriotically can’t bear to eat our coat of arms and you’re going to continue eating the beef – it’s worth sourcing grass-fed beef as this has a far better fat profile than grain-fed, though it requires higher resources to farm – so you’ll have to weigh up your priorities here! Kangaroo mince can also now be bought in most supermarkets – so try it in your bolognese, lasagna, shepherds pie, meat balls, hamburger patties etc.

berry pieBerry tarts – If you’re looking for a healthier (and superquick!) option on the rich, glazed berry tart (or even a cheesecake type of desert) – then simply brown off your shortcrust pastry shell (or mini-shells will plate up much neater!) and let the shell cool completely. Swap: the traditional filling with a thick, quality, honey flavoured or lightly sweetened greek yoghurt – Chobani or Mundella are good ones, but it’s up to your taste preferences really as this is dessert after all – taste is a top priority! Top this with fresh berries and serve – with an extra drizzle of honey over the top of you’d like. This swap will still taste really creamy and sweet but will have half the energy of a traditional tart.

Hope this article has given you a few ideas on some easy swaps you can make to still allow you to enjoy your favourite dishes but in a lighter, more nutritious way.

 

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