How To Give Your Favourite Recipes A Healthy Makeover

July 20, 2011

How To Give Your Favourite Recipes A Healthy Makeover

1. What’s your best tip for making a favourite dish healthier?

Reduce the amount of fat in the dish by eliminating, reducing or replacing it.

For example in the Real Meat Pie from Weigh It Up:

• Eliminated unhealthy saturated fat from butter normally used to brown the meat and onions

• Reduced the amount of meat used, which reduces the amount of saturated fat, and added vegetables and pureed kidney beans, which increases fibre, vitamins, minerals and anti oxidants

• Replaced high fat pastry with fat-reduced pastry

2. How do you add flavour without fat?

Once you remove excess fat in recipes you actually start to taste the food itself rather than the masked flavour.

Within no time of eating this way, you find you don’t want the high fatty foods, because they don’t allow you to taste the real flavour of the ingredients.

Then by adding herbs and spices, which are high in antioxidants, you enhance the flavour of the individual ingredients you are using.

Take our Refuel Bar recipe: it has no added fat (other than from the sunflower seeds) – all the flavour comes from the figs, dates, sultanas, orange & lemon zest, golden syrup and sunflower seeds.

3. It’s hard to stay healthy in winter. What are some healthier alternatives to carb-heavy, stodgy winter dishes?

Traditional comfort foods can be high in fat and processed carbohydrates, but we do crave them in the colder weather. Rather than avoiding them, it’s important to still be able to enjoy hearty foods, just give them a makeover and increase their health benefits, but not your waistline.

It’s very easy to make comfort foods healthy, just follow these simple steps:

• Use non stick cookware sprayed with oil

• remove as much fat as possible without compromising taste and texture and add back other ingredients to compensate eg prune puree in chocolate pudding

• replace the high fat ingredient with a low fat version eg. cheese, milk in lasagne

• reduce the amount of sugar and use sweeteners with added nutritional benefit eg. fruit, unprocessed sugars, honey, treacle, maple syrup, golden syrup as we did with our Sticky Date Pudding (click here for recipe)

• increase the nutritional benefits by adding other ingredients eg. Vegetables, lentils, beans, chickpeas, wholemeal ingredients etc. eg carrots, celery, dates, lentils and walnuts in our Shepherd’s Pie

• intensify the flavour of the food by using lots of fresh herbs and spices (now known to have higher concentrations of antioxidants than many other high antioxidant foods) eg. mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, ginger, chilli, turmeric, garlic, parsley & coriander in our Persian Quinoa Pilaf

4. You encourage eating seasonal, local food. What are you favourite winter ingredients and how do you like to prepare them?

Rhubarb: Poached in maple syrup, vanilla and orange zest

Pears: Caramelised and served with baked ricotta

Mandarins: a makeover of a Nigella recipe – Chocolate Mandarin Cake

Quinces: cooked in the pressure cooker with vanilla, cinnamon and honey and eaten with low fat ice cream or served for breakfast with Five Grain Porridge and nut seed mix ALPS Blend

Beetroot: Baby beetroot and baby carrots roasted with a balsamic, honey and thyme dressing

Silverbeet: the beautifully coloured variety, Rainbow Chard, stir fried with fennel seeds, walnuts and currants or cooked with lentils and pureed with lemon juice to make a thick zesty soup and served with thick slice of wholegrain toast

Pumpkin: Roasted with red onion, garlic and cumin and pureed with chickpeas for a hearty soup

Onion: Slow cooked caramelised red onions with goat’s cheese and thyme on low-fat pastry tarts

5. What’s a healthy dinner party menu from the book that doesn’t feel like you’re serving diet food?

Caramelised Onion Tarts to serve with drinks

Roast Eggplant & Ricotta Agnolotti in Brodo for entrée

Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken with Oven Baked Ratatouille & Polenta Chips

Sticky Date Pudding (click here for recipe)

Top tip: My advice is not to mention it’s healthy to your guests until after they’ve finished and are busy telling you how wonderful dinner was!

Weigh it Up Australia’s first ever recipe book “Winter Warmers” offers an exciting array of new and classic seasonal dishes with a very healthy twist. Weigh it Up Australia’s Food Consultant Julie White (queen of the recipe makeover and healthy food innovator) together with Giaan Rooney (Healthy Living Ambassador) and Barbara Macciolli (Allergy-Friendly Cooking Expert) have created a collection of inspired and nutritious choices for cooks of all levels focusing on healthy takes of new and traditional dishes we all love to enjoy…think Roast Loin of Pork with Baked Apples and Quinoa with Sage and Walnut Stuffing followed by Rhubarb, Cardamom and Apple Crumble…without the guilt!

The Weigh It Up Winter Warmers Recipe Book is released next week at independent newsagents nationally; online at www.weighitup.com.au and Chemist Warehouse nationally, RRP $8.95.

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