Healthy eating is getting more and more popular all the time. With all new ways of eating out there now; vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, there are so many new cookbooks and recipes coming out every day. If you take a look online you’ll find some weird, wacky and wonderful recipes and ideas, from kale crisps to green smoothies. Heaven probably to the seasoned ‘healthy eater’, but maybe a step too far for the average person or more simple eater, and quite possibly enough to turn them off the idea of healthy eating altogether.
Improving your diet doesn’t have to mean drastic changes right away! Like with most things gradual small changes over time is the best way to instill new habits and stick to them. A great way to start healthy eating is by tinkering around with your old favourite recipes, swapping in healthy alternatives for the original ingredients. It can take a few attempts, maybe a bit of playing around with quantities and consistencies, but usually you can get a really great result, with all the tastiness of your old favourite, and now all the health benefits too!
Read on for some great alternatives ingredients:
There are numerous types of alternative flours available these days. Spelt, buckwheat, coconut, soya, gluten free, the list is endless. Ground nuts, oats or seeds are other handy healthy alternatives to flour. Our favourite rich dark chocolate cake and buns turn out even nicer than the original recipes using ground almonds and buckwheat flour respectively.
With all the media attention of late on how sugar is so detrimental to our health, it’s great to finally have so many alternatives to the dreaded refined white sugar. Muscovado sugar is a better option than white sugar, a good rule of thumb, ‘the browner the better’. Other options to swap in are xylitol (which oddly is good for dental health & very low GI), stevia, good quality honey or maple syrup, fruit such as apple, banana, dates. Consistency and cooking times usually need a little tweeking here. You will be shocked at how much sugar is stated in certain recipes and how much less you can actually get away with adding! Dates are so versatile when it comes to desserts, our favourite millionaires shortbread was a real hit with caramel made from just banana, dates & coconut oil. And coconut macaroons turned out great using xylitol.
Margarine/ Veg Oil:
With fat getting so much good press these days, we’re no longer afraid to use good old fashioned butter in our recipes. Other alternatives like coconut oil, nut butters, natural yogurt work really well as a replacement for margarine/oil. And depending on the recipe banana or apple may also work well. Favourite ‘bars’ and truffles of ours were easily tweeked to include coconut oil and almond butter for a very tasty result!
Who can resist a slice of pizza topped with all your favourites! But probably one of the first things we avoid when trying to eat healthy. Well using any of the flours mentioned above is going to make it a healthier version for sure. Other innovative ideas are using veg like courgette, cauliflower or kale blended with egg and baked to create a veggie pizza base. Or even quinoa can be used to make a great healthy base.
Burgers, the classic fast food, a favourite of many. Making homemade burgers is a great way to enjoy and old favourite, while knowing exactly what is going into it. Using turkey, chicken or mixed beans can make a nice change to the usual beef burger.
Spiralising is very popular right now. Using a special spiraliser, veg like courgette, sweet potato, anything really, can be cut into long spaghetti like strings and used as a fantastic new alternative to pasta. Spiralisers are easy to use and available very reasonably on amazon and other websites.
Wraps are such a handy go-to at lunchtime. Good quality corn wraps are a good qluten free option, but it can be hard to find good ones, check the label as there are brands out there with lots of sugar added. Lettuce leaves make a great alternative to a normal wrap, so fresh & light. Homemade veg ‘wraps’ can easily be made by blending kale or spinach with egg and frying off like a pancake. You can fill as you would a normal wrap, with the extra bonus that you are getting an extra serving of veg in there too!
Sweet potato and squash are great alternatives to potato for making chips or wedges. Chopped like fries and oven roasted with a little coconut oil, gives a new healthy twist to the original.
Sometimes you can’t beat the salty crunchiness of crisps. Well a great healthy twist can be made by thinly slicing veg like beetroot, carrot, parsnip or sweet potato and bake carefully, as they can burn easily. Add a little coconut oil and season. Don’t throw away potato skins when you are peeling them next time, these, salted and roasted make fantastic crisps! Pitta crisps also make a good alternative to packet crisps. Simply cut into triangles, add a little oil, seasoning and even some chilli or smoked paprika, oven bake until crispy. There perfect accompaniment to any of your favourite dips!
Little ‘sandwiches’ can be created using thick rounds of potato, sweet potato or tomato. ‘Rounds’ like little pancakes can be made using blended veg & egg, good veg to use are sweet potato, carrot, courgette or even a mixture. There are many ‘cracker’ recipes online using nuts or seeds like flax and chia and other alternative ingredients. Or a very simple replacement for a ‘cracker’ can be created using slices of cucumber, carrot or pepper or as above potato skins. Or for a sweeter version, slices of apple or banana.
Have fun trying them out!