Find a healthier version of your favourite comfort meal
Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be indulging in your favourite comfort meals? Whether it’s pizza, parmas, spag Bol or even icecream, here are some great tips and recipes from dietitian Rosalyn D’Angelo on how to make them a little healthier, and yet no less delicious.
Let me save you some worry and guilt. There is no such thing as a perfect diet. Instead, what I encourage people to do, is just to try to make the healthier choice where possible. Using this theory, there are no meals that you can never have. A few small tweaks can make your favourite ‘cheat’ meals healthy and balanced.
Forget processed meats like ham, bacon or salami that are high in saturated fat and salt. Instead, top a thin wholemeal pizza base with some homemade tomato sauce, then throw on some lean protein such as salmon, chicken breast, prawns, ricotta, nuts or black beans - and then the more veggies the better! Think sweet potato, baby spinach, capsicum, onions, mushrooms… the combinations are endless. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved in the meal preparation.
The only issue with the good ol’ pub parma is that the crumbed chicken is usually fried and covered in a whole heap of cheese. Overall, especially if you add a side of chips, it’s a fair amount of saturated fat and salt. For a healthy homemade version, top some grilled chicken breast with some homemade tomato pasta sauce, olives, and a little low fat cheese, and bake in the oven. Serve with a side salad. A quick and easy weeknight meal that the whole family will love.
Coconut cream and milk are high in saturated fat. This doesn’t mean you must give up the taste or texture of your favourite curry. Use coconut flavoured evaporated milk with a little corn starch to thicken. Make sure there are as many vegetables as there is meat, and serve with brown rice. Delicious and healthy.
Pasta gets a bad wrap. In its essence it’s all about the portions of macronutrients on the plate. Pasta is carbohydrate, which should typically take up about a third of your plate (depending on your activity levels and health goals of course). The problem with how we often eat pasta, is that 90 per cent of the plate is carbohydrate. Pull back a bit on the pasta, use a lean ‘heart smart mince’ and load the sauce up with veggies: carrot, celery, olives, eggplant, onion, or whatever you have leftover in the fridge. Aim to have an equal amount of veggies on the plate as there is pasta. To up the fibre of the meal even more, use wholemeal pasta and replace the mince with a can of 4 bean mix. Just remember to rinse the beans well before adding them in.
Chocolate mousse is typically high in saturated fat because of the chocolate, cream and butter, and usually has quite a bit of added sugar. The healthy version is the simplest thing you could ever make. Blend avocado for the creamy texture and healthy fats, with banana for the natural sweetness together with some cocoa powder. Add a little vanilla essence or honey if you like a little extra sweetness. Pop in the fridge for a few hours, and enjoy topped with some fresh berries.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying an ice cream every now and then, but if you’re looking for a healthier version, simply chop up a few bananas and freeze them overnight. The next day, blend them together with a little milk and voila! Smooth and creamy banana ice cream. To add even more flavour, top with some shredded coconut, chocolate chips or slivered almonds.
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