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Healthy alternatives to your favourite unhealthy foods

After years of eating processed foods, it can sometimes be hard to make the switch to fresh and healthy options. But part of the battle is knowing what to cook, and how to make this healthy food taste good.

Here are a few healthy alternatives to your favourite (less healthy) foods.

Feeding the family

Sunday Roast Dinner

Actually, your traditional family roast dinner can be a quick and easy option for a healthy family meal. It’s just all the fatty sauces and gravies we add to it that are the problem. Try cooking the meat on top of a meat rack and letting the fat drip through to the bottom of the tray. And instead of cheese sauce for your broccoli, which has the added fats from the cheese and milk, try a small sprinkling of parmesan cheese instead.

Lasagne

This is always a crowd pleaser, particularly when it’s covered in cheese sauce. But often we forget to include vegetable in, or with, this tasty dish. So why not combine the vegetables from the beginning? And instead of the standard red meat, you could give chicken a go too. This Chicken and Vegetable Lasagne recipe is easy to make and jam packed with veggies.

Fish & Chips

They're a Kiwi staple - but it's not always the most healthy dinner! That is, unless, you make your own healthy fresh fish and hand cut potato chips. New Zealand's own Master Chef Nadia Lim has created a fantastic Fish & Chips recipe that'll be sure to satisfy even the biggest FnC's fan. Her chips include tumeric, salt and pepper coating, and the fish is delicious crumbed fillets. Check out the recipe yourself here!

Fried Chicken

Why not try making your own chicken burgers, fried chicken and chips with cleaner, healthier ingredients? This recipe for a healthy zinger burger uses much healthier ingredients than fast food. It will be a hit with the family and provide a much healthier meal!

Pizza

Making pizzas at home can be really fun, but also much kinder to your body! Many fast food pizzas contain high amounts of fat and sugar in their ingredients - both in crust and toppings. By making your own bases and hand selecting toppings from the supermarket, you've got total control over what you and your household are consuming. And don't worry, you've got a lot of options for healthy toppings - from kale to beans, peanut sauce to grilled chicken - you'll discover a lot of new pizza flavours that'll quickly become your favourite. Making a pizza is something the whole house can get involved in, so hit your supermarket and start planning pizza night!

Chocolate Cake

Healthy chocolate cake? Yes! You can even make a healthier version of this usually fattening treat! By using low fat Greek Yogurt, low fat margarine and brown sugar, this KidsSpot recipe offers tasty chocolate cake with much less guilt!

Chippies

There are healthier snacks than potato chips to be eating between meals such as nuts and dried fruit. But sometimes we just crave chips. There are healthier brands than other, as Stuff found out in research conducted this year.

Sometimes we are forced into purchasing takeaways when there’s no other option. Like when you’re travelling internationally and can’t leave the airport - your only options are takeaways. So when you’re looking at takeaway options, keep your healthy hat on, and screen the menu for the healthier items.

Recently there have been a few articles that present the fast food choices of dietitians. Here’s a roundup of their preferences when forced to dine out:

Burger joints

Swap out your fries for a salad, and instead of a beef patty ask for grilled chicken. Be careful not to choose sugary condiments like BBQ sauce and don’t add any salt! Opt for grilled meats over deep fried ones.

Sandwiches or wraps

Steer clear of sugary sauces like mayonnaise and opt for oil based vinaigrette instead. If there’s the option for grilled or roasted meat, choose that over processed meats like you’d find in a chicken patty or fillet. Fish, like tuna, is a good filling option. If there’s the option for a wholegrain, then that is better for you as wholegrain carbs are slow release energy generators.

Healthy eating starts at home, that’s where you’ll eat most of your meals, and where you’ll prepare all those school lunches and work lunches. Simply, if you remove the nasty, unhealthy foods from your home then you’re less likely to consume them. If there’s a tasty, sugar heavy option and a healthy, nutritious option, changes are that from time to time you’re going to let your sugar craving takeover your healthy conscience.

To make better choices, give yourself better options.

Things to get rid of:

  • Processed foods - remove items with a long list of ingredients, especially if there are ingredients that sound like a chemical or a word you can’t even pronounce!
  • Anything labelled low-fat - low fat doesn’t always equal healthy.
  • Sugar laden condiments - peanut butter, salad dressing - they’re all full of added sugars. Instead of peanut butter try almond butter. You can even make your own.
  • Fizzy drinks - soft drinks like Coke and Fanta are filled with sugar. An ingredient which when over-consumed is going to lead to heart disease, obesity, and perhaps even diabetes.
  • Sugary snacks - if one of the top 5 ingredients is sugar, then it’s time to let it go.

Things to fill your fridge and cupboards with

  • Items from the outside aisles of the supermarket: fruit, veggies, yogurt - all the good stuff!
  • Raw nuts - these are great for a protein boost in the middle of the day. Just a small handful can do wonders for your energy levels.
  • Good grains - like qch as lentils and chickpeas, seeds, oats, brown rice and hummus should be on hand as they can be thrown together to make an easy and filling meal in no time.

Eating healthy and being “good” all the time can be difficult and a bit boring. It doesn’t hurt to have the odd piece of chocolate for dessert - just make sure it’s dark chocolate. Or, if you feel like a glass of wine, make it dry wine, or even better - red wine. Red wine has some health benefits; it’s meant to be good for your heart health and according to some studies can even help to lower blood pressure (in moderation of course!)

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