Best Tips For Modifying recipes

We have all modified recipes in some form before, be it to increase the number of serves the recipe makes or finding a suitable alternative to an ingredient you don't have in the pantry. You may not have considered that you would be able to modify the nutritional profile of a recipe also. There are many "healthier recipes" out there, but sometimes being armed with some general principles on how to modify your favourite recipes, you may be able to produce even more appetising recipes, because you know the recipes well and have probably mastered them. Fat, sugar, salt and fibre are the key ingredients that tend to be focused on when modifying recipes. Below are some tips for modifying lunch recipes with these nutrients in mind:

1 Lowering Fat:

  • Choose a lower fat cut of meat that has close to the same cooking properties as the one in the recipe. Or purchase lower fat minces/ground meats. Knowing which cuts of meat require what type of cooking will help.
  • Trim the fat off your meat prior to cooking, this will assist in ensuring that when the meat cooks it has less fat ending up in the flesh of the meat.
  • Remove the skin from the chicken prior to cooking.
  • Try low fat dairy products both in your cooking and general consumption eg. Low fat yoghurt with your fruit.
  • Low fat natural yoghurt can be substituted sour cream and cream, while low fat evaporated milk with a drop of coconut essence can be substituted for coconut milk.
  • Lower fat cheeses such as ricotta and cottage cheese with a small amount of a stronger cheese, such as parmesan cheese, can be substituted for a number of cheeses in cooking.
  • Lower fat cooking methods such as grilling, steaming, microwaving, BBQing with baking paper and using non-stick cookware all help.
  • In baking, you can sometimes decrease the fat in the recipe by ¼-1/3 of the recommended amount.
  • Use filo pastry with egg white, fruit juice or low fat milk between the layers.
  • Use tuna stored in water, rather than oil.
  • Make your own oven baked vegetable chips. (Sticks of vegetables baked in the oven until they are crunchy).

2Reducing Sugar:

  • When baking, consider using fruit or fruit juice to sweeten.
  • Alternative sweeteners may be better added after cooking as these can sometimes be bitter after cooking.
  • Using spices can help to reduce the need for sugar in baking, try cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

 Reducing Salt:

  • Try to buy salt reduced products where you can.
  • Avoid putting salt on food at the table.
  • Use herbs and spices to season food. Sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, chicken salt etc., are not substitutes for salt.
  • Use lemon juice, onion, garlic, shallots, vinegar or wine to season.

3 Increasing Fibre:

  • Use wholemeal flour in your cooking - you can substitute up to ½ of the plain flour in a recipe. Choosing higher fibre bread and wraps help too.
  • Add plenty of vegetables to your dishes - even when the recipe may not traditionally have vegetables included in them.
  • Don't peel the vegetables that don't need to be, for example carrots, simply wash and include in the dish.
  • Add beans, peas and lentils to increase your fibre intake and potentially reduce the need for extra fats from larger quantities of meat.
Even though these are the most common nutrients that are modified, keep in mind you can modify other nutrients, such as Calcium. To increase your calcium intake you might like to, include dairy products in your dishes or leave the salmon bones in salmon dish for added calcium. Or, you may like to increase the utilisation of iron by the body from the meat you eat. To do this simply increase the vitamin C you consume at the same time as the meat, by increasing the number and variety of vegetables you consume in the same meal. On the whole, modifying recipes is quite easy, you just need to have a few tips like the ones above plus a little creativity and you may be surprised with the great tasting results you arrive at. For more information on modifying recipes and lunch ideas as well as knowing how to plan a healthy lunch see
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