Give your family’s favourite meals a nutritional boost without sacrificing flavour. Check out our classic recipes with a better-for-you twist!
We all care about adding more nutrient-dense foods to our diet. While the idea of adding a nutritional boost to our food is appealing, we don’t want to sacrifice flavour and those delicious meals that the entire family loves. With help from registered dietitian Kristy Hogger, we’ve given five classic recipes a nutritional upgrade with easy better-for-you swaps.
Turkey & Kale Chili
Chili is a simple and hearty dish that’s loaded with whole and nutritious ingredients. But traditional recipes can be heavy on sodium, according to Hogger. “This made-over recipe cuts the sodium by using no-salt-added canned tomatoes and no-salt-added canned kidney beans—simple swaps that keep your sodium intake in check,” she says. Made with fresh kale—which, according to the Canadian Nutrient File, is an excellent source of the dietary antioxidant vitamin C—and flavoured with smoky barbecue sauce, it’s an inspired way to get that hearty feeling.
These swaps result in each serving (500 grams) of chili containing 220 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and 130 per cent for vitamin A. Lean turkey replaces the traditional beef, and kale is added to the recipe.
Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers
Goodbye, breadcrumbs! Crusted with egg whites and quinoa and flavoured with Parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley, these chicken fingers still deliver that comforting crunch. Restaurant-style chicken fingers are typically deep-fried, which can result in high fat and calorie content. This easy homemade recipe is baked instead and is ready in just 30 minutes.
Cooked Compliments Organic Quinoa sticks to the chicken with the help of Compliments Balance Pure Liquid Egg Whites, resulting in a crunchy crust with nine grams of total fat per serving (180 grams).
Beef, Lentil & Squash Lasagna
Everyone’s favourite classic just got a healthy upgrade. “Boosting fibre in classic recipes can often be achieved with a few simple swaps or additions,” says Hogger. “This lasagna is a perfect example.” Lentils and butternut squash help increase the fibre content (62 per cent more fibre than a classic lasagna) and make up for smaller portions of beef, while low-fat mozzarella and cottage cheese help reduce some of the fat (62 per cent less fat than a classic lasagna) but keep each bite meltingly delicious.
Trading half of the beef for lentils, using reduced-fat cheeses and layering the filling with whole-wheat lasagna noodles reduces the calories per serving (300 grams) from 400 to 290.
Fudge Layer Cake with Chocolate Avocado Icing
Four layers of moist, fudgy cake with a surprisingly delicious upgrade! Buttermilk ensures a delicate crumb, while brewed coffee enhances the cake’s chocolatey goodness. The star ingredient is velvety avocados that pull double duty, replacing the butter in both the cake batter and the icing. “The creamy texture and chocolate flavour remain but without the saturated fat,” says Hogger.
The recipe uses Compliments Balance 100% Pure Liquid Egg Whites, cutting out the yolks, and replaces the butter and cream with avocado, resulting in a tender cake that contains 2 grams of saturated fat per serving (250 grams).
Veggie & Black Bean Nachos
These nachos are made for sharing. “Creating meatless versions of classic recipes can often help to cut the calories, fat and saturated fat,” says Hogger. “In these nachos, this was achieved by replacing the typical ground beef and Italian-style sausage with black beans.” Reduce calories even more by making nacho chips from scratch with Compliments Balance Multigrain with Flax Tortillas (42 per cent less calories than a traditional nacho recipe).
No nacho platter is complete without cheese. By using Compliments Balance Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese, our recipe contains five grams of fat per serving (80 grams).
Healthy food habits
- Ingredient swaps are a great way to make your favourite recipes better for you. But there are other simple mealtime habits that can have a big impact on your family’s diet.
- Ditch full-calorie soda and alcohol and opt for water instead. Tired of plain water? “Choose beverages that are full of flavour without the sugar of soda,” says Hogger, suggesting flavoured or green teas, flavoured waters, unsweetened iced tea, and club soda with a splash of fruit juice.
- Follow proper portion sizes. “Understanding appropriate serving sizes can sometimes be tricky, as our perception is often skewed by large restaurant meals,” explains Hogger. “The plate method is a simple way to divide your plate and keep portions reasonable: Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables; one-quarter of your plate with meat or a meat alternative; and one-quarter with a starchy vegetable or whole grain.”
- Learn what is in your favourite foods by taking the time to read labels and the Nutrition Facts Table. Understanding the nutrients in fresh products like produce, meat and dairy will help inform more educated dietary choices.
- It’s OK to indulge in your favourite foods on occasion. Practising moderation goes a long way toward making healthy choices more often. “Allowing yourself the leeway to occasionally indulge in treats or your favourite comfort foods can actually help you stay on track with a healthy eating plan,” says Hogger. “Knowing that these foods are not forbidden can give you motivation to stay on track the rest of the time.”