We all care about adding more nutrition into 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 six classic recipes a nutritional makeover by swapping out the traditional ingredients with better-for-you alternatives. The result is recipes that you can feel good about serving!
Chili is a timeless dish that’s easy and filling. But traditional recipes can be a sodium pitfall, 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. The Swap: Lean turkey replaces the beef, and kale is added to the recipe. These swaps result in each serving (500 g) of chili containing 220% daily value vitamin C and 130% daily value vitamin A.
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 35 minutes. Crusted with egg whites and quinoa and flavoured with Parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley, these chicken fingers still deliver that satisfying pub-fare crunch. The Swap: Goodbye, breadcrumbs! Cooked Compliments Organic Quinoa sticks to chicken tenders with the help of Compliments Balance Pure Liquid Egg Whites, resulting in a crunchy crust with only 9 g of total fat per serving (180 g).
A classic family-style dish, this made-over lasagna doesn’t sacrifice taste. “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% 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% less fat than a classic lasagna) but keep each bite meltingly delicious. The Swap: Trading half the beef for lentils, using reduced-fat cheeses and layering the filling with whole-wheat lasagna noodles reduces the calories per serving (300 g) from 400 to 290.
Four layers of moist, fudgy cake will delight anyone lucky enough to get a slice! Buttermilk ensures a delicate crumb, while brewed coffee enhances the cake’s chocolaty 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 Swap: 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 2.6 g of saturated fat per serving (250 g).
These guilt-free 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 your nacho chips from scratch with Compliments Balance Multigrain with Flax Tortillas (42% less calories than a traditional nacho recipe). The Swap: No nacho platter is complete without cheese. By using Compliments Balance Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese, our recipe contains 5 g of fat per serving (80 g).
We preserved the comfort food status of pot pie with an easy twist—replacing its traditional topping. “Phyllo dough is significantly lower in fat than puff pastry or pie crust, which allows you to save calories along with enjoying a light, flaky texture,” says Hogger. Fresh thyme gives the tender chunks of chicken breast and vegetables a subtle aromatic quality. The Swap: Using delicate phyllo instead of puff pastry or pie dough means a single serving (1/4 of the recipe) of our pot pie is 320 calories.
Better-for-You Habit Swaps
Ingredient swaps are a great way to make your favourite recipes better for you. But there are other simple mealtime routines 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 green tea or flavoured teas, flavoured waters, unsweetened iced tea, and club soda with a splash of fruit juice.
- Learn what a proper portion size looks like. “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 Tables. Understanding the nutrients in fresh products like produce, meat and dairy will help inform more educated dietary choices.
- It’s okay to indulge in your favourite foods on occasion. Practicing 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 to 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.”