Reinvent your recipes

Do you have a whole cupboard full of recipes you think are probably not the healthiest?  Here’s some tips on how to take those tried & tested, and turn them into healthier versions.


  • Replace full cream milk and cream with low fat milk, low fat natural yoghurt, low fat evaporated milk or soft tofu, depending on the required result in recipes.  Fat-free or skim milk is the best choice.
  • Low fat buttermilk/natural yoghurt flavoured with herbs and natural spices can be used as a marinade for meat, fish or chicken
  • Swop mayonnaise for low fat plain yoghurt mixed with lemon juice. It adds real zest to recipes!
  • Fake it!  Plain low fat yoghurt can be combined with low fat cottage cheese and flavoured with garlic, lemon juice, black pepper and herbs to use as a mock sour cream on baked potatoes or as a dip for fresh veggies and salad
  • Use low fat natural yoghurt as a salad dressing  -  simply add some freshly chopped coriander, lemon juice and black pepper
  • Ricotta or fat-free cottage cheese can be used instead of cream cheese
  • Grated low fat cheese (e.g low fat Mozzarella), combined with wholewheat bread crumbs/cereal-based crumbs, may replace high fat melted cheese as a topping for dishes
  • Use low fat evaporated milk and plain low fat yoghurt instead of coconut milk and coconut cream.


  • Up the fibre content of recipes by adding digestive bran or oat bran and substituting refined cake flour with wholewheat flour and oats.  (For better results, more yeast needs to be added to wholewheat products)
  • The use of natural sweeteners found in fruit and vegetables, and flavourings like herbs and natural spices, will enhance the taste of most dishes if used instead of sugar.


  • Up the intake of fresh veggies by including more of them wherever you can, to increase your fibre, vitamin & mineral and antioxidant intake
  • Raw veg e.g. baby marrow, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cubed butternut, spinach leaves, beans, baby corn etc. can all be added to salads to make different and more nutritious salads.
  • For a variation in vegetable preparation, vegetables like spinach, cabbage, baby marrow, brussel sprouts, pattypans, broccoli, brinjals and green beans may be prepared as follows:  Saute onion in a small amount of water in a pan, and add chopped tomatoes/green pepper/mushrooms etc. and a pinch of salt, pepper, oregano, basil and fresh garlic.
  • Fill gems with peas or sweetcorn
  • Sprinkle pumpkin, butternut, gems and carrots with cinnamon instead of glazing them with butter/margarine and sugar.  Alternatively, squeeze the juice of an orange over and bake.
  • Prepare a white sauce for broccoli & cauliflower by using skim milk and thickening with corn flour.  Salt, pepper, mustard and grated low fat cheese can then be added for flavour
  • Add chopped mint leaves to peas and fresh parsley into any vegetables desired to liven them up
  • Brown "fry" (saute) onions in brown/balsamic vinegar instead of oil, in a non-stick pan for a tangy taste.  Do this to start a stew or curry, instead of using oil
  • Use a combination of chopped tomato and onion; tomato and green pepper; tomato, green pepper and mushrooms as a "gravy" for meat/chicken/fish dishes.
  • For a low fat "creamed" spinach, spinach may be prepared with black pepper, fresh garlic and low fat plain yoghurt or low fat evaporated milk.

Protein shake-up

  • Choose LEAN meat and chicken cuts.  Remove all visible fat and skin before preparation.  Limit the use of red meat/lamb to twice a week.
  • Feeling bad about bacon? You now have the option of buying totally lean bacon without any visible fat! 
  • Choose more recipes with skinless chicken and fish.  Pork loins with fat trimmed are another good source of lean meat
  • Grill or bake meat on an oven tray and toss out any excess fat caught in the oven dish that you were thinking would make a good gravy!  Also, don’t add extra fat while grilling, but rather add fresh flavourings e.g herbs, black pepper, garlic etc.
  • Marinade meat, chicken and pork in  fruit juice (e.g pineapple juice), wine, balsamic vinegar or low fat natural yoghurt instead of fatty-based marinades
  • Instead of a fatty batter, fish and chicken may be dipped into skim milk, flavoured with black pepper and mixed herbs, then covered with cereal based crumbs or wholewheat bread crumbs.  Bake in a casserole dish that’s just been brushed with a little oil
  • To cook chicken so that is stays moist without the skin, flavour and bake in a sealed cooking bag
  • For succulent white fish fillets, prepare them in foil.  Flavour with lemon juice, black pepper and herbs and dry white wine if desired.  On top of fish place:  slices of tomato, onion, mushrooms and green pepper.  Cover with foil and bake
  • Eggs are great if they’re not fried!  Boil, poach or scramble eggs in a non-stick pan without margarine/butter or oil. 
  • Use lentils or beans in stews to decrease red meat intake and up the fibre content of your diet
  • If you have the time, remove a lot of fat from red meat stews, curries and casseroles by leaving them in the fridge overnight and removing the hardened fatty layer before reheating
  • For piquant pork, add dried apricots or apricots canned in fruit juice to flavour pork fillets or pork chops (fat trimmed) when grilling these in the oven

Frightened of fats?

  • It’s a good idea to eliminate butter and too much oil – so avoid deep frying as far as possible
  • Instead of using butter/margarine on sandwiches, mash some avo and spread this on, so you get a much, much healthier AND yummier spread
  • Prepare your own salad dressing by combining lemon juice/vinegar with herbs and a SMALL amount of olive oil.
  • Rich pastries may be replaced by phyllo pastry for still delicious, but ‘lighter’ and crispier versions.  Limit the amount of butter used.

Slowly with the salt

  • Limit your intake of salt over cooked food, especially if you have high blood pressure - you will grow accustomed to the taste.
  • Rather use herbs and natural spices or try natural herbal salts in moderation. 
  • Avoid packet gravies and soup powders as they contain salt
  • Combine the following herbs to enhance meat and vegetables:
 - 2 ml cayenne pepper                                        
 - 5 ml EACH of dried basil, thyme, black pepper, parsley, sage  
 - 12,5 ml garlic flakes

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided by the SPAR Group Ltd for general information purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.