20 smart tips for healthy cooking

Reviewed by our expert panel
Father and baby cooking

We’ve gathered 20 smart tips from our experts, recipe writers and readers to help you make healthy cooking a breeze

1 A better crust

Instead of pastry on pies, try using wholegrain breadcrumbs, oats or potato slices. (Liz Macri, recipe writer)

2 DIY dips

Make quick dips to go with crackers or veggie sticks – they’ll be much healthier than store-bought ones! Try yoghurt and grated cucumber; blend chickpeas with yoghurt, cumin and lemon juice; or blend cannellini beans with a little garlic, lemon juice and fresh thyme leaves. (Liz Macri, recipe writer)

3 Get the scoop

Use an ice-cream scoop when making meatballs to help save time and prevent messy hands! (Margie Allan, reader)

4 Go for Greek

If you love whipped cream, reduce the saturated fat and make it go further by choosing low-fat cream and mixing it with reduced-fat Greek or vanilla yoghurt.

5 Feed your gut

Letting cooked pasta creates resistant starch, an essential form of gut-friendly fibre.  You can eat it cool in a pasta salad or reheat it. The same goes for cooked potatoes. (Jenny de Montalk, HFG editor)

6 Less is more

Steam or microwave your veggies in as little water as possible to retain the nutrients. (Rose Carr, HFG nutritionist)

7 Cut sat fat back

Chill casseroles and soups overnight, so you can skim any excess fat off the top before serving.

8 Fabulous frozen veg

Up your veggie count by keeping frozen veg in the freezer and adding cupfuls to soups, casseroles, one-pot meals and braises. I like to add frozen peas in the last few minutes of making spaghetti bolognese – they add a burst of freshness and an extra serve of veg! (Nikki Wallman, editor)

9 Go for whole grain

It’s easy to substitute wholegrain rice, breads and flour into your recipes to increase fibre; and most cake recipes will turn out well using reduced-fat table spread instead of butter. (Liz Macri, recipe writer)

10 Sensational sauce

I always use apple sauce as my wet ingredient in baking – it cuts out the butter and oil and tastes yummo! (Amanda Croft, reader)

11 Rack it up

Use a rack when roasting to lift your meat out of the pan and ensure the fat drips away, rather than being absorbed into the meat. Roast veggies separately so they don’t act as a sponge and absorb fat. (Rose Carr, HFG nutritionist)

12 Oaty goodness

My favourite trick is to add 1 tablespoon oatmeal and 1/2 tablespoon water to every 100g ground meat when preparing burgers or meatballs. It improves the texture and boosts the fibre content! (Amy Leung, reader)

13 Flavour boost

Replace 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese with 1 tablespoon of more strongly-flavoured grated parmesan in recipes to save 430kJ. (Jennifer Bowden, dietitian)

14 Toast it

Toast whole seeds, like cumin, in a frying pan and then crush them with a pestle and mortar – that way you get so much more flavour. (Sally Parker, recipe writer)

15 You can’t beat homemade

Try not to buy anything you can, realistically, make yourself, like muffins, biscuits, pasta sauces and so on. (Sophie Gray, recipe writer)

16 Non-stick is the ticket

Buy a good, mid-priced, heavy-based, non-stick frying pan. They make such a difference when cooking with small amounts of oil or cooking oil spray. (Sally Parker, recipe writer)

17 50:50

Still making vinaigrette with 2/3 oil and 1/3 vinegar? Change the ratio to 50:50 and save 170kJ in 2 tablespoons of dressing. (Jennifer Bowden, nutritionist)

18 Al dente all the way

Avoid over-cooking pasta. When it’s cooked al dente, it has a lower GI, which keeps blood sugar levels stable and helps to keep you fuller for longer.

19 It’s better with beans

Cannellini or butter beans make a great high-fibre alternative to mashed potato – rinse the canned beans, process with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley, then heat before serving.

20 Make your own crisps

For quick (and healthier!) crisps, cut Mountain Bread or pita bread into small wedges. Lightly spray with oil, sprinkle with spices or herbs, then bake for a few minutes until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool and serve immediately with healthy dips or store in a snap-lock bag. (Liz Macri, recipe writer)

First published: Nov 2020


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