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This content is taken from the University of Wollongong's online course, Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living. Join the course to learn more.

Modifying recipes

There are many ways to modify meals to make them more nutritious for young children.

The next time you are preparing food for a young child, consider the following strategies for making it a healthier meal:

  • Add more vegetables
  • Add more fibre
  • Reduce meat content (or replace with vegetables or meat alternatives)
  • Use healthier fats
  • Reduce saturated fats
  • Reduce sugar
  • Use less salt (or replace salt with herbs)

A healthier lasagne

The following recipe shows how substituting ingredients high in fat, sugar and salt content with healthier ingredients can improve the nutritional quality of a lasagne recipe.

modified lasagne recipe (Click to expand)

As shown in this image lasagne can be made healthier by making the following changes to traditional recipes:

  • Change to lean mince and reduce the amount of mince by over ½
  • Add some vegetables such as mushrooms, capsicum and zucchini
  • Replace the salt with herbs, this way your lasagna will gain in flavour without the need to add salt
  • Change the cheese filling to ricotta cheese (or non-dairy alternative)
  • Change to wholemeal lasagne sheets
  • Change topping to ½ cup reduced fat cheese (or non-dairy cheese) and wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • Use a salt reduced tomato paste

Vegetarian alternatives?

Why not opt for a vegetarian lasagne and replace meat with vegetables, beans, quinoa or meat alternatives (e.g. tofu, tempeh or vegemince)?

Dairy-free alternatives?

Why not replace dairy cheese with silken tofu or a non-dairy cheese with a coconut or soy base such as Bio cheese or Cheezly? Adding béchamel sauce (made with plant-based milk) and nutritional yeast can also provide a dairy-free cheese flavour.

Healthier burritos

modified burritos recipe (Click to expand)

Healthier banana bread

modified banana recipe (Click to expand)

Healthy food swaps

Have a look at the Healthy food swaps guide from the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (Victoria, Australia) for more examples of ways to swap ingredients or meals for healthier alternatives.

Conversation starter

  • How have you modified a recipe to make it healthier? Share your experiences and/or ideas in the comments section. In the next step we ask you to share examples of your favourite healthy/modified recipes.

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This article is from the free online course:

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

University of Wollongong