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