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Nutrition

Eight healthy dinner swaps

Choosing nutritious meal options is easier than you may think. By making some simple tweaks to what’s on your plate these small changes could soon add up to a healthier you.

1. Swap beef mince for turkey mince

If you’re a big red meat eater and you can’t imagine mealtimes without your favourite dish of spaghetti Bolognese, a great alternative is turkey mince. It’s packed with protein and is lower in saturated fats – these fats raise the level of harmful cholesterol in your blood.

2. Try a different steak

Nutritional therapist Dr Christy Fergusson advises substituting your usual steak for an equally tasty tuna steak. Fresh tuna is a great source of polyunsaturated fat as it’s particularly high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats help to keep your heart healthy and have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels.

3. Swap white potatoes for sweet ones

“Ditch your oven chips and make your own sweet potato chips,” says Christy. “Start by slicing up your sweet potatoes, drizzle with some olive oil and pop them in the oven.” Sweet potatoes are an excellent slow-releasing carb substitute as they have a lower glycaemic index and will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Using olive oil will also top up your quota of healthy monounsaturated fats.

4. Add some variety to your plate

If you’re fed up with your usual pasta and want to try something different that’s lower in carbs, try switching your spaghetti for spiralised courgette. It’s quick and easy to prepare and is lower in calories. Courgettes are also high in nutrients such as vitamins C and K, and potassium.

5. Get creative with flavouring your food

Shop-bought sauces are often laden with salt and sugar so why not try making your own? Add flavour to dishes using herbs, spices, wine, vinegar, garlic, onion, lime or lemon juice. You can also easily make your own pasta sauces by using tinned tomatoes and throwing in any of the above to add flavour.

6. Choose your takeaway wisely

If you can’t resist takeaway pizza as a weekend treat, make it healthier by opting for a thin crust. Christy also advises choosing takeaway dishes that include more vegetables and minimising your intake of sauce-laden options. Putting together a quick salad to eat alongside your takeaway will also provide an extra nutritional boost.

7. Drink less fizz

Research carried out by ‘Grace Say Aloe’ found that 26% people felt opting for water or a juice-based drink instead of a fizzy soft drink would be the easiest swap for them to make. If you’d like to try a different drink at mealtimes but worry plain water won’t satisfy your taste buds, try adding fruits to water to provide a fresh burst of flavour.

8. Go bananas

“Instead of reaching for the ice cream tub for dessert, make your own banana variety,” suggests Christy. Peel some bananas, put them in a Tupperware box and leave to freeze overnight. When it’s dessert time, scoop them into a blender, whizz them up and enjoy. No need to add anything else. “It gives you a delicious dairy-free alternative to ice cream,” says Christy. Bananas are also a nutritional powerhouse; they’re packed with potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and fibre. Spoons at the ready.