Making healthier choices is easier than you think. Here are seven ways to turn some much-loved comfort foods into healthier favourites

1) Mashed potato for mashed root veg

Scoring high on the glycaemic index (GI), potatoes – particularly when mashed – release sugar quickly and may cause a rapid rise in blood sugars, followed by a subsequent ‘crash’. Swapping your favourite mash potato for a lower GI option made from sweet potato, celeriac, carrot or swede can offer greater nutrition, and helps to stabilise blood sugars. This will also give you a greater variety of vegetables in your diet and provide you with a wider range of nutrients.

2. Regular pizza for cauliflower pizza

Cauliflower is a useful ingredient that you can use to replace a regular pizza base, as it will help to reduce your intake of commercial white wheat flour and provides a lower carbohydrate option. A cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower also contains lots of fibre and vitamin C and will increase your overall vegetable intake.

Try our recipe for cauliflower pizza

A cruciferous vegetale, cauliflower also contains lots of fibre and vitamin C and will increase your overall vegetable intake.

3. Potato crisps for kale crisps

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable containing fibre, vitamins C & K, iron and calcium. Unlike commercial crisps, homemade kale crisps aren’t ultra-processed, so won’t contain any added sugar, salt, unhealthy fat or preservatives which have been linked with obesity, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

To make kale crisps, cut the leaves from the kale stalks and then rip the leaves into smaller bite-size pieces. Massage with olive oil and spread out onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for up to 10 minutes at 180 degrees. Then add a little sprinkle of salt before serving. 

4. Alcohol/fizzy drinks for kombucha 

If you’re a soda addict or looking to reduce your alcohol intake, kombucha can make a great replacement. A mildly fizzy, slightly sour drink made from fermented tea, kombucha is a source of probiotic (so-called good bacteria), rich in antioxidants and contains vitamins and minerals.

Making your own kombucha is delicious – but requires a bit of effort. You can also buy kombucha from supermarkets or online, in a variety of flavours. Enjoy in a wine or cocktail glass with ice and a reusable straw.

Kombucha during pregnancy is not advised.

5. White rice for quinoa 

Quinoa makes a wonderful replacement for high GI white rice, served with curries or chilli. While it may take a bit more time to cook, it is a complete source of protein – containing all nine essential amino acids - and is packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. 

Another original idea is to use quinoa in risotto, in place of Arborio rice along with lots of vegetables and parmesan cheese. 

6. Vegetable/seed oils for olive oil

Omega-3 and omega-6 are both essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that we obtain through diet. Whilst omega-6 does have some benefits (despite its bad rap) an imbalance between the two – overly weighted towards omega-6 – has been associated with inflammatory conditions.

The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is 1:1, but the western diet provides anywhere between 1:14 and 1:50, meaning a lot of us are taking in extremely high levels of omega-6. Vegetable/seed oils are notoriously high in omega-6, so to help bring down this ratio you could swap these for olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil when you’re cooking instead.

7. Flavoured fruit yoghurt for natural yoghurt

Even though yoghurt is often perceived as healthy, flavoured, fruit yoghurts (often marketed towards dieters) are actually classed as ‘ultra-processed’ because they often contain emulsifiers and preservatives and normally a huge amount of added sugar. Swap low fat, fruit-flavoured yoghurt for natural or Greek yoghurt topped with berries instead.  

A good way to check that your yoghurt contains no added sugar or preservatives is to check the ingredients list. The most natural yoghurts will usually contain no more than milk and ‘live active’ cultures. 

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