Healthy Recipes - Good For Your Body, Good For Your Bank Balance

Have you bitten off more than you can chew in the credit crunch? Everyone is trying to trim their expenses, and the good news is that you can trim your figure at the same time!

After a busy day, it is tempting to blow the budget and go out to eat or flop in front of the television with a takeaway meal. It's easy too, and we all like easy options. But - or maybe that should be butt - all those fat-laden treats are not helping our bodies. Too many additives, too much fat and sugar, not enough fruit or vegetables.

It's especially difficult to get excited about salads when the weather is awful and all we crave is comfort food - and plenty of it. Unfortunately, we are hard-wired to eat more when the temperature drops; it's a survival mechanism for keeping warm in the bleak outdoors. However, as most of us don't live in caves with only an animal skin for warmth (or at least, not all the time), we don't need to fill up on substantial mounds of food.

Healthy eating doesn't mean lettuce leaves morning, noon and night - you can have stews if you want. There are lots of ways to reduce the calories, fat, salt and sugar in regular recipes and turn them into healthy recipes. The bonus is that they save you money as well. Here are just a few:

  • dry fry (no oil or butter) meat for casseroles in a very hot non-stick pan
  • fry onions with mushrooms instead of fat - the mushrooms give out enough liquid to prevent the onions sticking or burning
  • thicken sauces with cornflour rather than a roux (butter and flour)
  • use lemon juice, herbs or spices instead of salt for seasoning
  • reduce the quantity of sugar in recipes by up to a quarter - you'll hardly notice the difference
  • line tins with non-stick baking paper instead of greasing them
  • use filo rather than shortcrust or flaky pastry
  • substitute a juicy baked portabello mushroom for your usual burger
  • try baking cupcakes in smaller cases
  • bulk out meat dishes with extra vegetables or lentils, to increase the number of portions

For me, the key to healthy eating is healthy cooking. After all, if you cook it you know what's in it! The more processed a food is the further it moves away from being a fresh natural product - vital nutrients can be lost in the process, and then have to be put back in as not-so-natural additives.

That said, it doesn't mean you have to give up all your favourite recipes. Savoury recipes can be made healthier just by reducing the amount of oil that things are cooked with - and skimming off any fat that rises to the surface. For fruity recipes like crumbles, cobblers and pies try using more fruit and less topping.

Above all enjoy your food - eat slowly and savour every bite.