Cooking healthy meals is not as difficult as you may think.

Cooking healthy meals is not as difficult as you may think. By making small changes to the cooking methods and ingredients you use, your meals can be much lower in fat, salt and sugar.

1-How can I cut down on fat when cooking meat for my family?

– Always remove the visible fat from meat and the skin from chicken.
– Drain off visible fat when cooking. Spoon out and throw away any left-over fat in the pan.
– Allow soups, stews and mince dishes to cool down. Then spoon off the fat on top and throw it away.
– When pan-frying or roasting meat, rather brush the meat with oil instead of pouring lots of oil in the pan.

2-Which cooking methods use less fat or oil?

– Grill, steam, microwave, slow-cook, bake, stir-fry or pan-fry with very little oil, rather than deep-frying food.
– Braise onions in a little water instead of frying them in oil.
– Use cooking sprays for grilling or stir-frying.
-A non-stick or good quality stainless steel pan can also help you to use less oil.

3-Do you have some ideas to get fussy eaters to eat more vegetables?

– Introduce kids to a variety of vegetables from a young age. Teach them to enjoy the natural flavour of veggies early on, without adding fat, salt or sugar.
– Season vegetables with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg with pumpkin, instead of butter or sugar.
– Make vegetables fun for kids by preparing colourful vegetable skewers, cutting veggies into different shapes or arranging them into funny faces.
– Add grated or mashed vegetables as a hidden ingredient to fish cakes, meat balls, mince
dishes, muffins, rice, stews and soups. This will also make your meals go further, add flavour and fibre, and will help them eat enough veggies in a day.

4-How can I prepare vegetables without losing their goodness?

– Only peel vegetables when necessary.
– When cooking veggies try to use as little water as possible and don’t overcook them.
– Don’t soak cut veggies in water, as the vitamins and minerals will leak into the water.

5-Make your favourite recipes healthier by swopping some of these ingredients.

Cream cheese, processed cheeses, cheese spread or high-fat cheese like Cheddar Low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese, lower fat cheeses like mozzarella
Full-cream milk, maas or cream Low-fat or fat-free milk, maas, plain yoghurt or reduced-fat evaporated milk
Butter, hard or brick margarine, ghee, shortening or lard Vegetable oil (like sunflower or canola oil) or soft tub margarine
Oily sauces like mayonnaise and creamy salad dressings Reduced-fat sauces like low-fat mayonnaise, plain yoghurt, tomato-based sauces, lower fat salad dressings
White flour, white bread, white breadcrumbs Brown or wholewheat flour, bread, breadcrumbs, brown rice. Lentils or beans added to white rice also helps increase your fibre intake
Fatty meat or mince, organ meats or offal (tripe, brains, trotters, chicken feet) Meat with very little fat, lean or extra lean mince, fish,skinless chicken, beans and lentils. Game, goat and ostrich meat are leaner choices
Processed meats like polony, viennas, salami, russians and boerewors Lean, unprocessed cold meats. Make good use of your left-overs like fish, skinless roast chicken (p50) or lean meat for sandwiches
Food canned in oil or brine Food canned in tomato sauce. If you use fish canned in oil, drain off excess oil. Food canned in brine can be lightly rinsed with water to get rid of the extra salt
Creamy, buttery or sugary sauces with vegetables Make a lower fat sauce using low-fat or fatfree milk and leave out the butter. Use just a little sauce over veggies. Use herbs or spices to flavour veggies or enjoy them raw
Stock cubes, soup powders Homemade stock (p15), cornflour, cake flour or split lentils to thicken soups or stews
Salt, salty seasonings like braai salt, barbeque or chicken spice Fresh or dried herbs, lemon juice, green pepper, onions, parsley, garlic, ginger, saltfree spices (like chilli powder, coriander, cumin, curry powder, masala, paprika, pepper, turmeric)