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12 Easy Tweaks To Make Family Meals Healthier

A few simple changes in your diet can make a big health difference. We’ve gone to the experts for their best tips to hike up the nutrition stakes for you and your family
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Health-boost your toppings

‘Swap normal potato on your shepherd’s pie for sweet potato. It has a low glycaemic index so burns energy slower and keeps everyone going for longer.’

Gemma Landau, nutritional consultant at thefooddoctor.com

Try this Shepherd's Pie with parsnip and pumpkin topping recipe.

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Bulk out meals with pulses

‘Boost health and make your meat go further by including pulses in your dishes. You can add lentils, chickpeas kidney beans to Bolognese and it provides a fantastic source of fibre, iron and protein.’

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker (sarahschenker.co.uk)

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Make your own ice lollies

‘Blend your own fruit juices and then freeze as ice-lollies it boosts your family’s five-a-day and makes a healthy dessert.’

Dr Sally Norton, health and weight management expert and founder of Vavista.com

For a tasty ice-lolly recipe, click here.

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Switch to spices and herbs

‘Keep the salt intake low by using herbs and spices rather than salt to flavour your cooking – they provide more nutrients and are healthier than adding lots of extra salt. Good ones to try are chopped basil, oregano and parsley.’

Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum

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Make more use of crackers

‘Crumble some multigrain crackers or oatcakes into a burger mix before you shape them into patties. They can replace the breadcrumbs that you normally add but they’ll boost your fibre and vitamins.’

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker (sarahschenker.co.uk)

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Find alternative sources of nutrients

‘Boost your family’s calcium and vitamin D intake by including non-dairy sources such as sunflower seeds, broccoli and tahini paste or sesame seeds in your meals. Try toasting sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan for added flavour.’

Nutritionist Rita Arora

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Make your own fish or chicken fingers

‘Put wholemeal bread crust in a food processor or blender until it resembles crumbs, dip your fish pieces in some beaten egg and dip in the crumbs and bake. You could even try 'pink fingers' with salmon rather than white fish. Any fishmonger will cut the fish into strips for you (supermarkets included) and you can buy chicken pre stripped to save you time.’

Try this healthy chicken nugget recipe.

Gemma Landau, nutritional consultant at thefooddoctor.com

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Skip the chips for DIY wedges

‘Making your own chips is really easy – especially if you use sweet potato, as the consistency is softer than white potatoes and better for baking. Cut the sweet potato into wedges (about 1cm thick), drizzle with oil and a pinch of paprika and bake for 20 minutes.’

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker (sarahschenker.co.uk)

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Get sneaky

‘Hide vegetables in your family’s food – especially if your little one (or your big one is going through a fussy stage). Grate a carrot or add some peas into stews, pies and soups to add flavour and nutritional value to family meals.’

Gemma Landau, nutritional consultant at thefooddoctor.com

Try this vegetable barley soup recipe.

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Pick healthy pizza toppings

‘Add extra diced vegetables such as peppers and courgettes to the top of pizza before putting it in the oven to boost the health content.’

Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum

Try this pizza recipe from the Chiappa sisters.

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Create your own coatings

‘Bypass the fried chicken or KFC and get creative with toppings. Try grinding up some pistachio nuts, add a little wholemeal flour and then dip chicken drumsticks in egg and coat with the pistachios. They’re rich in healthy fats, vitamin E and protein.’

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker (sarahschenker.co.uk)

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Make your own icecream

‘Bananas aren’t just a good weaning food for your baby. Mash some up and freeze them and you’ve got an ice-cream-esque dessert which is a tasty treat.’

Gemma Landau, nutritional consultant at thefooddoctor.com

What health swaps have you made when making family meals? Let us know in the comment box below.

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