When the kids are home for the weekend or the grandkids are staying, we all turn to the dishes that are old favourites, but what if you want to make these crowd-pleasers a tad healthier?
Simple things make a difference here, from choosing leaner cuts of meat to baking or grilling instead of frying. Don’t forget you can make your own version of fast-food favourites, too, to keep the youngsters happy. They’ll be tastier as well as healthier.
Turkey pasta bake
Even the name ‘pasta bake’ is comforting, and you’ve probably made a few in your time! It’s so easy to stretch if you suddenly find yourself feeding more people, too – just add a bit more penne.
Brownie points because: turkey is naturally low in fat. It’s also a great source of key nutrients for health, such as the B-vitamins, phosphorus, selenium and potassium.
At-a-glance recipe: use minced turkey instead of beef to make your favourite Bolognese. Stir into cooked penne and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes at gas mark 5 (190°C, 375°F).
Baked potato wedges
The whole world loves a chip, but wedges are their healthier cousin.
Brownie points because: lower in fat than regular chips, wedges with skins left on are a good source of fibre and vitamin C.
At-a-glance recipe: wash and cut medium potatoes lengthways into wedges, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 35 minutes at gas mark 6 (200°C, 400°F).
Pizza is a surefire hit with pretty much everyone, but before you reach for the takeaway menu or a frozen version, think about making your own.
Brownie points because: with the right toppings, they’re good for calcium and protein. Top your pizzas with colourful slices of peppers and other fresh veg to up the vitamin count.
At-a-glance recipe: mix up a pizza dough (flour, warm water, yeast and a little sugar and salt) then leave it to rise for about an hour, before rolling out and placing on an oiled baking tray. Add tomato sauce and the toppings of your choice before baking for about 10-15 minutes at gas mark 7 (220°C, 425°F).
Baked chicken goujons
Goujons are a grown-up take on the ubiquitous chicken nuggets, and can be finger-licking good.
Brownie points because: chicken is not only low in fat, but its nutrients help the body produce serotonin for a feeling of wellbeing. It’s also a good source of protein.
At-a-glance recipe: cut skinless, boneless chicken into goujons, dip in egg white and roll in well-seasoned breadcrumbs. Place on a greased baking tray and put in the oven at gas mark 6 (200°C, 400°F) for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Spaghetti and meatballs
Italian mammas know a thing or two about family food, and this classic dish never fails to please.
Brownie points because: as well as the meat for protein, the intense tomato sauce here is great for its antioxidant properties and vitamin C.
At-a-glance recipe: make homemade meatballs with either turkey or lean beef mince, then bake rather than fry. Add the tomato sauce once the meatballs are browned and well-cooked. Serve with cooked spaghetti.
Make the washing up a breeze
If you’ve tried cheaper washing-up liquids over the years, you’ll know just how disappointing they can be. And that when you’ve fed a crowd, you need two things:
• Fairy Washing Up Liquid which lasts 50% longer than its rivals
• Someone else to do the washing up!
Tell us your family favourites
What are the meals you rely on time and time again to feed the hungry hordes? What about your healthy twists on recipes? We’d love to hear them – leave your comments below.