More and more diners these days are looking for healthier options when it comes to eating out. If you're looking for ways to serve a healthier menu without compromising on flavour, remember that even the small changes can make a huge difference. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Basics of healthy eating

  • Use fresh ingredients.
  • Increase variety and choice, and offer healthy dishes alongside more indulgent options.
  • Encourage portion control subtly with spoons and plates that aren't too large.
  • Serve dressings, gravies and sauces separately so your guests can choose how much they want to eat.
  • Encourage healthy choices by putting your healthier options up front in a buffet.
  • Use different colours, shapes and textures to add excitement to your dishes.
  • Offer more visually appealing starters like salads, soups and crudités.

Working with fats & oils

  • Replace products high in saturated fat like butter, lard, suet, creamed coconut, ghee and palm oil with foods containing unsaturated fat like sunflower, olive, peanut or sesame oils, soft and liquid margarine and (low-fat) mayonnaise.
  • For cooking, use heat-stable refined vegetable oils like canola, soy, corn, olive, peanut, soft and liquid fats and use a spray to apply them rather than straight from the bottle.
  • Use light coconut milk instead of coconut milk or creamed coconut.
  • Use lean meat such as roast beef, venison, pork tenderloin, lamb fillet, skinless chicken or turkey breast.
  • Cut visible fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry.
  • Use shellfish, lean and fatty fish (a source of good fat) like salmon and mackerel, and white fish like cod and pollock.
  • Try to use nuts, seeds and pulses as an alternate protein source. They are a source of good fats and a cost-effective alternative.
  • Use low fat or skimmed alternatives of dairy products such as semi-skimmed milk, buttermilk, low-fat yoghurt or low-fat alternatives of cream, cottage cheese, ricotta, feta or mozzarella.
  • When stir-frying, use a tiny amount of vegetable or sunflower oil, then add water to steam cook.

Working with sugar & fibre

  • Increase the fibre content of your dishes by serving brown rice, whole grain noodles and pasta, and wholemeal or granary bread.
  • Add vegetables to your main dishes such as stir fries, casseroles and stews to add colour and help reduce costs on meat.
  • Offer more fruit-based desserts like fruit salads, yoghurts with fruit, or stewed fruit with spices.
  • Offer a choice of potato dishes and not just french fries. Try baked potatoes, new potatoes boiled in their skins and then lightly crushed, oven roasted sweet potato, or mashed using semi-skimmed milk, herbs and spices or horseradish for some extra flavour.
  • Be careful with adding sugar, syrup and honey to dishes; use 100% fruit juices or fruit purées instead.

Using less salt

  • Limit the addition of salt during cooking. To compensate, use herbs and spices that give a robust flavour. Add lemon juice or a little vinegar to finish seasoning a dish and a good pinch of black pepper instead of adding more salt.
  • Be careful with products that are often high in salt such as soy sauce, anchovies, olives, capers, pickles, cheese, ham, bacon, yeast extract, processed meats, smoked meat and fish – a little goes a long way in flavour.