So, you like to cook and you'd like to try out one of the mouth-watering recipes in the Nutrition Centre. Well, that's great – and it would be even better if you take a little time to think about how that recipe will fit in with your healthy lifestyle goals. There is a place for all foods (even what you might consider treats), but only if you are watchful about what dishes you eat together and how much you eat.
Here's how the recipes can help you:
- Take note of the traffic lights. There is a range of traditional South Asian dishes like pilau, biryani and curries. You'll notice that many of them will have at least one red traffic light. Many have two or three. The point of including them within the Nutrition Centre is to help you to be aware of the foods you regularly eat. If you currently use these amounts of oil, salt or other ingredients in your daily menu, then there is definitely room for improvement. Check out the Healthy Cooking Tips to get some ideas on how to make your meals healthier.
- Watch the oil. Notice the number of tablespoons of oil recommended in recipes with a green or amber traffic light for fat. Can you adapt your own recipes to use similar amounts? Think about this: every tablespoon of oil you add will give you an extra 100 to 135 Calories. That's around the same number of calories in three squares of milk chocolate. Next time you cook, measure how many tablespoons you're adding and think about how many squares of chocolate that's equivalent to!
- What else are you eating? The calorie values in the Food Facts can help you to manage your weight, as you can choose lower calorie dishes more often. However, take note of what else you might be eating with that dish. Although the recipe for Vegetable Seekh Kebabs may only offer you 200 Calories, you are likely to be eating them with other foods – perhaps they're just a starter and there's a rich main meal to follow. If so, consider having a smaller portion size of the main meal.
- Don't pass the salt. Some recipes may be high in salt, as this is the way that they are normally cooked. But you have a choice: you can choose to make it healthier by using less salt. Try lemon juice, spices, salt-free sauces and herbs to help reduce the salt.
- Healthy to a limit. Even if one recipe is healthier than another, it doesn't mean you can eat it in unlimited quantities and still be healthy! Use the guide on number of servings to keep an eye on your portion size.
- Not all parathas are the same! Note that the traffic lights are based on the recipes within this Nutrition Centre only. So don't assume that regular parathas, shrikhand, carrot halwa, and so on, can also be allocated the same traffic light. Remember that these are specially modified recipes.
- Make use of the Healthy Hints. These appear on every recipe and they will give you ideas for adapting your own recipes too.