Family meals without the fat

  • By Angela Nilsen

Wish you could halve the fat of your favourite foods? Now you can – try these lighter main meals, including lower-fat curries, pasties, pies and pasta.

Moussaka on a plate

Keen to reduce your family's fat intake while still enjoying traditional foods? Well, thanks to Angela Nilsen and her ultimate makeovers, you can. We've put together these satisfying, healthier dinner ideas, from balti and biryani to lasagne and moussaka.

Some fat in the diet is essential – it aids our absorption of fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A, D, E and K – while also supplying energy and providing the building blocks for important hormones. However, fat is calorie-dense and too much in the diet leads to excess weight and other potential health issues.

By using some clever swaps and tweaks to some of our all-time favourites we’ve made them healthy enough to become mid-week staples.

Lighter massaman curry

Massaman curry in a bowl

Give it a makeover: Using skinless chicken breasts, light coconut milk and rapeseed oil, Angela has reduced the fat and saturated fat of typically decadent massaman curry by over half. Also, by including sweet potatoes she's done away with the need to add any sugar to sweeten the sauce.

Lighter massaman chicken curry

Healthier chicken biryani

Low-fat chicken biryani with salad

Give it a makeover: With less than half the fat of your usual takeaway, this healthier chicken biryani is a truly feel-good feast. Angela reduced the need for added salt with a carefully balanced blend of herbs and spices and roasted the onions instead of frying so they need less oil.

Healthier chicken biryani

Lighter Cornish pasties

Cornish pasties cut open on a plate

 

Classic: Rounding out your picnic with a classic Cornish pasty is a calorific affair. This original recipe, while delicious, comes in at over 1000 calories. 

Give it a makeover: Angela's pasty recipe more than halves the fat and calories, making this version a more palatable choice for those wanting a lighter option.

Makeover Cornish pasty recipe

Healthier chicken balti

Chicken balti curry in a dish

 

Classic: Always a popular choice, classic chicken balti recipe is a flavourful favourite, but often a little on the heavy side.

Give it a makeover: Angela perfectly blends spices in her low-fat version for a healthy meal with an equally healthy kick!

Makeover chicken balti recipe

Healthier risotto primavera

Risotto primavera in a bowl

Classic: The Italian spring classic risotto primavera may seem good for you, but Angela's classic version contains 30g of fat. 

Give it a makeover: By scrapping the butter, reducing the parmesan and adding more veg, this healthier version boasts a huge reduction in calories and fat.

Makeover risotto primavera recipe

Beef wellington

Beef Wellington on a dish

 

Classic: A whopping 763 calories means the classic beef wellington should be saved as a special treat.

Give it a makeover: With just a third of the fat and almost half the calories this version can be on the menu far more often.

Makeover beef wellington recipe

Salmon en croûte

Salmon en croûte cut into slices

 

Classic: Classic salmon en croûte is a dinner party favourite but a decadent treat, with a whopping 985 calories.

Give it a makeover: Filo pastry lightens things up, saving you over 600 calories and 40g fat.

Makeover salmon en croûte recipe

Coq au vin

Coq au vin in a serving dish

 

Classic: Gordon Ramsay's step-by-step coq au vin recipe is a delicious option for a dinner party, but with almost 1000 calories you'll think twice about enjoying seconds.

Give it a makeover: This version of the classic French casserole maintains it's rich, deep flavour but only clocks up a modest 420 calories.

Makeover coq au vin

Lasagne

Healthy lasagne topped with tomatoes and basil

Classic: Lasagne is a midweek staple that's a little on the calorific side.

Give it a makeover: Lovely layers, lean meat and a cheesy finish – but fewer calories.

Makeover lasagne recipe

Moussaka

A portion of moussaka on a plate

ClassicMoussaka is usually high in sat-fats, carbs and calories, so you might want to save this for a special treat, or approach a new way of cooking it.

Give it a makeover: You can cut the carbs right down and wave goodbye to half the fat and calories while still packing in flavour.

Makeover moussaka recipe

Burgers

Burgers topped with salsa

Classic: No barbecue is complete without a juicy burger or two, but just one classic burger could set you back almost 1000 calories.

Give it a makeover: This lighter version will save you 600 calories, contains a fraction of the fat and still tastes like a garden grill wonder.

Makeover burger recipe

Steak & kidney pie

Steak and kidney pie on a plate

Classic: Comforting, casual and calorific. With a whopping 50g of fat this hearty steak & kidney pie recipe is pure indulgence.

Give it a makeover: A shadow of its former self, you can now add this pie to your midweek meals without bursting at the seams.

Makeover steak & kidney pie recipe

Onion tart

Onion tart cut into slices on a plate

 

Classic: Lovely in lunchboxes or with salad for supper, classic onion tart is a vegetarian fail-safe, but it's a little high in saturated fat.

Give it a makeover: Spring fresh and bursting with flavour, Angela slashes those serving stats in half without compromising on taste.

Makeover onion tart recipe

 


This page was last reviewed on 2 September 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

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jessybrain's picture
jessybrain
10th Jun, 2014
You have mentioned beef on your article. Isn't it high fat meal? Rather I would some low fat foods such as Apples, Barley, Beans, Berries, Broccoli, Buckwheat, Cabbage, Carrots, Chicken, Coffee, Corn, Cottage Cheese, Figs, Fish, Kiwi, Leeks etc.
toughtoplease
22nd Apr, 2015
Beef does not equate to fat. There are many lean cuts of beef that how low levels of fat, and it's not necessary about the ingredient but how you prepare it. Try looking at Skinnytaste.com or CookingLight.com They will have more of what you're looking for.
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