Back The Basics
Country pantry basics
If you are reading this, chances are you’re looking for Swap It tips and techniques to give your kitchen – and the meals you prepare in it – a healthy makeover.
Small swaps are the first step. In fact, small swaps like swapping fatty foods with healthy ones and changing how you prepare foods can add up and make a big difference. Just sticking to a few simple guidelines when it comes to shopping and cooking can help reduce the toll on your waistline and overall health.
Good food fact
- Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake
- Choose foods low in salt
- Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars
Take time to read the labels
Always take the time to read the Nutrition Information Panel on food products so you know exactly what you are buying and what you are eating.
At a quick glance you’re looking for the food with the lower kilojoule (energy) content and the least amount of saturated fat, total fat and sodium (salt).
By using the “per 100g” column of the Nutrition Information Panel, you can compare which has the lower salt, sugar or fat component and choose the healthier option, which means you’ll be better informed and able to swap bad choices for better choices.
The inside word on:Salt
While we do need a touch of salt in our diet, many Australians overdo it and this can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. When you’re shopping, swap high salt products for low salt foods and choose low or reduced salt varieties of foods. Try using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour your meals. Sodium is the component of salt that is listed on the back of a food packeSugar
A little bit of sugar is OK, but consuming too much can lead to big problems, including dental decay. It’s important to keep an eye on sugar content, especially in fruit juices and fizzy drinks, which can be overloaded with sugar and make sure you limit other sweet foods like lollies, cakes, biscuits and pastriesFat
When it comes to fat, saturated fats (or ‘sat fats’) are the real nasties. They increase the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease. Fats that are saturated tend to be more solid at room temperature and can be found in milk, cream, butter, hard cheese, meats, coconut oil and palm oil. Swap saturated fats for healthier options, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as oily fish (sardines and tuna), soyabean and walnuts
Better cooking methods
Keep in mind the principles of better health and try your hand at some alternative cooking techniques to lighten up your menu, without sacrificing great taste
- Swap roasting in a layer of oil for cooking on a rack above the roasting dish with some water in the bottom of the pan. This way the fat from the meat will drip away from the roast and the water will create steam to keep the meat moist.
- Swap roasting your vegies in the pan juices for cooking on an oven tray sprayed with oil spray to reduce the fat you are adding to the meal. Add a sprinkling of dried herbs and/or garlic for flavour
- Swap frying your fish or chicken in the fry pan for poaching it for something different. Place the fish or chicken (skin removed) in a saucepan containing a little water, add a stock cube and herbs for flavour, place a lid securely on the pan and simmer until the fish or chicken is cooked.
- Swap cooking fish in batter or lots of butter for steaming. You can try using your vegie steamer or create your own double boiler – just place the fish in a small pan and then put the small pan inside a larger pan containing some water. Add a secure lid and simmer, allowing the steam to cook the fish. Steamed vegetables, cooked the same way, make the perfect, low-fat accompaniment to every meal.
- Swap frying for stir frying. In fact, this is one of the best ‘good for you’ cooking techniques – lightly coat a pan with oil spray or a small dash of polyunsaturated oil and throw in meats and vegies – keep moving the meat and vegies around with a spatula or spoon, so nothing sticks.
- Swap cooking in a fry pan for a good old Aussie BBQ – just ensure you cook meats over the grill to allow fats to seep away.
- Swap cooking techniques that require oil for techniques such as microwaving or cooking in the slow cooker.
- When it comes to baking, swap butter for margarine or mono or polyunsaturated oil and swap full-fat milk for low-fat milk. You don’t need to coat the baking dish with butter either – use non-stick baking paper instead or a smear of polyunsaturated vegetable oil or oil spray
For meal ideas and recipes visit the Swap It website: australia.gov.au/swapit
Swap It, Don’t Stop It
All information in this publication is correct as at March 2011