Cheat Sheet for making recipes healthier

January and February are tough months, we are all trying to eat healthier after the indulgence that was Christmas, but its hard. In our family we have 3 birthdays, that means 3 birthday cakes and at least two parties.... and a party wouldn't be a party without party food, right?

However I have a few tips, tricks and cheats to make traditionally unhealthy food, healthier. I've adapted nearly all of my recipes over the years and perfected the art of improving their nutrition without compromising on taste!

This means I can sit back and watch my kids indulging on their favourite sweet treats, safe in the knowledge that its more than just junk they're eating!

Here are my health hacks for adapting recipes:

If a recipe calls for butter or a baking fat, switch to an olive based margarine. Check that the spread is still around 70% fat (70g fat / 100g on the label) and you'll get the same tasty results. The benefit of using an olive margarine over butter is that you are switching out the unhealthy saturated fats for heart healthy monounsaturated fats.

Try using half white and half wholemeal flour in cakes and biscuits. Wholemeal flour gives you extra fibre which is good for healthy tummies and it also is packed with B vitamins which white flour doesn't contain. Delicious in banana bread, chocolate cake, carrot cake or oatmeal and raisin cookies.... you really can't tell!

An absolute essential for foods like sausage rolls, jam tarts and quiches but its so high in fat and high in calories! Instead make up a scone dough and use this in place of pastry in your recipes. Traditional shortcrust pastry is made with a 'half fat to flour ratio' so for every 100g flour you would use 50g butter. A scone dough uses only a 'quarter fat to flour ratio' so 100g flour needs only 25g butter, making it lower in fat and calories.  Again switch the butter to an olive based margarine and change up the flour to incorporate some wholemeal for those extra nutrients.  I also have a fantastic healthier sausage roll recipe.

Cakes & bakes
Everyone loves a bakery item and adding fruit and veg in cakes and bakes makes them moister and more delicious. I add seeds such as milled flaxseed or milled chia too for a protein, fibre and omega 3 boost, and the kids cant tell! .Some of my kids favourites are:
- Chocolate beetroot cake - buy fresh beetroot (not pickled), grate then cook in the microwave covered for 1 minute, puree and add to your chocolate cake batter. Click here to download my recipe.

- Cinnamon spiced courgette cake - add a grated courgette to a vanilla and mixed spice sponge cake. I use an apple too in place of an egg as the pectin within apples work in the same way. Plus you get the added bonus of vitamins and fibre! 

- Banana bread - add three chopped banana's to your cake batter in the food mixer and give it all a good, fast mix to break up the chunks before baking.

- Blueberry and raspberry mini muffins - chuck a handful of berries into your muffin mix before baking. They will burst open in the oven and produce little 'jam like' pockets of delight. 

- Flapjack traybake with oats and rice krispies, sweetened with dried fruit, apple juice and a little honey. 

For help with adapting your families recipes so that you can provide your children with the best nutrition you can contact me and be sure to sign up to my newsletter for up to date tips and advice.