Recipe Modification

The How to of Recipe Modification – Fat to Fab and Mean to Lean

Recipe Modification

I love to cook it fills my heart with joy! I love to cook, not only for myself and my family and friends I also cater for my own retreats. Of course, nowadays we have to be more and more conscious of what we eat and there are more challenges facing us as cooks now, such as the many and varied dietary requirements that are around and the rising cost of healthy food. Oh the challenge we face as the busy cook every day to make our favourite recipes tasty and economical and exciting particularly for families.

One of my favourite cooking pastimes is the challenge of creating my favourite recipes into healthy or healthier alternatives that any person or any dietary requirement will still love without noticing the slight changes to the original recipe.

Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose intolerant or any other dietary requirement or even what would be classed as a ‘normal’ diet there are a few tricks to changing your favourite recipe from Fat to Fab or Mean to Lean.

Today I thought I would share a few tricks of mine that I have learnt and self-discovered through many experiments along the way.

recipe modification

When I want to revamp a favourite recipe I firstly look at the ingredients and then ask myself what can I use to swap or bulk out this recipe to suit my individual requirements?

Let me share with you an example, let’s take a good old family favourite Spaghetti Bolognaise, an easy dish that’s quick to prepare and enjoyed by everyone. How can we make this family favourite Fat to Fab and in the process make it more economical and still tasty enough for everyone to eat? Before I get into this I won’t be changing this recipe to make it suitable for every dietary requirement however I’ll give it a go, so you can see an example of my makeover method.

Here is a typical Spag Bol recipe


2 tablespoons fat

1 onion diced

2 garlic cloves

1kg beef mince

700g jar of tomato sauce

2 x Beef stock cubes

1 cup water

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup red wine

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 packet of spaghetti


Melt fat and brown onions and garlic.

Add mince and brown well.

Add tomato sauce, beef cubes, sugar, water and red wine to simmer well for one hour.

Cook spaghetti until al dente.

Strain spaghetti and mix with sauce and serve with lashings of parmesan cheese. and crusty garlic bread

Easy right? So just how can I make this recipe healthier and even vegetarian, gluten-free and maybe even Fodmap tolerant, that even a meat lover would like?

Firstly, let’s look at the sugar and salt content. Beef cubes have a high concentration of salt even in the salt reduced ones, the tomato sauce contains both sugar and salt as does the actual sugar we add and the red wine. So, this would be my first target, I would ask myself how do I remove or reduce these ingredients?

Secondly, look at the fat content. Fat for frying and browning the meat all end up with fat being added to the dish resulting in a higher fat percentage for the recipe

Thirdly look at the dietary triggers e.g. what can you swap out to suit your diet e.g. Gluten, reduced carbohydrate diet, Fodmap etc.

OK, they are the top 3 things to look at so let me now give you an example of how I would make this recipe healthier, lower in sugar, salt, fat and healthier overall. (and with gluten and vegetarian example as well)

Joy’s Fat to Fab and Mean to Lean Modification for Spag Bol

1)      Use a non-stick pan or a light spray of olive oil if required – no fat added

2)      Reduce the quantity of mince by half – reduction in fat

3)      Use Lean Beef mince – reduction in fat

4)      Add in 1 – 2 cups cooked & drained brown lentils – reduced meat, fat and adds fibre

5)      Add grated veggies – e.g. carrot, mushrooms, capsicum, sweet potato – Further bulks out the sauce and adds flavour, vitamins and minerals. ( Grate so it can’t be seen or picked out by fussy kids)

6)      Use Homemade tomato sauce or 2 cans of reduced-fat & no added sugar tomatoes instead of sauce – reduced salt and sugar

7)      Replace minced beef with organic chicken mince – lighter and leaner

8)      Use water instead of wine – reduction in calories and sugar

9)      Replace beef stock cubes with homemade beef stock that has had the fat skimmed of it or vegetable stock– reduced in salt

10)   add more herbs and spices for flavour – boost flavour – I use smoky paprika, turmeric and Asafoetida

11)   Use wholemeal spaghetti – more fibre and keeps you fuller for longer

12)   Use Gluten-free pasta – removes gluten from a recipe

13)   Don’t add sugar to the recipe -sugar reduction

14)   Use fresh herbs – added vitamins and more flavour-  I use fresh basil, oregano & parsley

15)   Use dried parmesan finely grated – reduction in fat and quantity needed

16)   Use Asafoetida powder instead of onion and garlic –  Recipe is now Fodmap friendly

This is just a sample of a modification to give you an idea of how I look at a recipe and break it down. Once you start looking at your own recipes using the method above you’ll soon start to see how you can make your own recipes into fab meals without losing the overall taste and satisfaction.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to look at a recipe and see how you can make your own favourites from Fat to Fab.

If you have any questions at all please contact me at [email protected]

Joy Fairhall – Connecting Mind, Body and Joy
When life throws a curveball, Joy Fairhall is the person you want in your corner.

Founder of Mind Body Joy, she brings personal insight and professional expertise to help find the positive perspective to overcome and manage a life-changing event.

Qualified as a Positive Psychology and Wellbeing Practitioner, Joy focuses on the link between mind and body, enabling people to function well,
physically and emotionally.

Fill Everyday with Joy

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