Do you ever find yourself passing up your favourite meals all in the name of health? Let’s face it, foods like pasta, burgers, and tacos get a bad rap. But before you banish Taco Tuesdays forever (a sin, if you ask us), what if you could have the best of both worlds? That’s right — with a few simple swaps, transform notoriously unhealthy foods into surprisingly healthy meals!
If you think about it, these not-so-healthy meals deserve the benefit of the doubt. After all, it’s not pizza that’s innately unhealthy, it’s often just the ingredients in the pizza! Have you ever had a plant-based cauliflower pizza? If so, you know just how delicious ‘unhealthy’ foods made healthy can be.
We’ve got good news — we’ve partnered with Green Chef, the UK’s newest healthy recipe box, to bring you a list of surprisingly healthy meals that prove that healthy eating does not mean cutting out foods that you love. It’s time to ditch the restrictive mindset, mend your love affair with all of your favourite meals, and add these surprisingly healthy recipes to your weekly cooking repertoire.
And to give you a headstart (and to try some of the delicious recipes on offer from Green Chef) we’ve got an exclusive offer for you at the bottom of this article. Keep reading to find out more!
These Unlikely Meals Can Be Surprisingly Healthy
Let’s taco-bout how to make unhealthy foods healthy, shall we? When it comes to tacos, it’s easier than you think. Whether you’re plant-based, keto, or watching your calories, here’s how to give tacos a healthy spin, making them work for any eating plan.
One of the easiest ways to healthify your meal is by swapping the protein for a healthier alternative — this can be plant-based, too! Most traditional tacos use ground beef, but if you want a plant-based or lighter alternative, simply swapping the base for more nutritious foods (like salmon, prawns, turkey, mushrooms, or refried beans) can transform your plate into a surprisingly healthy meal! If you’re sticking to beef, opt for an organic, grass-fed beef lower in fat.
Don’t forget, the fillings and sauces are just as important. Here are some simple healthy swaps to transform unhealthy recipes into surprisingly healthy meals!
- Swap white rice for nutritious ingredients like quinoa, sweet potatoes, or roasted veg. These foods are higher in nutrients while still leaving you feeling full.
- Colour your plate! Try to add 1-2 servings of colourful veg to any taco. Antioxidant-rich tomatoes, shredded leafy greens like kale, and colourful vitamin-C-rich bell peppers make tasty additions.
- Skip the sour cream for creamy guac or avocado! Avocados are a delicious dairy-free fat source that provides heart-healthy Omega 3’s (versus the saturated fat in sour cream). Plus, they’re one of the best foods for glowing skin!
- Turn your taco into a salad! Skip the shell and toss all your ingredients into a bowl. If you’re missing a crunch, sprinkle in some roasted nuts or seeds!
Finally, preparation is key. If you’re drowning your tacos in oil and salt, your meal is probably going to be unhealthy, regardless of the ingredients. Skip the excess salt and oil, and check the ingredients on pre-packaged seasonings.
Stir-fries can be made into surprisingly healthy meals, plus it’s one of the best ways to utilize leftover ingredients before they spoil. Delicious healthy meals with less food waste? Win-win. Stir in your favourite protein and saute it with a variety of veggies — you really can’t go wrong!
With that said, beware of how you’re cooking your stir fry. As the name implies, most stir-fries are fried in oil and processed sauces! Instead, try these tips:
- Swap the traditional peanut (or other vegetable oil) for a healthier fat alternative like avocado oil — it has a high smoke point, is less processed, and is full of nutrients.
- Swap the soy sauce for a healthier alternative like coconut oil.
- Instead of frying your food in oil, try cooking your veggies in broth!
- Give your dish a boost in flavour and nutrients by incorporating spices like turmeric, black pepper, and ginger.
Another great way to enjoy all the flavours a stir-fry has to offer is by serving it over a bed of greens vs. pasta or rice. We tried Green Chef’s King Prawn & Asparagus Stir Fry. The king prawns were super easy to stir fry together with a delicious sauce, noodles and green veg – the crunch from the bok choy and asparagus took a healthier spin on a traditional stir-fry dish. Topped with chopped fresh red chilli, this easy-to-prep meal satisfied all stir-fry cravings but without the post-dinner slump you sometimes feel after a greasy takeaway.
If you’ve ever had glazed salmon cooked to perfection, you know there’s nothing better than that melt-in-your-mouth buttery taste. While this dish may sound delicious, the health benefits aren’t always so sweet. But, what’s the problem? We thought salmon was a heart-healthy protein, rich in nutrients? So long as you’re not heavy-handed with the oil and salt, the salmon isn’t the problem! The glaze is typically the ingredient to beware of.
Most glazes are made with a combination of oil and sugar. But with a few healthy tweaks, glaze-drizzled dishes can still be made into surprisingly healthy meals!
Try these healthy swaps:
- Swap sugar for honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.
- Stay away from anything refined or processed.
- Reduce the oil or skip it altogether. Did you know oil isn’t necessary for a healthy glaze?
We tried Green Chef’s Miso Glazed Salmon, which was absolutely delicious! And while this dish was made with much healthier ingredients as compared to the traditional glazed dish, it certainly didn’t disappoint in the flavour department. This Green Chef salmon dish was made with fresh and flavourful ingredients like red pepper, broccoli, salmon, sugar snap peas, and sesame. As opposed to traditional glazes, this healthier alternative was made with gluten-free tamari and miso. The sweet flavour comes from the honey which is a great alternative to refined sweeteners generally found in glazed dishes.
And did we mention that this dish is suitable for lower carb and keto diets while also being super easy to make? Yup, it only took 25 minutes to get on the table.
Instead of stuffing your peppers to the brim with not-so-healthy ingredients (like dairy-filled cheese or processed meat), consider these healthy swaps.
- Swap ground beef for ground turkey or chicken.
- Keep it low-carb by swapping rice with cauliflower rice, mushrooms, or diced zucchini.
- Make it plant-based by swapping meat for beans or mushrooms! Think: tex-mex peppers stuffed with black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes. Yum!
- Skip the dairy and top it off with a nut-based cheese. Ever had cashew cheese? If you know, you know. Hint: it tastes like the real deal.
Speaking of healthier tacos, we got the chance to try Green Chef’s Stuffed & Roasted Peppers, which were a huge win! This vegetarian dish was super filling and packed full of plant-based protein and fiber. Stuffed with lentils, quinoa and feta cheese, they were full of flavour and ready in just 35 minutes. If you’re in need of a quick vegetarian weeknight dinner option, this is a must-try.
Spaghetti & Meatballs
You’ll be happy to hear spaghetti and meatballs made our list of surprisingly healthy meals. With so many pasta alternatives on the market (think: chickpea pasta, black bean pasta, or courgetti) this dish can easily be made healthy! But, we’re all about moderation — and sometimes that means enjoying plain old spaghetti, no guilt attached.
Whether you’re craving an Italian-inspired dish or something a little more innovative, here’s how to keep it healthy
- Keep it low-carb and low-cal by swapping spaghetti for courgette noodles. Courgettes may be low in calories, but they’re loaded with fiber and antioxidants!
- Reduce the saturated fat by swapping beef for a healthier alternative like turkey or mushroom meatballs.
- Bake your meatballs instead of frying them! You’ll spare some extra calories while reducing fat.
- Watch out for sneaky sugars in your sauce! Marinara sauces are often loaded with sugar, oil, and preservatives — always read the ingredient label.
Craving a new dish to enjoy on spaghetti night? Green Chef also checks all the boxes when it comes to offering deliciously healthy pasta dishes. With options like Fresh Linguine Beef Bolognese and Creamy Mushroom Truffle Linguine, you really can’t go wrong.
Burger lovers, rejoice! Find out how to turn your favourite comfort food into a surprisingly healthy meal. From protein swaps to veggie buns, building a healthier burger is easier than you think.
- Choose grass-fed beef.
- Cook your burger on the grill. You’ll save some fat calories from pan-frying, plus there’s nothing like the taste of a grilled, juicy burger.
- Use a lean cut of meat like turkey or fish! Tuna and Salmon make tasty substitutes.
- Skip the burger bun! Wrap your burger in lettuce or try it sandwiched between grilled sweet potato or roasted pepper – or go bunless. You’ll avoid processed carbs while getting an extra dose of nutrients.
- Speaking of veggies, stack your burger high with veggies! Fresh tomatoes, onion, avocado, and greens make healthy and flavourful toppings.
Make a plant-based burger with beets, quinoa, mushrooms, tofu, or lentils. The possibilities are endless, and Green Chef makes it easy to enjoy the taste of a traditional burger but without the guilt. With options like the Paneer Bhaji Burger and the Bunless Beef Burger, you can still enjoy an all-time favourite comfort dish made with much healthier ingredients.
Enjoy Your Favourite Foods (Made Healthy) With Green Chef
Ready to turn your favourite comfort foods into a healthy meal every night of the week? Now you can without having to find a recipe, go to the grocery store, or add to your monthly food shopping budget. Green Chef makes it easy, budget-friendly, and delicious to make some of your favourite foods with a healthier spin.
Green Chef is available in the US and the UK and if you’re ready to see just how delicious their healthy meals are, grab your exclusive offer here.