This week, we show you how to use the Health Star Rating to make healthy and easy to prepare meals the whole family will love. By using the Health Star Rating on the front of packaged foods, you can make the healthier choice when comparing similar products for your weekly shopping trip.
In the last few years, I have had to modify our favourite family meals into healthier versions, as my husband has type 2 diabetes and I had been diagnosed with having high blood pressure. Setting a good example to our children will, hopefully, set them on a path of healthy eating for the rest of their lives.
Here are some of the family’s favourite recipes I have modified for healthier versions:
- Mary Berry’s Chicken Pasta Bake
This is our favourite family meal. See the brackets for what I use as a healthy alternative to the original recipe. Serve with a garden salad.
Butter, for greasing (I spray the baking dish with olive oil)
250g/9oz penne (I use the low GI/high fibre penne pasta. Choose the brand with the highest star rating for the healthiest option.)
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips roughly the size of your little finger
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
50g/1¾oz butter (choose the brand with the highest star rating for the healthiest option)
50g/1¾oz plain flour
750ml/1 pint 6 fl oz hot milk (I use low fat milk, which usually has a 5 star rating)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g/3½oz Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (choose the brand with the highest star rating for the healthiest option, or experiment with other cheeses)
2 large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into small cubes
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7. Butter a shallow 1.75 litre/3 pint ovenproof dish.
Cook the penne with the onion in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain, refresh in cold water and leave to drain again in the colander.
Put the chicken strips in a resealable freezer bag with the paprika and a little salt and pepper, seal the bag and shake to coat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan and quickly fry the chicken over a high heat for about 2 minutes until golden-brown and just cooked through (you may need to do this in batches). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried chicken to a plate and set aside.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the flour and whisk together to form a roux. Cook for 1 minute, then gradually add the hot milk, whisking over a high heat until the sauce is smooth and thickened, and allow to boil for 4 minutes. Stir in the mustard and half the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta and onion to the sauce in the pan and stir together. Spoon half this mixture into the dish, arrange the chicken strips over the top and spoon the remaining pasta and sauce on top of the chicken. Scatter over the tomatoes and then top with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until piping hot and golden-brown on top.
- Beef and Broccolini Stir Fry
The boys love this dish. The original recipe includes Hokkien noodles but I omitted them and served the stir fry with Jasmine rice instead for a lower GI meal. I also usually serve the boys meals minus the cashews, as they don’t like them (which is fine, as that means more for me!). Don’t forget to check the Health Star Rating to help you choose the healthiest rice, noodle and sauce options.
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3cm piece ginger, peeled, grated
1 teaspoon caster sugar
500g rump steak, trimmed, cut diagonally into thin strips
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (I use olive oil)
4 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
2 bunches broccolini, trimmed, halved
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup cashew nuts
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, sherry, garlic, ginger and sugar in a ceramic bowl. Add steak. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Heat a wok over high heat until hot. Add 2 teaspoons oil. Add a quarter of the beef. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned. Remove to a plate. Cover. Repeat with remaining oil and beef in 3 batches.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to wok. Add green onions and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add broccolini and stir-fry for a further minute. Drizzle water over vegetables. Cover and cook for 1 minute or until just tender.
Return beef to wok with cashews. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until heated through. Serve with steamed rice.
- Sweet Chilli Chicken Salad
A great dish for summer, sweet chilli chicken salad offers a lot of vegetables and the protein of chicken.
500g chicken breast, cut into cubes or strips
Two tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
A family size prepack garden salad
A punnet of cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup Low fat mayonnaise (choose the brand with the highest star rating for the healthiest option)
Lightly oil a frypan with a spray of olive oil. Brown chicken pieces and add the sweet chilli sauce. Once the chicken is coated with the sauce and cooked remove it from the pan and place into a salad bowl. Empty the garden salad and punnet of cherry tomatoes into the bowl. Add mayonnaise and stir through. Serve immediately.
- ‘What’s in the fridge’ Fried Rice
Fried rice is incredibly easy to make and the whole family loves it. To make the rice healthier, look for low GI rices and salt reduced soy sauce (the Health Star Rating can help you choose the healthiest option).
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (better options would be Jasmine, brown rice or other low GI rice)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 brown onion, cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
4 cups diced vegetables (see note)
2 cups leftover chicken, cooked and sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Fresh coriander leaves, to serve
Cook rice following packet directions. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Drain well. Spread rice onto a tray. Refrigerate until cold, if time permits.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add oil. Swirl to coat. Add onion. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until starting to brown. Add garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add vegetables. Stir-fry for 4 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and rice. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through. Add combined soy and sugar. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Serve sprinkled with coriander.
Note: use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge at the time.
Homemade pizzas are always a fun and yummy family meal. You can make your own base using wholemeal flour instead of white flour or use low GI wraps with a high Health Star Rating as bases.
Add your favourite toppings and put the pizza in the oven for ten minutes. Look for the Health Star Rating on packaged ingredients, such as deli meats and cheeses.
We hope you like our recipes. What healthy meal does your family love to eat?
Thank you to the Health Star Rating system for this sponsored post collaboration, which was in accordance to our Disclosure Policy. All opinions are our own.