Tips & Techniques

Cooking TipsWhen cooking as an athlete there are certain guidelines that need to be followed in order to achieve the nutritional goals that will improve performance. Many recipes do not follow these guidelines, but most recipes can undergo a makeover to produce a much more appropriate meal.

There are two main ways to improve an existing recipe; firstly to change the method of cooking, and secondly to change an ingredient within the recipe.

Healthier cooking methods include:

  • Steaming
  • Stir-frying (with a little oil)
  • Grilling
  • Poaching
  • Microwaving
  • Roasting/baking (with a little oil) and
  • Using non-stick cookware

Avoid frying and deep-frying especially crumbed and battered foods, as they soak up a lot of oils when cooking.

Swap this . . . For this . . .
Regular-fat milk Low- or reduced-fat milk
Sour cream Low- or reduced fat natural yogurt
Butter Poly- or mono-unsaturated margarine spreads
Butter/Oil Cooking oil spray (like canola or olive oil)
Oily salad dressings Home-made salad dressing using balsamic or other vinegars, lemon juice, herbs, mustards. Low-fat commercially prepared salad dressings.
Hard cheese Reduced-fat cheese – use less, or try a small amount of cheese which has a stronger flavour like Parmesan
Cheese sauce Use cottage or ricotta cheese
Coconut cream/milk Reduced-fat coconut milk or use light evaporated milk with a few drops of coconut essence
Cream Light evaporated milk
Mayonnaise Low or reduced fat mayonnaise
White flour Wholemeal flour – but remember to add extra water to the recipe or only swap half the white flour with wholemeal flour
Puff, choux or shortcrust pastry Use filo pastry, brush low fat milk between layers and spray the outer layer with a small amount of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil for crispness
Processed meats such as salami or sausage Lean shaved ham/chicken/turkey breast

Tips for healthier meals:

  • Leave the skin on fruit and vegetables where possible
  • Choose wholegrain and wholemeal breads and those with a lower glycaemic index (GI)
  • Include at least three types of vegetables at the main meal, and some salad for the other meal
  • Trim fat that you can see off meat before cooking, and remove skin from chicken
  • Go for reduced fat dairy foods, especially where they make up a large part the recipe
  • Replace part of the meat portion in dishes such as Mexican foods or bolognaise with legumes such as lentils or kidney beans. Not only will this stretch your budget further it will add fibre and other nutrients, while maintaining the protein level.