Recipe modification

Appetite for Life

Recipe modification

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Here are some ideas to lower fat, sugar and salt and increase fibre in your favourite recipes. You may need to experiment with these changes to get the right amounts.

Replacing saturated fats with healthier alternatives

Most older people do not need to follow a low fat diet.

If you have high cholesterol or heart disease, you may benefit from replacing foods high in saturated fat with lower fat options. If you choose to eat foods high in saturated fat, enjoy them sometimes or in small amounts.

If the recipe says this:

Try this instead:


Use in small amounts for flavour, or try natural yoghurt or ricotta cheese. In soups, try using milk instead.

Sour cream

Use in small amounts for flavour, or try natural yoghurt.

Cream cheese

Try reduced fat varieties of ricotta, cottage or cream cheese.

Butter and lard

Use poly- or mono-unsaturated spreads or oils, such as olive oil or avocado.

Meat and chicken

Choose lean meat and chicken. Trim off any fat before you cook. Remove skin from chicken.


Use filo pastry and spray oil (for example, olive oil), or try non-pastry alternatives such as frittata instead of quiche; shepherd's pie instead of a pastry pie.

Increasing fibre

If the recipe says this

Try this instead

White bread

Use wholegrain, wholemeal, white high-fibre or rye breads.

White flour

Try wholemeal flour or a 50/50 mixture of white and wholemeal flours.

Fruit and vegetables

Avoid peeling if possible. Try to include some at each meal.

White pasta and rice

Try wholemeal/brown versions.

Reducing sugar

  • When baking cakes, reduce the sugar to ¼ cup per one cup of flour.
  • Stew fruit with less or no sugar. If fruit is tart (such as rhubarb or plums) combine with apples for sweetness. Add cinnamon and/or ground cloves for extra flavour.
  • If using tinned fruit, choose fruit in natural juice and drain it.
  • Tip: using honey instead of sugar in a recipe will not reduce the sugar content. Use whichever you prefer, but try to cut down on the amount you use instead.

Reducing salt

  • Reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. This includes sauces and condiments such as soy sauce and tomato sauce. Use herbs, spices or lemon juice to add extra flavour.
  • Don’t automatically add salt to your food. Taste it first.
  • If buying processed food, choose reduced salt and no added salt varieties where possible.

This general advice was accurate at the time of publication (June 2020). For more information about nutrition and your individual needs, see your GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.