Healthy food swaps for when you can't get the ingredients you need

Can’t get the ingredients you need? Experts reveal the food swaps that will allow you to make your favourite dishes including replacing chicken with aubergine and cheddar with halloumi

  • People struggling to get all their groceries as shelves have been stripped bare
  • Second Nature, an NHS-backed weight loss programme, shared its substitutions
  • Recommend sticking to the same food groups and stocking up on freezer goods 

The best way to maintain a healthy diet is to prepare balanced meals – but in these unusual times it can be tricky to plan ahead. 

You may find your weekly shopping list for all the relevant ingredients is tricky to stick to when certain supermarket shelves are consistently bare.  

As the country enters its third week of lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, many Brits will be forced to use substitutions in their home cooking.  

Thankfully the experts at Second Nature – an NHS-backed weight loss programme – have shared their top tips for food swaps with FEMAIL.

And to make your lives easier, the gurus picked out six popular recipes and the best alternative ingredients if you can’t track down the usual ones.

TOP FOOD SWAP TIPS 

1. Swap like-for-like

Where possible, make swaps within the same food groups. This will mean we keep our meals balanced. For example, swap protein for protein, veg for veg, or healthy fat for healthy fat.

2. Use up fresh ingredients you already have

To minimise food waste and unnecessary spending, try to make swaps based around the foods you already have in your fridge.

3. Swap to suit your needs

Remember that swaps can be made for all recipes and meals to become vegan or vegetarian, or to include meat. The same applies for any ingredients we don’t like!

4. Keep your freezer stocked

Try to regularly top up your freezer with mixed veg, protein (chicken, fish, meat or tofu), healthy fats (chopped avocados, salmon), and carb options (rye bread, sweet potato chunks) as you use them. This will provide more options for swaps.

5. Pay attention to your pantry

Aim to have a variety of herbs and spices (e.g. oregano, cumin, turmeric) and pantry staples (e.g. rice, stock, tinned legumes and lentils) at home. At the very least, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and dried mixed herbs are extremely versatile!  

What herbs and spices can you switch for one another?  

Herbs and spices can often be swapped for other similar ones and depend on our taste preferences.

If you’re unsure of what to use, an easy swap for any fresh herbs or dry ones you don’t have can be dried mixed herbs (for tomato based dishes) or curry powder (for curry style dishes). 

For anything where you’d like a bit of heat (e.g. chicken or roast vegetables), cayenne pepper, chilli powder and paprika are great alone or combined.

We’ve combined herbs and spices on each row that compliment each other, but can also be swapped for one another (depending on our preferences):

  • Basil, chives, parsley
  • Dill, marjoram, oregano, tarragon
  • Bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme 
  • Coriander, mint, lemongrass, Thai basil
  • Cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin, turmeric
  • Caraway, paprika, saffron
  • Cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg

Chicken Fajitas Bake 

Prep and cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g raw chicken breast or thigh, cut into strips
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 red peppers, sliced
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 80g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 handful fresh coriander
  • leaves, roughly chopped 60ml sour cream
  • 8 little gem lettuce leaves 1 lime, cut into wedges

Method

SWAPS YOU CAN MAKE  

INGREDIENT

CHICKEN 

 

 

 

 

 PEPPERS 

 

 

 

 CHILLI POWDER

 

 

 

CHEDDAR CHEESE 

 

 

 SOUR CREAM

 

 

 FRESH CORIANDER GARNISH

SWAP FOR

  • Frozen peppers
  • Frozen/fresh green beans
  • Sliced courgette
  • Sliced aubergine
  • Diced cauliflower
  • Sliced cabbage 
  • Frozen peppers
  • Frozen/fresh green beans
  • Sliced courgette
  • Sliced aubergine
  • Diced cauliflower
  • Sliced cabbage  
  • Dried Chilli flakes
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Chilli paste
  • Chopped fresh chilli (red or green) 
  • Goats cheese   
  • Any hard cheese
  • Feta
  • Natural, full-fat yoghurt + lemon juice
  • Creme fraiche
  • Cottage cheese  
  • Fresh parsley
  • Chives

Cheesy Aubergines 

These baked aubergines are stuffed with a delicious lentil and vegetable filling, and topped with a cheesy sauce. They are also a great leftover lunch option. Just wrap in foil, reheat, and serve with a side of salad! 

Prep and cooking time: 50 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 x 400g aubergines (or 4 small/medium)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced or minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 100g red lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 230ml of water
  • 1 large carrot, diced into 0.5cm cubes
  • 1⁄2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 80g cheddar cheese, grated (or vegan cheese, grated)
  • 1 large handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 120g rocket or preferred salad leaves (optional side)

Optional cheese sauce

  • Use 50g of the grated cheese to make a cheese sauce
  • 25g butter
  • 25g wholemeal flour 250ml full-fat milk

Method

SWAPS YOU CAN MAKE 

 INGREDIENT

 AUBERGINE 

 

 

 

RED ONION 

 

 

 

DRIED RED LENTILS 

 

 

CHOPPED TOMATOES 

 

CARROT 

 

 

 

 

 CHEDDAR CHEESE

 

 

 

FRESH PARSLEY GARNISH 

SWAP FOR 

  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Butternut squash
  • Courgette
  • Peppers

 

  • Frozen, chopped onion
  • Spring onion
  • 1 tsp dried onion    
  • White onion
  • 2 x tin lentils
  • Yellow lentils
  • Puy lentils
  • 2 x tin chickpeas  
  • Tomato passata
  • Tinned plum tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Courgette
  • Frozen peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Tinned peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Fresh/frozen peppers
  • Fresh/frozen kale
  • Fresh/frozen green beans
  • Any hard cheese
  • Feta
  • Goats cheese
  • Halloumi 

 

  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh sage
  • Fresh mint

Cajun Salmon and Salsa

Using only a few ingredients, this is a quick and easy meal that doesn’t hold back when it comes to flavour. Feel free to substitute your favourite fresh vegetables. 

Prep and cooking time: 20-30 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 fresh salmon fillets, de-boned and skinned
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 2 medium corn cobs or 200g frozen or tinned sweetcorn
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1⁄2 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1⁄2 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon or lime, juiced

Method 

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan.

INGREDIENT 

SALMON FILLETS 

 

 

   

 

 

SWEETCORN      

 

 

 

CHERRY TOMATOES 

 

 

 

AVOCADO

 

FRESH CORIANDER GARNISH 

SWAP FOR 

  • Frozen fish fillets
  • Chicken breasts/thighs
  • Frozen/fresh prawns
  • Tofu
  • 1 x tin black beans/kidney beans
  • 1 x tin chickpeas/lentils 
  • Any fish fillets
  • Tinned sweetcorn
  • Frozen peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Tinned peas/carrot/sweetcorn
  • Chopped carrots
  • Mangetout
  • Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Frozen/fresh peppers
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Red onion
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parsley

Moroccan Vegetarian Pumpkin Stew 

This richly-spiced dish of squash, tomatoes, and pulses is based on the traditional Moroccan recipe, harira.

Recipe: Moroccan Vegetarian Pumpkin Stew

Prep and cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 300g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
  • 100g red lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 400ml tomato passata, no added sugar
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, finely sliced
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 2 dried bay leaves

Method

SWAPS YOU CAN MAKE

INGREDIENT

PUMPKIN 

 

 

 

DRIED RED LENTILS 

 

 

 

 

TINNED CHICKPEAS 

 

TOMATO PASSATA 

 

 

FRESH CORIANDER

FRESH PARSLEY

VEGETABLE STOCK

BAY LEAVES  

 SWAP FOR

  • Butternut squash
  • Marrow
  • Aubergine
  • Courgette
  • Mushrooms 
  • Diced chicken pieces
  • Frozen/fresh prawns
  • Tinned lentils
  • Yellow lentils
  • Puy lentils
  • Tinned chickpeas
  • Tinned black beans
  • Tinned Kidney beans
  • Tinned butter beans
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Tinned plum tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Dried coriander   
  • Dried parsley
  • Chicken stock
  • Beef stock
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano

Lentil Bolognese 

Pre-cooked brown, green, or Puy lentils are transformed into a quick and rich sauce that goes perfectly with a little pasta. Serve it with crisp salad leaves and grated cheese. 

Prep and cooking time: 45 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 175g mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced
  • 1 x 400g tin cooked lentils
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 80g vegetarian Italian hard cheese, grated
  • 40g uncooked wholewheat pasta

Method

SWAPS YOU CAN MAKE

INGREDIENT

GREEN PEPPER 

 

 

 

 

 

COURGETTE

   

 

 

MUSHROOMS 

TINNED LENTILS 

 

 

 

CHOPPED TOMATOES  

 

FRESH BASIL 

 

VEGETARIAN HARD CHEESE  

 

 

WHOLEWHEAT PASTA 

 

SWAP FOR

  • Red pepper
  • Yellow pepper
  • Frozen pepper
  • Fresh carrots
  • Frozen peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Tinned peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Celery
  • Diced broccoli
  • Aubergine
  • Butternut squash
  • Asparagus
  • Frozen peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Tinned peas/carrots/sweetcorn
  • Fresh/frozen carrots
  • Dried puy lentils
  • Dried red lentils
  • Minced Beef
  • Tinned black beans
  • Tinned kidney beans
  • Passata
  • Tinned plum tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley
  • Dried basil
  • Vegan cheese
  • Any hard cheese
  • Feta
  • Grated halloumi
  • Brown rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Wholemeal wrap
  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • Orzo
  • Couscous

Source: Read Full Article