Food swaps for a healthy 2021

Food swaps for a healthy 2021


Heart Foundation's tips for a healthy diet.


IT'S a new year and many of us are thinking about our health.

The Heart Foundation is encouraging people to work towards their health goals by making healthy swaps to traditional ingredients.

"We're encouraging people to make some simple changes that will make their hearts happy by adding more vegetables to their plates, swapping salt for spices or herbs to flavour dishes and using healthy fats and oils for cooking or spreads on bread or crackers," said Heart Foundation dietitian Maria Packard.

"It's also important to be mindful of portion size. As a tip, half your plate should be filled with vegetables, a quarter with wholegrains and the other quarter with proteins like fish, lean poultry or smaller amounts of lean red meat."

Excess weight and poor diet are leading risk factors for heart disease, the single leading cause of death in Australia.

"Taking these steps to protect your heart health will set you and your family up for a healthy start to 2021," Ms Packard said.

Swap salt for spice

Spice up your dishes with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger or use herbs like rosemary, sage or thyme to add flavour to your meals and avoid using the salt shaker.

"Too much salt in our diet is linked to high blood pressure, which can put you at risk of heart attack or stroke. We recommend eating less than a teaspoon of salt a day (5g per day) by cooking and eating fresh, healthy foods and cutting down on highly processed foods like chips, processed meats, fried foods and biscuits," Ms Packard said.

Swap refined white grains for heart-healthy whole grains

High in healthy fibre, wholegrains like brown rice, wholemeal pasta, bread and whole oats have been linked to reduced (bad) LDL-cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

Swap cream, sour cream for natural, unflavoured or Greek yoghurt

Do your arteries and heart a favour by limiting cream. Swap it for unflavoured natural or Greek yoghurt to accompany sweet or savoury dishes.

Ms Packard said unflavoured milk, yogurt or cheese is part of a heart-healthy eating pattern.

"Greek or plain unflavoured yogurt is a flexible heart healthy alternative that can be used in sweet or savoury dishes and has a similar texture to cream," she said.

She also recommended swapping butter for healthy olive oil and vinegar on bread or use spreads like hummus, guacamole or bean-based dips.

"Butter should be limited, in preference to oils rich in monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, especially for anyone with high blood cholesterol," she said.

Chargrilled tofu and vegetables with romesco

15 minutes (preparation 20 minutes), Serves 4


  • 500g firm tofu
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut lengthways into 1cm slices
  • 2 large zucchini, cut diagonally into 1cm slices
  • 200g flat mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Ras el hanout spice blend
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 wholemeal Lebanese bread rounds, cut into large pieces
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Romesco sauce

  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
  • 180g roasted capsicum, drained, chopped
  • 1/3 cup semi-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


Cut tofu into 1cm-thick slices and pat with paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Place on a tray in single layer. Spread eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus over a separate large tray.

Combine oil and spice blend in a small bowl. Brush mixture over vegetables and tofu. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make romesco sauce, process almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients. Process to form a coarse paste. Season with freshly ground pepper.

Lightly spray a chargrill or barbecue plate with oil and heat over high heat. Add eggplant and zucchini slices in a single layer. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly charred and tender. Transfer to a large baking tray.

Add mushrooms and asparagus to chargrill. Cook, turning, for about 2 minutes or until just tender. Add to tray with eggplant and zucchini, cover with foil and keep warm in a 150C oven (fan-forced).

Add tofu slices to chargrill in a single layer. Cook, for about 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred.

Arrange tofu and vegetables on a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with romesco, Lebanese bread and lemon wedges.


For a non vegetarian version, replace tofu with 500g chicken tenderloins, if preferred. Cooking time may vary.

Vegetables and tofu can be brushed with spice mixture several hours ahead. Keep refrigerated until ready to cook.

For added wholegrains, serve with brown rice or burghul.