Five simple swaps to lower sugar and calories

Did you quit your nutrition-based best intentions yesterday? According to Strava, by 17th January most of us have already thrown in the towel. Here we speak to registered nutritionist Angela Dowden for how to make five simple swaps if you want to consume fewer calories and less sugar each day.

Angela Dowden, registered nutritionist

We all start the year intending to undo all the excess of the festive season with a healthy eating regime and regular trips to the gym (much to the chagrin of regular gym-goers who suddenly find an influx of hopeful new users). However, we often go in too hard and end up having to give up once the regime gets too punishing or depressing. Many nutritionists feel the best way to instigate lasting change is to make small changes that add up to a better relationship with sugar and calories. Try these easy swaps and see if they work for you.

1. HOT CHOCOLATE SWAP – SAVE 13.8g sugars and 147 calories per mug

SWAP a standard mug of hot drinking chocolate (18g drinking chocolate; 200ml semi-skimmed milk) = 263 calories 23g sugars

FOR a comforting mug of hot cocoa with a low-calorie sweetener = 116 calories, 9.2g sugars

Put 1tsp (4g) of good quality cocoa in a mug and whisk in 200ml of boiling semi-skimmed milk. Stir in 1-2tsps of 1:1* low calorie sweetener (or 1-2 sweetener tablets, or a squirt of liquid sweetener) to taste.

2. KETCHUP SWAP – SAVE 4.7g sugars and 12 calories per serving

SWAP 2 tbsps. (30g) bought ketchup = 30 calories, 6.8g sugars

FOR 2 tbsps. (30g) of super simple homemade ketchup with low calorie sweetener = 18 calories, 2.1g sugar

Squeeze a 150g tube of tomato paste into a bowl and mix in 5 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of cider (or white wine) vinegar and 1 ½ tablespoons 1:1* low calorie sweetener. Stir in a pinch of garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Keeps refrigerated in a jar for up to two weeks.

3. APPLE CRUMBLE SWAP – SAVE 25g sugars and 101 calories per serving

SWAP a bowl (180g) of crumble (stewed apples sweetened with sugar; traditional flour, butter and sugar topping) = 459 calories, 35g sugar

FOR a bowl of apple crumble with made with low-calorie sweetener = 358 calories, 10g sugars

Simmer 6 peeled and chopped large Bramley apples in a splash of water with 3 tbsps. of 1:2* sweetener until softened. Meanwhile place 350g plain flour in a bowl with 10 tbsps. 1:2* sweetener and rub in 175g cubed chilled margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Spoon the apple into an ovenproof dish, cover with the crumble and cook in a medium oven until the topping is golden.

Makes 8 servings

4. HONEY ROASTED VEG SWAP – SAVE 5g sugar and 21 calories per serving

SWAP a serving of honey roasted veg (carrots, parsnips, turnips and beetroots roasted in a tsp each of olive oil and honey per person) = 153 calories, 17g

FOR a low sugar serving of vegetables roasted in olive oil and low-calorie sweetener = 132 calories, 12g sugars

Boil 200g each of peeled, chopped carrots, turnips, parsnips and beetroots for 5 minutes; drain and spread out on a baking tray. Meanwhile whisk 2 tsps. 1:1 low calorie sweetener (or equivalent in a liquid sweetener) with 4 tsps. olive oil and some black pepper and dried rosemary to taste. Coat the veg in this mixture and roast in a medium oven for 30-40 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

5. MOJITO MOCKTAIL SWAP- SAVE 8g sugar and 24 calories per drink

SWAP of a standard mojito mocktail (lime, club soda, mint and 2 level teaspoons sugar) = 33 calories, 9.4g sugars

FOR a low sugar mojito mocktail with low-calorie sweetener = 9 calories, 1.4g sugars

Place some crushed ice, the juice of ½ large lime and 2 lime quarters into a cocktail shaker with 1-2 tsps. of 1:1 sweetener (or equivalent liquid sweetener) and shake. Muddle through 5 mint leaves and add 125ml club soda.