Lighter meals for January

Santa Claus measuring waist with tape measure
Santa Claus measuring waist with tape measure

Who says healthy meals have to be boring? Even a chicken curry can be tasty and low in calories, with this delicious option combining full-on flavour with a light sauce of chopped tomatoes and creamy dollop of low fat natural yoghurt.

The other good news is that eating healthily doesn't mean you have to give up chips. These sweet potato fries are oven-baked and use minimal fat.

More healthy evening meals
Grilled hoisin pork
Crab and noodle Asian wraps
Asian pork with water chestnuts

If you're not a fan of spice, there are other low fat dishes which are more traditional such as this one-pot chicken. Not only does it make a delicious dinner, but you can also have leftovers for lunch. For a meat-free option, salmon and noodles is light and filling.

More fish suggestions
Tuna, spinach and tomato pasta
Peppercorn salmon

It might seem hard, but it is possible to be healthy with your puddings too. This apple and berry oat crumble is healthier than you might think. Both ingredients are high in fibre, while the oats are a slow-release carbohydrate which will keep you fuller for longer. Rather than serving with ice cream, why not add a scoop of frozen yoghurt for that creamy extra luxury without the fat?

More healthy dessert options
Melon sorbet
Light pancakes
Low fat chocolate soufflés
Blueberry and orange Eton mess

Need to lower your salt intake?
Eating more than the recommended amount of salt can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke, so it's important to watch how much you're consuming. Adding poached pears to your morning cereal is a healthy way to kick off the day, and a low salt lunch such as this bean and pepper salad or corn and chicken chowder will help you cut down.

More low salt suggestions:
Chicken and halloumi salad
Fruit with chilli salt
Trout and wheat salad
Fruit and nut discs

Cutting the carbs
Anyone who remembers the Atkins diet will know low-carb plans have been around for years. The thinking is that reducing your intake of starchy foods cuts hunger pangs, helps keep your weight stable and reduces blood sugar levels.

Eggs are a great option if you're trying to reduce the amount of carbohydrate in your diet, seen here teamed with avocado or in these bacon cups. If you prefer meat in your meals, make sure you include lots of flavouring as in this beef in ginger and garlic. Making a tangy salsa to go with salmon will ensure your fish packs a punch too. Don't forget cheese either – it's low carb but high in fat, so don't overdo it.

How to do low-carb:
Tangerine beef
Egg and bacon salad
Juniper and peppercorn salmon
Beef with yellow peppers

Cutting back on fat
This is the big one for many of us, not least because low-fat foods sometimes lack flavour. That's particularly the case when it comes to puddings, so what can be done about it? It's all about the ingredients, as these low-fat chocolate soufflés show. Simple switches, like substituting low fat milk in place of whole milk, really help.

Making main meals in this category is all about the sauce you choose. A creamy curry could be crammed with fat, but lemon chicken is just as delicious without being as damaging to the waistline. Or try a Thai chicken pot roast – no one can accuse that of being bland.

More ideas:
Light and low pancakes
Roast chicken with lemon
Mango and passion fruit brulee
Roast pepper and tomato soup

Reducing sugar in your diet
Fruit is one of the trickiest areas if you are trying to cut down on the white stuff - as many popular fruits such as apples, grapes and pineapples are full of fructose - a type of natural sugar. So instead make smart fruit decisions and opt for things like this raspberry and blueberry smoothie. Cranberries are also lower in fructose, so this apple and cranberry drink is another safer bet.

More fruity favourites:
Banana, mango and orange smoothie
Blueberry and oat bars
Cranberry, brie and onion tart
Berry and fromage frais fool

Main meals are probably the easiest place to reduce sugar content, as long as you stick to some rules. Lean meat with vegetables, like this turkey and orange stir fry, are a safe bet. Salads such as this wild rice and turkey one are also quick and easy, as long as you're careful with the dressings. Balsamic vinegar, for example, has a lot of sugar, so use sparingly, as are many shop-bought dressings, relishes and sauces. As ever, check the labels for sugar content before using.

Other low-sugar mains:
Turkey and sausage stew
Pasta with roasted tomatoes
Lemon mushroom spaghetti

If you fancy a treat, pizza can be a low-sugar option, but you'll need to be careful about the toppings as some tomato sauces can be sugar-rich. For that reason, making your own pizza, like this goat's cheese and mushroom one, is preferable. If you want to really push the boat out, how about this cauliflower version? It's made using cauliflower rice so it's healthier than normal pizza, but it packs a taste punch too.

More treat ideas:
Cajun popcorn
Fiorentina pizza
Cherry tomato and rocket pizza