The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Louisa Mitchell, head development chef at Mindful Chef, says plant-based doesn’t need to come second best. She shares her kitchen tricks and tips.


Make your nut roast even more special by adding a rich sauce, like our cranberry and orange sauce. If you want to be on trend this year, opt for roasting a whole cauliflower. Several supermarkets are selling ready-made options; either cheesy or flavoured with Indian spices, but our December cover recipe is brighter and more festive, made using Moroccan flavours. It looks spectacular and is easy to carve into slices at the table – even your meat-eaters will want a slice.

Try topping your vegan roast with a rich cranberry sauce.

Nut roast


You can still make cauliflower ‘cheese’ or dauphinoise potatoes by substituting dairy with nut, coconut, soya and oat- based ‘milks’ and non-dairy spreads. Use a little nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavour. Plant-based milks work well in custards, too – or just pour a soya or oat cream such as Alpro or Oatly over puds. For crumble toppings, swap butter for plant-based dairy-free spreads, nutty rapeseed oil or a little coconut oil.


Make an indulgent chocolate mousse using ripe avocado instead of double cream. Try our chocolate avocado pots  for a silky smooth pudding which tastes creamy due to the addition of coconut milk.


If you cut out meat and dairy, you need to replace the important nutrients such as proteins and fats. A small handful of nuts or seeds provide both, and so do sweet chestnuts, which are a great base for your stuffing (buy them ready-prepared in pouches, such as the ones from Merchant Gourmet Whole Chestnuts). My favourite chestnut, mushroom and caramelised onion stuffing is made from roughly chopped chestnuts mixed with ready-to-eat lentils, sautéed chopped mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and onions slowly cooked with balsamic vinegar. Blitz together with some herbs and serve as small stuffing balls baked alongside your roasted veg.

Replace cream with avocados in your chocolate mousse

Avocado mousse


Stock up on ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds to sprinkle into smoothies and yoghurts or to bind veggie burgers, vegan ‘meatballs’ and nut roasts.

Sprinkle chia seeds into smoothies or even veggie burgers

Chia seed


Umami-rich ingredients such as miso paste, black garlic or tamarind will add a deep flavour, so you won’t miss the meat juices. Stir in a little plant-based milk for a creamier version.


Use veg left over from Christmas lunch for the ultimate curry. Finely chop leftover sprouts and cut other veg into chunks and stir-fry with crushed garlic, grated fresh ginger garam masala and finely chopped chilli to taste. Stir in a can of reduced- fat coconut milk and the juice of 1/2 lime and heat through. Et voilà!


Make filling sweet potato röstis topped with avocado and tomato salsa to get your brunch off to a tasty start.

Fresh ginger gives these sweet potato röstis a zingy kick

Sweet potato rostis