by Alison McAleese, LiveLighter Victoria Campaign Manager and Dietitian

5 Foods to Stop Avoiding

One day we’re told eggs are good for us, the next day they’re not.

This week you might read that carbs are out, until next week when an article says they’re back in.

We get it. Knowing what's truly healthy can be confusing!

But when we asked a group of adults to look at a list of foods and tell us what they regarded as healthy, we were surprised to see so many people rule out foods like pasta, jacket potatoes and popcorn!

It’s hard to know why these foods, which are considered healthy by nutrition experts, rated so poorly among the public.

It could be low-carb hype, or people might picture these foods drowned in cheese, butter and/or cream, or topped with processed meats like bacon or salami.  

Regardless of the reason, we want to clear the air once and for all.

In their natural state, pasta, potatoes and popcorn are healthy! And despite what our panel of adults thought, peanut butter and cottage cheese can be good for you too.

Consider this the green light to start eating these foods again.

  1. Pasta
  • Pasta is a great source of carbohydrate and fibre – and wholemeal pasta is even better.
  • Go for tomato-based sauces, add chopped vegetables and avoid processed meats.
  • For a balanced meal, enjoy pasta with a side of salad or vegetables.

Rediscover your love of pasta with LiveLighter’s broccoli pesto pasta and vegie lasagne.

  1. Potatoes
  • The versatile potato counts towards your five daily serves of vegetables and is a source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fibre. Try potatoes mashed, boiled, roasted or in their jackets.
  • For a healthy jacket potato, avoid piling on butter and bacon, and choose reduced-fat cheese or sour cream. Healthy fillings include bolognaise, avocado, cottage cheese, tuna and baked beans.
  • When having mashed potato, get creative. Use reduced-fat milk instead of butter and experiment with other flavours such as rosemary, pesto, seeded mustard and garlic infused olive oil.

Try LiveLighter’s Mexican mince loaded potato and our stuffed sweet potato for delicious, hearty jacket potatoes.

  1. Cottage cheese
  • Cottage cheese is high in protein and lower in fat than other cheeses. It makes a great snack or addition to a meal.
  • Try cottage cheese as a snack with wholegrain crackers and tomato or cucumber, or by adding it  to a meal such as a salad.

Reduced fat cottage cheese (or ricotta) makes a star appearance in LiveLighter’s pumpkin and spinach cheese cannelloni and spinach and cheese rolls.

  1. Popcorn
  • Popcorn is a high-fibre snack and when it isn’t loaded with butter or caramel, it’s also low in sugar, salt and saturated fat.
  • About 35g or a large handful is one serve. Try it as a healthy alternative to chips or savoury snacks.
  • Avoid the huge buckets of popcorn at the cinema – they’re cooked in oil and loaded with salt.

For a healthy snack at the movies, home, school or work, check out our super easy popcorn recipe – no popcorn maker required! Jazz it up with these exotic variations:

  • Curry popcorn: toss warm popcorn with a little cumin, chilli and coriander or your favourite curry powder
  • Sriracha popcorn: sriracha is an Asian chilli garlic sauce that is delicious on popcorn. Toss in a little sriracha just before serving (it will go soggy if left too long)
  • Cheese and herb: sprinkle parmesan, garlic powder and shredded basil over fresh popcorn.
  1. Peanut butter
  • In most cases, peanut butter is good for you! Many brands are at least 95% peanuts, and some are 100%. Go for 100% peanut butters with little or no added salt.
  • Nuts are nutritious with healthy fats and a range of vitamins a minerals. Their one downfall? They taste so good it’s easy to over consume.
  • Peanut butter is a nutritious spread to use on toast or crackers. But because of the naturally high oil content it is high in energy. 10g which is a thin spread on a piece of toast is one serve.

For a filling snack, spread peanut butter on a piece of wholegrain toast, grain crackers or rice cakes – or even try it on some celery or apple slices.