The Land Down Under (as it’s especially known thanks to this worldwide hit) has no shortage of amazing food. With its multicultural influence, locals regularly enjoy cuisines from across the globe. But which meals are uniquely Australian, and which can Aussies really claim as their own? Thanks to both our traditions and modern, multicultural society, all of them! Below I’ve included four healthy Australian recipes that are truly time-tested and iconic dishes PLUS three everyday healthy dishes that Australians regularly enjoy from around the world. So let’s start our journey of the various culinary traditions that come from Down Under!

1. Sanga Sandwich

“I’m starving; let’s grab a sanga.” Translation: I’m hungry; can we go get a sausage sandwich to eat?”

Sanga is Australian slang for sausages, which are typically cooked on a BBQ or “barbie” in Australia. With our love for the outdoors and variety of wild game options to choose from, Australians have embraced BBQ for centuries. Today, many Australian families own a BBQ, but outdoor picnic spots, beaches and parks often also have BBQs to cook on. If you haven’t had a sausage before, it’s usually comprised of ground bits of meat and offcuts with additives like salt encased in a skin. This is then cooked on a BBQ and put on a slice of white bread with sauce and eaten as a sandwich.

The classic Aussie BBQ sausage sandwiches are not a healthy option, but here is a healthy recipe version of a sausage sandwich:

Recipe: Healthy Sausage Sandwich

Makes 4 servings

Healthy Sausage "Sanga" Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 4 lean, low sodium sausages – healthier options include turkey, kangaroo or vegetarian sausages
  • 8 slices of wholegrain bread
  • 2 small brown onions, sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 1 tin (or can) of sliced beetroot
  • 2 cups lettuce
  • 2 cups of veggies of choice
  • Tomato or BBQ sauce – low salt, low sugar variety
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Prick sausages with a fork on both sides and cook on heated BBQ with olive oil. Add onions and cook.
  2. Serve on bread with veggies and sauce and enjoy!

TIP: You can make this recipe vegan or vegetarian by opting for a vegan sausage. Always prick your sausages before cooking as this allows the extra fat to drain out whilst on the BBQ.

2. Meat Pies

Meat pies are a long-standing Aussie icon that are especially popular at sporting events. They are made from a short-crust base filled with a rich minced beef gravy. They are typically quite an unhealthy meal, high in saturated fat, trans fats and salt and sold everywhere from supermarkets to petrol (or “gas”) stations. However, you can make a healthy version of this iconic Australian meal with the following recipe:

Recipe: Healthy Meat Pie

Makes 4 servings

Homemade Australian Meat Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups wholemeal (or “whole-wheat”) flour
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 420g (or 15 oz.) can brown lentils, drained
  • 200g (or 7 oz.) lean steak, fat trimmed
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C (or 350° F) and grease a 20 cm (or 8-inch) pie tin (or “pie pan”).
  2. Mix 1 tbsp oil into flour. Add 1 cup of water into flour and stir. Knead and roll out thinly. Cut out a 30 cm (or 12-inch) diameter circle for the top and then roll out the remainder again. Place in pie tin (“pie pan”) and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and sauté onion. Add veggies and cook. Add meat and lentils and gently bring to the boil with a few tablespoons of water.
  4. Once thickened, pour into the pastry base and top with the lid. Press the edges together and then make a slice in the centre (or “center”) of the lid. Place into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown all over.
  5. Remove from oven, slice, serve and enjoy!

TIP: You can make this recipe vegan or vegetarian by swapping all the steak for lentils. You can also transform this recipe into another iconic Australian meal known as Shepherd’s Pie (originally British and Irish) by steaming a bunch of potatoes (or sweet potatoes), mashing them with a little margarine and milk and placing this on top of the pie before cooking in the oven. This is a great way to add an extra serving of veggies to your meal.

3. Fish and chips

Fish and chips, originally a British dish that is itself inspired by Mediterranean immigrants, remains a classic meal commonly enjoyed from takeaway shops by Aussies outdoors and down by the beach. While hot chips are deep fried and fish is often battered, this meal can be made more nutritious by ordering grilled fish like salmon, barramundi, John Dory or another local fish in place of battered fish. This can then be served with a side salad. You can also make your own healthy version of potato chips at home with this delicious, easy recipe below.

Recipe: Crunchy Potato Chips

Makes 4 servings

Crunchy Potato Chips (Homemade French Fries)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkle of spices of choice e.g. dukkah, paprika, garlic powder, salt or pepper

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180° C (or 350° F).
  2. Wash potatoes & slice into long, fry-shaped pieces.
  3. Place the potato slices into an extra large plastic sandwich bag with olive oil and shake to coat.
  4. Place potato slices onto a baking tray & sprinkle with spices if desired.
  5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until crispy.
  6. Enjoy!

Tip: Salt is always added to hot chips in Australia, so if you are watching your salt intake for your blood pressure or heart health, ask for no salt when ordering.

4. Chicken Parma

A dish of Italian origins, Chicken Parmigiana aka Chicken Parma (because Aussies shorten all their words) is now a classic Australian favorite seen on most pub menus Down Under. While not traditionally known as a healthy meal, you can definitely make a healthy version of this at home that will satisfy your taste-buds and Parma cravings.

Recipe: Healthy Chicken Parmigiana

Makes 4 servings

Healthy Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breast fillets, no skin
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 tin (or can) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 eggplant, finely diced
  • ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup low fat cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves to serve

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180° C (or 350° F).
  2. Heat olive oil on frying pan and sauté chicken until cooked through. Remove from pan, place in a baking tray and keep warm.
  3. Brown garlic and onion in the frying pan. Add eggplant and cook until softened. Add tomatoes and simmer until sauce thickens. Add baby spinach and remove from the heat.
  4. Pour veggies and sauce over chicken in baking tray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese and bake until top is golden.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, serve and enjoy!

Tip: For tinned (canned) tomatoes, always look for “salt-reduced or reduced sodium” and “no-added sugar” varieties.

5. Pasta

Australia is a multicultural society that enjoys cuisines from across the world. Italy has had a strong influence on Australians’ meals, with pasta and pizza being common dishes in Australia. Australians enjoy pasta of all different varieties regularly at home as well as when eating out. Here is a healthy Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushroom Pasta you can try!

Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushroom Pasta

Makes 4 servings

Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 300g (or 10-12 oz) pack stone-ground pasta of choice
  • 1 cup mushrooms, washed & thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup semi sun-dried tomatoes, drained & sliced
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Once cooked, run under cold water, drain & place in large serving bowl.
  2. Boil the cashews in water for 10 minutes. Drain and place in blender with ½ cup water & blend until smooth.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add garlic, mushrooms & sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Reduce heat and add cashew cream. Add ½ cup water, tomato paste and basil.
  5. After a few minutes, add cooked pasta into the sauce and mix through. Serve with your favorite source of protein and enjoy!

Tip: When serving your pasta, aim to include ½ a plate of veggies or salad with your pasta meal.

6. Salads

Salads, which are popular around the world (often with different ingredients), are very common Down Under, especially during the warmer months of December, January and February in Australian Summer. Many Aussies enjoy salads at home for lunches and dinners as well as outdoors when having picnics. Aussies enjoy a diverse range of salads including Greek Salads, potato salads, Mediterranean salads, seafood salads, chicken salads, roast veggie salads and cabbage salads.

With a choice of beautiful fruits, Australians also like to add fruit, including peaches, figs, oranges, nectarines, apples and mangoes, to our salad. Here is a recipe for a healthy Mango and Avocado salad that can be enjoyed when mangoes are in peak season in Summer in Australia.

Recipe: Mango and Avocado Salad

Makes 4 servings

Mango and Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach, shredded
  • 1 cup pumpkin, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Place sweet potato, pumpkin and onion in a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Bake until cooked through and slightly crispy.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mash mango and avocado together. Add lime juice, sweet chili and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Combine. Mix in coriander.
  3. In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Toast pine nuts and set aside.
  4. Place baby spinach in a salad bowl. Mix in baked veggies and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Stir through mango avocado salad dressing.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Tip: While salads are typically a healthy option be aware when eating out that some salads will still be high in saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbs and sodium (salt). Watch out for salads smothered in creamy sauces and mayonnaise, those with processed meats like bacon, those with lots of cheese and those with more pasta than fruits or vegetables. Instead, opt for salads with lots of colorful vegetables, dressings made with olive oil, healthy proteins like salmon or beans and whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. 

7. Asian Foods

Meals from China, Japan, Thailand and Korea, to name a few, are very popular in Australian cuisine and enjoyed by Aussies out at restaurants as well as at home. Rice is a common grain in Australia, and fried rice is eaten by many Down Under. Here is a healthy fried rice recipe with a boost of extra veggies you can try.

Recipe: Healthy Fried Rice

Makes 4 servings

Healthy Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 8 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 capsicum, diced
  • ½ cup snow peas, finely sliced
  • ½ cup peas
  • ½ cup green beans, finely chopped
  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons salt/sodium-reduced soy sauce

Method:

  1. Cook brown rice according to packet instructions.
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil and stir-fry veggies.
  3. Add rice, stir and cook for a further 1 minute. Add soy sauce and cook for another minute.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Tip: If you don’t usually eat brown rice, you can use half white and half brown rice to help you get used to brown rice. To increase the protein of this dish, add a few eggs to the pan while cooking the veggies, mix around and then add rice. You can also add any other vegetables to this dish that you like such as broccoli or zucchini.

Whether you’re from the Land Down Under, travelling to Australia for a holiday or just want to try some good old iconic Aussie food, these are just the recipes for you! With healthy options for all and a variety of multicultural options, what’s not to love about these healthy Aussie dishes? Made with substantial amounts of nutrients, culture, warmth, love and hospitality, these recipes from Down Under most definitely “come from the land of plenty”.

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