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Healthy Scottish Recipes

Updated on September 9, 2012
Gordon N Hamilton profile image

Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.

Healthy Scottish Recipes? Is that a Joke?

I will concede that it is not for our culinary abilities that we Scots are best known. Statistics show Scotland to be in perpetual competition with the USA for being the designated heart attack capital of the world - a title which no country desires. This is in no small part down to diet.

This is of course, however, a wide-sweeping generalisation and although a great many people do favour deep fried, greasy food and sugary snacks and drinks, it does not naturally follow that there is an absence of good quality healthy and traditional Scottish recipes to be found, just like the Smoked Haddock Chowder (pictured above) which I had for lunch today, prior to writing this paragraph! I will endeavour on this site to convince you of the worth of that claim...

There can be little doubt that haggis is the first thing people generally think of when they think about Scotland and food. There seems to be a general concensus of opinion that all Scots eat haggis on a regular basis and that it is some form of staple diet in Scotland. The reality could not be further from the truth.

I can honestly say that I have never in my life known anyone who I could say ate haggis on what - by any stretch of the imagination - I could class as being a regular basis. It is of course widely available at all times but in general it is most commonly eaten at events such as Burns' Suppers and St Andrew's Day Celebrations.

What is Haggis and How is it Made?

Mince an' Tatties - or Tatties an' Mince as some may prefer to call it - is a very popular dish in Scotland. Unfortunately, the way in which it is normally prepared is not strictly in keeping with the healthiest of eating regimes. The potatoes are often drowned in an excess of melted, full-fat butter and a horrendous, chemically enhanced dried gravy powder is generally added to the mince. This is my attempt at getting Scots to eat a healthier and much tastier version of a cultural classic.

The following recipe is for two people.


1lb minced or ground beef

1lb potatoes

1 small carrot (diced)

1 small white onion (peeled, halved and thinly sliced)

2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

Pinch of fresh or dried thyme


Put the minced beef in to a large, non-stick pan and bring it gently up to heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. This will allow the natural fats within the beef to provide the only fats necessary to prevent the meat from sticking or burning. Brown the mince all over before adding the onion and garlic. Cook for another couple of minutes, continuing to stir frequently.

Add enough boiling water to the mince to cover it, then add the thyme and carrot. Bring to back to the boil then reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer.

Peel the potatoes, cut them in to chunks and place them in to a pan of lightly salted boiling water. Boil gently for twenty-five minutes. Drain well and return them to the pan with a small knob of butter. Mash them carefully and well.

Arrange the mashed potatoes on each plate as shown and then carefully, with a slotted spoon, add the minced beef on top.

This remains a traditional Scottish Mince and Tatties recipe - but with some of the calories and the chemicals removed!

Traditional Scottish Recipe Cookbooks - The recipe(s) you seek must be here somewhere!

Stovies is an ancient Scottish recipe traditionally prepared by the servant classes from the remnants of their masters' meals. The servants would rescue the remnants of the meat - be it beef, mutton or lamb - from the leftovers and stew it with potatoes and onions in the fat of the meat and some stock for their own consumption. My version of the recipe is similar to the traditional but a little more geared towards healthy eating in that I have omitted the fat, or "dripping," of the meat.

Ingredients (Per person)

1 lamb chop (de-boned and cubed)

1 large potato (un-peeled and cut in to chunks)

1/2 white onion (thickly sliced)

1/2 pint of fresh chicken stock

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Partly cook the potato chunks by boiling them in salted water for about ten minutes. To a large pan, add the olive oil and bring up to a gentle heat before adding the lamb to brown. Add the hot chicken stock and season with pepper only. Bring up to the boil then simmer for fifteen minutes before adding the potato and onion. Simmer for a further twenty minutes.

Stovies were often served with oatcakes but I like mine with a bread roll which I use to soak up the delicious stock.

This is a slightly different version of Stovies, made the way my Gran often used to make it. Instead of using the remnants of a roast, Lorne sausages, a type of sausage peculiar to Scotland, are used instead. Water is used instead of stock and a pinch of dried thyme or sage added.

The method and ingredients are otherwise precisely the same as above.

This is a simple recipe which one can easily imagine nineteenth century - and even earlier - Scottish women cooking in a big pan on the hearth. It is a simple stew, full of fresh, one hundred percent Scottish ingredients, but it is equally - or perhaps consequently! - delicious.


1lb Scotch beef (stewing steak - diced)

2 large Ayrshire potatoes (unpeeled and roughly chopped)

1 large carrot (scraped and chopped)

1 large parsnip (scraped and chopped)

2 pints of fresh beef stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper (okay - the black pepper's not Scottish!)


Brown the beef in a large stew pan. This should take a couple of minutes. Add the hot stock and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for one hour.

Add the vegetables, bring back to a simmer, and cook for a further half hour. Season only at this point and serve steaming hot in bowls.

Add the vegetables

Gaelic Coffee
Gaelic Coffee

Meal Over?

Time to relax

Whenever you have finished your healthy Scottish recipe meal - of whatever description - the chances are that you will be looking to sit back and relax for a while. Perhaps you wish to sit on at the table, or even put your feet up and slouch in front of the TV. Whatever the case may be, a traditional Scottish beverage sounds like the order of the day and what better in such circumstances than a Gaelic coffee.

Gaelic coffee is simply coffee, sugar, cream and single malt Scotch whisky, combined in a delicious and satisfying fashion. The link below explains how to prepare this beverage in great detail.

How to Make Gaelic Coffee

Thank you for your visit to this site. I very much hope that it has helped to give you a greater understanding of Scottish cookery and also what Scotland is truly all about.

I would appreciate it if you have a moment to leave any feedback you may have in the space below.

What's your Favourite Scottish Recipe? - Did you find it here?

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    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I was looking for neeps and tatties to serve at a Burn's Supper (featured this page on my attempt too) and discovered instead Stovies, a nostalgic trip to the 50s for me.

    • avorodisa lm profile image

      avorodisa lm 6 years ago

      Very interesting, exotic recipes! Thanx for sharing the recipes of your country!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Very interesting. I should sample some of these to get in touch with my Scottish side (McGhee). I do love a good bowl of hot oatmeal.

    • Nochipra profile image

      Nochipra 7 years ago

      Very interesting lens! Thanks for sharing

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 8 years ago from UK

      Well this is unusual, where oh where are the deep fried Mars bars? Great to see some healthy Scottish food. I've featured this lens in my Discovery Tool on my own Scottish lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I bet your niche is "healthy recipes" huh? LOL Great job! I think its nice to have so many healthy choices. Personally I have been on 1600 calorie diet and I'm trying to stay under 40g of fat and recipes encouraging better eating is a nice refreshing change. I bet about 85% of American women are on a diet so you have yourself a good topic of conversation here. Join groups and rate pages and hopefully we'll see a lot more of you.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      The haddock chowder looks pretty good. Welcome to Culinary Favorites From A to Z.