It’s the New Year, and the theme of many resolutions is being healthier. Here we have lots of great tips to help make your dinners that little bit healthier, so why not kick start 2013 by adapting your eating habits to aid your health!
Let’s start with liquids. Our bodies are almost 80% water, yet some of us don’t get enough. Water helps with your metabolism, helps your organs to absorb nutrients better, detoxifies and can even help keep your skin clear. Try keeping a bottle at your desk, near your bed and anywhere else you tend to spend time to make it easier to get your four pints a day. Swap the occasional coffee or tea for water and try taking small sips throughout the day to keep hydrated.
Fruit juice is also a good option over caffeine, however be aware that it can contain a lot of natural sugars. Cranberry juice is rich in vitamin C and has excellent infection-fighting properties along with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Swap full fat milk to semi-skimmed or if you drink a lot of fizzy drinks, try switching to a reduced sugar or sugar free option.
Now for food tips, did you know that dips can be packed full of nutrients? If you feel like snacking or you’re entertaining, try turning to tasty dips. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Guacamole - Avocados are rich in heart-friendly monounsaturated fat, fibre, vitamins and potassium; mash with low-fat yoghurt, lime juice, coriander, chopped cherry tomatoes and maybe even a little chilli sauce to make a flavour-rich concoction.
Easy hummus made from tinned chickpeas, a spoonful of sesame oil and lemon juice.
Cool raita made using low-fat yoghurt, grated cucumber and chopped mint.
Chop up plenty of raw vegetables in all the colours of the rainbow, as well as strips of Naan and pitta bread.
Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and protective antioxidants. Try different varieties of vegetables, such as Lollo Rosso lettuce which contains higher level of antioxidants than Iceberg lettuce. Cherry tomatoes also offer a higher vitamin content than their larger counterparts and berries will give you a tasty, low fat and antioxidant rich pudding to round off your meal.
Try swapping white bread for other varieties, like olive ciabatta bread, pumpernickel and seeded loaves. Why not try toppings them with fromage frais, smoked salmon and low-fat cream cheese, or prawns, hard-boiled egg or turkey combined with low-fat mayonnaise and lemon juice.
Oily fish are an essential source of protein, vitamins and minerals. More importantly the fish in this group (including mackerel, sardines, herring and tuna) are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Get more in your diet by having sardines on a slice of seeded toast for breakfast, you can even warm the fish up if you’d like.
Nuts have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even a lower cancer risk, so if you snack a lot why not keep a packet of unsalted almonds, cashew, pistachio at your desk or in your cupboards. Dried fruit is great if you have a sweet tooth or for a savoury treat have you ever thought of sliced peppers or even carrots?
Instead of adding salt or stocks whilst cooking, try mixing in herbs and spices to flavour your food or even a sprinkle of curry spice. If you are a sauce addict switch to a low fat version or try a small helping of homemade fruit sauce like cranberry or apple instead. If you don’t have time to make your own keep an eye on the label for added sugar etc.
When cooking meats remove the skin as it contains most of the fat, and cook them on a rack so that the fat can drain away. If you aren’t a vegetarian try fitting in a few meals without meat, for example when making bangers and mash, or bolognaise simply switch to quorn for an instantly healthier meal.
Finally, why not try going for a long walk before your dinner to help lessen the adverse effects a high fat dinner can have on your blood vessels and build up your appetite at the same time.