Following on from our blog, ‘how to make your favourite meals healthier’, which talks about taking any meal and making it healthier just by adding extra nutrition, we wanted to give you a few more ways to buff up the healthiness of your meals. From preparing the food to actually eating it, there are a few things you can do to make it that bit better for you. So here goes…
- Always wash your fruit and veg to release some of the pesticide residue
- Trim fatty edges off meat and bacon, and go for loin cuts of meat that are usually less fat
- Keep skins on fruit and vegetables where possible
- Instead of buying pre-cut vegetables, get the chopping board out! Preparation burns calories and help works up a proper hunger for the meal rather than just opening a pack and throwing in.
- Cut the veggies into bigger chunks rather than tiny pieces though as it gives you more chewing to do. The more you chew, the easier you can digest the food and the fuller you will feel.
- Try not to overcook pasta because the longer it is cooked for, the higher GI it has. This means it releases more glucose into the bloodstream and gives a bigger insulin release than pasta that has not been cooked as long. Not great for those trying to be healthier or lose excess weight.
- The healthiest way to cook potatoes is boiling (not over boiling) and with the skins left on.
- Add in herbs and spices at any opportunity for extra nutrition
- If you are sautéing or stir frying, use good-for-you oils such as coconut oil, olive oil (not extra virgin) and nut oils etc
- Steam wherever possible – If you don’t have a steamer, simply fill a pan with around an inch of water (half inch if the pan is not deep) and place a colander or sieve inside making sure it won’t touching the water when it boils. (tip some out if necessary). One your veggies are in the colander, don’t shove too many in at once or they won’t cook, bring the water to the boil, put a lid over your pan and turn the water down to a simmer. That’s it, leave them there to steam and keep checking to see how they are doing (careful when lifting the lid, the steam will be intensely hot). Cooking times will vary for each veg and to your preference
- If you do boil vegetables, use the water as the base for a healthier homemade stock or gravy
- Grill or bbq meat where you can rather than fry (lean grill machines are also great)
- Sometimes it’s better not cooked at all, add some raw snacks and meals into your when you can, or at least just lightly cook some of your vegetables so they remain crunchy rather than soggy
- Pressure cookers are great for busy people that want to eat healthy. You can throw a bunch of ingredients in there in the morning and when you return home, dinner is waiting. Plus it’s a very healthy way to cook using minimum water so the nutrients remain in tact as much as possible
- Stir fries are quick, tasty and fab. They are also an opportunity for more omega 3’s if you cook in healthy oils and you can easily have variety of veg, sprouts, beans and other good stuff in one meal. Remember not to over-fry to keep the vegetables nice and crunchy with the nutrients in tact.
- Always strain the fatty juices from mince meat
- Dish up on smaller plates to avoid over portioning
- If you use seasonings like salt, try pink Himalayan for extra nutritional benefits and superb taste. Dried seaweed (available from many Aldi supermarkets now) is also a good alternative to salt with some excellent health benefits.
- Spoon off any fat residue from the top of stews and broths before serving
- Make your own home made dressings for salad with a glug of extra virgin, a splash of your favourite seasonings likes salt, pepper, garlic and a splash of lemon juice
- Avoid eating poultry skins (yes I know all the tasty things seem to be on the outside of chicken wings and legs and they are fine every now and again, but if you eat this type of meat regularly, your body will thank you for not eating the skin every time.
- Drink water with meals instead of sugary pops and juices. Not only is it zero calories and great for you, it also helps all the nutrients in your food to do their jobs properly. For instance, fibre needs water to work properly.
So there we have it, our tops tips for making meals that little bit better for you. Have any to add to the lists? Feel free to share in the comments below! You can find lots of other useful tips on our Facebook page.