Good diet foods should form the basis of our everyday meals; and just occasionally treat ourselves to foods that are ‘naughty but nice’.
We should try to draw our meals from 5 basic food groups:
Fruit and vegetables
Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta (starchy foods)
Meat, fish, eggs, beans (protein)
Cakes, puddings, sweetened drinks (only in moderation)
The proportions should be weighted towards the first three groups;
I think we can trust medical opinion that advocates eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. A portion is 80g or a small handful.
It’s easy to get your 5-a -day if you make it a habit. I usually have a salad with my evening meal and if not I include some vegetables.
At breakfast I might add some berries to cereal; blueberries and cranberries are nice or maybe make a smoothie by liquidizing a banana in a blender. A 150ml glass of pure fruit juice counts as a portion but only include one a day.
If you fancy a cooked breakfast add some tomatoes or mushrooms to poached or scrambled eggs.
TIP: to cook a perfect poached egg place some oiled cling film over a small bowl and break an egg into it. Gather the film at the top and secure by twisting. Place in a pan of simmering water and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Tomatoes are an ideal accompaniment for scrambled eggs. To make them extra special prepare at room temperature. Slice them, shake over a few drops of Tabasco/chilli sauce, tear over some basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil.
If you like to grab your lunch from the nearby takeaway at work take some extra veg or fruit from home.
Sticks of fresh veg are easy to prepare and pop in a bag the night before such as carrots, peppers, celery, lettuce, cucumber.
You can buy ready prepared fruit or just pack an apple, Satsuma, pear or a handful of gapes.
If you tend to eat ready made meals in the evening make sure you serve some fresh veg such as a salad, or broccoli, which only takes a few minutes to prepare and cook. Frozen peas are fine as the freezing process preserves their freshness.
If you prepare your own meals adding vegetables or pulses to stews, casseroles and soups is an easy option. If you are short of time then open a can of sweet corn, mixed bean salad or canned tomatoes.
TIP: add depth of flavor by mixing in fresh or dried herbs. Keeping a pot of basil on the kitchen windowsill is a must.
These are our main source of carbohydrates and include foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta. Try to include products made from whole grains which retain more beneficial nutrients.
I admit I’m not keen on brown rice but do prefer wholegrain breads to refined white loaves. I usually cook potatoes in their skins to keep all the goodness.
TIP: a great way to prepare potatoes with their skins on is to boil until just soft. Place on a baking tray and crush them slightly with a potato masher so that they flatten and split at the top.
Crush some juniper berries or garlic with a pinch of salt or Herbamere and sprinkle over each potato; drizzle with olive oil and bake in a moderate oven until brown and crunchy on top.
These are a good source of protein and calcium, necessary for normal growth and healthy bones. Milk also provides vital vitamins such as vitamin B2 and vitamin B12.
As with any good diet food, milk products should be consumed in moderation. It’s best to avoid lashings of butter with everything or large quantities of full fat cheese as these contain saturated fats and salt as preservative.
You can buy low fat versions of most products, I even enjoy a non fat version of Greek yoghurt; check the labels for the ingredients.
These foods are good sources of protein and again eating them in moderation is the key.
Meats such as beef, pork and lamb are rich in artery clogging fats so go for leaner meats such as venison, chicken, game birds.
Fish on the whole is a good diet food especially oily fish such as salmon and mackerel so it’s a good idea to enjoy fish regularly. Be aware that some fish, such as tuna and cod is endangered through over fishing so be adventurous and try different varieties.
Eggs and beans are a marriage made in heaven; both contain protein vitamins and minerals while the fibre in pulses is also beneficial.
Here’s a great recipe full of goodness – enough for 2 as part of a meal:
Beat 2 eggs lightly and make an omelette with them; turn out on a plate. Cook 2 handfuls of spinach and squeeze dry then chop it up.
Spread a low fat cheese such as Philadelphia Lite over the omelette and scatter spinach on top.
Roll it up and then slice across to create little wheels about ½” high. Arrange on a dish and reheat in the oven or microwave.
We need our treats or life becomes very dull but too many cakes, sweets and sugary drinks will start to pile on the pounds and eventually lead to health problems. Stick to the old Greek maxim of moderation in all things.
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