This month, Champneys Senior Nutritionist Becki Douglas is guiding you through the healthy dos and don’ts for next time you’re doing your food shop.
Replace things like high-calorie tortilla chips and nacho dip with carrot and cucumber sticks and homemade salsa instead – saving you around 200 calories per portion. Jazzing up the salsa using loads of chili may also help reduce inflammation and boost your metabolism. Alternatively, you could make a homemade houmous dip with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and natural yogurt. Chickpeas are really good for soluble fibre, are cholesterol lowering and contain hormonal balancing nutrients. If you like nuts you can change your roasted salted peanuts to some oven roasted pumpkin seeds with cayenne pepper, which would be a good swap to cut down on the salt and help improve the minerals – iron, zinc, magnesium and omega 3 healthy fats.
Boost your ham and cheese sandwiches by replacing the cheddar with Edam – you’ll get a similar texture, but cut down the fat content. Alternatively, you could use a really strong cheese – Parmesan or Gorgonzola – and use less of it if you wanted to limit the fat and calories. Also, those who are lactose intolerant often fare better with sheep, goat or buffalo cheeses. Things like feta cheese go really well with watermelon, rocket and sunflower seeds in a salad, or you can make this quick and easy lunchtime meal that contains buffalo mozzarella.
Although great for their energy-boosting powers after a session at the gym, generally, if you’re focusing on weight management and overall health, you should limit bananas because they’re higher in calories than people realise and also high in fruit sugar. Instead, look for lower-sugar fruit options like apples and pears with the skins, cherries, berries and grapefruit which are good. By having the skin on the fruit you get additional fibre, which also helps to reduce the glycaemic load on your blood sugar as well. A lot of the nutrients are found just under the skin, so if you peel them, you are discarding some of the beneficial micronutrients. There is the same principle with a lot of fruit and veg – the best bit of an avocado for example is the dark green section right under the skin that you may have been throwing in the bin.
Break away from the battered cod! Like the best bits of fruit, with oily fish – salmon, mackerel, etc. – the maximum omega 3 can be found in the little grey jelly bit between the skin and the flesh. Prawns, mussels and octopus are good sources of low fat protein. They’re rich in zinc, which is really important for skin health, and they go really well with Asian flavours like chilli, ginger and lemon grass.
Instead of buying an iceberg lettuce to just sit in the fridge going limp, buy some darker greens like watercress, spinach or rocket. Not only are they richer in iron and fibre, but they’re also easier to just throw together to make a salad – no more chopping up lettuce in the morning for it only to go brown by lunchtime. Also, with salads, you can add tasty extras like roasted Mediterranean vegetables, fruits and pulses – such as kidney beans and lentils – to whack up the nutritional values as well.
Swap out potatoes for butternut squash or swede. These alternatives are lower in calories, and carbohydrates, and are lower on the glycemic index to help maintain blood sugar levels, which subsequently help energy levels and appetite regulation.
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