How to Make Healthy Meals

You may think you are eating well, but just how healthy are your meals? Do you know how to prepare healthy meals at home?  Healthy meals do not mean you have to be a master chef, or spend hours in the kitchen. In fact the healthiest meals are often very simple and quick to prepare.

What Should Be in a Healthy Meal?

A healthy meal should contribute to your daily needs of complex carbs, good fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.  You should always aim to include a source of grains (wholegrain if you can), a source of lean protein (like fish, lean poultry, lean red meat. tofu, eggs, lean dairy products or legumes) a source of good fat (for example seeds, nuts, avocado, olive oil, oily fish), and fruits or vegetables.  When adding the fruits or vegetables to your meal, aim to include as many colours as you can.  The more colour on your plate, the more nutrients you will consume.

Reducing the Amount of Fat You Use

A great way to make a healthy meal is to reduce the amount of fat that you use. Easy ways of doing this include:

       Use low fat or skim milk in cooking instead of full fat milk

       Use a low fat cream substitute instead of cream (reduced fat cooking cream)

       Use evaporated milk with a little coconut essence instead of coconut cream

       Use less of a stronger cheese, like parmesan, instead of a lot of milder cheese

       Spray oil onto a pan instead of pouring out of the bottle

       Remove all visible fat from meat before cooking (once cooked it may be hard to distinguish between the fat and meat)

       If your recipe uses steps always drain meat before moving onto the next step – you will be amazed at how much fat you can get rid of by doing this

Get Great Flavour Without the Extra Calories

Instead of using fats (oils, butter) or refined sugars to create flavour try using herbs and spices.  There are many different spices available in your local supermarket or store that you can use to spice up your meals.  Herbs are also easy to buy or grow and can add great flavour to your healthy meals.  A great example of adding flavour without extra energy is to use garlic and low fat milk when doing mash, instead of butter and full fat milk.  Try to make sauces from scratch instead of the jar variety that contain extreme amounts of fat, salt and preservative.  For example it is very simple to

make a homemade pasta sauce using tomatoes, chilli, garlic, onion, a little olive oil and basil – and you know exactly what has gone into it.

Reducing the Amount of Sugar You Use

Many meals can be made with less sugar.  If you are baking you can substitute pureed apple (or any other fruit) for sugar.  If you do this you also add more nutrients to your meal.  Using honey as a sweetener as it is a more natural product than refined white sugar.  It is also a good idea to simply reduce the amount of sugar used in recipes as you will find that over time your taste buds will get used to less sweetness.

Add More Fibre

Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system and you can easily add more fibre to your meals by:

       Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables when possible

       Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour

       Add oats into recipes in place of some of the flour

       Add lentils to a casserole or mince based dish

It is not hard to make your meals healthier, plan ahead so that you know what you are having, make sure your meal has all the components of a healthy meal and look for ways to reduce the fat and sugar you use, and to increase the fibre content.

When you are cooking, make sure you have leftovers and put them in the fridge or freezer straight away so it can be a back up meal for when you simply don’t have time to cook. It will save you buying a sneaky take away meal just because you ran out of time!



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