We all have those days when the last thing you want to do is prepare a ‘healthy’ meal. We’re too tired to think about it. It will take too much time. We don’t know where to start.
Simple things become complicated when we expect too much. Putting a healthy meal together can be as simple as following these 5 steps:
Step 1 – Pick a protein
Getting enough protein is a very important part of weight management and appetite control. Protein takes a long time to digest and ends up keeping us satisfied for longer.
Where you can, go for minimally processed protein sources like fresh meats, eggs and legumes. More processed options like sausages, cured meats and cheese can still be included occasionally on a healthy plate, especially when you get the balance right. About 1/4 of your plate is a good serving size.
Try: boiled eggs • lentils (drained and rinsed) • smoked salmon • shredded chicken • ham • fetta • tuna
Step 2 – Add flavour
One of the most common stumbling blocks to consistency with healthy eating is getting bored. We find one winning salad and then we eat it to death. This often feeds into the myth that eating healthy is boring. But when we consciously choose whole foods that have a lot of flavor, we are far less likely to get bored. Even the humble salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber) can be made more interesting with a few flavourful vegetables.
Try adding a ½ cup of these fresh veggies and herbs
Onion • Garlic • Ginger • Mint • Oregano • Chili • Fennel • Radish • Thyme • Coriander
Step 3 – Choose vegetables for colour and texture
Most of us add veg as an after-though to our meal. But, of all the different groups or types of food, vegetables have been the ones most shown to boost health and vitality. You can’t overeat vegetables. They’re nutrient dense and help increase the size of your meal without adding excess energy.
Vegetables give crunch to your salad and texture to your stews and casseroles. Even better, vegetables make your meal colourful!! If you change the way you look at veg, from the filler in your meal to the star, we start to increase our intake of all of those nutrients needed to function well.
Load your plate with at least 1 cup of vegetables which have colour and texture.
Try: Red capsicum • Yellow capsicum • Red cabbage • Carrot (or purple carrot) • Pumpkin • Alfalfa sprouts • Snow pea sprouts • Eggplant • Broccoli • Cauliflower • Green beans • Snow peas • Sugar snap peas • Peas
Step 4 – Mix in some fat
Fat makes things taste good, but it’s also very dense in calories. It’s important to still include fat in our diet, just be mindful of the portion size. About 1 Tablespoon of fat rich food is a good amount with a meal.
Try: Hummus • Aioli • Avocado • Walnuts • Tahini • Chipotle sauce • Feta cheese • Pepitias • Linseeds • Cashews • Flaxseeds • Oilves • Sundried tomato
Step 5 – Combine the Carbs
There are a lot of arguments about carbohydrates. The reason we argue so much about whether you should ‘carb load’ or ‘cut carbs’ is because everyone has very different needs. What is right for one person is rarely right for everyone.
Including some high fibre sources of carbohydrate in your meal can be a good way to prevent hunger and lapses in energy. If you’re wondering how much, try starting with ½ – 1 cup of cooked carbohydrate like the ones listed below.
Corn kernels • Sweet potato • Chickpeas • Broad beans • Potato (skin on) • Wholemeal couscous • Quinoa • Pearl barley • Brown rice • High fibre pasta
Quick combo meal ideas
Toasted Veg Nourish Bowl
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup baby spinach • 2 shallots • ½ cup pumpkin, sliced thinly • ½ red capsicum, sliced • ½ cup tinned beetroot, drained • 10 green beans • 2 eggs, hard boiled • 1 cup canned lentils, drained and rinsed • 30g of feta cheese
- Boil the eggs for 8 minutes, or until hard boiled.
- Place green beans in a colander in the sink. Pour boiling water over the top until beans are bright green.
- Using a sandwich press, toast the pumpkin, capsicum and green beans until browned.
- Arrange all the ingredients on the plate and enjoy.
Super Quick Nourish Bowl
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup rocket leaves • ¼ red onion, finely sliced • 1 carrot, peeled or grated • ½ red capsicum, thinly sliced • 1 cup snow pea sprouts • ½ cucumber • 100 – 150g tinned salmon in spring water • ½ pear • ½ cup cooked quinoa • 1 Tbsp. walnuts, toasting optional
- Arrange the ingredients on the plate and enjoy.