Norwich-based nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans suggests five sneaky healthy food swaps to improve your diet
I love stealth health – sneaking in lots of nutritious goodness, without having to feel like you’re missing out on all the delicious foods that you love to eat. Good for you, good for your family’s health too!
Here are my top five healthy food swaps that you can start today, to create a healthier balance without even realising it.
- Swap white pasta for wholegrain and high protein pastas. Pasta is a cheap family favourite, but white pasta is low in nutrients. Made from white wheat, it’s just empty calories rather than nutritious goodness. Most supermarkets and health food stores now stock a wide range of pastas made from healthier ingredients – either wholegrain wheat varieties, which have more fibre, vitamins and minerals, and will help your family feel fuller for longer (great for teens who seem to always be hungry!) Or go for some of the naturally gluten free options which are popping up in the main pasta aisle now – brown rice, red lentil, pea or buckwheat pasta – packed with fibre, nutrients plus lots more protein. (And my tip – if you love fresh pasta, keep the real stuff for a delicious treat!)
- Swap sugar laden chocolate with higher cocoa solids. 70% minimum if you can, and if you get a taste for dark chocolate, there’s nothing wrong with having a small amount every day (a couple of squares, not a whole bar!) It’s packed with antioxidants, and may help to balance cholesterol and support a healthy heart.
- Swap shop bought fruit smoothies for home made, or ready made vegetable based smoothies. Fruit smoothies can be very high in sugar, and high fructose intake can contribute to insulin resistance, risk of type 2 diabetes and a fatty liver. Vegetable based smoothies are lower in sugar, and if you can get in the greens like organic spinach, kale or cucumber, these are a great source of minerals, vitamin C and other nutrients that help to balance hormones and feed your healthy gut bacteria.
- Swap salty peanuts for plain, unroasted nuts and seeds. These are powerhouses of nutrients, including protein, healthy fats and nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Put a handful in a bowl so you’re not tempted to eat the whole bag! If you love them salty, dry roast them in a pan and throw in a splash of soya sauce.
- Swap shop bought burgers for home-made – all you need is a tray of quality mince, some herbs and spices like dried oregano or a dash of chilli, an egg or a squirt of ketchup to bind them together. I also love to blend in a tin of kidney beans so you need less meat, and you’re packing in fibre and key nutrients like manganese and calcium. Just throw a tin of cooked beans into a food processor with your meat and pulse together. Shape into patties and cook like your usual burgers. A tip for home-made on the barbecue – they are great on the barbecue, but put them in a metal barbecue mesh so they don’t fall apart.