Friday, September 24, 2010

(C)Leaning up

Having de-cluttered the kitchen, we now need to check whether the foods we store and prepare in there are healthy. To develop healthy eating habits we need to eliminate any potential foody pitfalls, so:

Throw out: white rice and pasta, refined flour products (bread, English muffins, crumpets, bagels); thick dressings and cook-in sauces; high salt stock powders and high sugar cereals. And while we’re at it, ditch anything containing caffeine – caffeine slows down the metabolism.
Replace with: whole grain pasta and brown rice, whole grain flour products; oil-free or low-fat dressings; make your own ‘cook-in’ sauces with healthy fresh vegetables; buy rolled oats, bran flakes, low-fat low-sugar muesli, raw unsalted nuts and dried fruit.

We can only succumb to temptation if temptation is there! Stop buying sweets, chocolate, cakes and salty snacks; nibble on fresh fruit or a small handful of dried fruit, or crudités with fat free cottage cheese instead. Don’t buy ice-cream, buy frozen (fat-free) yoghurt – or make your own. I have to be honest and admit that I do still buy and eat chocolate on a regular basis, but I only buy dark chocolate – preferably with almonds – and I limit myself to two little squares as an after dinner treat. If you know something is just too tempting, delicious and irresistible, don’t have it in the house. There is absolutely no harm for the rest of the family to adopt these habits, too. Learning good eating habits now will stand them in good stead for a healthier life.

Cutting down on salt doesn’t mean that our meals should be bland and tasteless – stock up on lots of herbs and spices. ‘Must haves’ are: fresh chopped (and you can freeze these for easy use) mint, parsley, coriander, ginger; fresh grated lemon zest and juice; dried thyme, dill, oregano, and rosemary; ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper; chillies – dried or fresh or frozen, or in a paste; one or two good quality curry pastes of differing ‘heats’. All these not only add flavour but have nutritional and medicinal value, too.

Start collecting low-fat, low-salt quick and easy recipes – or try out the recipes I post here. Dig out your old recipe books and put them in clear view so that you use them! Recipes are easily modified to reduce the salt and fats – use herbs and spices and a no-fat cooking spray, fat free yoghurt or cottage cheese as replacements.

No matter how motivated you are to eat healthily, if you don’t have healthy foods and snacks available you are setting yourself up to fail. We need to continually review and modify our eating and shopping habits.

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