Healthy Eating substitues

It never ceases to amaze me the reaction I get when I tell some people, the healthy substitues I use in my cooking and baking. The reaction (I mention the sub for an ingredient), is ‘weird’, ‘ tasteless’ , boring’, and the list goes.

Let me just clarify, food subs are not boring or tasteless. In my experience I have found some foods more tastier/more delicious than the ‘original’, it makes me wish I had discovered this sooner. I will be honest sometimes it doesn’t always work, so I try another sub, as the saying goes you never know until you try. Put another way its a case of trial and error.

There are quite a vast number of substitues, I have listed the popular ones below. Personally I keep discovering new ones all the time. Think of the substitues as a journey of discovery or a new adventure for your taste buds.

  • white rice replace with brown rice/ courgetti or cauliflower rice
  • white flour replace with wholemeal/buckwheat/spelt/rice
  • white pasta replace with wholemeal pasta
  • double/sour/single cream replace with natural/Greek low fat yoghurt or low fat creme frais
  • butter or oil in baking replace with applesauce (shop bought or homemade) or natural Greek yoghurt.
  • potatoes replace with sweet potatoes, butternut squash
  • spagetti replace with courgette/butternut noodles
  • streaky bacon replace with back bacon
  • water for sugary drinks, add lemon or fruits such as strawberries if you don’t like the taste of plain water.
  • fizzy drinks with soda water, add fruits or pure juice

If you want to snack without filling guility try this healthy option

Chopped vegetables and lower-fat hummus

Handful of raisins; sultanas. instead of chocolates or biscuits. You can still get your sugar fix but in moderation.

Handful of unsalted nuts – rich in fiber and a wide range of nutrients

Sugar free jelly – for a guilt free dessert

Plain rice cakes or crackers with hummus or natural nut butter

natural low fat yoghurt with chopped fruits

Bonus – healthy way to cook; use spray oil or dry fry using a good quality non stick frying pan.

As I mentioned earlier the ‘list’ is endless, you will discover your own alternatives as you go along. I hope you enjoy trying out the subs, like I said its a journey of discovery, keep experimenting with other foods.


Meal Planning

Hmm, a very tedious task some might say, who has time to sit down and create one. Yes you are right, I never had time until I discovered that not creating one was making my life even more challenging.

I believe if you want something desperately you will do anything to get it. The same applies if you want wholesome home cooked meals and cut down on fast foods.

Meal Planning is not easy but it’s worth it. Basically you have to sacrifice a bit time but it’s all worth in the long run. How do you get started?

Start with a notebook, on your commute to work or during your lunch, commercial breaks, waiting at the doctors, you get the gist. Make a list of your favourite meals, it doesn’t have to be done in one day, it could be over a number of days or even weeks. The most important thing is to get started. Oh you can also use your phone to create your list.

Once you have created your list, divide into Breakfast, lunch and Dinner including snacks – if you want to make your own, I like making energy and granola bars. Decide on whether you want to use a board for reference or a handwritten/typed timetable attached to the front door of your fridge. What next? Food (grocery) shopping, this is where the hard work begins. Don’t forgot to buy plastic or glass containers or use the empty tabs of ice cream, butter, etc – if you don’t have buy many or just a few.

Now you have got your food stocked in your cupboards and fridge/freezer. Its time to cook. My tips:

  1. Set aside half a day to cook your meals – weekend if you work on weekdays. Yes its a scarifice but worth it. Think of the savings you will make!
  2. Start with simple meals, that can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen for later.
  3. Portion your food in plastic containers.
  4. Label food that you are going to put in the freezer
  5. Have a variety of 2 to 3 dishes.
  6. Prep salads the night before so you save time in the morning.
  7. If you can bake, try muffins, fruit breads such as banana and carrot breads; baked overnight French toast or even bake your own bread filled with your favourite ingredients – savoury or sweet, its up to you. All of these can be frozen, and taken out when you need it.
  8. Try on the go breakfasts – see my last post.

Don’t beat yourself if you don’t have time to cook every week, if you are only able to cook every fortnight, that is fine, you are making an effort and that is what matters. If you have a big freezer utilise it to its maximum, ideal for those days when you don’t feel like cooking. However, if there is no time you can cook one dish to last for a couple of meals, once you get used to cooking from stratch you will be able to move from one to more meals.

Remember its all about baby steps, don’t over do it. Start simple, the main thing is you have made a start. The tips I have given are just a guide, tailor it to your needs.

Hope you find this post useful, please feel free to post your comments and questions.

Breakfast; what’s the big deal?

Yes what is the big deal with breakfast, what is the point? Why should it matter.

It’s now commonplace for adults and kids to freely admit they don’t eat breakfast before leaving home. Whilst this may be the norm it doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing or healthy for that matter. I get it, you have heard the saying so many times, ‘ breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and that’s it is good for you, blah, blah, boring, yawn.

But what if the medical experts are right?

I have friends tell me that they just don’t have time or just can’t be bothered! The other point is, breakfast is boring. Guess what? I used to say the same thing once upon a time, no time for breakfast. When I was hungry I used to grab a chocolate bar from the vending machine, back then there was no huge awareness of healthy eating like we have now.

I’m not going to dictate to anyone whether or not this is true but I will still put my argument forward then leave you to make up your mind

Please permit me to briefly switch to Coach mode with the following questions.

What is your definition of breakfast?

Why do you think breakfast is boring?

Are you really sure you don’t have time for breakfast?

Why don’t you have time? What is your ideal breakfast?

What is your ideal breakfast?

Are you willing to try something new?

What would you eat if you had the time to prepare it?

Hopefully you have answered these questions, truthfully. Putting my Coach cap away, let’s get back to reality, just you and me. Without sounding patronising or dictatorial, can I give I tell you what my opinion is. Admittedly I am passionate about Breakfast, that’s because after years of eating junk I changed my eating habits. Truth be told it wasn’t easy, it was a long hard slug, it was at the same time I started eating healthily. I have listed my

Admittedly I am passionate about Breakfast, that’s because after years of eating junk I changed my eating habits. Truth be told it wasn’t easy, it was a long hard slug, it was at the same time I started eating healthily. I have listed my

views below; there are more but this are based on my personal experience. The last point on the benefits resonates with me because my late Mum had diabetes. Rephrasing, I am not trying to teach you to suck eggs

Benefits of breakfast

1. It helps you start the day fully alert, meaning you are focused and ready to start your day right.

2. It’s good for your wellbeing.

3. Gives you energy

4. Stops you overeating

5. Prevents stomach cramps

6. Stops hunger pranks

8. It boosts your metabolism

9. Fights food cravings

10. According to medical experts eating a hearty, wholesome breakfast prevents Type 2 diabetes.

Pitfalls

  1. Binge eating, when hunger strikes. This was me before I changed my eating habits, I ate everything I clapped my eyes non-stop.
  2. Leads to weight gain. Research has shown that people who skip breakfast are likely to put on weight, this is because is linked to the 2 points mentioned above.
  3. Could lead to headaches. I suffered from this a lot, not helped by the fact that I was a migraine sufferer.
  4. Lack of concentration/focus on work or studies. I used to skip breakfast as I didn’t want to be late for lectures. One day I also passed out on the corridor!

Please don’t be put off by the pitfalls, if you don’t have time for breakfast, there is an alternative – Breakfast on the go. This will however, require some organisation which I promise will be worth the effort. It doesn’t have to be a long process, it could be 5 minutes or 30 minutes depending on your schedule.

A good tip is to set a day of the week aside during the week to prep your breakfast in advance. I you have say 10 minutes on a weekday whilst waiting for your dinner to cook. You could make:

Chopped Fruits with yoghurt put in a jar or sealed plastic container for the following.

If you have more time chop and freeze fruits in freezer bags, clearly labelled for ease.

Granola or muesli topped with yoghurt or fruit.

If you have 5 minutes in the morning whilst getting dress, pop a sliced bread in the toaster; spread with peanut as an open sandwich or mix up some avocado to spread on your toast. The possibilities are endless. However, if you really are not a Breakfast kind of person then I suggest taking a piece of fruit or yoghurt with you in case you are hungry, this has got to be better than biscuit or chocolate, right?

Based on my experience I have discovered having breakfast has improved my wellbeing. All I can say, give it a try, you have nothing to lose. As the saying goes baby steps you will get used to it.

Let me know how you get on, in the meantime if you want more breakfast ideas, check out my my ebook on Amazon – Breakfast on the go for Busy people: 21 simple and quick recipes for all dietary needs. Follow the link below: