Keeping healthy in a life full of hectic schedules and constant running around can be difficult. However, we have come up with 20 healthy food hacks that you can do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that will help you to get in-shape before the summer months. These food hacks will not only help to change what you eat, they will also help to train your mind and body.
1. Short for time? Remember these three things…
Making a meal in 30 minutes or less does not mean picking up the phone for your local takeaway. It can be super easy and super fast; thinking ahead is a good start. Firstly, find a fast cooking protein such as fish or lean meat. Next, find a fast cooking wholegrain such as couscous, quinoa or you can get those boil in the bag packets of brown rice. Finally, find a prewashed veg such as spinach or peas. There you have it. A simple, healthy and tasty meal prepared in under 10 minutes, you just have to remember those three ingredients and opt for the pre-packaged versions or the ones that cook the fastest.
2. Don’t Miss The Frozen Aisle
Health professionals have told us that if we are looking to stay healthy, you should always buy the bare minimum when it comes to frozen products. That may be true for frozen meals and sugar-laden desserts however, frozen fruit and veg is actually very good for you. Fruit and veg is usually picked and frozen straight away, meaning that they are at their peak of freshness. Using frozen fruit and veg is a fast and effective way of keeping healthy. You can use frozen fruit in your morning smoothie, or toss some frozen vegetables into a stir-fry with some chicken and you have a delicious dish, ready for you in minutes.
3. Try Misting
You may think that by using olive oil instead of vegetable or sunflower oil you are automatically being healthier. This is true however; it may not be the case if you are overusing the olive oil. If you are watching how many calories or fats that you are consuming, it may be a good idea to invest in a mister. They can be found on Ebay or Amazon. Instead of pouring your olive oil into your pan, salad or dressing, why not spritz it? This will help you to use less and help you to keep control of the amount of fat you are consuming.
4. Why Bother Chopping?
When most people think of chopping after a hard days work, their first thought is; ‘it is such a waste of time.’ However, chopping whole fruit and veg means that you can preserve their freshness for longer. It is not a big deal though if you opt for the pre-sliced versions as they are still packed with essential nutrients, they just go off quicker.
5. Get Blending
A hand held blender is an absolute asset in your kitchen. You can either buy a cordless version or a plug in. Blenders can be used for everything from grinding spices, blending vegies into soup and even fruits into smoothies. They are easy to use and quicker to clean than a regular full sized blender and can turn what might have previously been a long prep time into a few minutes.
6. Spice It Up
If you are fed up of the standard meat and two veg, then why not spice things up with some chipotle chillies. You can buy these in most supermarkets and can add a deliciously smokey flavour to your next meal. Take a can of chillies and using your hand held blender, emulsify them into a paste. Place in a tupperware and leave in the fridge. Spread the paste on your chicken or meat and if you are looking for a hint of natural sweetness, add a dollop of honey and bake. This mixture can turn a seemingly boring meal into a deliciously tasty one in a very simple and quick way.
7. Dressing Is The Key
When you are trying to stay healthy, there is nothing more boring than eating a plate of leaves. Mix things up a little and make a big bowl of fresh vinaigrette, which you can keep in the fridge and use regularly. Vinaigrette is a healthy addition to your salad that will only make you want to eat more. All you need is olive oil, vinegar and lemon or lime juice with some salt and if you are feeling really experimental add some herbs and spices to add that extra kick. A simple way of adding some flavour to really boring dish.
8. Seek Inspiration
Boring healthy meals equals loss of interest. Try breaking out of your comfort zone when you are cooking. Either buy a brand new recipe book or go online and find a healthy recipe blog for inspiration. All it takes is one foot in the right direction and you will be surprised with what you can achieve. Start by trying out one new recipe once a week. By doing this you stop thinking that cooking is a chore and begin thinking that it is an adventure for your taste buds. Cooking new and exciting flavours is a great way to get healthy and nourishing food into your body.
9. Lower Your Soy Sauce Intake
If you love soy sauce, then it is most likely that you add it to your cooking. Homemade rice dishes and sushi HAS to have soy sauce incorporated however, it is high in sodium and not very good for you in large quantities. Try to avoid dipping your sushi into the soy sauce, as you will end up eating too much. The best way to prevent this is by dripping the sauce over the top of your sushi and measuring it out when adding it to a rice dish, this way you are in control of your intake.
10. Know When To Cheat
By using the word ‘cheat’ this is not in reference to unhealthy eating. When certain fruits and veg are not in season, always look for the best quality canned or frozen alternative. This not only saves yourself time, but you can continue enjoying these fruits and veggies even when they are not in season. Canned and frozen versions of fruit and vegies are quick to cook and add a whole lot of flavour to what was a previously boring dish.
11. Watch Your Portion Size
It is so easy to over eat and over use ingredients. This can be unhealthy at times. If you are using a recipe that uses olive oil, then either use a spritzer as mentioned above, or measure it out using a teaspoon or tablespoon, do not just pour it in. If the recipe calls for cheese, make sure that you measure out the cheese before piling it on by the handful.
12. Chopping Cheat
Chopping can be extremely boring, monotonous and time consuming. All you need is a food processor with a grating attachment and you have reduced not only your prep time but also your cooking time by more than half. If you are cooking with root veg, these can take a long time to cook, so grating these finely can also help to reduce cooking time as well.
13. Always Have A Plan
If you have a family or a partner to feed, then having a plan is essential to ensure healthy meals all round. When going on your weekly shop, you should think about what will go off and what will keep for meals later on in the week. Then, think about what kind of wholegrain or beans would work well with the vegetables that you have selected and then finally, what protein would go with all of thee above. Some people write down timetables for what meals they are going to have and some plan even further ahead and spend their Sunday evening preparing and freezing all their meals for the week ahead. Being prepared is essential if you want to keep healthy.
14. Be Zesty
If you are the kind of person that loads salt or sugar into your meals, then using zest as an alternative can not only lower the calories of your meal, but also reduce your fat, sugar and salt intake. Zesting adds a whole new flavour to food and is definitely worth a try if you are sticking to a healthy diet.
15. The Fresher The Better
A great way to add flavour to any dish is by adding fresh herbs, chives, and lemon or lime zest. These can be used with almost any protein and adds a delicious quality to your meal. You can buy herb plants from your local supermarket and pick off the leaves whenever you need them.
16. Change Up Your Oil
Even though olive oil is much better for you than other oils, grape seed oil is even better for you. Using it in your cooking is the perfect alternative and tastes great.
17. Split It Up
If you are making food, then try to get two meals out of everything that you make. For example, if you are cooking with root veggies, then cube them up and roast them to make one dish and the rest you can blend up into a delicious soup, there you have two meals with only the prep time of one.
18. Keep Away From The Bottles
Try to stay away from bottled products such as marinades and sauces as these hold a lot of excessive sugar and salt that you just don’t need in a balanced, healthy diet. Try making your own from fresh ingredients and you will be surprised how much better they taste.
19. Better Quality Ingredients for Better Flavours
Opting for the slightly more expensive, rarer ingredient can add a whole different taste to your food. Adding apple cider vinegar to your vinaigrette adds a whole new depth of flavour. Using porcini mushrooms instead of button mushrooms could be exactly what you need to turn your mushroom sauce into a winner.
20. Balance With Every Bite
When you are cooking for large amounts of people, then you must realise that you cannot make everyone happy. For some, you can never add too much salt and for others, they never touch the stuff. Some prefer dessert and others could think of nothing worse. The best way to handle this is to balance every bite, do your best to combine all of your flavours so that not one flavour over powers another. Once you figure out how to balance, your guests will be up for seconds in no time. Always use fresh and healthy ingredients to ensure optimal flavour and to keep you healthy.