It seems traditional to start the New Year with healthy good intentions, starting a diet, giving up alcohol or taking out a gym membership, or all three!
The latest diet craze is the 5:2 diet when you eat what you like for 5 days and fast for 2, it certainly seems to work for a lot of people. It is a great quick fix but I would suggest that trying to change the way we eat is a much better long- term solution to keeping the weight off.
Here are a few suggestions:
- It is really important to eat foods from all of the food groups but if possible increase fruit and vegetables to try to get up to 5 portions a day.
- Bulk out dishes like spaghetti bolognese by using less meat and adding grated courgettes and carrots into the sauce.
- Potatoes and other carbohydrate foods are fine but don’t cover them with butter and high fat cheese.
- Meat and fish are really important protein foods but keep the portions small and choose low fat options like chicken, turkey and lean red meats with fat removed. Turkey mince is a great substitute for beef mince and it is less expensive.
- Try to grill rather that fry but if you do need to fry something (stir fry is a great healthy meal) then use a non-stick pan with only 1 tsp oil.
- Use lower fat alternatives to dairy products, ie semi- skimmed or skimmed milk, low fat crème fraiche or natural yoghurt).
- Using a smaller plate is a good way to reduce portion size.
- Use herbs and spices to add flavour to dishes, that way it is possible to reduce the amount of salt used.
- Be careful when using salad dressings as they can tend to be quite high in calories, try a dressing made from orange juice, honey, wholegrain mustard and a little olive oil.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so don’t skip it.
The recipe below is for a lighter chicken curry which still retains lots of flavour, serve with a portion of wholegrain rice for a satisfying meal.
CHICKEN, SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 4 small skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 tbsp curry paste or curry powder (or according to taste)
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 200g bag baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry.
- Heat a deep sided pan and add the oil. Fry the onion and chicken to cook on all sides and brown slightly, stirring constantly.
- Add the curry paste and stir well, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, bring to the boil and then lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes without a lid.
- Add the spinach and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until it is just wilted. Season to taste and serve with wholegrain rice.
About Our Expert Contributor
Wendy Strang has been working as a consultant Home Economist/Food Stylist for over 20 years for a variety of food and appliance manufacturers, writing recipes, styling food for stills photography and film for advertising and editorial purposes. Wendy also gets involved with cookery demonstrations for appliance and houseware companies. Prior to working on a freelance basis She was Head office Home Economist for Iceland Frozen Foods and before that for Kraft Foods. Wendy has recently been on the judging panel for The Grocer Own label Food and Drink Awards and been developing recipes for Whitworths and Pyrex PR.