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Healthy eating: making cheap and easy meals to encourage healthy eating

Healthy eating: making cheap and easy meals to encourage healthy eating

Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health and well-being. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and improve your mood.

First a recap from our article about healthy eating and then the example meals to help you keep on track as a healthy eater.

Here are some of the benefits of healthy eating:

  • Weight management: Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to.
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases: Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
  • Improved overall health and well-being: Eating a healthy diet can help you feel better, have more energy, and improve your mood.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when trying to eat healthily:

  • Eat a variety of foods from all food groups.
  • Limit your intake of unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt.
  • Drink plenty of water.

To help you get into the swing of healthy eating I have sourced 5 healthy meals for you to try.

Quinoa Vegetable Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (190 grams)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (475 millilitres)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 millilitres)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (150 grams)
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (70 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (30 millilitres)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (9 grams)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain. Cook the quinoa in vegetable broth according to the package instructions.
2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini, and mushrooms. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the cooked quinoa to the pan, followed by the soy sauce. Mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Sprinkle the stir fry with sesame seeds before serving.

Serving Instructions:

Serve hot. This meal is perfect for a main course and can be served with a side of mixed greens salad if desired.

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2. Lentil Curry with Brown Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice (190 grams)
  • 2 cups water (475 milliliters)
  • 1 cup green lentils (200 grams)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (710 millilitres)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (15 millilitres)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (4 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (3 grams)
  • 1 can (400 grams) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups spinach (60 grams)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook the brown rice in 2 cups of water according to the package instructions.
2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the curry powder and turmeric, and stir well.
4. Add the lentils and vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer until the lentils are soft (about 20 minutes).
5. Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and stir well.
6. Just before serving, stir in the spinach until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serving Instructions:

Serve the lentil curry over the brown rice. This hearty, nutritious meal is perfect for dinner.

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3. Greek Salad with Tofu Feta

Ingredients:

For the Tofu Feta:

  • 1 block (14 oz or 400 grams) of firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (30 millilitres)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (30 millilitres)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (1 gram)

Salt to taste

For the Salad:

  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (60 grams)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (120 millilitres)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (30 millilitres)
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

For the Tofu Feta:

1. Press the tofu to remove excess water. Then cut into cubes.
2. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, oregano, and salt. Add the tofu cubes and mix well to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or ideally overnight in the fridge.

For the Salad:

1. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and olives.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine.
4. Just before serving, add the tofu feta and toss gently to combine.

Serving Instructions:

Serve the salad chilled. This meal is great for lunch, especially in the summer, and can also be a healthy side dish for dinner. It goes well with a piece of crusty whole-grain bread.

4. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (500 grams), peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 millilitres)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (2 grams)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz or 425 grams) of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 small whole grain tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce (150 grams)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup salsa (120 milliliters)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt (60 grams)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender and golden brown.
  2. Heat the black beans in a small pot over medium heat, or in the microwave.
  3. Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat, or directly on the flame if you have a gas stove.
  4. Assemble the tacos by layering the black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, shredded lettuce, and avocado slices onto the tortillas. Top with salsa and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Serving Instructions:

Serve the tacos immediately, while they're still warm. This recipe makes for a fun and interactive dinner, as everyone can assemble their own tacos to their liking.


5. Chickpea Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) of chickpea pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 millilitres)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (150 grams)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas (160 grams)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (6 grams)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (25 grams)

Method:

  1. Cook the chickpea pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the bell pepper, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and peas to the skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the vegetables. Toss well to combine, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen things up. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the fresh basil and sprinkle the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serving Instructions:

Serve the pasta warm, with extra Parmesan cheese on the side for those who want it. This meal is perfect for a comforting yet healthy and balanced dinner. Enjoy!

Can they be adapted to being vegan as well?

These meals are great examples of vegetarian dishes that are rich in nutrients and flavours. They can easily be adapted to suit your personal preferences or dietary needs. For example, if you're vegan, you can replace the Greek yoghurt in the taco recipe with a vegan yoghurt or sour cream, and omit the Parmesan cheese in the pasta recipe or use a vegan cheese alternative.

Each of these meals represents a balanced dish with protein, carbohydrates, and plenty of colourful vegetables. They are rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and low in unhealthy fats and sugars. They're also versatile, so feel free to add any other veggies or healthy ingredients you like. Enjoy your healthy eating journey!

Vegetarian or meat-based for a healthy diet?

There are several reasons why some people may consider a vegetarian diet to be healthier than a diet that includes meat:

Lower risk of chronic diseases:

Vegetarian diets have been linked to a lower risk of several chronic diseases. They tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, and higher in fiber, which can help to improve heart health. They have also been linked to lower blood pressure, lower rates of type 2 diabetes, and lower overall cancer rates.

Weight management:

Vegetarians tend to have lower body weights and body mass indexes (BMIs) compared to non-vegetarians, possibly due to a higher intake of fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which can help to promote feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake.

Nutrient profile:

Vegetarian diets tend to be rich in certain nutrients, such as fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and certain vitamins and minerals. These nutrients can have various health benefits, such as supporting digestion, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.

Environmental sustainability:

A vegetarian diet can have less environmental impact compared to a diet that includes meat, as the production of plant-based foods generally uses less land, water, and other resources, and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, compared to the production of meat.

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