In this short video Anna looks at how you can increase the nutritional value of some of your meals and drinks. She gives some practical healthy swaps and recipes to help regulate your blood sugars and maintain a balanced diet.
On our nutrition for wellbeing page you'll find lots more great advice in the form of bite sized videos and webinars. Anna has also put together a selection of healthy, easy to follow recipes. You will find a selection of nutritional breakfasts, main meals, soups, smoothies and snacks to prepare which will keep you fuller for longer and avoid snacking.
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Anna: If you've seen the first webinar in our series, Feed Your Body Clock, we focused a lot on talking about blood sugar, and this is really important for balancing your energy. So we can make some really easy, healthy swaps that can really impact your energy, but will also affect your gut health, your cardiovascular health, and so protecting your heart, and your immune function. And a great place there to start with balancing blood sugar is about reducing our intake of simple carbohydrates, so that is your white floury goods, your white pasta, your white rice, your fizzy drinks, confectionary like sweets and chocolate and cakes, and just thinking about how to tweak those to make those slightly healthier and reduce those peaks and troughs of our energy.
One food group that has a lot of simple carbohydrates and are very sugar heavy are boxed cereals. So I'm going to show you how to make some very simple homemade granola. So here in this grill tray I have got one kilo of whole rolled oats, so they haven't been processed at all; they've got all the fibres still left on them. And this one kilo bag will keep me going for a good couple of weeks. The full recipe is on my website, nutrivital.co.uk, but will also be uploaded to the Oscar Kilo recipe toolkit.
So on here I have just cooked these for 20 minutes with some coconut oil, and whilst this is cooking in the oven, I'm also going to chop all of these vegetables and pop them in a roasting dish to provide some roasted vegetables that I can keep in the fridge for the whole week, and I'll speak to you later about what we can do with them. So once those oats have roasted in the oven and been coated with all that lovely coconut oil, I'm just going to add these very simple ingredients. So we have got a variety of seeds, some nuts which I will just chop roughly to add, some coconut flakes to add a little bit of natural sweetness, some flaked almonds, and some spices, some ginger and cinnamon. And rather than adding any kind of sugar or syrup to the recipe, I'm just going to sprinkle some sultanas over it once it's cooled.
And any recipes that have cup sizes, which is a US measurement, a little tip is that you can get this little handy stack of cups, and so if the recipe says two or three cups you can just use scoops for that, for flour, for oats, whatever it is as well, so that's a handy little tip there. So I have now raised my breakfast nutritional value from a bowl of simple carbohydrates, from a boxed cereal with very little fibre, probably no protein, and I have really raised it to have a really balanced nutritious meal to start my day. So I have mixed all of those ingredients into – popped them in the oven for a final five minutes just to brown off the coconut and the almonds, and then we'll have a look at how that turns out at the end.
In terms of drinks with simple carbohydrates, if you have a very high intake of fizzy drinks then maybe that would be a really great area to look to reduce. And also with fruit juices too, because they can also really impact your blood sugar and have a negative impact then on your energy.
So looking at alternatives to fizzy drinks could be a drink called kombucha, which is a mildly fizzy fermented tea drink, but actually it comes in some lovely fruity flavours and can be a really healthy swap for regular fizzy drinks. But also just getting used to not having that sweet taste all the time, or relying on the fizzy drinks for energy because of your more nutritious meals and snacks will be really beneficial. And so reducing fruit juices and perhaps replacing those with some smoothies that combine some protein and some healthy fat in those as well is also going to positively impact your energy levels.
So let's think about protein sources and some healthy protein swaps. So these are the really simple ingredients for making your own hummus, and to this you can then add various different vegetables and different flavourings which is going to even add greater nutritional value to that very simple dish. So to make your own hummus you just need a food processor, and the main ingredient here is tahini. And if this is new to you, this is a sesame paste a little bit like the sesame seed equivalent of a peanut butter or an almond butter, and it's really high in protein and in healthy fats as well.
So we've got a simple tin of chickpeas which we're going to drain off and we're going to just blend this up with some tahini, some garlic, some lemon juice, some lovely olive oil, and some paprika flavouring too. And did you know that if you drain off the juice from the chickpeas and keep it to one side, if you whizz that up with some sugar you can make your own vegan meringues. So let's turn this into some hummus. So I have just blitzed up those simple ingredients in the food processor, and here I have some delicious, filling, nutritious homemade hummus. And we'll look in a moment, looking back at those roast vegetables, as to how we can create lots of different yummy flavours with those as well.
So this now is a really versatile little dish, you can have it as a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon if you need a little pick me up, but also just as a really healthy lunch option. If you're looking to swap maybe a really chunky white bread sandwich, perhaps a pre-packed or pre-bought sandwich, then perhaps sometimes consider swapping for these little sachets of all different kinds of grains. There are different brands usually on special offer, and they're really versatile; you can have them hot or cold.
So just tipping a few, like half a packet of those, into a bowl with a nice generous dollop of your hummus. I always keep a jar of pitted green olives in the fridge, so I'll do a nice big tablespoon of those with a bunch of green leaves, maybe some slices of avocado if you want to pad it out a little bit further. But that's a really simple and very nutritious meal packed full of protein, of healthy fats, of lots of different types of plant-based foods that can just be a healthy alternative a couple of days in the week to your plain old cheese sandwich.
So some more healthy swaps in terms of protein sources, particularly if your diet is very meat heavy, would be to introduce some plant-based proteins as well. And we can combine dishes with a combination of meat-based and plant-based proteins if you’re a meat eater. So we can look at different kinds of beans and lentils and chickpeas, all of these can be added to your typical minced dishes, so your Bolognese, your lasagnes, your chillis. They can be an economical choice because it'll stretch your dish that much further, and it means that perhaps you reduce your meat intake to just a couple of times a week for red meat which – and that tends to be the most expensive element on a plate of food can be the quality of meat. So you can go for a good quality meat but then pad that out with any of these different pulses and lentil foods.
And if you're going to opt for plant-based protein, you get the added benefit of the extra fibre from these foods as well as the polyphenols, those plant chemicals, from your diverse varied fruit and vegetables that are so beneficial to our health. And now we come on to looking at healthy fat swaps, so again we're looking to perhaps reduce the intake of a lot of saturated fat that we can get in a lot of the red and white meats. I'm thinking about oily fish. Oily fish has a lot of great health properties in there, but some people just don't know what to do with it.
So here's a really economical way of using some oily fish; these are pre-cooked fills of mackerel, and a really, really simple pate is to just add these into a bowl with a few tablespoons of some lovely natural yogurt, squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper. We just whisk that all up, and there we have a really, really easy mackerel pate. Again that can be to have within a sandwich, we're looking to obviously substitute the white bread with a lovely wholegrain, or a lovely seedy bread, or perhaps some sourdough. Or we can have that to replace the hummus and have that as the protein and the healthy fat element to a meal. Really simple; keep that in the fridge for a few days, and it's a great little experiment with some oily fish.
So there's our granola all mixed up, ready to cool and add some sultanas and another drizzle of olive oil for some extra glaze on there, and that little bit of sweetness. And then whilst I had that cooking, I had the opportunity to roast this pan of vegetables which I can then keep in the fridge for a few days. These can be great if you're just adding to all various different types of salad for lunches. I could puree it to make some soup with some vegetable stock; I could also add any of these vegetables to the hummus in the blender so I could have roasted carrot for example, or some courgette in there, or some aubergine, roasted peppers, just to give the hummus a bit of extra flavour. Beetroot as well would be delicious in there.
So really great to have this as a resource, just handy in the fridge, ready to go to increase the intake of fruit and vegetables without having to think too much about preparation because that was just done whilst the oven was already on. So there's some healthy swaps to think about, and if we're thinking of portion sizes, I'd just like to refer you back to the healthy plate where we look at portion sizes. And so we're looking to reduce that huge, big plate of the simple carbohydrates; we're looking at just a quarter of the plate of those complex carb alternatives, so the whole grain versions of those carbohydrate sources.
This is on the Oscar Kilo website, also [email protected]. And next time we're going to be looking at healthy snacks, so how we can still get that little sugary treat as of when we need it, but making that slightly more nutritious but still delicious. Hope it's been interesting, and go away and experiment in your kitchen.
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