At Wholesomeness, we’re all about fusing the latest nutrition research via Harvard Medical School and other evidence based peer reviewed resources with healthy cooking by delivering healthy prepared meals to your home, providing hands-on cooking classes and health coaching.
For those who are time poor or going through a busy or stressful period, we have our Meal Plans because we know from our own experience that life can get crazy sometimes – and these meal plans take the thinking out of healthy eating by providing you with a nutritionally balanced week (Executive Pack), fortnight (Slim & Tone Plan) or our 30 Day Reset plan at the touch of the keypad.
But when things simmer down a bit, and you find you actually have the time to shop at the farmers markets and do some awesome meal-prep for the week we have some practical tips for nutritious and delicious home-cooking from our family to yours.
Make plants the main attraction
A substantial amount of research shows that people who eat a plant-based diet — mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — live longer and enjoy better health than people whose diets consist mainly of animal-based foods like meat and dairy.
Many cultures developed their cuisines around plant foods out of necessity. Traditionally, animal protein was expensive, so limited quantities were available. Mediterranean, Latin American, and Asian cultures are known for pairing healthy plant foods with lean protein (fish, chicken) and monounsaturated fat (olive oils, nuts).
These diets can have substantial health benefits. For example, a Mediterranean-style diet has been found responsible for:
- longer life expectancy
- reduced heart disease
- relief from rheumatoid arthritis
- lower rates of Parkinson's disease
- lower rates of Alzheimer's disease
Here are five tips to get creative with your plant-based meals:
- Follow the motto ‘If it grows together, it goes together.’ For example, try the Spanish sauce called Romesco over grilled vegetables. It's made from roasted red peppers, olive oil, and nuts.
- Make olive oil really shine by matching a bold olive oil, such as a Tuscan varietal, with other bold flavours, such as rosemary and pine nuts.
- Complement a milder olive oil, such as a French varietal, with subtly flavoured foods such as a garden salad with fish
- Blend green herbs (parsley/coriander), raw garlic, olive oil and lemon juice – a little chilli - and fennel seeds and add generously to roasted vegetables for a potent health elixir (also called Chermoula)
- Tabouli is so easy to make – and goes with any meal – finely chopped tomato, cucumber, parsley, mint leaves, green onions are combined with lemon/lime juice, olive oil and some soaked cracked bulgur wheat.
Locally grown foods may be fresher and have higher nutrient content. Since they spend less time being shipped and handled, they may look and taste better. Shop at your farmers market or arrange a local vegie box delivery from a local business such as Sprayfree Farmacy. We're actually one of their pick-up points, at our Healthy Grill Bar Cafe in Grange.
Spice it up
Despite the lack of research on their health benefits, spices, herbs, and aromatics (any plant, herb, or spice that adds lively scent to a beverage or food) make other plant foods mouth-watering treats. And they are definitely a healthier option than piling on the salt. Unlike salt, spices have not been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.
Here are four ways to ensure the quality and flavor of your spices:
- Buy them in small quantities and in their whole form to ensure freshness.
- Store them in a cool, dry space.
- Grind them right before use.
- Toast them dry in a hot skillet or stir-fry them in oil over medium-high heat (both for just 10-20 seconds).
Get excited about whole grains
Rich in fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, whole grains (such as quinoa or brown rice) are far better nutritionally than refined grains (such as bread or white rice). And they make you feel fuller longer. Because the starch inside of them is absorbed more slowly, they're less likely than refined grains to be quickly stored as fat. Regular consumption of whole grains also reduces the risk of:
- heart disease
- diet-related depression
Here are four ways to incorporate different types of whole grains into your diet:
- Try grains from around the world such as teff, spelt, farro, kamut, and amaranth.
- Blend whole grains such as quinoa with colourful vegetables, spices, and olive oil.
- Eat whole-grains as cold or hot cereals, adding fresh fruit, spices (e.g. cinnamon and nutmeg) and nuts.
- Season whole grains with sweet spices like nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and garam masala spice.
Go a little nuts
In a large trial of men and women, eating nuts five times a week or more lowered diabetes risk by 27%. In another large study, women who ate nuts just about every day lowered their risk of heart disease by 32%.
However, since a 30g portion of nuts can pack 700Kj or more, eat them in moderation to help prevent weight gain. Two tasty suggestions: toasted pine nuts sprinkled over a salad or brown rice, or almonds and fresh herbs added to the top of a vegetable curry or casserole.
Following the above advice will not only make your meals nutritious, but will also allow you to enjoy some of the most delicious food you've ever eaten.
Like any advice, listen to your body first and choose to use the information that works for you - for example some people thrive on a vegan diet while others need to include animal foods. Bio-individuality is the key to nutrition, and what works for your friend or someone in the media may not work for you.
For more delicious healthy recipes, sign up for a Wholesomeness cooking class.
Or talk to Georgia our in-house Nutrition Consultant and Certified Health Coach about a free introduction to Health Coaching today via firstname.lastname@example.org.