Many of us, if asked, would like to eat more healthy, but all too often factors such as lack of time, lack of culinary knowledge, a tight budget, tiredness after a long day or having to cook for fussy family members, can blow apart even the very best of intentions.
Lauren Parsons, an award winning wellbeing specialist with 16 years’ experience, knows all too well how these hurdles make sticking to a healthy diet so tricky. In her new book, ‘Real Food Less Fuss – The ultimate time-saving guide to simplify your life and feel amazing every day‘, Lauren explores mindful eating, overcoming cravings and gives practical advice on planning, cooking and eating well for life.
Lauren has kindly allowed us to share a sneak preview of her book, so let me hand you over to Lauren as she takes us through some fantastic tips to help get you started:
“This synopsis ties together much of what has been discussed in the book so far. It provides lots of tricks which will instantly increase your real food intake. Pick and choose from these simple strategies and substitutions to eat more natural, nutrient dense food!
Boost Your Vegetables
- Have a salad entrée before every meal, as well as serving vegetables alongside or as part of your main course.
- Base a meal around a vegetable. For example do stuffed butternut, try homemade oven baked beetroot, carrot and parsnip chips, cook mushrooms with a balsamic reduction or make ratatouille. Try out new recipes that make one or more vegetables the main event.
- Smuggle vegetables into meals whenever possible. Grate, blend, thinly slice, layer. This is not just something to try for your kids; it is a wonderful way to get more vegetables into the whole family’s diet and to expose your palate to more delicious nutritious food.
- Aim for two different coloured vegetables at lunch and three different coloured vegetables at dinner time. This is a simple visual reminder to help you get at least five servings in each day.
- Snack on raw vegetable sticks. For example celery, carrots, capsicum (bell pepper), cucumber or even small broccoli and cauliflower florets are delicious along with tasty condiments such as hummus, pesto, Greek yoghurt or labneh!
Snacks and Sweets
Always keep a mixture of 2-4 different types of nutritious home baking in the freezer for lunch boxes, snacks, unexpected guests or to take to a social occasion.
For dessert, enjoy homemade Unbelievably Good Ice Cream (made from bananas) with dark chocolate grated on top or homemade Labneh with cinnamon, fruit and sliced almonds.
Snack on whole fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds or your wholesome homemade baking rather than buying biscuits, cakes or slices.
- Mix up homemade natural, toasted and bircher muesli in bulk to last for a week or two. Store it with a half cup measure to manage your serving sizes.
- Use natural Greek yoghurt rather than the flavoured, sugar laden varieties.
- Learn how to cook eggs to perfection. They are great as a quick and simple complete meal. Poaching eggs is my favourite way to enjoy them and is easy to do once you know the secret to keeping them together (see the recipes for Perfect Poached Eggs and my Protein Packed Salad).
- Make your own delicious wholesome homemade bread and store it pre-sliced in the freezer.
- Break away from the traditional view of breakfast and remember that you can eat anything at any time of the day should you so desire. Enjoy your greens and vegetables at breakfast time such as in a green smoothie, roasted vegetables, fried halved tomatoes or fresh avocadoes.
Prepare For Success
- Set up your salad bar at the start of the week by washing and spinning dry your lettuce and preparing your vegetables in handy containers. Mix up a jar of vinaigrette to last throughout the week so salads are the easy go-to option that can be thrown together in seconds.
- Learn and use a variety of different ways to cut, slice, dice and peel your vegetables to add interest to your meals and salads.
- Triple or quadruple batch cook every meal that you can and label and freeze them ready to defrost so you never get caught out needing to order takeaways.
- Make up meal components such as pasta sauces, bolognaise, chilli, casseroles and vegetables and freeze them in easy to use portions.
- Most of all, clear out any processed foods you don’t need and ensure your pantry, fridge and freezer are stocked with delicious whole foods so they are on hand for ready use.
- Use cooking methods that concentrate rather than dissipate flavours such as roasting, slow cooking, browning meat and reducing sauces down to enrich their flavour.
- Have easy flavour enhancers on hand to boost the flavour of every meal. For example:
- Dry toast a batch of raw nuts and/or seeds and store in an airtight container for the week to add to salads.
- Keep lemon/lime zest and juice, and sliced ginger in the freezer.
- Grow fresh herbs and use them at every meal.
- Keep a few tasty condiments/sauces and a block of parmesan cheese in the fridge to add a little something to your dinner.
- Always have freshly ground pepper and good quality salt on hand.
This mousse is dairy and egg free and keeps for up to a week in your fridge (if it lasts that long!) It is great for entertaining as you can make it in advance, layer it in tall glasses and greatly impress your guests. Avocado is packed with healthy fats, honey is a great natural sweetener with anti-bacterial properties and cacao is rich in anti-oxidants. If you have any non-avocado fans you might just avoid telling them what’s in it and see if they can figure it out… This recipe has fooled many a dinner party guest of my clients over the years. Enjoy trying it out yourself!
Prep time 10 mins
DF, GF, V
It is so simple – just three ingredients…
· 3 large ripe avocadoes
· 1/3 cup honey
· 1/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1. Quarter the avocadoes lengthways and remove the stones. Peel the skins off and place the flesh in a food processor.
2. Add the other ingredients and blend until smooth. Check that there are no lumps, scrape down the sides and re-blend just to be sure! Taste test and adjust the flavors by adding more honey, cacao or cocoa as desired.
3. Serve in tall glasses layered together with labneh or natural yoghurt and fruit such as banana, kiwifruit, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
Note – This recipe is wonderful as a chocolate ganache for cakes, as a dipping sauce or anywhere else you love chocolate.”