Five Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

With the warmer, brighter days and fresh seasonal ingredients coming onto the shelves, it’s the perfect time to spring clean your diet, and enjoy delicious and nutritious meals.

Read on for five great suggestions on how you can give your diet a spring clean of its own, and embrace more taste, energy and health with every meal.

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1. Drink up
Extra hydration to your diet can work wonders, helping you feel more energised, alert and less hungry, and boosting your skin, immune system and digestion.

Small changes can make a huge difference, and are a lot easier to maintain in the long run. Instead of trying to increase your water intake dramatically, why not try swapping one of your regular drinks a day for a glass of water?

Another great way to encourage yourself to drink more is simply keeping a small bottle on hand, in your bag, at your desk, or wherever you go.

2. Spring greens
Spring is the perfect time to add more fresh greens to your diet – as they’re so much more plentiful and seasonal. Packed with fibre and lots of essential nutrients, they’re a fantastic addition.

Fresh baby spinach is incredibly versatile – and can be added to almost anything. Why not add a handful to a grilled chicken salad or pasta dish, or toss in with a crispy stir fry?

If you’re not a huge fan of greens but still want to get all the benefits, why not add them into a smoothie with fruits, avocado or nut milks? A sneaky fussy-eater-friendly way to add them in is to mix them into a chocolate based smoothie – try adding cocoa powder and banana, with a little fresh spinach blended in.

3. Clear out the old
Give your cupboards and fridge a deep spring clean, and take out anything that might derail your healthier eating efforts. While treats should definitely be embraced occasionally, try swapping out heavily processed foods with wholefood alternatives.

4. Cut back on your sugar intake
Have a sweet tooth? You don’t need to cut out sweet treats entirely – but instead, think about replacing them with naturally sweet alternatives.

Check your daily diet for any foods with added sugars, and try scaling back by swapping with foods that have natural sweetness such as fruits or nuts. Avoid replacing sugary items with artificial sweeteners though – these can often include a lot of extra preservatives and chemicals.

5. Broaden your taste horizon
While you’re at it, why not try experimenting with a broader range of tastes? While our diets tend to be very heavy on sweet and salty flavours, there is a whole range of tastes across the spectrum to excite your palette! Take your inspiration from global cuisine – why not try adding savoury dishes to breakfast, for example?

It’s easier than you think to embrace a spring-ready diet! What are your favourite ways to update your eating habits for the new season? Share your thoughts with us!

Fresh, healthy and delicious: Spring dinnertime ideas

Spring is the perfect time to embrace fresh, flavour-packed ingredients into meals. As the days get a little longer and brighter, why not bright a little more brightness to dinner time? Read on for some tempting suggestions to bring fresh and healthy tastes to springtime dinners!

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Egg Fried Rice with Spring Greens
Egg fried rice is an instant easy classic – upgrade it for Spring with the addition of fresh herbs and vegetables.

Look for crisp and colourful veggies – asparagus spears, sugar snap peas and spring onions all bring a touch of light crunch and flavour. Add them in to the dish just before it is almost cooked, to keep them crisp. Finish off with fresh chopped coriander for a fragrant touch.

Tray Baked Herbed Vegetables
Root vegetables can make a hearty and comforting winter dish, but they’re also a great addition to the spring menu.

To bring a lighter feel, mix up your roast root vegetables with more seasonal additions – broccoli florets, artichoke hearts or chunks of bell peppers bring a little more colour and flavour to your plate.

Top with toasted pine nuts, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves for a little sunshine.

Warm Spring Salads
Spring might feel a little chilly, but if you’re craving lighter meals, why not try a warm salad?

Cooked grains such as bulgar wheat, quinoa or barley make a great base for a cooked salad, soaking up flavours and adding a filling and satisfying foundation.  Add bitesize cooked vegetables such as steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets, and a protein fix with cold cooked meats or grilled fish.

Finish it off with some refreshing contrast – roasted nuts or fresh lettuce leaves add a welcome crunchiness, while fresh fruits bring a lighter, sweet touch. Try adding apple slices or pomegranate seeds just before serving.

Warming Spring Curries
Spicy, colourful curries are a welcome and easy springtime dinner option, and can be packed with lots of healthy proteins and vegetables.

For a meat-free option, chickpeas can form a delicious and hearty meal – try cooking with coconut milk and colourful pieces of bell pepper for a fragrant and flavoursome dinner. Chickpeas are a fantastic source of protein and fibre, and tinned chickpeas cook quickly and easily – great when you’re Serve with coconut rice for an instant crowd pleaser.

Alternatively try spring chicken or fish in a rich and spicy curry. Bring contrast with lots of fresh vegetables – wilted baby spinach leaves, fresh peas and baby carrots work well.

What are your favourite spring time meals? What meals do you go for to mark the change of the seasons? Share your delicious suggestions with us!

 

Delicious and healthy – vegetarian recipes everyone will love

Trying to eat a little more healthily this year? Eating more nutritiously does not mean you have to sacrifice on taste, and one easy way to make meal times more nourishing is to try out more meat-free recipes.

Cutting down on your meat intake can have a variety of benefits, from helping you to lose weight and reduce heart disease, as well as improving energy levels and overall wellbeing.

Whether you are trying meat-free Mondays or thinking of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, try some of these delicious recipes to get you started!

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Jewelled Moroccan Quinoa Salad

Infused with subtle spiced flavour, packed with texture and visually tantalising – this easy salad is perfect for work lunches or an accompanying side.

Prepare quinoa grains following instructions. Meanwhile heat a little oil, sautéing sliced onions and cumin seeds until the onion has softened, before adding some turmeric and ras el hanout spice mix. Toss the cooked quinoa grains in the oil until well covered.

Combine the flavoured grains with a mixture of bright vegetables – shredded carrot, pomegranate seeds, cherry tomatoes, diced pepper and fresh coriander are all great additions. Sprinkle with toasted almond or cashew nuts for a satisfying crunch.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

A slow cooker can be a great tool in your quest to eat healthier, as it’s easy to put together a satisfying meal with one, without spending a lot of time cooking.

For a hearty and flavoursome stew, combine lentils, sweet potato chunks, and onion in a pan, with a little oil. Add curry powder, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic chilli and seasoning, and cook for a few minutes. Transfer into a slow cooker, covering with vegetable stock, and cook on a medium setting. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Mediterranean Halloumi Salad

Light and tasty, this Mediterranean inspired dish is packed full of fresh flavours, oozing with a bright and summery feel.

Slice a pack of fresh Halloumi cheese and cook lightly in a frying pan with a touch of oil, until browned on both sides. Leave aside to cool. Meanwhile slice ripe vine tomatoes, sweet red peppers, red onion and add a handful of capers and olives.  Combine and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add fresh seasoning, before serving with Halloumi and toasted bread or pitta.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

Young and old alike will love this healthy veggie take on a classic lasagne dish, Swap out meat-based fillings for a mixture of roasted vegetables in a thick tomato and béchamel sauce.

Roasted aubergine, courgette and peppers make a colourful and flavoured filling, while minced mushroom or lentils can make a great substitute to add meaty texture to the base.

Try these recipes and let us know what you think. And what are your favourite vegetarian recipes? Share them with us!

7 healthy snacks to help you make the right choice on the go!

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Planning to move to a healthier lifestyle means making some changes to your diet – and while it can be helpful to plan out meals, having some healthy snacks can make the change much more easier.

Read on for 7 tasty, guilt-free and quick snack ideas that you can enjoy at work, on the go, or whenever you’re feeling peckish!

1. Homemade trail mix

Trail mixes are a great snack to have on hand, with an excellent mix of highly nutritious ingredients including nuts, seeds and dried fruit. While you can find many ready made trail mixes in stores, they will often contain hidden sweeteners and unhealthier ingredients. Instead, make your own mix combining your favourite nuts and seeds for crunch, a handful of dried fruits for natural sweetness, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips for an extra treat!

2. Dark chocolate

Contrary to what you might think, chocolate can be a healthy snack! Try dark chocolate versions – with at least 70% cocoa solids. These will often contain less sugar than regular chocolate bars, and also have a higher concentration of cocoa, giving you more of a feel-good buzz from a smaller serving.

3. Roasted chick peas

For a crunchy and savoury snack to enjoy at home, try making up a batch of roasted chickpeas. Toss drained tinned chickpeas with a little oil and your favourite flavourings – try Mediterranean herbs, chilli and lemon juice, or ground spices – and roast on a low heat in the oven, until golden and crisp. Chickpeas are also a great source of fibre and protein, making this a perfect post workout snack.

4. Popcorn

If you’re heading to the cinema, make your own popcorn for a healthier movie experience! Try lightly salted air-popped corn, or sprinkle cooked pop corn with your favourite sweetener.

5. Greek yoghurt

Packed with protein, Greek yoghurt is a fast and filling snack, perfect when you’re busy and need to stave off hunger. Try the creamy yoghurt on its own, or top with a drizzle of honey or fresh fruit.

6. Home made energy balls

Energy balls are a great snack to have on hand after a workout, or to give you an extra burst of energy during a busy day. Best of all, they’re easy to make. Simply combine dried fruits, nuts and seeds in a food processor, and shape into balls. Try experimenting with different combinations!

7. Kale crisps

Need to eat more greens in your diet but can’t quite stomach green smoothies? Kale crisps are a surprisingly tempting and moreish snack, and a great way of sneaking in extra fibre and nutrients into your diet. Toss fresh kale with olive oil and flavourings – try sea salt and ground pepper, or peanut, honey and chilli flakes for a sweet and spicy twist. Cook in a baking tray in a warm oven until crispy, and store in an air tight container.

What are your favourite healthy snacks to have on the go?

Healthy Living Recipies

Super Foods can help you lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and, for an added bonus, put you in a better mood.

Every month Fresh N Funky’s Head Chef, Gos comes up with his own take on healthy and affordable recipes using ‘super food’ ingredients eaten by the international athletes from Team Ealing.

All receipes are featured in Around Ealing magazine

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Winter 2011