Meal Planning Made Easy

Hi! Good to be back! It’s been very busy indeed, with plenty of study and a fair amount of experiments in the kitchen.

Speaking of cooking … a blessing or a curse?  A pleasure for some but a headache for others.  Would you like some tips on  how to make your meal planning easy?

I came across “Planning Meals” in my course work Childhood Nutrition and Obesity Prevention and it inspired me to share these tips with you.

As a working mother, I always found meal planning very helpful.  But when my children left home, I was less fussed about planning meals. Old habits die hard and when I came across this section in my notes, it rekindled a passion from the past.

Historically, I used to spend a good couple of hours, typically on a Sunday afternoon, leafing through my cookery books.  I love it; so relaxing (agreed – not everybody’s cup of tea!) But the advent of the Internet changed all that!

From my course work I picked this very good tip – “theme nights” – which inspired me to write this piece and share it with you. Here goes …

Write down your “theme nights” – example: Monday – pasta; Tuesday – fish; Wednesday – mince / grains / pulses; Thursday – rice; Friday – soups / salad; Saturday – kids’ favourite meal; Sunday – family treat out / old favourite recipe.

There are various meal planning apps these days. Alternatively, you can go for a more flexible approach and run a search for the food you’d like to eat. Keep your searches simple – do not choose complicated recipes with plenty of ingredients – unless you are blessed with time on your hands.  The trend is five-ingredient recipes.

Refine your searches as you go – browse by ingredients instead of recipes.  If you have leftover pasta in the fridge and a broccoli head that’s losing it’s bright green colour, Google “pasta with broccoli” and presto! You end up with a number of recipes to choose from. It’s that easy!

Ask your kids for their suggestions, even if they’re still young.  Involving your family with meal planning will make it less likely you have complaints at supper time and instills good habits in kids.

What are the benefits of meal planning?

  • Meal planning saves time, effort and stress;
  • It’s cost effective;
  • You have all your ingredients readily available;
  • You can work around commitments by preparing ahead.

 

The secret behind successful meal planning is not how detailed your plan is, but how varied.  Make it interesting – present a rainbow of colour and texture with every meal.  Ensure meals contain carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats to meet your family’s nutritional needs.  Look for seasonal offers, especially at your vegetable man and buy local produce.  Local fruit and veg in season, is likely to save you money and give you a product that’s more fresh than it’s imported counterpart.

Download your weekly menu planner, courtesy of Future Fit Training School of Nutrition, to get you started.

Weekly Menu PlannerWeekly menu planner (1)

My thanks go to:

Future Fit Training School of Nutrition
Lifehacker.com – Five Best Meal Planning Apps
Allrecipes.com – 5 Ingredient Recipes
Seriouseats.com – Dinner tonight: Pasta e Broccoli Recipe

 

15 Benefits of Pomelo

What is Pomelo?  Pomelo or Chinese grapefruit is pomelo-in-netthe largest of citrus fruits.  It can weigh up to nine kilos and has a soft outer skin which makes it easy to peel.  The taste is a cross between a sweet orange and a grapefruit.  The pulp of the pomelo varies in colour from a pale yellow to orange, to a bright red.

The pomelo is a native of China but is now found growing across South East Asia, the United State and India.

As you know, fruits and veg have numerous health benefits, but this fruit checks so many tick boxes – it’s unbelievable!

The pomelo 

1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
2. Promotes Healing
3. Keeps Gums Healthy
4. Promotes a Healthy Heart
5. Prevents Anemia
6. Prevents Colds and Flu
7. Fights Cancer
8. Keeps Aging at bay
9. Aids in Weight Loss
10. Prevents Osteoporosis
11. Helps Digestion
12. Prevents Muscle Cramps
13. Speeds Wound Recovery
14. Checks Blood Pressure
15. Cleanses Arteries

Nutrition Facts

As with other citrus fruits, the pomelo is rich in vitamin C.  It also contains vitamin A (beta-carotene), essential for maintaining a healthy skin and for growth.

Pomelo contains vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and B2 (Riboflavin).  It also contains potassium a mineral involved with maintaining a healthy heart besides other organs.  Over and above, this fruit is a good source of folic acid, healthy fats, protein and fibre.

In other words, it packs a punch!

Pomelo In Recipes

I like using fresh fruit in my salads and citrus add a nice tangy taste, especially with fish.  I ran a quick search for a recipe using pomelo and came across this interesting Thai Salmon and Pomelo Salad which I intend trying out tonight.

thai-salmon-pomelo-salad
Thai Salmon and Pomelo Salad

By the way, in Malta you can get pomelo fruit from the big supermarkets.

Try this recipe and leave your comments.  Sharing is caring; please share any pomelo recipes you come across.

Good weekend everyone!

My thanks go to

Stylecraze.com
My Relationship with Food

 

 

How to ‘eat clean’

‘Clean Eating’ is trending in the world of nutrition.  It is not a fad diet; it’s a chosen lifestyle and celebrities like Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow are two of the many fans supporting this trend. So, what is ‘clean eating’ and how is it good for you?

Definition of ‘clean eating’?

Put in simple terms, ‘clean eating’ is the consumption of unprocessed food.  ‘Clean eating’ consists of whole food – real food – from its origin to your plate.

clean-eating-pyramid
Clean-eating Pyramid

It does not mean eating only raw food.  Some whole foods benefit from cooking because it removes toxins and kills bacteria.  However, with the exception of food like white meat (which needs to be cooked through), it is best not to over-cook your food cause you lose out on nutrients.

What are the benefits of ‘eating clean’?

Plant-based diets are good for you.  And ‘clean eating’ is mainly made up of fruit and veg.

A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables

  • helps in reducing / preventing high blood pressure
  • prevents type 2 diabetes
  • prevents cardiovascular disease
  • helps you maintain healthy weight
  • gives you glowing skin and healthy hair

Is that a good enough reason to ‘eat clean’?

How do you ‘eat clean’?

If you would like to ‘eat clean’, avoid processed foods. ‘Eating clean’ begins at the supermarket.

Processed foods are stripped of all nutrients and they

  • contain salt or sugar or both
  • may contain fat
  • may contain flavouring
  • contain preservatives (those words difficult to pronounce or those E numbers)
  • contain added vitamins

Carlos Monteiro, professor at the Department of Nutrition at the School of Public Health, University of Sao Paolo says, processed foods claiming they contain “less fat”, “less sodium” or “vitamin enriched” are bad for you.  This is the manufacturer’s cunning plan to make highly-processed food look ‘healthy’.

“The key is to avoid foods that are ‘ultra-processed,'” says Jessica Fanzo, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the Columbia University. ” … basically, anything food-product-like or ready-to-heat.”

Foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are also a big NO NO! GMOs are linked to cancer and infertility.

Just in case you’re not put off by processed foods yet, bear in mind that additives in highly-processed food make you crave junk food.

What is considered to be ‘clean’ food?

‘Clean’ food is unprocessed food such as fresh fruit and veg, dried legumes, nuts and farm-fresh eggs.

In addition to the four groups of unprocessed food above, you can add the following food which is slightly processed

  • unrefined grains – as in wholewheat bread, pasta, oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice
  • frozen fruit and vegetables
  • unprocessed meat
  • hormone-free dairy
  • oils

Organic food can be costly.  But when possible choose organic to avoid pesticides, hormones and chemicals in your food.

Wild and sustainably-caught fish have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Whilst grass-fed livestock is also rich in omega-3 fats.

If you are unsure of the origin of your food, ask where it’s coming from.

How do you cook ‘clean’?

Cooking ‘clean’ is easy.  The secret is – keep things simple and avoid fats.

Dos and don’ts

  • avoid sauces and gravies; go for simple olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice
  • do not deep fry
  • do not stew using animal or vegetable fat
  • do not over-cook your vegetables to a pulp
  • stir-fry or steam your food

You  will soon learn how to appreciate the good taste of ‘clean’ food.  Sauces and gravies musk the taste of your food and increase your waist line.

Food portions play an important part in your ‘clean eating’ lifestyle.  Do not over-eat; aim to have three fifths of your plate full of veg, one fifth of protein and one fifth starchy carb.

And you wondered how celebs look good?  Now you know how … enjoy!

My thanks go to

 

 

 

 

 

Lose Weight in the Kitchen, get fit in the Gym

Diet vs exercise –  studies show it is easier to watch what you eat than to workout the extra calories in the gym. Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, but controlling how much you eat is by far more important.

Today I would like to share with you 5 tips to help you lose weight in the kitchen.

  1. Your healthy eating starts at the supermarket – don’t buy junk food.  Don’t allow yourself to be tempted when you open your cupboard.  Spring clean your cupboards and fridge from all the biscuits, chocolates, ice-cream and all the processed stuff.  Instead stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses and lean meat such as fish or chicken.healthy-looking-fridge
  2. Keep a food diary – it is not easy to remember all that goes through your mouth in the space of a day –  a generous spread of peanut butter, a fizzy drink, cake at eleven, biscuits with your afternoon tea, crisps or chocolate whilst watching TV – and the list goes on. Keep a food diary and take note of all you eat.  Be honest with yourself and go into detail. Note also the time of day and the mood you were in when you ate. Are you eating out of habit or because you’re hungry? Are you really hungry or thirsty? You’d be surprised how easy it is to eat out of habit, when you’re thirsty, when you’re stressed or tired.
  3. Weigh your food – portion distortion is the #1 culprit for weight gain. It is not easy to figure out how much food you need to keep healthy.  Unfortunately, we are made to believe we need more food than we actually do.  Take meat portions for instance – 250 / 350 g a piece – when in fact you only need 1 g of protein (meat or fish) for every one kilo of body weight.  Therefore, a 60-kg person requires 60 g of protein a day.  Keep cup and spoon measures on your work top and use them, all the time.  Smaller dinner plates help you control your portion size.
  4. Drink plenty of water – what is plenty of water?  There are various schools of thought about the amount of water you should drink.  Lately, I came across an article which I think makes perfect sense.  You can tell if you’re drinking enough water by looking at the colour of your urine.  If your urine is dark, you need to drink more water. I like using a two-litre bottle as a guide to how much water I drink each day.   You  need to drink more water if you drink alcohol or  workout at the gym. A good way to start your day is by drinking a mug of lukewarm water with lemon.
  5. Spread your meals over the daygolden rule #1 is don’t miss breakfast. Research shows that people who eat breakfast regularly are able to control their weight long term. Space your meals throughout the day.  Eat five small meals instead of three large ones.  This will keep you full throughout and help cut down on snacking.  Whenever possible do not eat your last meal just before you go to bed. Remember, your heaviest meal should be in the morning, not last thing at night.

Doesn’t sound complicated, does it?  You do not need to reinvent the wheel to lose weight. A few changes and some awareness should help you get on track and manage your weight long term.

Increase your level of activity as part of your healthy lifestyle for better results.

One final tip for the festive season – don’t miss out on celebrations – moderation is key.  If you’re going to a drinks party, have a bowl of homemade soup before you leave the house and avoid the finger food that goes round.  As for drinking – take one glass of water for each one of alcohol you drink.

The choice is yours – big changes start with small steps.  Let me know how you get on.

My thanks go to

The Unbounded Spirit

WebMD

Mirror online

Popsugar for image

“Best before” labels: do they increase food waste?

Food which is otherwise thrown out, is being salvaged and sold at heavily discounted prices to people who need it. “Foodies” of Cape Town, South Africa are selling damaged food or food which is past its “sell by” or “best before” date at significantly reduced prices. the-issue-of-global-food-waste

The “sell by” date was first introduced by Marks & Spencer’s in their warehouses in 1953. The intention was for the retailer to know by when to sell their products.

Over the following two decades the “sell by” date was tweaked to “sell until”, “display until” etc.   It’s all very confusing for the consumer!  And as a result tonnes of food is wasted every year.

In 2009, the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs was quoted as saying that, the UK alone, throws away 370,000 tonnes of food each year.

Date labelling is mandatory under European law.

What happens if you consume food past the date on the packaging?

As long as you use your common sense and follow your nose, nothing will happen. Have you ever eaten a pot of yogurt “expired” by a few days?  Try it. I promise, you will live to tell the tale!

If you have fruit and vegetables in the bottom drawer of your fridge and they’ve been sitting there for the past five to six weeks, you do not need a date on the packet to tell you they’re not good to eat. They’re probably soft and mouldy and I suspect a foul smell hits you every time you open the fridge door.

“Sell by”, “sell until”, “best before”, “display until” are all meant for stock and quality control.  It is only “use by” which is meant to be taken literally, for food safety reasons.

A restaurant in Denmark is making use of fruit and vegetables which the supermarkets throw out.  The restaurant is sponsored by a charity and the proceeds from food sold go towards funding development projects in Sierra Leone.

food-loop-for-consumers_0

Personally, I believe that one of the reasons retailers insist “best before” dates are not removed, is because they play on the consumers’ minds. No matter how much is said or written, a great number of people will still choose to “play safe” and throw out their “expired” products, resulting in increased sales.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think products past their “sell by” date are fit for human consumption? Leave a comment.

My thanks go to:

BBC News (Africa)

The Guardian online

The Telegraph online (food and drink)

Visit Copenhagen

 

Visit to Becketts Farm

My recent trip to the UK ended with a visit to Becketts Farm shop in Wythall, just outside Birmingham.  Similar to a farmers’ market, farm shops bring together the farmer and the consumer; for the benefit of both.

I visited farm shops before and was always fascinated with the display of fresh produce straight from the fields.

 

Besides a whole array of fresh fruit and vegetables, these markets carry fresh dairy products, eggs, meat, chutneys, pickles, ciders and much more.

The Farm Shop

My visit to Becketts Farm started with a wander through the shopping area.  I wanted to buy some homemade chutneys to take back home, so I took the opportunity to browse through the whole length and breadth of the shop.

A smell of freshly baked bread coming from the bakery filled the air.  Families with small children going round the various counters getting their shopping.

Through one of the glass doors I could see a children’s cookery class underway.  What a good idea to teach kids a love for cooking good food from scratch!

The Farm Yard and Restaurant

I made my way back to the large farm yard …  and looked around. There was a conference hall down one side, arable land stretching for miles.  I saw a few goats close to the fence … and a tractor parked to one side.  There was also a nice florist and a restaurant.

The place was packed!  A cake was brought out from the kitchen to the sing along of “Happy Birthday”.  The place had such a warm feel to it!

I’m no good with English breakfast, but I found myself a very nice vegetarian meal and a nice glass of Pinot … at very good value for money too!  No wonder the restaurant at Becketts Farm won various awards.

It struck me as though Becketts Farm was more than just a shopping experience.  It was a family day out!

If you’re in the area, check them out.  They’re certainly on my list next time I visit Birmingham.

My thanks go to

Becketts Farm