Healthy snacks are part of a balanced diet. They can keep your energy levels up, give you extra nutrients and keep your glucose levels stable. But it’s crucial to plan them well so they don’t interfere with main meals. Here are some simple solutions:
Dried fruit slices
Thinly slice your fruit of choice. Spread them on a lined baking tray and place in an oven at 100°C for 1 1/2 hours. Once cool, keep the slices in a sealed bag or container. If stored correctly, they can last up to 6 months.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Drain, rinse and dry a tin of chickpeas. Put them in a bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add half a teaspoon each of paprika, cumin, ground coriander and black pepper then toss. Bake the chickpeas on a roasting tray for 15–20 minutes, shaking every 5–10 minutes to help them to cook evenly.
Slice a few apples into thick rounds. Set them in a bowl of lemon water for a few seconds. Pat them dry and garnish with dollops of peanut butter, chopped dried fruit or nuts and a drizzle of honey. These should be served and eaten immediately.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Add a glug of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt to veggies like torn kale or spinach, thinly sliced sweet potato, beetroot or carrots in a bowl. Bake for 20–25 minutes, removing and shaking the pan often to ensure even cooking. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Kit out the kiddie’s lunchbox
– When it comes to putting a balanced lunchbox together for little ones, a visual guide can be incredibly helpful.
– For a balanced diet, it is important that one meal serving contains the following: 40% fruit and vegetables, 25% carbs and 25% protein.
– The remaining 10% should be allocated to good fats and oils like avocado, nuts or seeds.
– Make sure to incorporate lots of colourful food with plenty of textures, shapes and flavours to make each lunchbox interesting. Swap out the usual sugary drinks for flavoured waters (using mint, lemon or cucumber) or try a homemade iced tea.
Cook once, eat twice
If you’re looking to spend more time out of the kitchen, try doubling your dinner recipe. This means that you’ll have leftovers for the following day’s lunch or dinner. If you’re a single person living alone, and your doubled recipe serves four, then you have an extra three lunches or dinners ready for you with only some heating up required.
Dishes such as traybakes, pastas, roasts, rice dishes and curries will only become richer in flavour. Make it happen by buying the extra ingredients you need as well as the correct storage containers.
Easy ways to sneak vegetables into meals
Introducing more vegetables into our diet can be difficult for adults and kids alike — even though we are well-aware of how important they are. Rome wasn’t built in a day though, so here are a few ideas for how you can subtly (and not-so-subtly) sneak veggies into your meals.
Sneaky ways to include veg
The idea is to mask the flavours of vegetables by cooking or baking them within something that has a stronger (and subjectively) more tempting flavour. Grate broccoli into your favourite mac ‘n’ cheese recipe or incorporate peas and grated baby marrow into a savoury muffin butter.
Not-so-sneaky ways to include veg
The focus here is on showing people that vegetables are delicious. Try zoodles (spiralised strips of zucchini) served with a Bolognese sauce; a stir-fry with edamame beans, cabbage and cashews; or red peppers stuffed with rice, bacon and feta. You might even get away with serving cauliflower rice with chicken tikka masala!
How to reduce your ‘carb footprint’
Carbs are often the easiest treats to grab when we want something filling and tasty. Nonetheless, there are many low or no-carb alternatives that are more nutritious and delicious. If you’re looking to reduce your carb intake, these options are worth trying out:
* Seed crackers instead of slices of bread
* Lettuce cups as buns on Friday Burger Night with the family
* Zoodles instead of pasta
* Thinly sliced aubergine as lasagne sheets
* Veggie wraps, like beetroot wraps, are not only pretty to look at but delicious too
* Wholegrains such as brown rice, bulgur wheat and quinoa might contain carbs, but they’ve got way more nutrients than their more processed counterparts
Word by Sjaan Van Der Ploeg
Photography: Getty Images, Shutterstock, Zhann Solomons