Understanding the principles of a healthy, balanced diet can help you find brilliantly tasty dishes that are good for you too.
If you know how to spot healthy recipes, balance your diet and keep portion control in check, you’re giving yourself and your family a really great start on the path to good health.
There are 5 food groups that make up a balanced diet: fruit & veg; starchy carbs; protein; dairy, and healthy fats. You don’t have to include all of the food groups in every meal – just try to get your balance right across the day or week.
- Includes at least 1 portion of fruit or veg
- Includes at least 2 portions of either starchy carbs, protein or dairy
- Check the nutrition, and go for meals that contain no more than 30% of your reference intake for saturated fat, sugar and salt per portion
- Don’t super-size – make sure you’re eating the right portion size
MORE: WHAT IS A PORTION?
Key to a balanced diet:
- Eat the rainbow. Aim for at least 5 portions of different fruit and veg every day
- Use starchy carbs as the base for your meals – potatoes, bread, rice, pasta – choosing wholegrain versions whenever possible, and keeping an eye on portion size
- Include beans, pulses, fish, eggs and some meat, as these are a good source of protein
- Include dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) in your diet, choosing lower-fat and lower-sugar options.
- Choose healthy, unsaturated fats (such as olive or rapeseed oil), and keep them to a minimum
- Drink up! Aim for 6 to 8 glasses a day. As well as water, this can include unsweetened tea, coffee and lower-fat milk
If you eat meat and fish, as a general guide, aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily (such as salmon, trout or mackerel). Split the rest of the week’s main meals between brilliant meat-free plant-based meals, poultry, and a little red meat. An all-vegetarian diet can be perfectly healthy, too.
3 BALANCED, HEALTHY RECIPES
SESAME SEARED SALMON
- 150 g brown rice noodles
- 2 limes
- 2 x 100 g fillets of salmon, skin on, scaled and pin-boned, from sustainable sources
- 4 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 clove of garlic
- 4 teaspoons tahini
- 8cm piece of cucumber
- 2 small carrots
- 2 raw baby beets
- 1 punnet of cress
- 1 ripe avocado
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½-1 fresh red chilli
- 2 sprigs of fresh coriander
- Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, then drain and toss in a little squeeze of lime juice.
- Carefully slice each of the salmon fillets lengthways into three. Scatter the sesame seeds over a board and press one side of the salmon slices into the seeds to form a crust.
- Place a large dry non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and once hot, add the salmon sesame-side down. Leave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden, flip over to cook for just 1 more minute, then remove from the heat.
- Peel the garlic and pound into a paste with a pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar, then muddle in the tahini, the remaining lime juice and a splash of water to make a wicked dressing.
- Use a box grater to coarsely grate the cucumber, carrots and beets, keeping them in separate piles and dividing between two plates. Snip and divide up the cress, then divide up the noodles.
- Halve, peel and destone the avocado and add one half to each plate, then pour the dressing into the wells and add a few drips of oil.
- Lay the salmon alongside, then finely slice the chilli and scatter over with the coriander leaves. Toss everything together at the table and enjoy.
As well as this delicious dish giving us 3 of our 5-a-day, salmon is high in vitamin D, which our bodies need for absorbing calcium, helping to keep our bones and teeth healthy.
SMOKY VEGGIE FEIJOADA
- ½ a butternut squash , (600g)
- olive oil
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 mixed-colour peppers
- 2 red onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 2 x 400 g tins of black beans
- 100 g okra
- 150 g brown rice
- 2 ripe mixed-colour tomatoes
- ½-1 fresh red chilli
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander , (30g)
- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
- Halve and deseed the squash, then carefully chop into 3cm chunks. In a large roasting tray, toss and massage it with 1 teaspoon of oil, the ground coriander and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
- Deseed the peppers and cut into 3cm chunks, then, in a separate tray, toss and massage them with 1 teaspoon of oil and the smoked paprika. Place both trays in the oven for 35 minutes, or until softened.
- Meanwhile, peel and finely chop ¼ of an onion and put aside, then roughly chop the rest and place in a large casserole pan on a low heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Crush in the garlic, add the bay leaves and a good splash of water and cook for 20 minutes, or until soft, stirring regularly.
- Tip in the beans, juice and all, then half-fill each empty tin with water, swirl and pour into the pan. Simmer until the time is up on the squash and peppers, then stir both into the pan.
- Trim, finely slice and add the okra, and simmer for a further 20 minutes, or until the feijoada is dark and delicious, loosening with an extra splash of water, if needed.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the packet instructions, then drain.
- To make a quick salsa, deseed the tomatoes, then finely chop with as much chilli as you like and most of the coriander leaves. Scrape into a bowl with the reserved finely chopped onion and toss with the lime juice, then season to perfection.
- Remove 4 portions of feijoada, bag them up and once completely cool, freeze for a rainy day, when you’ll be really grateful it’s there.
- Serve the remaining feijoada with the rice and salsa, a spoonful of yoghurt and a sprinkling of the remaining coriander leaves.
Super protein-packed black beans are a great base to this veggie version of the classic Brazilian dish and, thanks to all the veg, we get four of your 5-a-day and loads of fibre, too! Fibre helps us keep our digestive system happy and stay regular.
SPINACH PICI PASTA
- 200g baby spinach
- 300g Tipo 00 or plain flour , plus extra for dusting
- olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
- 200g baby courgettes
- 320g ripe cherry tomatoes , on the vine
- 50g pine nuts
- ½ a bunch of fresh basil , (15g)
- 50g Parmesan cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- In a food processor, blitz the spinach and flour until a ball of dough forms, letting the machine do all the work. Touch the dough – it shouldn’t be sticky, you want a playdough consistency, so add a little more flour, if needed.
- To make the pici, simply tear off 2cm balls of dough and roll them out into long thin sausage shapes – think fine green beans – on a clean surface (the beauty is that they’re all different, so get little helpers involved, if you can).
- Cook the pici straight away, or leave them to dry out for a few hours, or even overnight.
- Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Peel, finely slice and add the garlic, along with the chilli flakes.
- Finely slice and add the courgettes, then halve and add the tomatoes. Cook it all for 5 minutes, then stir in the pine nuts and add a ladleful of boiling water. Leave on the lowest heat while you cook the pasta.
- Add the pici to your pan of boiling salted water. If it’s freshly rolled it will only need about 5 minutes, but if you’ve let it dry give it 8 to 10 minutes, checking on it to make sure you get lovely al dente pasta.
- Drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water, then toss through the veg.
- Reserving the baby basil leaves, finely slice the bigger ones and stir into the pan with most of the finely grated Parmesan, loosening with a little reserved water, if needed.
- Divide between your warm plates and serve with a few drips of extra virgin olive oil, with the remaining Parmesan and the baby basil leaves sprinkled over.
Vibrant homemade pasta that’s super-fun to make and packed with nutritious spinach. Spinach is high in folic acid, which we need to produce red blood cells and maintain a strong immune system.
Be sure to check out eatthetrend.co.uk for more healthy ideas
Eat the Trend 2019