healthy cooking

By Laura Parr

We’re well and truly immersed in 2014 now, so it’s likely you ditched your New Year’s resolutions long ago.  If one of them was to follow a healthier diet this year, then I have come to your rescue. 

Jamie has long campaigned for keeping cooking skills alive and cooking from scratch when you can, which should inherently get you eating more fruit and vegetables and nutritionally better food. I promise, eating well isn’t a challenge or a chore, and this month I’m going to get you on track to making healthy, tasty food the norm.

Mix it up midweek

Last year, one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, Morrison’s, carried out a survey with their customers to reveal that over half of them eat the exact same meals that they were eating 10 years ago, with some of their favourites including spaghetti Bolognese, sausage and mash, and shepherd’s pie – none of which will win any prizes in the nutrition department!  It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut and cook the same meals on rotation each week. Now, I’d never say we should all ditch our family favourites, but we’re so lucky to have all this inspiration around us – cookery programmes, cookery books, supermarket recipe cards, magazines, smartphone apps – showing gorgeous, healthy food from all over the world. Try Jamie’s Greek chicken or his amazing veggie Keralan curry – they’re both from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals, so super quick, balanced, nutritious and delicious! Trying out these new things is a lot of fun, and having a varied diet is so important for your health.

A great way of helping feed you and your family exciting, healthier food is to plan ahead.  Finding time at the weekend to choose some different recipes to cook over the next week meals, it’s possible to pin down your weekly shopping list without filling up the basket with pre-prepared meals. To get a little more adventurous and variety in your diet why not try out a different fruit or vegetable each week? Take a look at Jamie’s vegetable sides and mains section on the website – it’s full of gorgeous food. Better still get the kids to choose one and get them involved in the kitchen; the younger ones could wash and scrub them first, then get the older ones chopping to get everyone involved.  My mum got me helping out in the family kitchen from a young age and I like to think that children who prepare and cook food themselves are more likely to eat it or at least try it, even if they don’t eat all of it.  Getting them cooking when they’re young can set them up for life.

When you’re cooking from scratch, Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals is proof that you can cook healthy family meals in less time than it takes to order in a takeaway or head for the drive-through – and you should save some cash along the way to.  If you’ve planned ahead what ingredients you’ll need for the week and not branched out from your shopping list too much (!), you could save some cash and calories.

If you are not quite ready to update your repertoire of recipes, you could make some small improvements to your family’s favourites – replace dried white pasta with a whole-wheat version, which is higher in fibre; use lean minced meat, which is lower in fat than standard minced meat; or throw a few more veggies into your meal to bulk it out or make a really healthy sauce. There are plenty of quick nutritional wins to be had by making small tweaks to recipes.

Laura Parr

About the author

Laura is a registered nutritionist and head of nutrition at Jamie Oliver. Her passion for food comes from having cooking lessons at a local college from the age of 10, and the nutrition side has always been driven by being fascinated by how eating the right foods can fuel the body. Believe it or not, her favourite foodie treat is an afternoon tea... only eaten occasionally, of course!

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