Tag Archives: food

Quick, tasty, lovely lunches

Making fast, nutritious and delicious lunches and lunch choices can be a challenge whether you’re working, studying or running around with the family. The health and wellbeing team at rt health fund share some of their tips to selecting healthy eats – where delicious meets nutritious!

You already know the basics – fresh is best and the less processed, the better. For example, canned tuna or fresh fish trumps fish nuggets and an apple is a better choice than a sugary apple bar from the supermarket. But time and hunger can challenge the best of intentions. So, if you’re watching your weight or trying to boost the nutrient content of your diet, here are some super quick tips:

1. Fill up half of your lunchbox or plate with veggies – red, orange, blue and yellow. The more colours, the better. Go for masses of green veggies such as broccoli, kale, rocket and asparagus – these are ultra-low in calories and very high in nutrition.

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2. Make a quarter of your meal starchy carbohydrates – the wholegrain kinds of bread, rice and pasta are best because they have their fibre, vitamins and minerals intact. In the same way, potatoes with their skins on are better than without and sweet potatoes are a great choice. Try to avoid white flour foods, for example white bread and pastry because they have had the fibre and nutrients removed from them in processing. Without the fibre, these foods are digested quickly so you feel hungry again after a short time. So, for a steadier life, go wholegrain.

3. Make a quarter of your lunch protein foods. Fish is a great choice as it provides omega-3 essential fats (oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are especially high), lean meat provides a big hit of iron and pulses (peas, beans and legumes) are a rich source of protein with added fibre, vitamins, minerals and essential omega-3 fats.

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4. Add a source of calcium – either dairy or a vegetarian alternative such as soy or almond milk. Many women don’t get enough bone and teeth-building calcium, which can lead to issues such as osteoporosis later in life.

5. Some fresh fruit – which provides vitamins, minerals, fibre and a whole host of protective plant pigments. Plus, when you have a meal that satisfies your savoury taste buds, you may want something sweet to finish. Fruit could do the trick and could reduce the temptation for sugary/fatty snacks.

Here are some quick lunch ideas to get you started (most can be made at home using supermarket ingredients but some can be bought from takeaway shops):

  • Canned tuna with a little low-fat mayonnaise and lots of salad on a wholemeal roll
  • Roast beef with lettuce and lots of sliced tomato on rye bread
  • Supermarket salad leaves (lettuce, baby spinach, rocket) with tomatoes, feta and a can of drained red kidney beans
  • Hummus, pita bread and a double serving of tabbouleh

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  • Sushi and boiled green soybeans (edamame)
  • Quinoa with a rainbow of veggies
  • Poached eggs on wholegrain toast with spinach and avocado
  • Store-bought soup with added frozen baby peas
  • Vietnamese rice paper rolls with a large side salad
  • Falafel/chicken/lean meat roll with extra salad
  • Pasta with tomato sauce and lots of steamed veggies
  • Indian dhal with basmati rice and a big salad
  • Hot smoked salmon with mashed potatoes, green beans and grilled tomatoes
  • Mushroom and veggie omelette with wholegrain bread
  • Thai salad with fish, meat or tofu
  • Tofu and veggie stir fry
  • Homemade chilli con carne with meat or veggie mince and extra beans with tomato salad.

And for something sweet …

  • Fresh fruit
  • Sugar-free dairy or coconut yoghurt
  • A few dried peaches/apricots/prunes with unsalted nuts
  • Sugar-free jelly
  • Canned peaches or apricots (drained)
  • A couple of squares of dark chocolate.

Best vending machine snacks

vending machine_blogYou’ve been there before – dreaming of a snack to tide you over until your next meal. But there’s nowhere to turn except a row of vending machines. So what can you do to curb your hunger without overdoing the kilojoules, fat, salt and more? And, can your choice of machine cuisine ever be healthy?

Vending machine snacks don’t have the best reputation – they’re often processed to the max and loaded with additives. This is to make sure that the food lasts and doesn’t spoil. So, if the vending machine is often your only option, smarter choices can mean a lot to your health.

Pick peanuts …

Or almonds, or cashews. Although they’re rich in kilojoules thanks to the mono-unsaturated (healthy) fats they contain, all nuts are also rich in protein and fibre, so they can be really satisfying, too. Protein acts like a chemical appetite suppressant, signalling from your stomach to your brain that you’ve eaten. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, which the fibre absorbs to help you feel physically fuller. Remember, salted snacks can contribute to higher blood pressure so unsalted are your best option.

Pepita perfectionpumpkin seed

Packed full of protein these little gems are full of minerals such as magnesium, which most people don’t get enough of. Twitches are a sign that you might benefit from more magnesium and this major mineral is lost from your body during times of stress. Popping some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) may even help to boost your feeling of calmness since magnesium helps to relax your muscles. Pepitas also provide zinc, iron and vitamin E plus they contain a plant sterol (phytosterols), which binds to cholesterol helping to lower it.

Trail Mix

When it comes to trail mix, not all are equal. Opt for the kinds that contain unsalted nuts and dried fruit combinations for a sweet/savoury hit. Nuts, again, provide protein and fibre, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer. The dried fruit will provide you with vitamins and minerals. Steer clear of mixes made up of cereal, chocolate and other sugary treats.

Chocolate covered raisins vs. banana chips?

Surprised to learn that the choc option is a better one? Despite the sugary chocolate, raisins provide iron compared with the saintly sounding banana chips which are actually deep fried and sugared. Chocolate raisins are an even better option than yoghurt covered raisins – which pack a much heavier fat punch.

Baked wholegrain potato chips

You can now get wholegrain versions of chips marketed as healthier alternatives to potato chips. They use better oil, contain more fibre and less salt. But, they are still dense in kilojoules and easy to overdo. So enjoy occasionally but always opt for small packs to help prevent mindless eating.

Wholegrain cereal bars

Although some options can contain more fat and sugar than a doughnut, some varieties are much better. Look at the label to make sure your bar of choice contains whole grains, and that sugar (anything ending in ‘ose’ as well as sugar, malt and honey) comes much lower down in the order of ingredients. Look for packs that are portion-sized and usually under 870 kilojoules (around 200 calories) per bar. Look for bars that contain some form of whole grain, like oats or flax, and nuts, to provide a healthy hit of fibre and protein.

Air popped popcorn

As well as packing a fibre punch, popcorn is a wholegrain that is low in kilojoules and great if you sometimes just want to chew and chew and chew. Go for air-popped varieties and avoid the sweetened, buttered products.

Go with the least altered

Try and opt for products that are as much like the original food as possible. So for example, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that after fresh apple, dried apple comes a close second and apples squished with other fruits are healthier than apple puree or apple cake. So, make the best choice out of the options you have.

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Ravinder Lilly, Dietitian at rt health fund