Packed Lunch: how to build your box

It’s 7am and you have minutes to put together your lunch for work. You look in the cupboard and fridge……….no time to cut up some veg, open a tin of tuna or cook some rice. Ham sandwich it is then.
ad276d4936a977f71240e28b808992ee b423515bb46da8de0f1db5d919a3595e fe0b2420125add7efdf9a7002a5b7261Set a side a few minutes the night before (or on a Sunday if you a super efficient) to prepare a few basic ingredients, and you will reduce time and stress for the week ahead. You can definitely increase feelings of afternoon oomph as you delve in to a  technicolour dream box of the healthy stuff, leaving the tedious sandwiches in their plastic wrappers. There are infinite combinations and variations to play with.

Step by step guide:

  1. Box: Get yourself a large one with a lid. That’s right a BIG one. About the size of a brick (not a Lego brick).
  2. Real Food: on Sunday, take 1 hour to prepare the following, then put in the fridge.
    • LOTS of colourful veg – chopped peppers, grated carrots, wash spinach, shred lettuce….make a batch of Superfood Salad and Happy Carrots. Fill at least half of the box with these, the more colourful, the better.
    • protein: boiled eggs, chicken, tuna, mackerel, cottage cheese, salmon, chopped up pork/beef
    • healthy fats: olive/flaxseed/avocado oil, avocado, nuts, seeds
    • optional wholegrain carbs: boil rice, quinoa, pasta etc. You just need a couple of tablespoons of these if you are sitting down all day. If you are very active or working out, then add some more!

Build your box of deliciousness each night before work. If you’re not going to work you will have a sumptuous supply in the fridge to fill a bowl throughout the day.

Here’s what I’ve just thrown together in less than 5 minutes for work tomorrow: stir fried kale, red cabbage, grated carrots, chopped peppers, a tin of tuna and some toasted pumpkin seeds. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled on. I’ll add in some frozen peas in the morning which will keep the box cool as they will have defrost towards lunch time. Lovely!

Photo on 08-06-2015 at 22.17 #2

Super Simple Smoothie

Here’s a super healthy smoothie using REAL food……a complete breakfast containing protein, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C and soluble fibre. Nutritionally, this is an incredible combination of ingredients. It’s also an easy way to get fruit in to kids!

Unknown-2IDShot_90x90-2Shop bought smoothies tend to be very high in fruit juice, and therefore high sugar.

150ml milk (normal cow’s/Lactofree/almond/rice milk etc.)

1 tablespoons natural yogurt e.g. Total is high in protein

1 banana/handful of oats

Low fat, high protein yogurt

Low fat, high protein yogurt

handful frozen berries

dollop of honey

Whizz the lot up and serve!

Dressing Up – 5 ways to add oomph to veg

A good dressing can transform a plate of salad or vegetables in to something quite spectacular. We all know that we should eat more veg as they have been shown beyond doubt that they are very, very good for us. Why vegetables are fab:

  1. Add amazing colours and textures to your plate
  2. Prevention of chronic health conditions  (heart, diabetes, strokes, obesity, cancer)
  3. Low in calories, you can eat LOADS
  4. Fibre prevents constipation
  5. Encourage the good bacteria in your gut
  6. Vitamins & minerals are needed by your body’s millions of metabolic processes
  7. There is a huge variety so you never need to get bored
  8. Vegetables can taste really good…………….

If you feel that veg can get a little dull, or need some extra oomph, here are 5 very simple dressings to turn a plate of the good stuff in to something pleasurable and delicious.

A big benefit of adding a dressing is that the oil helps with the absorption of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, therefore need fat for our bodies to absorb them. As for most things in life, don’t over do it with the dressing, use it to complement the salad or veg rather than drowning your plate in it. Unknown-1  

You don’t need any special equipment. Inspired by Jamie Oliver, I use an old jam jar……just put all the ingredients in the jar and shake well.

Extra virgin olive oils are a bit like wine as they can vary dramatically in taste, depending upon the type and quality of the fruit that is pressed, the time of harvest, the weather during the growing season, and the region from which the olives were produced. If you are feeling adventurous and budget allows, experiment! If you find the taste of extra virgin oil too strong, you can use olive oil instead. I prefer a ‘tangy’ dressing, so usually add more vinegar/lemon juice.  

Classic 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons of white or red wine vinegarimages-4 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil pinch of salt, pepper  

Lemon 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil juice of 1 lemontumblr_nb0yhi3gkn1tpkb57o1_500 pinch of salt, pepper  

Balsamic 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Pinch of salt, pepper  

Creamy 6 tablespoons natural yogurtimages 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil pinch of salt, pepper  

Thai 4 tablespoons lime juice 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 1 tablespoon soy sauceimages-1 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated/finely chopped 1/2 clove garlic, crushed/finely chopped

Food combos that work! New research.

avocado for healthy fats & lettuce, herbs and tomatoes for vitamins

avocado for healthy fats & lettuce, herbs and tomatoes for vitamins

Researchers at King’s College London and the University of California have recently concluded that when olive oil and vegetables are eaten together, they form nitro fatty acids that help lower blood pressure – a risk factor for heart disease. Professor Philip Eaton, describes the chemical reaction of oil and vegetable as one of “nature’s protective mechanisms”.

This study helps us to understand why The Mediterranean Diet – a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, olive oil and fish – has long been associated with improved heart health.

3 more top food combinations:

Olive oil in a stir fry – Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The healthy fats from the olive oil, combined with the vitamins in veg provide is perfect for the absorption of these nutrients. If you’re confused about what oils and fats are healthy, look here. Other recipes that have these combos include granolaSuper Boost Salad and Cocoa Bars

16 peppers for a £1!

1 pepper has 300% your daily vitamin C

Red peppers in bolognaise: red peppers are high in vitamin C (as are tomatoes) helping your body to absorb the iron from beef. One pepper gives you 300% of your daily vitamin C needs!

 

A smoothie in the sun: Vitamin D is essential for your body to use

Strawberry milk

Strawberry milk

calcium from food to build strong bones, teeth and for muscles to work properly. The best source of vitamin D is the sun……get your arms in the suns rays for half an hour a day (with no sunscreen!), and combine with a dose of calcium from a smoothie made with milk (cow’s or a rice/almond milk fortified with calcium).