Your health on a plate

Author: Siobhan Martin  

A recent headline told me that in order to avoid an early death, I should be eating 10 portions of fruit and veg a day.

Now, I would like to live a long and healthy life, but 10 portions a day? All that lettuce and spinach and apple? I had visions of myself turning into a rabbit.

So I turned to the Australian government’s We Eat For Health website for some advice. The first page I came to had what my daughter, Ms Seven, described as a “Food Plate”. It was a colourful graphic illustrating the foods we should eat every day.

“But how can I turn that food into tasty meals?” I hear you cry.

Don’t worry, I’ve done if for you. A meal plan of an easy and nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner, that will place you on the path to healthy longevity.

 

Breakfast

This should always be the easiest meal of the day. After all, who wants to get out of bed and spend longer than 15 minutes in the kitchen? 

Something light - Yoghurt and Fruit

  • Three heaped dessert spoons of natural, unsweetened yoghurt.
  • Mix with fruit combinations, such as fresh grapes or pears and a small apple; or a banana and a handful of walnuts with a teaspoon of honey.

Something more filling - Make Your Own Muesli

Pick up any nuts, dried fruit and oats you fancy from your local health food shop and mix the quantities that suit you.

Lunch

You could go with a plain old sandwich, but something nicer will have you looking forward to taking a break after half a day of hard work.

Something light -  Couscous and Tomato Salad

  • Two tomatoes cut into eighths
  • A little crushed rock salt
  • A drizzle of  olive oil
  • A 1/4 tsp of grated ginger
  • One chopped spring onion
  • 1/3 of a cup of couscous
  • 60g of feta cheese

Combine all the ingredients, except the couscous and feta. If you do this the night before, the salt, olive oil and ginger will combine to make a really tasty dressing.

Before your lunch break, wet your appetite by preparing the couscous. Measure out a third of a cup of couscous and add boiling water until the couscous is just covered. Then cover the cup and allow the couscous to steam for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Add the tomato salad to the couscous and sprinkle with feta, before mixing well and digging in.

Something more filling - Lentil Soup with Leftovers

If you want something a little more warming, there are plenty of healthy veggie and lentil tinned soups you can buy. And, if you have vegetables left over from dinner the night before, you can just add these to the soup to make more of a meal.

Dinner

Usually the biggest meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. You want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, but still come up with something healthy.

Something light - Baked Beans and Egg on Toast

Yes, you did read that right. If you check the food plate, it’s right there under lean meats. Couldn’t be easier!

Something more filling - Salmon with Spinach

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees FF). Place the salmon on a baking tray, before drizzling both sides of the darne with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkling with salt. Ensure the darnes are skin side down and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. The salmon is cooked when it starts to brown at the edges and the flesh becomes opaque. Darnes always have a thick end, and a thin end. To ensure the fish cooks evenly, fold the thin end back under the darne.

Heat a little butter in a large frypan or saucepan. Wash the spinach, give it a good shake and place it in the pan with the water still clinging to its leaves. Put the lid on and steam, stirring every now and then, until wilted.

Place the cooked spinach in a food processor, adding a good grating of parmesan and a shake of salt, to taste, before blending. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just sprinkle the parmesan and salt over the spinach.

Of course, you can add whatever other vegetables you want from the chart to make a bigger meal. Carrots (simmer for six minutes), green beans (simmer for four minutes) or sweet potato (simmer for around 20 minutes until tender and then mash with butter).

Snacks

Snack throughout the day on mixed nuts, cheese or any type of fruit. A couple of months ago I decided to forgo biscuits and start snacking on nuts. I was surprised by how filling they were.

Dessert

Any type of fruit. Maybe a little yoghurt and honey if you didn’t have it for breakfast.

Before bed

I always finish the day with a teaspoon of flaxseed in half a glass of water. It helps the bowel and digestion, and the water offers a little bit of rehydration before bed.

So it may not be ten a day. But it at leasts gets some of the good stuff in. Print the food plate and stick it on your fridge for reference. That way, when your stuck over what you’re going to buy for the week, you’ll be easily inspired. Good luck!

Author

Siobhan Martin is a former London journalist living on the Central Coast.

She is a long-time foodie, and thanks to her super healthy husband, now has an interest in exercise.

The slings and arrows of life have taught her to be more mindful, and pace herself. In view of this, she tries to exercise five times a week, but sometimes stays in bed. She also attempts to feed her three children as healthily as possible, but occasionally reverts to chicken nuggets.


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