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Five life-hacks for healthier eating

1. MEAL PLANNING

It’s time for dinner and you find yourself staring into the fridge only to find zero inspiration – it’s easy then to fall for take-away and creamy pasta dishes. The solution; meal planning. Aim for a specific time and day every week where you make plans on what to eat, i.e a short ”meeting” with yourself. What does the week ahead look like? How many meals will you eat at home? What food do you need to purchase and what recipes will you cook? These meetings will be easier and shorter over time.

Tip! Create a few different recipes and shopping lists that you rotate. For example, a basic shopping list with reoccurring foods/items and a few other shopping lists with specific recipes. Preferably digital lists that you can share with several family members via mobile applications.

2. FOOD PREP 

Does it bother you that you spend so much time in the kitchen!? It’s certainly often the case but there are little tricks that simplifies it all and you can become more time efficient. If you spend a couple of hours preparing food on Sunday, you are guaranteed to save a lot of time in your everyday life. As a general rule, when cooking a dish, always make at least double portions to use for lunch the next day or put in the freezer for a lunch box later during the week.

Some tips;

– Cook a large portion of your protein such as minced meat sauce, halloumi stew, grilled chicken, oven-baked salmon, falafel, bean casserole. Store in portion sizes in the fridge or freezer and you’ll have half the meal ready! Supplement with carbohydrates such as bulgur/rice/potatoes and vegetables. 

– Cook a large portion of your carbohydrate base such as brown rice, bulgur, pasta, bean / lentil pasta, quinoa and freeze in portion packages. Easy to pick up for a salad or when the rest of the family wants macaroni and you something else. Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be peeled and stored in a water bath in the refrigerator.

– Fill the fridge and freezer with vegetables! You can store some vegetables in a water bath in the fridge, such as carrot sticks, cauliflower bouquets, broccoli, kohlrabi, so they stay fresh a little longer. You can also prepare a bowl with ready-made salad mix of, for example, grated cabbage, carrot, pepper, spinach that you can use during the week as a side salad.

– Prepare a couple of cold sauces, dressings or pesto for the week’s different dishes – they also taste better when they have been left in the fridge for a while.

3. SNACK PREP 

Many experience that a healthy snack during the day results in even energy levels and satiety and reduced sweet cravings. But it’s also something that most of us easily skip, mainly due to lack of time. It’s important to be one step ahead; you shouldn’t have to ”think” so much, just ”do”. Prepare a load of different snacks that you can use during the week, for example boil a bunch of eggs, bake a large batch of healthy muffins, freeze ready-made smoothie bags with fruit, berries and nuts, prepare a few glasses of overnight-oats and store them in the freezer. Fill the pantry with chickpeas, lentil/rice cakes, nuts and seeds. Remember; what is close to you, you tend to choose.

4. ALL-ON-ONE-PLATE-DISHES 

This means that you put the whole dish on one plate in the oven which will save you a lot of time (and dishes!). It is also an easy way to make use of leftovers and make several meal portions. Rinse, chop, mix and put it in the oven; it couldn’t be easier!

Build your all-on-one-plate-dish with four groups;
– Protein base such as chicken, fish, beef, halloumi, falafel.
– Carbohydrate base such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, parsnips.
– Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, carrots, cabbage, tomato, zucchini, peppers.
– Flavouring such as olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and/or fresh spices.

Chop to preferred size and put everything on an oven safe plate with baking paper. Bake in the oven, 200 degrees, about 20-40 min (depending on what ingredients you use and how big pieces you cut). Enjoy!

5. THE ADD-PRINCIPLE

It’s easy to get caught up in rules about what is healthy and unhealthy food and many times we make it harder than it really is. Here, the ”add-principle” can be good to apply. If the rest of the family wants to eat macaroni and cheese and you have neither the time nor the desire to make another dish for yourself -> add two handfuls of vegetables and the whole dish will be perfectly ok. You also automatically get a more reasonable portion size because the vegetables then take up a large part of the plate. 

Another example is legumes; they improve both the satiety and the nutritional value of stews, mince, soups and salads. If you add boiled red lentils or mashed beans to the taco mince, it will be far more nutritious and you will hardly notice it in terms of taste! Another example is pancakes; you can add oat flakes, mashed beans, crushed nuts, mashed banana or boiled sweet potatoes to the batter and thus increase the nutritional content. And the next time you bake a chocolate cake or carrot cake – use a little less sugar and add mashed beans = moister cake and higher nutritional content! 

Updated January 18, 2022

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