Each offers something a little special that will help boost your nutrition and overall health.
No vegetables are included, as you should eat plenty of these regardless! Ensure you include a variety of colours, especially green, orange and purple.
Spelt is often referred to as an ancient grain (it was an important staple in Medieval times), it contains less gluten and fructans than regular wheat and has a more soluble protein mix which may explain why many people find it easier to digest. If you feel wheat disagrees with your stomach and bowels, try spelt as you may find you don’t get the same symptoms.
I love spelt as it makes a denser bread with a nutty flavour that is more filling than regular wheat. Try having spelt toast instead of regular wheat toast for breakfast and you’ll most likely notice the difference.
Oysters & mussels
Ok, if you don’t like oysters, when did you last tuck into a pot of hot steaming mussels in a garlic & white wine or tomato & chilli sauce with some fresh crusty bread? Very tasty!
Oysters are an extremely rice source of zinc and good source of iron, while mussels are a rich source of iron and a good source of zinc. Both are an excellent source of Omega-3 fats and are low calorie.
If oysters just aren’t your thing, try them lightly crumbed or cooked with a light sauce and you’ll get all the nutrition without the texture and salty taste that may put you off.
The other wonderful thing with oysters and mussels is they are one of the most environmentally sustainable food sources. You will be doing your body, the planet and our oceans a favour by eating more!
Natural or Greek yoghurt
Used by many different cultures (Indian, Middle Eastern, Greeks, Africans, Indonesians) and for many centuries, yoghurt can be used in many different dishes.
Probiotics or “good bacteria” are a hot nutrition topic and a huge amount of research is being put into learning more about how they benefit our body and health. Including natural probiotic containing yoghurt in your diet is a good start to help promote the right balance of bacteria in your body.
Yoghurt is also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2), potassium, vitamin A and protein.
Using full fat yoghurt is fine as even full fat yoghurt is relatively low in fat (only 4%). Greek yoghurt can be 6-10% fat and you may want to watch the amount you use. I choose full fat Greek yoghurt, but only have 2-3 tbls per serve.
Fresh herbs add wonderful flavour to even the simplest dish and are jam packed with phytonutrients that can help prevent disease and keep your body healthy.
There are thousands of different phytonutrients that come in the form of antioxidants, flavonoids, catechins, carotenoids and polyphenols to name a few.
If you can’t grow your own herbs, buying them can seem expensive at $2.50 a bunch, especially if you want a few different types. But most herbs can be used in a variety of dishes. For example fresh mint can be added to salads, wraps/sandwiches, yoghurt dressing and sparkling water. Therefore it’s not hard to use a bunch over a week.
Rather than using a sauce or spread to add a kick to your meal, try some fresh herbs. Unlike most sauces/spreads that can be high calorie, herbs are essentially calorie free.
Raw unsalted nuts
An excellent source of healthy fats along with a variety of different vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, nuts make a great snack. Just be careful not to eat too many due to their high energy content. Stick to 30g per serve.
Nuts can also be added to salads and stir-fries for some extra crunch and nutrition.
Extra virgin olive oil
The benefits of olive oil are many and research has shown that olive oil may be protective against heart disease and some cancers (breast, colon, lung, ovarian, skin). Consumption of olive oil has also been shown to have benefits with blood pressure, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and immune function.
Much of the health benefits of olive oil are due to the high level of mono-unsaturated fats (healthy fats) and phenolic compounds (a type of phytonutrient).
Use extra virgin olive oil in cooking (low to moderate temperature), salad dressings and drizzled over veggies. I love tossing chopped veggies in olive oil, a little salt and garlic and oven baking.
Being one of the richest sources of omega-3 fats and also one of the most environmentally friendly fish to eat, we should all be eating more sardines.
Sardines are also an excellent source of calcium with a 100g tin containing as much calcium as a glass of milk.
Don’t like sardines? Try my Sardine & Spinach grilled pita and you may change your mind.
Legumes & lentils
Last, but by no means least, legumes and lentils pretty much tick the box for everything. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, protein and are free of cholesterol and saturated fats. They are also an environmentally sustainable food and very cheap!
Tinned legumes and lentils are just as good as dried ones and can be added to salads, soups, pasta sauces, casseroles, stews or pies. Replacing ½ the meat with legumes in your meals will reduce the cost, calories and saturated fat whilst increasing dietary fibre and phytonutrients.
If you feel legumes and lentils upset your stomach or bowels, you may find the tinned ones easier to digest (just rinse really well) as the FODMAPs that can make you bloated and windy, leach out into the brine. Also try just sticking to 1-2 tablespoons at a time and you may not experience symptoms.