It’s 5pm and you’re thinking ‘what’s for dinner?’ So how do you turn the foods sitting in your fridge and pantry into a healthy meal?
Below are the simple steps giving you the tools to plate up a balanced, nutritious meal.
Step 1- Choose your carb
Grains and starchy veg
Carbohydrates are the body’s main type of fuel. They provide us with most of our energy, dietary fibre and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron.
Food sources include:
- breads and cereals
- rice, pasta, noodles, barley, buckwheat, semolina, polenta, bulgur or quinoa
- starchy vegetables such as potato, sweet potato, corn, taro and cassava
* Include low GI carbohydrates to help keep you fuller for longer
* Choose a wide variety of breads including white, brown, wholegrain, multigrain and rye.
* Choose more wholegrain products such as wholegrain bread, high fibre cereal, brown rice and wholemeal pasta.
* Try new grain products instead of pasta or rice such as couscous, quinoa, burghul and polenta.
Step 2 – Pick your protein
Meat and alternatives
These are a good source of protein, iron, niacin and vitamin B12.
Food sources include:
- Red meat, such as beef, lamb, veal pork, goat and kangaroo
- Chicken and turkey
- Canned legumes/beans, such as lentils, chick peas, or split peas
- Nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut seed paste.
* Choose lean cuts of beef, pork, veal and lamb trimmed of all visible fat.
* Avoid processed meat and deli meat (e.g. salami and pepperoni) as they are very high in fat and salt.
* Canned fish is as nutritious as fresh fish and can be a convenient option. The best alternatives are canned in water rather than brine (salt) or oil.
* Choose a variety of nuts with no-added salt and have them in small amounts each day.
* Legumes are the cheapest source of protein – add them to your meat recipes to lower the cost and boost the veggies and fibre in your meal.
* Most fish is low in saturated fat and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
* Nuts are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and total blood cholesterol.
Dairy and alternatives
These foods include milk, yoghurt and cheese, and are an excellent source of calcium, and a good source of other important nutrients such as protein, riboflavin and vitamin B12.
* Compare the fat content of dairy products, and choose products which are lowest in fat.
* Be sure to choose calcium-fortified milk-substitute products, such as soy products.
* Many types of yoghurt provide good bacteria (probiotics), which are essential for a healthy gut. Try natural yoghurt instead of sour cream.
* Be careful: some 'reduced-fat' dairy varieties may still be high in fat.
* Most processed cheeses are high in salt. Be sure to choose those with the lowest salt content
Step 3 – Load with veg
Vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and dietary fibre. They are all significantly low in kilojoules, except for olives and avocados.
* Frozen and canned vegetables are as good as fresh. Buy fresh vegetables that are in season as this will give you better value for your money.
* Nutrients group in colour – so be sure to enjoy the rainbow of purple, orange, green, red and white vegetables!
* Half of your meal should be vegetables – remember to get in 5 serves of veg every day
Click here to download this information as a PDF.