The colder months are the perfect time to enjoy delicious warming hearty meals with friends and family. Soups, stews, crumble and custard…you know the story – all absolutely delicious!
It can be very easy however to over eat at this time of year and also to over do it with meat and potatoes and under do it on the fruit and veggie front. So, I have some ideas for you!
Here are five easy things you can do this winter to boost your nutrition, make your meals healthier and be sure you don’t end up with an extra roll at the end of the season!
- Go for oats at breakfast! Hot oats are a perfect way to start your day in winter. They are packed with fiber and super filling. Try making your hot oats with low fat milk instead of water for extra protein and some fresh or dried fruit for a little sweetness.
- Stock up on soups – A soup packed with veggies and pulses is not only a great lunch but also makes a perfect nutritious snack in the afternoon or when you get home from work. Try making a batch of soup each weekend and keeping it in the fridge and/or in freezer in single serve portions to grab out as needed!
- Make over your stews and casseroles – Double the amount of non-starchy veg you add. If the recipe says 1 onion and 2 carrots – add double! Frozen spinach can be a great addition too. Try reducing the amount of meat you use in a recipe and adding some chickpeas or butter beans to bulk it out instead – they are another great way to get protein but with the added benefit of lots of fibre.
- Portion watch – It can be very tempting to pile up your plate with mashed potato and leave the greens behind so aim to ½ fill your plate with non- starchy veggies like carrots, peas, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower before you put anything else on there. Read more about healthy portions here.
- Delicious desserts – Even though many classic winter desserts can be super high in fat and really best for special occasions, there are plenty of recipes out there that are a much healthier alternative which you can enjoy more often! Try opting for a recipe where the sweetness comes from fruit. Crumble (made with plenty of fruit) and an oaty topping or baked apples served with reduced fat yoghurt or custard are a few examples. Another great recipe idea is winter fruit strudel.
As well as focusing on the food side of things this winter, make sure you also spend some time outside! Enjoy walking when the weather is fine – being in the fresh air is good for you in so many ways and it is also important during the winter months that we all make an effort to expose ourselves to sunlight too. Sunlight on the skin helps our bodies to make Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones and plays a role in keeping our immune system strong too – vital in the winter months. Exposing your eyes to light is also important to help boost the hormones that make your feel good hormones and regulate your sleeping.
By Claire Turnbull Nutritionist for AUT/Millennium.