10 Ingredients That’ll Refresh Your Diet October 26, 2018

by Rebecca Down Learn

As the days shorten and the temperatures drop, it’s easy to find yourself reaching for seconds of our favourite comfort foods; bowlfuls of spag bol, creamy curries, sausages and buttery mash…Though we’re huge fans of the comfort food classics, it’s always important to eat a balance of the good stuff in your diet – fresh fruit and veg should be as much a part of your diet as a slice of afternoon chocolate cake.  

With the festive season just around the corner, we’ve come up with a list of 10 storecupboard ingredients that will help to bring a spring to your step. Bring your food to life with fresh flavours, layers of texture, and seasonal ingredients to ensure that your diet is balanced and packed with goodness. Simple.

1. The power of pulses

Small but perfectly formed, you should not underestimate the protein-power of these edible legumes. From Chef Andre’s favourite black beans, and soup-friendly cannellini beans to chickpeas and red split lentils, pulses come in 1000s of shapes and sizes. Low in fat, pulses are also a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre – leaving you feeling fuller for longer. Great for bulking up soups and stews, we love them best in things like our Roasted Carrot Dal and Mexican Black Bean Bake.

2. Go with the grain: try something new

Mix up your usual carbohydrate intake with interesting grains such as quinoa, black or wild rice and freekeh. Not only do they bring a real variety of flavours and textures to your dish – quinoa and bulgar wheat have a delicious nuttiness, whilst black rice and freekeh have a slightly ‘al dente’ bite – but they also provide different kinds of vitamins and nutrients between them.

3. Crunch time: eat more seeds and nuts

We love sprinkling our recipes with toasted nuts and seeds for a deliciously protein hit and added crunch to keep things interesting. Dry roasting in a frying pan or popping them in the oven for a couple of minutes is the best way to release their flavour and will leave your kitchen smelling amazing. Toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are a great topping for nourishing salads and hearty soups, whilst roughly chopped nuts like cashews and almonds bring texture to the simplest of dishes.

4. Get Saucy: swap mayonnaise for Greek yoghurt

Great in savoury and sweet dishes, a dollop of Greek yoghurt is an easy way to add a little extra protein, and a cooling note to balance spicier flavours. Try mixing through a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, adding spices like sumac, or fresh herbs like mint to make a delicious dressing. It also works as a brilliant substitute for things like creme fraiche and cream, as it gives a dish the same creaminess without feeling heavy. We love it in the cooling cucumber salad in our Premium Tandoori Salmon recipe, and with our Bombay Potatoes.

5. The zest of life: citrus fruits add a winning flavour

Finishing off with a good squeeze of fresh citrus juice can be the final touch, bringing the flavours of the dish to life. Lime, lemon and grapefruit can add flavour, colour, and contrast to what sits underneath. A lot of the flavour lies in the skin of these fruits, so grate them with a good quality zester before squeezing the juice out with your hands (as long as they’re clean!).

6. Spice things up: Turmeric and Ginger

Ginger and turmeric are great ingredients to get into your diet when you can. Ginger adds a lovely, warm flavour to dishes like curries and stir-fries and has long been reputed for its health benefits. Ground ginger is a particularly good source of manganese which helps contribute to the normal formation of connective tissue in the body, while fresh ginger is a great source of potassium, helping the nervous system to function properly and contributing to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.

With its distinctive bright yellow colour, turmeric is often used in dishes like our Indonesian Inspired Rice. Turmeric is high in iron, which we all need to make red blood cells and transport oxygen around the body.

7. Olive Oil: The storecupboard staple

Contrary to what most people think, oils are a healthier choice than solid fats like butter or lard. Oils are predominantly comprised of good unsaturated fatty acids, which help to raise levels of good cholesterol (great for heart health). The best type of unsaturated fat is monosaturated – the kind found in olive oil –  which also helps to lower levels of bad cholesterol. When cooking, we like to use pure olive oil for frying, extra olive oil for dressing food, and light olive oil for baking (it has a very mild flavour and withstands the highest temperatures).

8. Oats: the best way to kick-start your morning

Oats are high in potassium, have useful amounts of calcium and are also a fair source of protein whilst being high in insoluble fibre (great for healthy digestion and proven to help lower cholesterol. Oats contain beta-glucan, a carbohydrate that has been shown to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Oats are also high in ‘satiety’ value, meaning they help you feel full, making them a great thing to eat at the beginning of the day. They are also moderately rich in B vitamins, B1, B2 and especially inositol, and their carbohydrates provide a long slow delivery of energy.

9. Avocado: the best fats for your diet

High in potassium and Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, avocados are a great thing to incorporate into a balanced diet. If you’re watching your waistline, its creamy texture makes it a great ingredient to use in dishes that require creaminess without adding lots of extra calories. We love mashing it onto pieces of rye toast for a healthy breakfast or using it in dishes like our Prawn and Avocado Rice.

10. Eggs

Eggs are a good choice as part of a healthy, balanced diet. As well as being a source of protein, they also contain vitamins like Vitamin D, A, B2 and B12 and minerals like iodine and folate. Eggs can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, but it’s best to cook them without adding salt or fat. We love poaching eggs in the morning to keep us feeling full until lunchtime or scrambling them with low-fat milk instead of butter.

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