If you follow my blog you'll know already that I eat healthily and exercise regularly. This post isn't about a 2014 resolution to start a new health kick for the New Year. I'm just refocusing and planning.
I'm now in training for Milton Keynes marathon, on May 5th. I have 5 months to get my food intake more in line with an athlete's diet! BBC Good Food (my go-to website for foodie ideas) has a whole section on eating like an athlete.
I'm not one of those people who knows in depth how much vitamin D I need to be getting, and I'm not crazy enough to make a kale smoothie. I'm just after some day-to-day recipes that will provide a balanced diet, fulfil my energy needs, and be palatable to me and my family.
Easy to make and full of nutrients, soups are great for using up leftover vegetables. I throw a handful of lentils into most of my concoctions to ensure I have some protein in there. My favourite recipe is Spiced carrot and lentil soup, or my own version of Ribollita that uses any vegetables I have plus cabbage (or any sliced greens) and a pulse (beans or lentils would be OK). And you can't beat a homemade chicken soup made by boiling a Sunday roast carcass to make stock.
Winter doesn't feel like the right time of year for salads. I ignore the "traditional" leaf-based salad and make healthy and filling wintry salads that are based on grains or pulses, such as bulgar wheat, quinoa, chick peas, couscous, or beans, to bulk out the veg. Control the grain portion, so you're not eating more than 100 g (cooked) a serving, and add any veg you like, such as courgettes, green beans, sweet peppers, onion, sweetcorn, broccol, or spinach, plus herbs for extra flavour. If you have cooked chicken handy, shred some of that in too, or add a low-fat cheese such as feta. And don't forget a dressing such as olive oil infused with garlic or chilli, balsamic vinegar, or a squeeze of lemon.
I don't want to be making different meals for my family and myself, so I try to plan recipes that everyone will like, or I can adapt easily to make them slightly healthier for myself. Turkey burgers or bolognaise are as tasty as lean beef (if seasoned correctly, and you don't tell the family!). Fish fillets (such as salmon) or a lean meat (such as roasted chicken breast) is always a good option for the evening, either on its own or with a sauce such as curry, chilli, or soy. Roasted vegetables (in spray oil), such as peppers, carrots, and beetroot, are an easy side dish, and chips can be substituted for homemade potato wedges baked in a little spray oil and seasoning. And don't forget the easiest meal of all: eggs cooked however you like, or baked beans and a jacket potato!