Add a healthy twist to your favourite meals!
You don’t need to go vegan or raw to enjoy healthy meals. Just by changing a few ingredients and making the right combinations you can give your meals a healthy boost. We caught up with Belen Vazquez to get her top 5 tips for a healthier diet:
1. Healthy condiments
- Replace salt with seaweed salt (see recipe below). A simple way to enrich your foods with high quality minerals, vitamins and fibre, including iron, magnesium, iodine, zinc, calcium, vitamin C and B12.
- Replace table sauces and ready-made dressings with olive oil, lemon, tamari and fresh herbs
- Introduce spices dry or fresh, whole or grounded. A few essentials: cumin, turmeric, ginger, thyme, oregano, rosemary, coriander, cinnamon and cloves. Spices have antibacterial, antimicrobial properties besides providing a few good vitamins and antioxidants.
2. Variety is health
The more varied the diet, the more nutrients to the body. In addition, consuming local seasonal foods supplies the kind of nutrients we need to face different seasonal challenges like more antioxidants in the Summer (summer fruits and veg) and high vitamin C content in the Winter (cabbage and root veg). It is also cheaper and environmentally friendlier.
3. Veggies, veggies, veggies
Everyday try to have a combination of raw salads, homemade soups and smoothies. Consider veggie side-dishes instead of potatoes or grains, pack in extra veggies in your stews, pies and sandwich fillings. Consume other foods that also count as veg such as garlic, onion, mushrooms, olives, beans, lentils, peas, tomato purees, humus and bean spreads.
4. Homemade broths
Bone broth is highly nutritious. Chicken or beef bones boiled with vegetables and spices have traditionally been the rescue remedy for the sick, weak and pregnant women. Bones are rich in minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc), fat-soluble vitamins, collagen and gelatin which help to heal the gut, support the immune system and repair. Ask your trusted local butcher. He’ll most likely give them out for free!
For a vegetarian version, use seaweed (kombu or wakame), vegetables and a pinch of miso.
Beef Bone Broth
- 2 medium size beef bones
- 2 peeled carrots
- 1 leek
- 1 onion
- 1 whole garlic
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 tbsp seaweed salt
- 2 bay leaves
- Other spices of your taste (black peppercorns, cloves, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, thyme)
Place all the ingredients in a pressure cooker and let it boil for up to 12 hours (recommended minimum of 4 hrs). Don’t forget to top it up with water. Leave it to cool down and strain the fat crust that will be formed on top. When cooled, it turns into a jelly-like consistency (don’t be put off by it) it will liquify when you warm it up. Drink the goodness away!
5. Go vegetarian once or twice a week
There is so much choice and ideas these days. For some inspiration check out the recipes below:
- 1 packet of Irish seaweed (preferably dulse, dillisk or wakame)
- Atlantic rock salt
Place the seaweed on an oven tray and bake at 100 degrees until crispy (-+10mts). Grind it and place it on an airtight container combined with a couple of tbsp of sea salt (rock salt). It last for up to 3 months. A kitchen essential! Taking orders for a minimum of 5 jars!
You can buy Irish seaweed online through Wild Irish Seaweed
Vegetable shepherds pie
- 4 medium potatoes
- 2-3 medium parsnips
- 1 cup of green lentils
- 1/2 cup of red lentils
- 1 cup of bulgur (or alternatively brown rice)
- 1 red or yellow peppers
- 1 leek
- 2 carrots
- 1 lemon
Cook the lentils separately until tender. Cook the bulgur in boiling water (-+10 mins). Brown the leek, pepper and carrots. Boil the potatoes and parsnips and mash them with some butter. In an oven proof dish place the vegetables and lentils first and then top up with the potato & parsnip mash. Bake at 180c for 30mins or until the mash is browned.
Pesto bean burgers
- 2 x 410g canned butterbeans
- 100g wheat germ (or oat or quinoa flakes for a gluten free option)
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3tbsp pesto
Pre-heat the oven to 200c. Mix all ingredients together. Make small patties with your hands or use an ice-cream scoop. Brush a little olive oil on top of each burger. Bake for 40 mins.
Belen works in the areas of nutritional advice, food intolerances and craniosacral therapy. She is a registered kinesiologist and craniosacral therapist in Ireland and runs a complementary health clinic in Malahide. Her personal and clinical experience has taught her the power of food for health. A mother of three, she has a passion for creating tasty and nutritious recipes for the whole family. She runs healthy cooking classes with practical hands-on demos of her recipes. Belen looks forward to supporting women and children’s health and love for good food. You can check out her Facebook page here.