New year, food resolutions and simple ideas to inspire success, writes Ant Ellis.
We’ve said it pretty much at the start of every year, but this time we really mean it: we’ve changed. To kick off the new(ish) year, we’re gonna eat less crap, cut down on the booze and exercise more – and this time it’ll stick. I’m absolutely not here to impart nutritional wisdom, nor preach on any diet or system (I’m a sucker for comfort food), but I do know that a few basic habits could help to sustain your food resolution, and anything’s worth a try, ya dig?
So let’s talk about the two areas that suck the most to try and stay healthy in – breakfast and weekday lunches. Enough with the sugar-coated cereal, garage pies and drive-throughs. A bit of planning followed by some conscious shopping, and you could be making this one last. Let’s start with a super simple rule: five fruit or vegetables a day. Decent portions, not that soggy slice of tomato on your triple cheeseburger, OK?
Breakfast – and the easiest way to jam flavour and goodness into an on-the-go win. Smoothies are so versatile, you never need to have the same one twice, and if you avoid the bland, gluey variety, you’ll look forward to ’em too.
1. Slice, core, hull, and freeze your fruit, then use frozen for an ice-cold wake-up call.
2. Don’t throw the kitchen sink in – that’s when they become a boring tick-box exercise instead of an opportunity to create a menu of great ideas. Instead, pick three, maybe four, key ingredients.
3. Keep them cold, runny and drinkable.
4. Fruit can contribute excess sugar to your daily intake, so mix it up.
Blueberry Peanut Butter Smoothie
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- ½ cup blueberries, frozen
- 1 banana, frozen
- 4 pitted dates, frozen
- 1 cup milk of your choice
- honey, to taste
- 1 cup ice-cubes
Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Add liquid if too thick, add fruit if too runny. You should be able to drink it through a straw. Optional: Top with chia seeds.
Now, how about them lunchboxes? Endless sarmies will eventually bore you to death, salads are great but can be unsatisfying, and left-over pizza is unfortunately not a food group. Humph. Also, prepping for a week at a time is weird – can you really eat the same thing five days in a row?
Again, the greatest tip is planning – both for the kiddos and their extra-murals, and for yourself around your work sessions and being a parent. Write up your menu for the week and prep for each day the night before with a variety of textures. Always include a snack like nuts, biltong, grapes, cheese blocks or crackers.
A versatile winner that can pretty much include anything in the fridge and sustain you for an afternoon is a pasta salad. From simple Greek-style (tomato, cucumber, olives and a drizzle of olive oil, pictured) to the more sophisticated (see recipe below), a pasta salad is an easy fix for the family, goes a long way, and can include any protein from tuna to chicken to plant-based, or none at all.
Chicken Curry Pasta Salad
4 portions – scale according to requirements.
- 1kg cooked short pasta such as penne, fusilli, farfalle, rigatoni or macaroni
- 1 cup mayonnaise, divided in half
- ½ cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
- 1½ tablespoons mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 red or green pepper, diced
- 2 tablespoons fruit chutney
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dried apricots, finely diced
- 1 stick celery, chopped small
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped coriander to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl starting with half a cup of mayo. Add the other half once all ingredients are mixed, until you reach the desired consistency.
Until next time: As tough as it seems, it’s doable – I may even take my own advice this time. See you around springtime when the spandex comes out, and if all else fails, remember, round is also a shape.