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Eating a balanced diet

In the quest to be healthier, it can be tempting to go big- cutting out whole food groups and denying yourself the foods you love. This is especially true at the start of a new year when many of us have ambitious resolutions to eat better, exercise more and generally get fit. But while making sweeping changes can yield quick results, they are rarely sustainable in the long term, often leaving well-intentioned new year goals abandoned before the end of January.

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Based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advice, we go back to basics in this article, with a guide to what a well balanced diet should look like, and why giving your diet a healthy overhaul doesn’t need to be complicated. With tips on healthy food swaps and recipe inspiration for nourishing meals and snacks that you can easily prepare using your Kenwood products, we’ll show how making a few simple everyday changes to how you eat, cook and shop for food can make a really positive difference to how you feel inside and out, all year round. ​​​​​​

Eat more fruit & veg!

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There’s a reason we were all encouraged to eat our greens growing up; fruit and vegetables are an unbeatable source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try to enjoy a wide range of different fruit and veg every day as part of a healthy balanced diet. This is actually easier than it sounds when you remember portions can include anything frozen, tinned, juiced or dried, as well as fresh. 

Easy ways to boost your daily fruit and veg quota include adding sliced banana or dried cranberries to your morning porridge, whizzing up a vibrant smoothie or enjoying a warming homemade soup for lunch.  

Why not try making one of these delicious veg-packed dishes using your Kenwood products:

Vegetable tartlet with winter pesto
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Mexican mixed pepper tacos
 

Starchy carbs = energy

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Starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice and pasta are the body’s main source of energy. Go for wholegrain rather than refined grain alternatives where possible, looking out for wholewheat pasta, wholemeal flour, brown rice, wholemeal, granary, brown or seeded bread etc. Wholegrain carbs contain more nutrients and fibre and take longer for the body to break down, meaning energy is released more slowly and you will feel fuller for longer- and less likely to reach for a sugary snack later in the day.

Eating wholegrains also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and strokes, and helps your digestive system process waste more efficiently. 

Other great sources of starchy carbs are oats and grains, such as couscous and bulgur wheat. 

Simple to prepare and super satisfying, these recipes are perfect for a healthy midweek dinner:

Milanese risotto

Squash macaroni cheese
 

Cutting down on saturated fat, sugar and salt

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As long as you try to eat healthily most of the time, there is a place for all types of food in a balanced diet, including the odd treat. However, most of us eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt; all of which provide your body with no nutritional value and can contribute to a range of health issues. 

When you’re buying food be sure to check the nutritional information; generally the higher an ingredient appears in the list, the more the product contains. Processed and ready made food typically has high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt. The great thing about cooking from scratch is you know exactly what is going into what you’re eating, and there are plenty of everyday ingredients you can swap in to help make your favourite dishes healthier; cook using olive oil rather than butter, replace sugar with agave syrup when you’re baking and season food with herbs and spices instead of salt.

These deliciously squidgy beetroot brownies are lower in sugar and fat than regular brownies, but will still more than satisfy your sweet tooth. 
 

Protein power

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Found in pulses, fish, eggs, meat, nuts and tofu, protein is essential to help your muscles grow and repair, providing your body with the amino acids it needs to help cells renew. 

If you eat meat and fish, aim for at least two portions of fish a week (one of which should be an oily fish like salmon or mackerel- also a great source of omega-3 and fatty acids). Choose leaner cuts of meat and try to avoid eating  too much processed meat like bacon.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, the good news is there are plenty of tasty ways for you to get more than enough protein in your diet; beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds and soy products all pack a mighty protein punch, and are low in fat and high in fibre, too. 

Developed by our expert in-house chefs, both of these high-protein dishes could help contribute to a healthy balanced diet (and taste delicious):

Mushroom patties with lentil salad and tahini yoghurt dressing
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Vegetarian nut roast

Dairy and alternatives

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Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are an important source of calcium, which is vital for developing strong bones and teeth, as well as protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and iodine. Some dairy products can be high in saturated fat though, so try and choose low-fat, low-sugar options such as plain low fat yoghurt and reduced fat milk.

If you’re dairy intolerant or following a plant-based diet, look for soy, nut, rice or oat milks that are fortified with calcium and the vitamins and minerals usually found in animal milks, and unsweetened. 

Try one of these recipes to get your daily dairy fix:

Quick and Easy Smoothies
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Raspberry & Almond Drink
 

It’s all in the planning…

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Cooking and enjoying good food with loved ones is one of life’s great pleasures, but making sure that the food that you and your family eat is healthy and nourishing doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself any of that enjoyment. By exploring new flavour combinations and swapping in more nutritious ingredients to give classic recipes a wholesome twist, you can open up a whole new world of culinary experimentation.

Cooking from scratch makes it much easier to take control of what goes into your food, and what you put into your body over the course of a day. Plan and shop for the week’s meals in advance, so there’s always something there ready to prepare at the end of a long day, or a quick, nutritious lunch to throw together. Batch cooking soups, stews and sauces so your freezer is filled with good to go meal portions is another way to help you make the healthy choice, rather than reaching for the takeaway menu.