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Thinking about introducing some healthier food habits? We hear you. It might seem like a humongous task, but really doesn’t have to be. Because with a few tips and tricks from NHS doctor Rupy Aujla, wholesome eating is as easy as pie (mmm, pie). And you can get your kids involved too; just take it from nutritionist Laura Wyness who’s kindly shared with us her top hacks on how to spark their interest. Check out their tips and tricks at the bottom of this post.

We’ve also put together five wholesome dinner recipes that can stretch your weekend meals into quick work from home lunches, or home school snacks. Whether you need them for yourself or the kids, we’re sure they’ll go down a treat. The best part? Each takes just 30 minutes to make.

Sausage and fennel wholewheat fusilli

Sausages, veg and pasta come together in this delicious dish that’ll keep everyone’s tummies full.

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Persian style grain salad with grilled chicken

This flavoursome recipe combines delicious grilled chicken with nutritious grains. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

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Butternut squash & aubergine tagine

Full of flavour and jam-packed with lovely veggies, this tagine is a firm family favourite. Top with mint and preserved lemon for even more colour.

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Harissa mackerel, sweet potato chips & tenderstem broccoli

Harissa-flavoured fish is the star of the show in this easy tray bake. Served with cool tzatziki, it’s a well-balanced dish for everyone to love.

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Spicy kale-topped red lentil dhal

Hot and hearty, this vegetarian dhal is set to warm you up from the inside.

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How to eat healthier

Contrary to what you may believe about ‘healthy eating’, doctor Aujla doesn’t think the answer lies in bland food for dieting (hooray). The key, she says, is to enjoy fresh, seasonal, nutrient-dense foods and focusing on wellness rather than weight. If we do this, our bodies have the incredible potential to look after themselves both mentally and physically. Here are some tips to steer you in the right direction.

1. Add some colour

Include at least two differently coloured vegetables in every meal. Think seasonal and variation, and if you have kids, get them to help choose the vegetables and cook with you. It’s more fun that way.

2. Focus on plants

Plant proteins offer the best of both worlds; nutrient density, phytochemicals and both fibre and protein. Basically, all the good stuff

3. Eat fibre

Eating enough fibre is key to keeping your gut microbe functioning, as well as for general health. You’ll find fibre in all veg, and even more in whole grains, pulses, legumes and beans.

4. Welcome fats

Quality fats are essential for your immune health, skin cells and for balancing inflammation. These can be found in nuts, seeds and cold-pressed oils.

5. Set a window for eating

Try to eat within a period of 10–12 hours, and at regular times (this will help put an end to late-night snacking and regulate your daily rhythm). So, if you had breakfast at 8am, aim to have dinner at 7pm.

6. Eat whole foods

Opt for whole foods as often as possible, such as roasted root vegetables with the skins on, whole grains like oats or brown rice. Also try to avoid refined convenience foods that are high in sugar and salt.

7. Be mindful

Mindfulness is a health-promoting tool that could benefit a lot of us. Try deep breathing, visualisation techniques, guided meditation apps or walks in green spaces without your phone.

8. Move your body

Find ways to get your body moving, especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle. Daily activity will help boost your metabolism and energy levels throughout the day.

9. Get enough sleep

Did you know that a lack of sleep is one of the least recognised causes of ill health? Treat your body’s need to rest as you would the need to feed it. Aim for 7–8 hours’ sleep a night, try going to bed and waking up at set times, reduce screen time 2–3 hours beforehand, eat dinner earlier and dim the lights in your home in the evening.

How to get your kids interested too

If your kids see vegetables as the arch enemy that must be defeated, you might need some support. These tips from nutritionist Laura Wyness can help you overcome some of the challenges faced with, and put healthy food on the table that the little ones will actually enjoy.

Start them young
Children who are encouraged to try a variety of vegetables are more likely to establish healthy eating habits into adulthood.

Be a good role model 

Remember that kids’ attitudes are strongly influenced by the people they spend the most time around. So, if your kids see you or their friends enjoying a variety of veg, then they’re more likely to do the same.

Get them involved 

From writing the shopping list and preparing the meal, to tasting the food for  flavouring as it cooks and adding their favourite toppings; if kids are more involved in the process they’ll be more invested in what they’re eating. If possible, growing veg or herbs at home can help them connect with food too.

Learn about flavour 

Food is a balancing act of five tastes: sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami. Young tongues are extra sensitive to bitterness, which is present in things like kale and broccoli. Learn to identify this taste and find ways to balance it out with a little butter, a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon to help get your kids over the initial urgh.

Go on, dip it 

There are studies to show that kids are more likely to eat veg if they’re served with a dip. Go the extra mile by adding veg to the dip itself too, the more the better.

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