Don’t leave it to the end of the year to make a new commitment to health and wellbeing. By committing before the end of year party season starts, you can build good habits so you can enjoy this time of the year in a healthy way.
A great place to begin is to take stock of your kitchen pantry.
But where do you start without drastically overhauling your whole diet? Here are our favourite tips for easy swaps you can make to enter the party season ready to be your healthiest through this fun part of the year.
1. Go for wholegrains
This is probably the easiest of all the swaps to make, you can keep eating the foods you love, just sub in the healthiest variety.
Rice and pasta
Most of us have staples like rice and pasta on hand in the cupboard ready to go for a quick meal, so next time you stock up on these go for wholemeal pasta and brown rice. Brown rice takes a bit longer to cook, but its nutty flavour and high fibre content more than makes up for it.
Swap your white bread for a wholegrain variety and experiment with less common wholegrain like quinoa and wholemeal couscous.
(And try our Zucchini and quinoa frittata and Pineapple and almond breakfast couscous recipes.)
Make sure the breakfast cereal in your cupboard has a high wholegrain content too, to help make sure that a convenient start to the day is also a healthy one.
And did you know that popcorn is a wholegrain? Make your own air popped popcorn for a healthy wholegrain snack to bring out at parties.
2. Ship out the sugar
There’s no need to try and wipe sugar out of your pantry completely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your cupboard a sugar tune up.
Keep the obvious offenders like chocolate bars, sweet biscuits and lollies to a minimum and look for quality over quantity. If you love your chocolate, swap out milk chocolate for a bar of high quality dark chocolate – look for a variety with 85% cocoa or even higher! High cocoa dark chocolate has a rich flavour, so you can enjoy a smaller amount and get a real, full chocolate flavour with less sugar.
And try to keep some savoury nibbles on hand too. Unsalted nuts are a great source of healthy fats and a range of vitamins and minerals. Swap your lollies for a handful of nuts a day for a lower risk of a range of chronic diseases!
3. Ditch the salt
Canned foods are most commonly packed in a salty brine, so look out for versions with no added salt. Whether it’s those canned tomatoes you’ve got there to whip up a quick Vegetable shepherd’s pie or tinned beans you plan on using for those burritos, making sure your cupboard carries the no added salt variety makes the meal healthier with no extra effort.
The salt shaker
And when it comes to serving up food for family and friends, try leaving that salt shaker off the table and give everyone a fresh wedge of lemon or lime.
The bold, zesty flavour is a versatile way of adding a no salt flavour boost to your favourites.
4. Use spices & dried herbs
Keep a good stock of these – flavouring your meals with plenty of herbs and spices is a way to give them a great flavour boost, without unwelcome additions like extra sugar and salt.
Herbs and spices can also be a source of some amazing antioxidants, so using them is a win-win; you’re not just avoiding the bad stuff, but packing extra good stuff into your diet as well.
A great example of this is turmeric which contains a substance called curcumin. Research suggests this may reduce pain and inflammation associated with conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
So rather than turning to premade sauces or stock powder, make sure your pantry is stocked up with plenty of herbs and spices to provide a flavour boost.
Try our Pumpkin and chickpea curry to see how easy it is to make a delicious, spice filled sauce from scratch.
5. Keep it simple
Building a healthy diet doesn’t have to be about one or two huge changes and it doesn’t have to be hard work. Looking for simple tweaks we can make to what’s already in our pantry is a great way we can start building a healthier diet without much hassle or fuss.