Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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How to make sure you’re getting all your nutrients

 

aid) – It’s easier than many people think to eat a healthy vegetarian diet. If you take care to eat whole foods – containing all the natural nutrients that are often lost in more highly processed foods – you’re already on the winning side.
Vegetables and fruit are among the most important components of a healthy diet – and not only for vegetarians. Some of the nutrients in vegetables are destroyed by heating, so try to eat around half of your daily portion of vegetables raw, for example, as a salad or snack. You can also minimise the loss of nutrients by choosing quick, gentle cooking methods such as stir frying or steaming.

When it comes to bread, flour and cereals, the idea is to choose wholegrain products wherever possible. Wholewheat flour contains all the minerals, vitamins, protein and fibres of the natural cereal grain. This has to be healthier than white flour where most of these nutrients have been processed out. Just looking at a loaf of bread will not necessarily tell you whether it’s wholewheat or not, especially because manufacturers often add colouring to make their bread look darker and therefore ‘healthier’. But you can always simply ask the baker or read the labels. Organic bakers generally seem to offer the widest choice of wholegrain products.

Pulses play a very important role in a vegetarian menu. They’re a good, low-cost source of protein, they’re high in fibre and very filling. Lentils and beans are popular pulses and there is a huge choice of colours, sizes and flavours. You can buy them fresh or dried in any supermarket – and in cans or jars for those times when you need a super-fast meal.

If you’ve chosen a vegetarian lifestyle, you don’t need to increase your intake of dairy products. You can also get calcium from dark green vegetables, such as broccoli or spinach. Or you can drink mineral water with a high calcium content (higher than 150 mg/l).

If you don’t like, or can’t afford, fish you need to take care to use a good range of vegetable oils in your cooking. Linseed and walnut oil are especially good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. You can mix them with olive oil or sunflower oil to dress salads or vegetables. Nuts and seeds also contain valuable oils, which can contribute to a healthy diet. In the end, whatever style of eating you choose, it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods and above all foods where processing has been cut to a minimum.

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