Hi gang! If you’re just joining us, we’re doing a little series ’round these parts that I like to call Have a Whole Foods Holiday. I think it’s catchy. Even if it’s not, someone pointed out to me the obvious truth I hadn’t thought of (I’m tired and in the middle of a move, ya know) that this is the time of year when we consume the greatest quantities of sugary, processed, unhealthy stuff we’ll pass through our lips all year.

{Here’s the link to part one in case you missed it.}

I’m not declaring an all-out war on all things processed, mind you — and pass the sweet potato fluff — but I am aiming to take one step at a time, to implement gradual changes that will result in more whole, healthy stuff arriving at the Collie Clan’s dinner table.


{Christmas 2010’s Health Food: Two Months Prior to Baby Bro’s Arrival!}

Today my friend Laura Anne (who you may have met round these parts before) is sharing some simple tips that will help you steer your food wagon in the direction of healthier choices.

Born up a tree!


So, I was so pleased when Caroline wrote this post. One of the things that shocked both my Mum and I is a recipe book a lovely person gave to her when she was visiting her best friend who currently lives in the USA. Every single recipe involved concentrated tinned (canned) soup. I won’t lie to you – I was horrified.

While at university, I studied Health Promotion. My eating and cooking habits changed dramatically while studying Health Sciences. So did my peers’. It did make my food bill a little bit more expensive, but I think it was worth it. It was also amusing to watch as the snickers bars and packets of crisps (potato chips) we brought as a snack at the beginning of year slowly disappeared, and bags of nuts, dried fruit, bananas, satsumas and apples replaced them. It was almost a silent competition to see who could bring in the healthiest snacks and lunches!

Here are my top tips for making your diet more healthy. These are (hopefully) simple things you can do to help you make meals a little healthier, but still enjoyable!”

  1. Steam rather than boil. Not only does it give you a little more space on the hob, [US translation: stove] again, steam keeps more the taste and nutrients in your veggies! If you don’t have a steamer, you can do this pretty easily by rinsing your veg, putting the teeniest bit of water in the bottom of a bowl, covering it up and popping it in the microwave for a few minutes. The more veggies you have, the longer it takes to steam. 🙂
  2. Grill rather than fry. Much less fat involved! Oh, and try to use poultry over your red meat too. Turkey mince is a great alternative to beef mince (ground meat).
  3. You do actually need fat in your diet, but some fats are much better for you than others. Monounsaturated fats are the ones you want to pick over the saturated and polyunsaturated. If you can’t be bothered checking labels – olive or rapeseed oil based products are a good way to go. Unless you are allergic or something! Avoid hydrogenated fats like the plague.
  4. Sometimes you need to use those woks and frying pans. Invest in an oil sprayer. No. I do not mean the ‘5 cal olive oil spray’ you see in the supermarket. That stuff is full of other rubbish that will mess with your digestive system. Buy an oil sprayer you can fill yourself with olive oil, and use it to spray your frying pan/wok to say goodbye to ‘whoops more came out than I planned’ moments that led to oily greasy dinners.
  5. Water down your fruit juice. Fresh fruit juice is the best, but is full of sugars. Watering it down means you drink the same amount of fluid but it’s a bit better for your teeth, and it means the juice will last longer. You’ll soon find that drinking juice ‘straight’ will seem really strong to you!
  6. Ask yourself this question: do I really need to add salt to this? The current RDA (recommended daily amount) of salt is 3-6 g for an adult, 2-5g salt for a child, 1g for a baby under 1 year old. Do you know that your average can of soup probably has 1-2g of salt in it? Start looking at labels for the sodium content, and I promise you’ll be shocked as you begin to realise how much salt you can consume in a day without even adding it to your crock pot. Buy reduced sodium salt, and try to avoid cooking with it – use herbs and spices to flavour instead when you can.
  7. Avoid the ‘diet’ drinks and food. Sweeteners and the stuff they put into ‘diet’ products really screw up your digestive system. If you really want that can of coca cola, go for the ‘full fat’ version rather than the diet one. Why? See here for just one article on why diet soda is so badly named. I can testify to this one, because my appetite went NUTS last summer when I was taking lucozade sport when I was cycling.
  8. Sugars. A similar thing to salt, you’d be shocked how much sugar is already in what you eat. I’m a sugar addict. I love fruit, I love chocolate, I love baking cake and eating it. For this one, let me refer you over to Bethany Hamilton. I now try to bake using honey rather than refined sugar, or using unrefined sugar.
  9. You still need carbohydrates. Your kids especially need those carbs. But again, for us adults, moderation is key. Also, you’ll find eating complex carbohydrates (e.g. wholegrain bread over white bread) is much better and can actually help combat sugar cravings.
  10. I love cheese. I use it a lot while cooking these days, since I can’t eat red meat anymore, and have become an almost vegetarian. However, it is pretty fattening. So, if you can use more mature cheddar or other hard mature cheeses you can use less cheese in your cooking for the simple fact a mature cheese has a much stronger flavour. As for milk, semi-skimmed has same calcium content as the full-fat stuff. So use a more skimmed milk for less fat in your meals! (Kids under 2 need the full-fat for growing though!)
  11. And an extra bonus tip: Eat seasonally. It’s amazing how much cheaper you’ll find it if you do. Have you seen the difference in the price of a punnet of cherries in July compared to in November? 🙂


Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Laura Anne! You just answered a couple of food question marks for me!

Hope you all enjoyed it! Have an extra tip to add to the list? Please leave it in the comments!