Thursday, 4 February 2016

Healthy and Affordable Nutrition

  by Tanya Gregory of Body Beautiful blog and Bespoke Nutrition.

 Healthy and Affordable Nutrition

For many people eating healthily can be an expensive and daunting prospect. The majority of people who I have met through my work have often expressed concern about where to begin when trying to improve their dietwithout it costing the earth. The truth is there isn’t a one size fits all approach to improving ones diet; it is a personal journey of trial an error to discover how your body responds to certain foods. Adequately fuelling your body within your budget is an obtainable goal; with these tips and recipes on low cost healthy living you can start taking those first steps.

When you have a lack of time or lack of energy it is easier to grab the prepared meals on offer at your local supermarket. I don’t think I have met a person yet who enjoys doing their weekly food shop, we like to get in and out as quickly as possible. Next time you go into food shop look at what is in your trolley or basket. Is it mainly frozen, prepared & packaged foods and meals? How many fresh vegetables and fruits have you got in it? We are all creatures of habit and this also extends to the supermarket. We tend to whiz round the aisles picking up the same foods each week. When you go food shopping this week whether it be in store or online look at what foods you are buying, identifying the main offenders is one of the first steps to improving your diet.

Shopping tips:

Load up on vegetables they are a great source of carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. They will help you feel full without the lethargy that accompanies refined carbs (typically white carbs and sugars).
Very the vegetables you buy, each week buy 1 or 2 different vegetables the variation of colours andflavours will keep you meals interesting and delicious (this week I bought a graffiti aubergine!).
If pasta and bread is a staple in your diet, swap forwholemeal, wholegrain alternatives. White carbohydrates rapidly elevate your blood sugar causing an insulin spike, which can leave you feeling tired quickly (use the GI table below to help you pick better carbohydrates).
Avoid ready meals where possible, they often contain a lot of fat, salt and sugar. Often low fat alternatives have increased sugar and salt to make up for taste. Ready meals will not give you the energy you need for your day, if anything they will make you hungrier and help you to develop Hypertension & Diabetes.
Cheap, high fat prepared foods are not always kind to the digestive system. Often they will make you feel bloated, lethargic, cause wind, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. They do not provide good nutrients or good energy to keep you going, they will in fact zap your energy to compensate for an uncomfortable digestion.
Include more, oats, lentils, beans and pulses in your meals, they provide protein and energy without all the starch of potatoes and pasta.
Swap potatoes for sweet potatoes they do not raise blood sugar levels as much as white potatoes and are rich in vitamin A.
Stick to leaner cuts of meat, chicken and turkey are lower in fat and high in protein. Swap minced beef for minced turkey it is cheaper and leaner.
I often will buy meats that are on offer and use them in a slow cooker creation, they require little effort and taste delicious (see my pulled pork recipe below).
If you are on a budget then stick to it, use a calculator as you walk round the supermarket and stop when you have reached your budget. It will also help you to buy only what you need.
I often tend to buy too much food in a week and a lot of it used to go to waste. I hate wasting food and money so I spend 5 mins at home before I go shopping seeing what I already have and writing a few dinner ideas down. I find by doing this I buy less and waste less.
Buy low fat dairy products where possible, it will reduce the amount of calories in your meal and help to reduce that lethargic post meal feelings.
Where possible make your own sauces, pasta sauces are easy to make (see my Marinara recipe) and can be jazzed up with some chicken, vegetables or even sausages. Making your own is often cheaper, tastier and healthier.
I never cook without using herbs; I love herbs especially fresh ones. Buying fresh herbs weekly can be a pricey venture particularly as they have a short shelf life. Buy fresh herbs and freeze them. If you need to chop them up before you freeze them and place them in sandwich bags. I put my frozen herbs straight into the food I am cooking as they take seconds to defrost. You can transform your meals with a few fresh herbs.
I love soups, they can be healthy, filling, quick and useful for leftovers. Making a soup is not an acquired art, chuck in whatever you have left over and leave to simmer in some stock. They do not require a lot of time and can be very cost effective (see my Curried graffiti aubergine soup).

Quick, low cost & healthy recipes

Easy Marinara Sauce

This is a delicious and versatile recipe that can replace jarred pasta sauces. You can jazz it up with extra fresh vegetables and lean meats if you want to. This sauce costs 56p for 500g, which is cheaper than the many of the main branded pasta sauces. It is also free from addedsugars, additives and preservatives.


500g of tomato passata
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tsp of Olive oil
3 Fresh sage leaves (chopped)

In a saucepan heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic and chopped sage leaves. Lightly fry for a couple of minutes to gently brown the garlic and sage.

Add the tomato passata and stir to combine the oil, garlic and sage.

Season with a little salt and pepper.

Slower Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork with sweet potato mash

An easy and delicious recipe that all the family will love. A slow cooker is a great appliance especially for those who have little time to make home cooked meals. Slow cooker recipes aren’t just limited to soups, stews and braising meats join Pinterest and have a look at the amazing recipes people have created using their slow cooker. I serve my Pulled Pork with sweet potato mash or homemade bbq beans and a corn on the cob. This meal will cost you in total £8.65 to make, that’s £1.73 per serving.

Serves 5-6


Shoulder of Pork (fat trimmed off)
2 Onions (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic
300ml Tomato passata
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp Smoked paprika
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp Liquid smoke (optional)
1 tsp olive oil
corn cobettes
2-3 Sweet potatoes

Sweat the onions in a pan with 1 tsp of olive oil over a medium heat. Once they are soft add the garlic, ½ tsp ofchilli powder and pepper and continue to cook for 1 min.

Add ½ tsp of chilli powder to the tomato passata to make a chilli tomato base. Add the chilli tomato base, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcester sauce and liquid smoke and stir to combine.

Place the shoulder of pork into the slow cooker on high (for 6 hours) or medium (for 8-9 hours). Pour the sauce mix over and cook until the pork is falling apart. If you cook the joint on high it should be ready in 6 hours or on medium for 8-9 hours.

Boil and mash the sweet potatoes, add a little olive oil to the mash for extra flavour.

Curried Graffiti Aubergine Soup

This is a delicious winter warmer that doesn’t cost the earth for the whole batch it costs £2.09 per serving it is 52p. Buying spices is an investment and may seem expensive to start off with, but I cook with herbs and spices everyday so you will get your monies worth out of them. I buy my spices from my local health food shopthey are often a lot cheaper and in smaller quantities.

Serves 4

1 Graffiti aubergine (or a normal one)
1 Red onion
1 White onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
700ml of vegetable or chicken stock.
1 tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Fennel seeds
½ tsp Cumin
½ tsp Marjoram
1 tsp of curry powder
½ tsp of chilli powder
1 tbsp of Low fat Crème fraiche
1 tsp of olive oil
Seasoning to taste

Cut the aubergine into cubes and place in a large saucepan, with the oil, over a medium heat. Sweat theaubergine for a few minutes and then add the onions and garlic.

Continue to sweat the vegetables for a further 5 mins or until they begin to soften. Add all the spices to the pan and stir well.

Once all the spices are mixed in add the stock and simmer for 15-20 mins.

Blend the mixture with a hand blender till smooth. The soup should be fairly loose and not too thick, add some hot water if it is too thick.

Stir in the crème fraiche and serve.

Turkey Meatballs with Wholemeal Fusilli.

This is another delicious winter warmer using Turkey instead of Beef and a load of fresh healthy ingredients. If you find your body is not keen on wheat, you can swap the wholemeal pasta for gluten free pasta, brown rice,puy lentils or some roasted vegetables. This meal is packed with fresh ingredients, protein and slow release, digestive friendly carbohydrates. This meal will cost £1.75 a serving and £7 in total to make.

Serves 4-5

1 Easy marinara sauce (see recipe above)
1 pack of Turkey mince
1 small white onion(finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp of ground cumin
¼ tsp of chilli powder (optional)
salt & pepper
4 handfuls of wholemeal fusilli pasta (or alternative)
2 tsp of grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180°.

Place 1tsp of olive oil and sweat the onions over a medium heat for 4-5 mins. When they begin to soften add the garlic and sweat for a further minute. Leave to cool slightly.

Place the Turkey mince in a mixing bowl and add the cumin, paprika, chilli powder, onions & garlic and a little salt and pepper. Mix it all together with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll into golf ball sized balls and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or until you need them.

Put your pasta or alternative onto boil, this should take about 20 mins depending on what you have chosen.

Place 1 tsp of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and lightly fry the meatballs in batches for 2-3 minutes turning occasionally.

Put the meatballs on an oven dish and cook for 15-18mins or until cooked through.

Make the easy marinara sauce as per the recipe above.

Serve the meatballs on top of the fusilli and pour over some marinara sauce, top with a little grated Parmesan.