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Shop For Your Packed Lunch

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Written by Becky Alexander and Michelle Lake.

Most of us eat the same things each week for lunch, with cheese and ham sandwiches being the most popular. Not everyone works near a Pret or wants to spend 20 minutes of their break queuing so we have come up with lots of ideas to make taking your lunch to work more interesting and delicious.

Noone wants to shop all the time, so you need to buy ingredients that are going to last until the end of the week. Packed (by Becky Alexander and Michelle Lake, Feb 2017) is full of quick ideas for grown-up, healthy lunches. These are five of our star ingredients that we always have at home. They all last for ages and are packed with nutrition, so you can add them to whatever you are already making or throw them all together to make a hearty salad.

  1. Rocket leaves. A bag will last a week in the fridge if you don’t pile things on top and squash them. Spinach leaves are pretty good too. More delicate leaves tend to wilt after a day or two. Add rocket to your sandwiches and salads, or stir a handful into a bowl of hot soup to boost your veggie intake. You can also whizz rocket leaves with a little olive oil to make a pesto to spread in sandwiches instead of butter. Aim to include a handful of leafy greens with every lunch; they are bursting with phytochemicals which have been found to be cancer-protective.
  1. Peppers. Orange, red and yellow peppers can be sliced and eaten with a dip or as the base for a salad. You can get ahead by slicing up a few, pop in a container and keep in the fridge to add to your lunches throughout the week. Green ones are only really nice when cooked. Jars of roasted peppers are good too, so why not buy a jar for the cupboard for when you run out of fresh salad? No need to add a dressing either – just a squeeze of lemon. Aim to add some brightly coloured veggies to your lunch to get optimum amounts of carotenoids which help to keep eyes and heart healthy.
  1. Feta cheese. A pack of feta will last for ages in the fridge. Just a small amount adds lots of flavour; crumble it in to your salad or pasta. You can freeze leftover cheese if you don’t get through it in a week or two. Add some olives from a jar (cheaper than the ones in tubs) and you are on your way to a Greek salad. Feta is one of the healthiest cheeses around ­- it’s lower in saturated fat and higher in friendly bacteria that most other varieties. Made from goat’s or sheep’s milk and naturally lower in lactose, many people find feta easier to digest than other cheeses.
  1. Cooked lentils. A pouch of cooked black or Puy lentils is so easy to use. No need to rinse, just open the pouch and spoon about half into your lunch box. Add chopped pepper, feta and rocket, or whatever you have in the fridge, squeeze over some lemon, and you have an easy and very nutritious lunch. Freeze the rest or keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. Protein-packed lentils are a fabulous lunch choice; they release their energy slowly to keep you full until home-time.
  1. Chickpeas. Cans of cooked chickpeas are a bargain and a great plant source of protein and iron. Look for the red or brown ones which are lovely in a salad or roast vegetables. You can also stir them into soup. I like the creamy white ones roasted: rinse, then mix with a little olive oil and a little paprika. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Add to salads and soups or eat on their own as a snack. It’s easy to make your own hummus by whizzing them up with some extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and cumin. Feel free to throw in other ingredients like roasted peppers or olives. Hummus makes a great filling for sandwiches and wraps or spoon into a pot and bring along some veggie dippers.

Becky Alexander is a food writer (The Guild of Food Writers) and food book editor for companies such as Dorling Kindersley, Penguin and Bloombsury. She writes a fortnightly food column for The Herts Advertiser newspaper focussing on seasonal, local food. Becky recently appeared on a BBC Radio programme giving commuters easy ideas for their lunches. Michelle Lake DipION CNHC mBANT is a registered Nutritional Therapist and has been running her own busy practice, Mission Nutrition in St Albans for over 10 years. She trained for four years at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition on its internationally acclaimed nutritional therapy course. She is a member of BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) and The Complementary and National Healthcare Council (CNHC).

packed

Becky Alexander, Michelle Lake
Packed
£12.99, pre-order from Amazon

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Pistou

This recipe of pistou from the book Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes by Nicola Graimes is a new take on the traditional soupe au pistou which is a specialty from the south of France, Provence to be exact and eaten in the summer months.

Low Carb Recipe 1

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 leek, sliced

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

3 green beans, thinly sliced

700ml/11⁄4 pints/3 cups vegetable stock

150ml/5fl oz/2⁄3 cup pasta

1 bay leaf

30g/1oz/1⁄2 cup whole-wheat conchigliette (small shells) pasta

30g/1oz/1⁄2 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed

sprig of fresh rosemary

salt and freshly ground black pepper

a few shavings of Parmesan, to serve

1 tbsp pesto, to serve

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the leek. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the carrot, celery and green beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock and pasta and add the bay leaf, stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, half-covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and using a hand-blender or food processor, semi-purée the vegetables.
  • Return the bay leaf to the soup, add the pasta, cannellini beans, and rosemary and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender. You may need to add some extra stock or water if the soup seems too thick. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary and season to taste.
  • Divide between 2 bowls. Serve with the Parmesan shavings and a spoonful of pesto.

Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes

Nicola Graimes

Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes

£5.99, available from Nourish Books

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Kefir Lime Colada

Water kefir from The Supercharged Green Juice & Smoothie Diet by Christine Bailey is simple to make and an effective way to support your gut health and give your immune system a boost as well. By blending in fruit and supercharged foods you create an amazing, healthy, fizzy smoothie.

Supercharged Diet 2

 

Ingredients:

zest and juice of 1 lime

80g/2 ¾ oz fresh or frozen pineapple, chopped

1 tbsp lucuma powder

250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water kefir

1 tsp tocotrienols or oil of 1 vitamin

E capsule, plus the squeezed capsule

1 tsp probiotic powder

1 tsp manuka or raw honey, or coconut sugar

4 ice cubes

Method:

  • Put all the ingredients, except the ice, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the ice and blend to create a slushy drink.
  • Serve immediately.

Supercharged Green Juice & Smoothie Diet

Christine Bailey

The Supercharged Green Juice & Smoothie Diet

£10.99, available from Nourish Books

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Heavy Metal Detox

Rich with coriander and watercress, and with fruity highlights, this intensely green smoothie from the book The Supercharged Green Juice & Smoothie Diet by Christine Bailey packs quite a punch. It will keep your body clean and help to remove toxins and waste material – a great smoothie to include in a detox or cleansing programme. Freezing the banana keeps the taste fresh and light.

Supercharged Diet 1

 

Ingredients:

1 small banana

¼ tsp chlorella powder

¼ tsp wheatgrass powder

1 tsp ground flaxseed

1 small handful of coriander leaves

1 small handful of watercress leaves

¼ mango, peeled and chopped

100ml/3½fl oz/generous

1/3 cup coconut water or water

Method:

  • Chop the banana and put it into a freezer bag.
  • Exclude all the air, then seal and freeze overnight or until solid.
  • Put the banana into a blender or food processor and add the remaining ingredients.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Serve immediately.

Supercharged Green

Christine Bailey

The Supercharged Green Juice & Smoothie Diet

£10.99, available from Nourish Books

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Quinoa, Courgette and Herb Cakes

These little cakes from the book Healthy Speedy Suppers by Katriona MacGregor are free of gluten and dairy if you’re sensitive to either. The quinoa gives them a firm, nutty texture, which is delicious with the fresh herbs and courgette/zucchini. Dipped in a little garlic mayonnaise, chilli jam or tomato chutney, they’re wonderful.

Healthy Speedy Recipe 2

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

140g/5oz/1 cup quinoa

300g/10 ½ oz courgette/zucchini, grated

3 spring onions/scallions, sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed handful of mint leaves, shredded handful of parsley leaves, chopped

10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped juice of ½ lemon

55g/2oz/ ½ cup cornflour/cornstarch

1 egg

rapeseed/canola oil, for frying

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

garlic mayonnaise, chilli jam or tomato chutney, to serve

green salad, to serve

Method:

  • Tip the quinoa into a small saucepan and cover with 300ml/10 ½ fl oz/ 1 ¼ cups of cold water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Turn out into a bowl and leave to one side to cool.
  • Meanwhile, place the grated courgette/zucchini in the bowl of a food processor with the spring onions/scallions, garlic, mint, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice and cornflour/cornstarch. Crack the egg straight into the mixture, add the quinoa, and season with salt and pepper. Blend for about 30 seconds to mix the ingredients thoroughly and to form a thick paste. Tip the mixture out into a bowl and taste to check the seasoning.
  • Heat about 5mm/1/4 in rapeseed/canola oil in a large frying pan until the oil is hot enough to sizzle loudly when you drop in a tiny bit of the courgette/ zucchini mixture.
  • Drop a heaped tablespoon of the mixture into the hot oil, flattening slightly with the back of the spoon to form round patties. Repeat until you have 3–4 cakes in the pan at the same time, or as many as your pan will fit comfortably, with room to turn.
  • After 3–4 minutes the underside of the cakes should be nicely golden and holding their shape. Gently flip them over and cook until the second side is golden. Lift the cakes out of the oil onto some paper towels and keep warm. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used; you should end up with 12–14 cakes.
  • Serve the cakes warm with green salad and your choice of dip.

Part-time variation:

  • To make a very quick garlic mayonnaise or aioli, add 2 crushed garlic cloves to 4 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with freshly ground black pepper and, if needed, a little sea salt.

Healthy Speedy Suppers

Katriona MacGregor

Healthy Speedy Suppers

£16.99, available from Nourish Books

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Fig, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Croutes

This recipe from Healthy Speedy Suppers by Katriona MacGregor, was given to the author by her good friend and fellow cook, Bella Thomas-Ferrand, it sings of indulgent Italian eating, both with its classic flavours and ease of preparation. A friendly greengrocer will find you figs, but failing that, good supermarkets have them out of season. After a few days in the fruit bowl and the help of sticky balsamic caramel they will be delicious. If sourdough isn’t available then any good-quality crusty loaf will work, the chewier and more rustic the better.

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

6 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

8 ripe figs

2 tbsp pine nuts

8 slices of sourdough bread

2 garlic cloves, peeled

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

8 slices of prosciutto

100g/3 ½ oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

handful of rocket/arugula

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  • Pour the vinegar into a small pan, add the brown sugar and heat gently. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and simmer rapidly until the liquid is reduced and syrupy.
  • Slice the figs into quarters, vertically through their stalks, and place cut side down in the balsamic syrup. Cook over a medium heat, with the syrup bubbling, for 1–2 minutes, then turn the fig quarters, spooning the liquid over the figs. Remove the figs to a small plate, then boil the remaining syrup until reduced to a thick glaze.
  • Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small frying pan for 1–2 minutes until lightly coloured, then leave to one side. Toast the sourdough on both sides using a griddle/grill pan or alternatively under a grill/broiler. Rub the garlic cloves over the toasted bread, then drizzle with olive oil.
  • While the bread is still warm, top each slice with 2 slices of prosciutto, followed by the caramelized figs, Gorgonzola and a drizzle of both the balsamic glaze and some more extra virgin olive oil. Scatter over the rocket/arugula and pine nuts and grind over some salt and pepper.

Healthy Speedy Suppers

Katriona MacGregor
Healthy Speedy Suppers
£16.99, available from Nourish Books

 

 

 

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Salmon & Courgette Frittata

This Salmon & Courgette Frittata from The Aussie Body Diet  is a high-protein start to your day and it is great for detoxing, with its combination of chelating agents, parsley and coriander. To get rid of excess water from the courgette, grate directly into a clean tea towel and twist until the courgette is completely dry. If courgette is not your thing, you can substitute any vegetable you prefer. Serve with a fresh garden salad.

Aussie Body Diet

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

80 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing

1 large onion (220 g), roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

10 small courgettes (1 kg), coarsely grated and excess water squeezed out

6 large eggs

2 x 85 g tins salmon in spring water or brine, drained; flesh, bones and skin mashed with a fork

1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease base and sides of a large baking dish with oil.
  • Saute onion with olive oil in a large, deep saucepan or small frying pan over medium– high heat until brown (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and courgettes and cook over medium– high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn off heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat eggs lightly with a fork, then add salmon, coriander and parsley. Add courgette and onion mixture, season with salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour egg mixture into prepared dish. Bake for 40–45 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked when tested at centre with a skewer.
  • Take out of the oven, leave to cool for 10–15 minutes and cut into large slices.

Aussie Body Diet

Saimaa Miller

The Aussie Body Diet: A Happier, Healthier You in 14 Days

£14.99, available from Nourish Books

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Buckwheat Pancakes

For this recipe of buckwheat pancakes from The Aussie Body Diet: A Happier, Healthier You in 14 Days by Saimaa Miller, you do need a blender or food processor to break up the coconut into the desired consistency. If you don’t have one, you can substitute coconut cream. These pancakes are very versatile and can be served sweet or savoury – try sheeps’ yogurt, fresh fruit and almond butter, or avocado, wilted spinach and cherry tomatoes.

Aussie Body Diet

 

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 young coconut

80 g buckwheat flour

30 g flaxseed

1 teaspoon coconut butter, melted a pinch of sea salt or Himalayan rock salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

olive oil, for frying

Method:

  • Blend 175 g of the flesh and 250 ml of the juice of the coconut until smooth.
  • Mix all ingredients except pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl until you have a smooth batter. The mixture should be quite gelatinous and sticky.
  • Mix pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds together in a small bowl. Scoop out 11/2 tablespoons of mix and set aside in a small bowl. Add remainder of seed mix to buckwheat batter and mix together.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and drop about 3–4 tablespoons of batter into the pan. Cook for 1 minute and then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the seed mix on top. Cook for another 30 seconds and then flip the pancake over. Cook for a further 2–3 minutes until pancake is golden brown and repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Aussie Body Diet

Saimaa Miller

The Aussie Body Diet: A Happier, Healthier You in 14 Days

£14.99, available from Nourish Books

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Matcha Superfood Bites

These antioxidant-packed nuggets from The Gut Health Diet Plan by Christine Bailey are ideal for healing the gut and lowering inflammation. Matcha has anti-bacterial effects on the digestive system making it a useful choice for improving gut health. The raw cacao butter makes the snacks rich and creamy – an indulgent healing treat.

Gut Health Diet Plan

 

Makes: 10 bites

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes soaking and 30 minutes chilling

Ingredients:

60g/2 ¼ oz/1/3 cup xylitol

60g/2 ¼ oz/ ½ cup dried cherriesor goji berries

120g/4 ¼ oz/ ½ cup cashew nut butter

zest of 1 lemon 1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp matcha green tea powder

a pinch of sea salt

2 tbsp raw cacao powder, lucuma powder or goji berry powder

60g/2 ¼ oz/heaped ¼ cup raw cacao butter or coconut oil, melted

30g/1oz/scant ¼ cup plain, vanilla or chocolate vegan protein powder, colostrum powder or collagen powder

½ tsp vanilla extract

matcha green tea powder, lucuma powder or cacao powder, for dusting

Method:

  • Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put the xylitol into a blender or food processor and grind very finely. Soak the cherries in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain.
  • Put the cashew nut butter into a food processor or a bowl and add the xylitol, lemon zest and juice, matcha, salt, cacao powder and cacao butter. Pulse, or stir, to combine. Add the cherries and the remaining ingredients, and process, or stir, to form a dough. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out walnut-size pieces. Roll into balls and put on the prepared baking sheet. Roll the truffles in a little matcha powder or use some or all of the powders for dusting. Serve or store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

The Gut Health Diet Plan

Christine Bailey

The Gut Health Diet

£12.99, available from Nourish Books

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Braised Chicken with Green Olives & Preserved Lemon

The combination of spices, lemon and herbs from The Gut Health Diet by Christine Bailey provide plenty of flavour for this Turkish-inspired, one-pot dish. It’s ideal for a weekday meal because it can be prepared ahead of time. Serve with cauliflower rice or Paleo bread, if you like. A spoonful of sauerkraut or pickles alongside the dish will give it a probiotic boost.

Gut Health Diet Plan

 

 

 

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small pinch of saffron threads

4 boneless chicken thighs

1 tbsp coconut oil

4 shallots, cut into halves

2 garlic cloves, sliced

¼ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tomatoes, chopped

10 pitted green olives

250ml/9fl oz/1 cup chicken bone broth (page 39)

1 preserved lemon, chopped

1 handful of parsley leaves, chopped

sea salt and ground black pepper

Seeded Paleo Bread , to serve (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 
  • Put the saffron in a small mortar and crush using a pestle. Leave to one side.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole over a medium heat and cook the chicken on all sides for 2–3 minutes to brown it. Remove the chicken and leave to one side.
  • Add the shallots, garlic, saffron and spices to the casserole. Cook gently for 5 minutes or until the shallots are soft. Return the chicken to the casserole and scatter over the tomatoes and olives.
  • Pour in the broth and bring to the boil. Cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Stir in the preserved lemon and parsley, then serve with Paleo bread, if you like.

 

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Thai Green Vegetable Curry

This recipe of Thai green vegetable curry comes from the book Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes by Nicola Graimes. The Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes is the essential tool for anyone who is interested in controlling their weight by cutting down their intake of carbohydrates. The key to success is eating the right type of carb alongside good sources of protein and fat.

Low Carb Diet 2

 

Ingredients:

2 tsp sunflower oil

200ml/7fl oz/1 cup reduced-fat coconut milk

150ml/5fl oz/2⁄3 cup vegetable stock (see page 23)

115g/4oz/1 cup small broccoli florets

1 corn on the cob, husk removed, sliced into 2cm/3⁄4in pieces

1 small red pepper, seeded and sliced

55g/2oz/1 cup fresh spinach leaves, shredded

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander/cilantro, to garnish

Spice Paste:

3 green chillies, seeded and chopped

1 stick lemongrass, peeled and finely chopped

1 shallot, sliced juice and zest of 1 lime

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1cm/1⁄2in piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander/cilantro

Method:

  • Place all the ingredients for the spice paste in a food processor and blend to a coarse paste.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the spice paste for 1 minute, stirring. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced.
  • Add the broccoli, corn and red pepper and cook for 3 minutes, then add the spinach and cook for another 2 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.
  • Season to taste and sprinkle with coriander/cilantro before serving.

Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes

Nicola Graimes

Top 100 Low-Carb Recipes

£5.99, available from Nourish Books

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Smart Sizzling – How to Have a Healthy Barbecue

Barbecue2

If you’re planning on firing up the barbecue, this is a good time to turn to the Barbecue chapter of my new book The Right Bite. On the face of it, a barbecue ticks a lot of health boxes, after all, grilled meats and salad seem to be a relatively healthy option, but there are some major pitfalls to watch out for. Here are four top tips to help you enjoy your next barbecue and maximise the potential health benefits.

  1. Select a Superior Sausage
    If you’re partial to a sausage, then take a close look at the actual meat content on the label, as this can vary dramatically. Some sausages contain less than 40% meat, which can include fat and connective tissue too, and which leaves a lot of room for fillers, such as rusk and water. The more your sausage leaks water or white liquid into the pan, the more it is likely to be largely made up of fillers. A premium sausage will contain 85-90% meat which makes it of far superior quality and ensures fewer additives and fillers. If you’re wondering which sausage to choose, spare a thought for a venison sausage – they’re a better source of protein than beef or pork sausages, as well as containing higher levels of energy-boosting iron.
  1. Tone Down the Toxins
    It’s a smart move to use lean cuts of meat, such as chicken, and to cut the fat off any red meat, as this will help to reduce the amount of fat that drips from the meat onto the barbecue which causes flames. Cooking meat over an open flame can lead to the creation of powerful toxins, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have been associated with an increased risk of cancer. You could also partially cook the meat in advance, so that barbecue cooking time is reduced. Using smaller cuts of meat and cutting off any charred bits could also help to reduce your potential exposure to PAHs.
  1. Shun the Sauces
    It’s easy to undo all your good work and careful choices by getting carried away with sugary sauces and glazes. A modest 37ml serving of sweet chilli or honey-based barbecue sauce contains around 4 teaspoons of sugar, so it’s important not to pour it on with a liberal hand. If sauce is a must, then opt for an unsweetened chilli sauce, a hot pepper sauce or even mustard, as these contain very little sugar.
  1. Keep the Coleslaw
    If it’s a toss up between coleslaw and potato salad, then you should choose coleslaw every time. Largely made up of antioxidant-rich cabbage and carrot, it contains about half the carb content of potato salad and twice as much fibre, which is good news for your waistline and your digestion. It’s also a smart move to opt for full-fat rather than low-fat coleslaw, as manufacturers often add extra sugar to low fat products to enhance the flavour, and coleslaw is no exception.

If you’d like more handy barbecue tips or would like to find out about the best choices for picnics, takeaway food and other tricky eating situations, then The Right Bite is definitely the book for you!

Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. Passionate about the importance of good nutrition for optimum health, she creates practical nutrition programmes suitable for a busy 21st century lifestyle. Jackie also provides advice and support for a range of blue chip companies, in the form of individual consultations for staff, nutrition workshops and menu analysis and has acted as a food consultant for brands such as Tetley. She is the ‘go-to’ person for the Mail on Sunday for sensible nutrition advice and has a regular column in Reveal Magazine. Jackie is also Chair of Trustees for the Institute for Optimum Nutrition.

RightBite_cover

Jackie Lynch
The Right Bite
Available from Nourish Books
 

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