To help you get 2022 off to a great start, we’ve put together a month’s worth of healthy eating ideas including handy hints from the Heart Foundation.
We all know how important a nutritious breakfast is to set you up for the day. If you can’t find time in the mornings to whip one up, make some overnight oats the day before. Combine 2 cups (180g) rolled oats, 1 Granny Smith apple, coarsely grated, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, 1½ cups (375ml) coconut water and 1 cup (280g) coconut yoghurt or coconut-flavoured yoghurt in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge overnight to soak. This serves 4, but it keeps for up to 3 days.
Give yourself an advantage going into each week by writing down a plan for your meals. There are plenty of benefits to meal planning – it can make prepping and cooking less stressful, help you eat a greater variety of food and limit the amount you spend on takeaway. As a general guide to healthy eating, split your week up by food groups: aim to have fish 2-3 times per week, chicken 2-4 meals per week and legume-based meals at least 3 times per week*.
According to Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong, plant-based proteins are good for heart health. Make this snack using pantry staples: place a 400g can Coles Chick Peas, rinsed, drained, on a tray lined with paper towel. Pat dry with more paper towel. Place in a bowl and spray with olive oil spray. Add 1 tsp Texan-style rub or Moroccan seasoning and toss to combine. Spread over a lined baking tray. Bake at 180°C, turning occasionally, for 35-40 mins or until crisp. Cool.
Watermelon is a summer fruit favourite and it makes a refreshing snack. Take it to the next level and use it as a base for our mini watermelon “cakes”. To make them, use a 4cm round cutter to cut discs from sliced watermelon. Top with cottage cheese and sprinkle with poppy seeds and lime zest.
When we think of boosting the flavour of our cooking, we tend to reach for the salt, but too much can be bad for your heart. Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong says the recommended daily intake for salt is less than a teaspoon and most Aussies are consuming nearly double that. Try swapping it for other flavours, such as finely grated lemon rind, dried chilli flakes, chopped fresh herbs or ground spices.
Generally low in saturated fat, plain natural yoghurt and Greek-style yoghurt can be a healthier replacement for higher-fat products. Add a dollop to curries instead of cream, or use it to make a salad dressing. To do it, place yoghurt in a bowl and stir in chopped herbs, lemon juice and a little olive oil.
Get even closer to the recommended 5 serves of veg per day with this trick – swap noodles and pasta for veggies. Use a spiraliser or sharp knife to cut veggies into noodles. We love using carrot, zucchini and beetroot, and it works for pumpkin and sweet potato, too.
Lean meats have a low fat content which makes them a healthy pick for salads, stir-fries and barbecue menus. There are plenty of cuts of meat available at Coles that qualify, including chicken breast fillets, lamb backstrap and beef fillet steak. Aim for 100g-125g raw meat and 100g-150g raw chicken breast per serve, and make sure you trim any fat from the meat before cooking.
Mixing up a homemade muesli means you know exactly what’s in it. Start with rolled oats as your base, then add bran cereal, pepitas and sunflower seeds or chia seeds. Throw a small amount of dried fruit into the mix, such as chopped dried apricots or sultanas. Then, store your DIY muesli in jars and enjoy a satisfying brekkie throughout the week.
Chocolate in moderation is okay – in fact, when combined with naturally sweet fruit, it makes a tasty snack. Peel and core 1 small pineapple, then cut into wedges. Insert a bamboo skewer into each pineapple wedge and place on a lined baking tray. Freeze for 1 hour. Dip 1 corner of the pineapple in melted dark chocolate, tapping gently to remove excess. Return to tray and sprinkle with shredded coconut or lightly drizzle with a little melted white chocolate. Freeze until set.
Eating vegetarian meals a couple of times a week is a great way to enjoy more veg in your diet, while cutting down on saturated fats. Try swapping meat for flat mushrooms, sweet potato, butternut pumpkin or canned beans and lentils in your cooking.
Not sure what to do with your leftover roast veggies? Pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant and sweet potato will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, so you can use them to add a nutritious flavour boost to meals. Chop them into small pieces to bulk out salads, or thinly slice them and use them in sandwich fillings. It’s also worth making an extra batch of your favourite roasted vegetables at dinner to use for lunch the next day. Try some of our combos below:
Nut butter, berries and almonds
Cacao spread, berries and pistachios
Low-fat cream cheese, cucumber and radish
It doesn’t get much easier than popping on some toast in the mornings. Plus, it’s another way to use up in-season fruit and get more of your 2 serves a day. To give toast a boost, get creative with fresh toppings. Mixed berries work well, as do bananas, avocados and tomatoes. Try some of our combos below:
Nut butter, berries and almonds
Cacao spread, berries and pistachios
Low-fat cream cheese, cucumber and radish.
We all know we need to drink enough water throughout the day – the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 2.1L for women and 2.6L for men* – but it’s not always easy to do. To enjoy more of the good stuff, try adding berries, sliced apple, citrus or cucumber, or herbs to a jug, then add water and place in the fridge to chill.
As well as your meals, planning snacks is a handy way to make sure you enjoy nutritious food throughout your day. Bliss balls are easy to make: process 1½ cups (135g) rolled oats, 12 fresh dates, pitted, chopped, 1 tbs almond butter, 2 tsp chia seeds and 2 tsp coconut oil in a food processor until smooth. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Roll in desiccated coconut to coat, if desired. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Sometimes we need to find alternatives to dairy and meat-based products. Adding vegan products to your menu, whether it’s for dietary or lifestyle reasons, can be a great way to get an extra dose of vegetables and plant-based proteins. For a good place to start, check out our plant based recipes.
You don’t need to douse your ingredients in oil before cooking to stop them sticking – a spritz of oil spray can go a long way. There are loads to choose from – think canola oil, olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. Spray a little on meat and vegetables before roasting, or lightly spray a frying pan or wok before making pasta sauces and stir-fries.
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 which, when sourced from oily fish, provides benefits for brain function and cardiovascular health*. Pair steamed or pan-fried salmon with soba noodles, cucumber, edamame and carrot for an easy poke bowl.
We may think of salads as healthy meals, but not all are created equal. To keep yours on the lighter side, avoid adding cream-based dressings and extras such as fried croutons. Instead, boost your plate with light and fresh ingredients. Start with 2 cups of raw salad veggies (or 1 cup cooked), add some of your favourite extras – think sliced mushrooms, roast veggies and cherry tomatoes – and then top with lean protein such as chicken breast. You can even include a handful of fresh fruit or nuts and seeds. Then, lightly drizzle with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, or make a yoghurt-based dressing (see day 6).
It’s a brand-new year, so why not try something new? Make a resolution to grab a different veggie that you haven’t tried before from the fresh produce department each week and add it to your weeknight menu. Or, give a familiar choice a makeover – brussels sprouts, for example, can be pan-fried for stir-fries or pasta dishes, shredded for coleslaw and salads, or roasted for a delicious side. For recipe inspo, head to coles.com.au.
Bites that keep you full for longer are ideal if you want to reduce unhealthy snacking throughout the day. No-added-salt varieties may help reduce the risk of heart disease*, so stick to natural or dry-roasted unsalted varieties and aim for 30g per day, which is about 20-30 almonds. To roast your own, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast at 180°C for 8 mins or until toasted. Allow to cool.
Take burger night to the next level and cook up your own better-for-you fries using potato, zucchini, pumpkin or sweet potato. Cut into thin batons, lightly spray with olive oil and arrange on a lined baking tray. Season with a little pepper. Roast at 220°C, turning halfway through cooking, for 30 mins or until golden and tender.
Air fryers are the hottest item for the kitchen right now. They’re great for cutting down on added oil, they heat up quickly and the built-in fan blows hot air evenly over food to crisp it up nicely. An air fryer helps you make crunchy chips or chicken schnitzels using just a light spray of cooking oil, without frying in loads of oil. To make our dukkah-crumbed chicken schnitzel, watch our video tutorial here.
While eggs are considered to be “neutral” for heart disease, meaning they don’t increase or decrease your risk, they can still contribute to healthy meals. Dietitian Sian Armstrong from the Heart Foundation recommends adding a poached egg to wholegrain toast with avocado for breakfast, or eating a hard-boiled egg as a snack in place of foods such as potato chips or biscuits.
Bright, juicy tomatoes are at their peak in summer and they’re an ideal base for healthy dishes – try pan-frying cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and garlic, then fold through al dente spaghetti. Or, coarsely chop roma tomatoes and Lebanese cucumber and drizzle with a touch of red wine vinegar for a refreshing side. Sweet varieties such as Perino tomatoes are also great for snacking.
Frozen vegetables are a handy and healthy option for meals. Not only are they budget-friendly and easy to prepare, but they can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. While most contain no additives, Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong recommends checking the label on the packet before buying to make sure it contains no added salt.
The type of veg you eat isn’t as important as the colour – aim for a variety of red, green, purple and yellow veggies, and switch it up throughout the week so you’re not eating the same vegetables every day. Try wok-frying carrot, red onion and red, yellow and green capsicum with your favourite protein and a little soy sauce for an easy stir-fry. Or, coarsely grate some zucchini, pumpkin and beetroot to make family-friendly veggie fritters.
Natural popcorn is a feel-good treat in place of potato crisps or corn chips, and it’s also a perfect canvas for other flavours. The best way to make sure your popcorn is made without any additives is to whip up your own using unsalted popping corn. Then enjoy it as is, or jazz it up with dried chilli flakes and lime zest, or go sweet by lightly drizzling with melted dark chocolate and allowing it to set.
While water is the best form of hydration (see day 14), all liquids count towards your daily intake. To make them really count, swap sugary drinks for freshly brewed green or herbal tea – just check the label to make sure they don’t contain any added sugars. You can also give homemade iced tea a go: steep your favourite leaf tea following packet directions, then chill before adding ice cubes, water or fruit.
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, wholegrain foods typically contain more dietary fibre, B-group vitamins and vitamin E than refined varieties*. This applies to food such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta and cereals and seed and grain bread. Adding them to your menu is easier than you may think – try making a stir-fry using brown rice, or swap your usual pasta for pulse or wholemeal varieties.
As well as eating mindfully and enjoying a balance of fresh produce, getting a decent amount of restful sleep contributes to a healthy lifestyle, which in turn can help with making nutritious food choices. After a good night’s sleep, you might find that you’re less inclined to reach for a sugary snack when you need an afternoon boost. For more helpful ways to enjoy a healthy body and mind click here.