We all have 24 hours in the day – no more, no less. Life can get pretty busy, so how do you find the time to take care of your health? And how do you ensure you get the best return on that time you invest?
We asked Jean Hailes naturopath Sandra Villella for some time-saving ways you can invest in your health. It turns out that healthy choices, even a quick two minutes in the kitchen, can give you some big rewards.
Bircher for breakfast
The investment: On work days, Sandra recommends getting organised and preparing your breakfast the night before. Bircher muesli is her go-to breakfast; it’s easy and quick to prepare, usually taking around two to five minutes.
There are many immediate health rewards:
- it tastes great and makes the morning easier and more enjoyable
- it can fuel you until lunchtime, keeping you energetic and your blood sugar levels steady.
There are also long-term gains for spending those two minutes daily getting ahead:
- research shows that people who eat breakfast burn more energy throughout the day and are more likely to be a healthier weight
- Sandra’s Bircher muesli recipe is rich in fibre – each serve contains 7g of the recommended 25g of daily fibre. Research has also found that having healthy amounts of fibre in your diet decreases the risk of bowel cancer
- the various high-fibre ingredients in the muesli feed the healthy gut bacteria, promoting good digestion
- the oats also work to reduce cholesterol levels, making it a heart-healthy choice.
All that for two minutes of time! Find the recipe here and start reaping the rewards.
The investment: On the weekend, when you have more time, Sandra recommends spending a couple of hours preparing food for dinners for the week ahead. Her favourite recipes for weekday shortcuts are an easy green pesto, a tray of roast vegetables and a casserole or vegetable-based soup with legumes and wholegrains or meat.
The immediate gains:
- A sense of achievement and accomplishment – cooking on the weekends rather than during the busy week allows you to enjoy your time in the kitchen rather than it being stressful, making weeknight dinnertimes a breeze
- The green pesto goes well with pieces of grilled or baked salmon, meaning you only have to cook the fish on the night, prepare a simple side salad and you have a balanced meal
- The roast veggies are very useful throughout the week – on the side with meat or chicken for one night, in a salad with nuts and seeds on another, or with cheese, goat’s cheese or tinned fish for lunches
- The veggie soup with legumes (for example this cauliflower and cannellini bean soup) is a good way to get nutritious vegetables into the kids. Sandra recommends making enough for one dinner for your household and popping the other half into the freezer for next week.
The long-term gains:
- Alarmingly, only five per cent of Australians eat enough fruit and vegetables. These recipes will help you meet your quota and get all the benefits of these disease-fighting foods
- The greens in the green pesto also count towards your veggie intake. “We often don’t realise it, but herbs such as parsley, basil and coriander are a great way to get more greens into our diet,” says Sandra.
- On average, Australian women spend eight hours every week on food preparation and clean-up. So why not get more out of your hours in the kitchen with meals that serve as leftovers as well?
Get the slow cooker to do the work for you
The investment: On a night when you know you’re going to be home late, Sandra recommends using a slow cooker. Before leaving for your day, pop in your ingredients and set it to be ready for when you get home. Here are some of Sandra’s favourite variations:
- Italian style casserole – meat, vegetables, vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes, herbs
- Chicken curry – chicken, vegetables, coconut milk, water and a bought curry paste
- Cheaper cuts of meat work well in slow cookers, which break them down and making them delicious and easy to digest
The return: The biggest joy of using a slow cooker is walking in the door at day’s end and being greeted with the amazing aromas of a no-fuss dinner – it’s ready without having to do another thing!
From these examples, you can see that making healthy choices, even in the hectic holiday season, has its rewards – both in the short-term and long-term. Find more tips and tools for healthy eating and healthy living on the Jean Hailes website.