Happy New Year to you all! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your friends and families and are excited for the year ahead.
After a bit of overindulgence over the festive period, people are looking to set good intentions for 2015, and I have received a few emails from people asking for the best ways to ease themselves into a more plant-based diet, either because a full turn around can be a bit daunting (and going cold turkey often results in crashing and binging later on) or because the friends or family people live with are a bit skeptical. My family eat very well in the sense that they all love cooking and don't eat anything heavily processed, but for my dad the thought of a meal without meat is quite a scary one! It is so important not to let this put you off, so I have come up with 3 simple rules to get you started on a healthier, more plant-based 2015, without excluding you from family meal times.
Rule no. 1 - STAY HYDRATED
Staying hydrated is absolutely key to your health and there are so many delicious ways to do it. Make sure you are drinking lots of water, herbal tea, coconut water, freshly made juices and smoothies. If you are one of those people who finds it hard to swig water all day, try infusing a jar of water with mint/cucumber/lemon/blueberries/ginger to make it taste fresh and exciting. You can try any flavour combination depending on what you have in your fruit bowl - my favourite is this Cucumber Basil Infusion.
Smoothies are a great way to hydrate and they also make a surprisingly filling breakfast, or freshly made juicers if you have access to a juicer. I like to sneak lots of hidden veggies into mine so that I'm feeling healthy before I even leave the house in the morning. My go-to favourites are:
Beetroot Ginger Cucumber Juice
Simple Berry Smoothie
Raspberry Avocado Kale Smoothie
Blackberry Coconut Kale Smoothie
Finally on the subject of drinks, switching to homemade almond milk is a great way to ditch the dairy - it is better for you, the environment and it won't affect what everyone else in your house is eating.
Rule no. 2 - EAT THE RAINBOW
We've all been told since we were children to eat our vegetables and this rule still applies. Whilst fruit is great, it does contain a lot of natural sugar, so you should aim to be getting your goodness mainly from veg. Greens are undeniably amazing, but try and eat all the colours of the rainbow - red/purple vegetables like beetroots, red peppers, aubergine and red cabbage in order to benefit from cancer fighting anthocyanins and lycopene, yellow/orange vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, sweetcorn and squash are bursting with beta-carotene which your body converts into vitamin A, and good old greens like asparagus, courgette, broccoli and spinach are packed full of chlorophyll, iron and calcium.
Rule no. 3 - DITCH THE REFINED WHITE FLOUR
As much as we all love pizza, pasta and bread, refined white flour is not doing you or your body any favours. Try experimenting this year with more wholesome flour blends, courgette or carrot spirals instead of noodles or pasta, or try making your own raw pizza base. I gave my sisters spiralisers for Christmas and they are both total converts already! You can still make and enjoy your favourite pasta sauces but without the carb overload and inevitable energy slump. For bread, try making it with buckwheat (like this Banana and Maca Bread) or spelt flour (Sundried Tomato, Pumpkin Seed and Spelt Loaf) and if the idea of making a healthy pizza seems far too strenuous, swap your trip to your favourite pizza chain for a lighter, healthier restaurant choice (Paris and London suggestions).
Hope this is helpful and good luck if this is the month for you to start changing your diet. The bottom line is that food should be a real pleasure, don't make strict rules that you are likely to break, and treat yourself from time to time - nobody is perfect!