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It’s the start of the year where everyone is going on a diet, trying to lose weight and trying to make changes to last them throughout the year. But, you don’t have to follow a strict diet plan to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and over the last few weeks I’ve been following the Naturally Energising Challenge from Nairn’s to get our whole family starting the year the way we mean to go on.
The Naturally Energising Challenge lasts for six weeks and each week you get an email talking about a different topic – healthy breakfasts, how to get your family to eat more vegetables, packed lunch ideas for children and adults, on-the-go snack tips and nutrition advice from Amanda Hamilton on getting children more involved in the kitchen. It’s a challenge that eases you into a healthier lifestyle bit by bit and something you can keep referring back to.
The whole basis of the challenge is around real food – fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and dairy products as well as pulses and grains which haven’t been processed too much like brown rice rather than white rice, oats rather than refined breakfast cereals. As a family we’ve loved buying, and cooking with more natural products and it’s a great way of teaching the children more about where their food comes from too.
Over the last few weeks, eating less processed food has really cut down our sugar and salt intake – plus, our food shopping bills have reduced too. We’ve literally overhauled the food we eat – from breakfast through to dinner and snacks too. It’s been a refreshing start to the year.
But, the main part of our day that we have really changed when it comes to eating healthier is lunches. We were very much stuck in a lunch rut before starting the Naturally Energising Challenge but it has opened our eyes to so many more options when it comes to packed lunches – rather than just a sandwich, crisps and a piece of fruit. It’s definitely made Dave more excited about his lunch at work and we have more variety when we take the children on a day out too.
We were definitely packing the traditional choices in lunches previously – white bread for sandwiches and shop bought snacks like crisps and mini biscuits. It was quick and easy but not the healthiest option for any of us. But, with a few tweaks we have all got a renewed enthusiasm for lunch.
We’ve switched to wholemeal bread when we have sandwiches and now love to take pasta salads out with us too – skipping the mayo! We have made some great pesto pasta salads and tomato based ones too that the whole family have loved.
Another great option is oatcakes with a topping. We tend to pack these separately and then make them at lunch time – rather than trying to keep them fresh and safe in a lunch box once constructed. There are so many options to top oatcakes and they are just so versatile. I love mine with humous, smoked mackerel pate or mozzarella and tomato.
We make sure that our lunches have a good source of protein – proper cheese in our sandwiches, chicken in the pasta salad or hard boiled eggs as something extra to eat during our lunch break or when we’re peckish later in the day.
Lunches for us always have fresh fruit – from a single piece of fruit to a more exciting fruit salad – but we’ve been adding vegetables too. The children love carrot and cucumber sticks and I’ll often have a salad for lunch both at home or out and about.
The children always see fruit as their dessert with their lunch but I like to add another healthy treat in too. We usually choose things like raisins or a yogurt but I’ll sometimes make flapjacks too for a really nice homemade but healthy extra for them. Dave and I obviously appreciate the added treat too!
So this month our family has seen a great change in the way we eat and we’re all enjoying food more because of it. We’re all eating more fruit and vegetables and our food deliveries are mostly real food which is lovely to see – as it’s all just so colourful, fresh and inviting.
I’m looking forward to carrying on with this new healthy food routine and being more active too. We’re trying to get outdoors as much as we can as a family, go to National Trust places and have more adventures to spend time together and be more active. This year will be one of less time indoors and more outdoors, enjoying each other’s company.
If you’re looking to kick start a healthier lifestyle this month check out the Nairn’s Naturally Energising Challenge. It’s definitely spurred us on to make some changes for the better and I’m sure you’d get something positive from it too. I now just can’t wait to try more of the Nairn’s recipes when our new kitchen is fully up and running! You can sign up here.
Here’s a little video I made about the challenge: