“Eating healthy is impossible”… I’ve lost count how many times people have said this to me. I feel that the most common misconceptions that people have of healthy eating in Singapore are 1) it’s really hard and 2) it’s too bloody expensive. But it’s not. With so many different diets and conflicting statements we read online, I can understand how it can be confusing to know what it means to have a healthy, balanced diet. Keyword: balance. Remember: A diet should build you, not break you.
Try not to think, ‘if I’m eating healthy I’m never having a cake or takeaway’. If you can’t sustain a diet for the rest of your life, don’t bother starting. Healthy eating is not a punishment and it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with food. Doughnuts and pizza have a place in our diet — a small place, but it’s there. This is perhaps one of the biggest problems that prevent people from adopting healthier eating habits because people think you have to be perfect or “good” or “clean” the whole time, so they don’t bother. Perfect is impossible and not necessary. Try not to get sucked into the extreme messages of ‘avoid this and avoid that’, I once heard a popular Instagram fitness personality with over 1 million followers telling people to avoid fruits after 2pm if you want to obtain a 6 pack. Even if this is the truth, is a life worth living if you can’t have fruits after a certain time just so you can have rock solid abs?
Instead of trying to be Miss Perfect, strive for progression and begin slowly by introducing whole foods, cut down on processed foods and move your body daily in a way you enjoy. Just eat fresh, healthy and wholesome food (protein, carbs and healthy fats each meal) and tune in to your hunger/fullness levels and your body will automatically tell you when it’s had enough without needing to count your calories or restrict yourself. Listen to your hunger signals and only eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored, stressed, emotional or sad or you deserve a reward.
Eat yo greens
According to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, women between the age of 19-50 should eat 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruits daily. The Singapore Health Promotion Board only recommends 2 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruits but even that is hard to meet. Less than half of 480 pregnant women surveyed by Abbott Nutrition consumed at least two servings of fruit and vegetables daily. I know that if I don’t add veggies to my brekkie, lunch or snack, there’s no way I meet the recommendations of 5-7 serves of fruits and veggies at dinner alone.
Another complaint I hear a lot is “Eating healthy is too expensive in Singapore!”Invest in your health Juicys, you only get one body to live in and we are so lucky to live in a country where we have access to affordable and quality produce. I love ordering my groceries online because it saves time and money; one of my favourite vendors is Open Taste. OpenTaste offers premium quality food delivered straight from the farm to your door, 1 day after harvest compared to typical grocers who get theirs 10 days later. They offer free next day delivery for orders above $35, perfect for small families who only need to buy a week’s worth of groceries. Prices are about 30% to 50% lower than supermarkets and you can find a lot of USDA certified organic products. Here’s a snapshot of a previous basket of mine which costs me only $30, I’m sure most of you spend the same amount at a weekend brunch.
What does a serve of vegetable look like?
A standard serve is about 75g (20-80kcal) or:
- ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
- ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils (preferably with no added salt)
- 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
- ½ cup sweet corn
- ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (sweet potato, taro or cassava)
- 1 medium tomato
Here are some of my tips on how to incorporate my fruits and veggies into my daily meals
- Eggs: Mixing veggies like mushrooms and spinach into omelettes.
- Wholegrain Toast: Top with hummus or avocado, pea sprouts and sliced tomatoes, sea salt and chili flakes
- Smoothie (my fav way): Blend frozen spinach, water, ice, zucchini or cucumber, fruits (green apple, orange or berries) and a scoop of protein powder
- Veggie wrap: Any veggies I want (lettuce, cucumber, carrots, etc.) mixed with chicken, hummus in a pita wrap
- Sushi: Since I don’t know how to roll my own sushi and I find store bought sushi quite unhealthy, I make a deconstructed sushi bowl with lots of veggies and Japanese pickles. To make it healthier I use basmati rice (low GI) or brown rice (higher fibre), avocado (full of healthy fats), add seaweed (rich in fibre, protein and iodine), minimise soy sauce (high in salt), skip the mayonnaise (high in unhealthy fat) and use a good quality vinegar instead and add a protein source to add satiety to my meal and fuel my muscle stores .
- Salad (my fav way): If you guys follow me on IG story, you can see my lunch plate is basically a MASSIVE salad with 5-6 different serves of veggies (romaine, baby spinach, capsicum, broccoli, cucumber, carrots, avocado, beetroot, pumpkin, cherry tomato etc and fruits (guava, strawberry, pineapple, grapefruit etc). I’ll usually add an egg, chicken/tuna and avocado to bump up the protein and fat content. This is an easy way to just fully load up on veggie servings! Eat your rainbow!
Veggies stir-fry: It’s quite similar to my lunch except that I eat them in a stir-fry. I love using Asian greens, kale, broccolini, bak choy, snow peas, carrots with lots of chopped garlic added.
Pasta: Wholewheat pasta with fresh basil, tomatoes (vine, roma or heirloom variety is great for this dish), eggplant, artichoke hearts, spinach, and toss it with extra virgin olive oil and S&P for an easy, basic, healthy, yummy dinner!
Veggie One Pot Pasta! I’ve seen the videos of these amazing one pot pastas on Facebook so many times but have not tried it. So here’s how it goes: Use a large pot, oil the bottom of the pot. Place all the following ingredients into the pot: 1 packet wholewheat pasta, 1/2 bottle passata, 3 tbs tomato paste, 1 tbs tahini, chopped onion, garlic & chilli, fresh basil & parsley. Also add half a block firm tofu (can cube or crumble), 1 cup chopped pumpkin (cut very small), 1 chopped field mushroom, 1 zucchini shredded, 1 large handful chopped kale, 5-6 green olives, 5-6 chopped cherry tomatoes, a few pieces of capsicum, sprinkle of mixed herbs & a small amount of crumbled feta. Finally add 3-4 cups boiling water (depending on the side of your pot) and continue stirring everything over medium heat so it doesn’t stick until pasta & veggies are cooked.
Veggie Soup: Blend up veggies you have in the house with coconut milk for a creamy and delicious soup! One of my favorites is edamame & spinach soup or butternut squash. YUM!
My dinner is usually ⅔ veggies, protein (chicken and salmon), and a bowl of chicken or pork broth!
Brownies with veggies hidden in them. Deliciously Ella started the trend with her sweet potato brownies but I prefer using zucchini.You can probably tell by now I am a huge zucchini fan. Yes, it is totally possible to create irresistibly fudgy, fabulous chocolate brownies made from scratch, with a sneaky veggie surprise using this vegetable. Does anyone want the recipe?