Your task this week: Buy extra-virgin olive oil. Start using it in place of butter or margarine in stir-fries. Make low-fat salad dressing using 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons vine- gar, salt and pepper (optional) and dried herbs.
Have a fibre-rich, bean-based dinner instead of meat. Try one of our recipes or
open a cookbook for other great ideas. Rinse canned beans before using them— this will cut down on the gas factor and wash off some of the salt.
Choose a fruit or vegetable that you don’t normally eat and try it this week. Pick something that’s in season, whether it’s mango (great in salads and an excellent source of beta-carotene) or fennel (a superstar antioxidant that you can throw into soups to add an interesting new flavour to your repertoire).
If you still drink full-cream milk, it’s time to start making the switch. Begin by changing to reduced-fat milk and drink that for one month. Once you’re used to the taste, move to low- fat milk and drink that for another month, until you’re ready for skim milk. If you haven’t tried skim milk in a while, try it again now. Today, manufacturers add milk solids that make the milk less watery.
If you’re like most people in western countries, you consume far too much sodium. Most of it comes not from the salt shaker but from processed foods such as canned soups. Start reading food labels to get an idea of just how much is sneaking into your diet. Your desire for salt will decrease as you cut back your intake.
When you’re doing your Saturday shopping, buy a new kind of margarine. If you have high cholesterol, try Pro-Activ or Logicol, which contain ingredients that help lower cholesterol. Otherwise, try one of the new brands, such as Seachange, that contain omega-3 fats, or are made exclusively from canola oil.
Your next project: Start weeding trans fats from your diet. This will be tricky, since manufacturers add them to savoury biscuits, chips and many other packaged foods. Check labels for ‘partially hydrogenated oil’. When possible, use olive or canola oil in place of shortening or cooking margarine.
Garlic may lower blood pressure and even inhibit certain cancers. Whisk a crushed clove into salad dressings. For garlic mashed potatoes, add peeled, halved cloves to potatoes while they boil, then mash.
Fish Fridays, anyone? Besides helping your heart, fish is a quick meal. Poached in a frying pan with a little wine or water, it’s ready in as little as 10 minutes. (Cook for about 8–10 minutes per 2.5 cm of thickness.) If your kids think they don’t like fish, change their minds with a tasty tuna casserole with pasta.