As we approach the end of January, the vigour you first felt when setting New Year’s resolutions might be starting to fade, and continual healthy eating can feel like an uphill battle.
But instead of spending money on a takeaway, what if you could stick to your goals – in a colourful, vibrant and delicious way, rather than settling down with a soggy salad.
If you want to keep up with a healthy diet for the rest of the year, these chef-approved tips might help…
For chef Gennaro Contaldo, staying healthy is all about balance – and never depriving himself completely.
“I try to do a healthy diet [but] I’ve never been on a diet. Do I need to? I don’t think so. Today is big flavour of pasta, and tomorrow is big flavour of vegetables – I try to do balance. Today we eat a lot of meat? Tomorrow we eat a lot of fish. Balance,” says Contaldo, who trained Jamie Oliver in Italian cooking.
Recently he baked his own bread laced with pork scratchings from a local butcher. “That beautiful bread,” he remembers. “But for the next few days, I will eat something else. I’ll have a slice of toast.
“Sweet cake? Yes, whatever they put in front of me, I will eat it. But only in small portions, not because I cannot eat it, because by my age you cannot eat [a lot of] very, very sweet stuff – but I do taste everything.”
Gennaro’s Cucina: Hearty Money-Saving Meals From An Italian Kitchen by Gennaro Contaldo (Harper Collins)
For Kwoklyn Wan, cooking more Chinese meals at home could be the secret to staying healthy.
“The nice thing about Chinese food is you can make it healthy very easily,” he explains.
“So, instead of using your vegetable oil, your coconut oil or whatever oil, you could use spray oil, [with] stir-fried chicken and vegetables.
“There you go: there’s your protein, you’ve got your vegetables and your vitamins, and then even boiled rice instead of fried rice.
“Or you could have noodles, or rice noodles. I’m very lucky in the sense that I was born into this amazing culture with food you can make healthy very easily, and you don’t forsake any of the flavour.”
One Wok, One Pot by Kwoklyn Wan (Quadrille)
Eating healthily doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out on your favourite meals – it just might require a few smart tweaks.
“I love adding fresh vegetables to the pasta water when I’m cooking pasta with pesto: green beans, chopped fennel, chunks of zucchini, broccoli florets, broad beans when in season… Whatever I have to hand, really,” says Skye McAlpine.
“Basically, you cook the veggies in the water with the pasta and then add the pesto sauce. It’s delicious and makes for a very nutritious and complete meal.”
A Table Full Of Love by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury Publishing, available February 2)
Unsurprisingly for someone who worked as a time management expert before writing cookbooks, Suzanne Mulholland’s top tip is to make a plan.
“Organise yourself in advance and prep as much as you can, so it’s all in your fridge… It’s [then] easier to stick to a routine, isn’t it?” she says.
“If you’ve made a couscous salad, and you make [extra] that you can take to work, you’re less likely to nip into Pret and eat a sandwich of 700 calories, because you have done that in advance and brought it with you.
“So, doing anything in advance, spending time thinking about stuff and getting it down on paper or on your phone – out of your head – means you’re more likely to achieve any goals you want to set.”
The Batch Lady: Cooking On A Budget by Suzanne Mulholland (HQ)
To really get excited about eating healthily – and then hopefully sticking to it beyond January – Heather Thomas is all about eating seasonally.
And early in the year, it’s citrus fruit she’s most thrilled about. “I live – most of the time – in Greece, and I can walk around the streets of Athens picking [oranges and lemons] off trees – they’re everywhere,” she says.
After the “feasting over Christmas and New Year”, she recommends having meals that are “really refreshing, zingy and citrusy, and lighter”.
The Veggie Christmas Cookbook by Heather Thomas (HarperNonFiction)