We all know that mornings are stressful, at lunch all we want is something quick to throw in the oven and at dinnertime we are too tired or pressed for time to prepare sophisticated dishes. So we've gathered some healthy options for you (and us too…) which can match the preparation time and ease of processed and ultra-processed products found in our cupboards and fridges. Why is it preferable to prepare food yourself rather than buy ultra-processed food? When you cook food at home from fresh or raw ingredients, then there are no additives, powders or unfamiliar compounds. Quantities are just right; flavor is subtle and controlled by us. Moreover, preparing food becomes an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with our kids (of all ages), to get to know new flavors and cooking methods, to experiment, to taste. It is important to remember that it's not just food. The variety, the flavors and setting a personal example as parents – shape our children's preferences and habits for life.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Chicken breast or home-baked schnitzel
Processed food? Cast aside.
Fresh Equals Healthy.
Ultra-processed chicken or beef products often contain many food additives that improve texture, flavor and even color. Many foods are also pre-fried in the factory. With little effort, you can quickly and easily prepare chicken breasts in the oven or a frying pan (with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and spices such as sweet paprika or black pepper) and if you really want - home fried schnitzels will contain less salt and usually less oil than the pre-cooked ones. They will definitely contain less additives.
Prepared fish fingers or fish schnitzels have large quantities of salt, various additives and substances and even water in varying quantities. By preparing fish at home, you can control the quantities: a little olive oil, salt and herbs - you can also bake vegetables in the oven - and you'll get a colorful, healthy meal with all food categories that everyone loves.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Homemade ketchup
Store bought ketchup usually contains large amounts of salt and sugar which is significant in light of the fact that many "heavy" users are children. At least at home we can try to replace it with homemade ketchup based on tomato puree (or freshly grated tomatoes) with herbs and spices (a little salt, sugar, vinegar and other dried herbs to taste) and you can control the quantities.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Vegetable or chicken soup from natural ingredients, not powder
Soup powders contain many ingredients that cannot be found in a home kitchen: dried, ground chicken or vegetables, sometimes flavor enhancers or preservatives, and always very large amounts of sodium – the main mineral in salt. Preparing soup? You can replace powders with pure spices (such as black pepper, paprika, turmeric etc. – not spice mixes which contain large quantities of salt), fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, cilantro etc.) and of course, vegetables for flavor. The end result will be a colorful soup rich with minerals, with fewer unnecessary additives.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Instant meal substitutes
Instant meals seem like an accessible and quick solution, but it's important to know that one serving contains approximately 1400 mg of sodium, nearly 60% of the recommended daily intake for adults (up to 2400 mg). What's the solution? Soak noodles separately in boiling water and in the meantime sauté vegetables (fresh or frozen) and control the quantities of oil, salt and herbs and spices.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Fruit yogurt
Store bought fruit yogurts, even if they claim to have "natural ingredients only", contain large quantities of sugar (a natural ingredient) and at times even thickeners, flavor enhancers and other additives. You can buy plain yogurt and add sliced fruit and you'll get a natural and healthy desert.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Colorful sliced fruit
It seems that everything has already been written about gummy bears and the like – vast quantities of sugar, glazing agents and stabilizers and of course, food colorings from many sources and of many types. Instead of these, use cookie cutters, a knife and a pinch of creativity to slice fruit in a variety of shapes and colors, on skewers or in a bowl.
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: Home baked cakes instead of store bought cakes
Bakery goods contain large quantities of sugar, various oils, some hardened and others that cannot be found in a home kitchen plus other additives, ranging from salt (in baking powder) to colorings, flavorings and preservatives. When we bake a cake at home, we control quantities and can also reduce fats and sugars, add fruit, replace some of the flour with whole flour and many other healthy upgrades. All this before we've even discussed the baking aroma in the kitchen…
#EfshariBari_Upgrade: colorful and garnished water
Sweetened beverages (yes, fresh juices too) contain large quantities of unnecessary sugar (2 cups of flavored water contain 4 teaspoons of sugar; the same quantity of juice contains 8 teaspoons and if you drink 2 cups of sugar-sweetened soft drink you'll reach 12 teaspoons). So what should you do? Prepare pitchers of water with colorful and tasty garnishes such as slices of orange, lemon, apple, strawberries, cucumbers, kiwi, mint, pomegranate seeds, cinnamon sticks or any colorful and cheerful combination you like.