Processed food is everywhere and its impossible to avoid them. The story was different a few years back. As soon as we are greeted with savoury food of different kind. The Shelves are lined with oily, surgery dense cereals and salt infused foods.
Research has shown that the high content of preservatives, salt and chemicals in our food is detrimental to our health. Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease are on the increases according to NHS UK.
According to Cancer Research UK, a third of all cases of cancer were avoidable, about 135,000. The charity found that excess weight now caused 6.3% of all cancer cases.
The advice from the health service is we should aim to consume as fresh as possible. A decade ago process foods were few and far between, foods and vegetable in season lined supermarket shelfs. Fresh local produces were regularly seen on stocked by superstores shelfs. Families rarely eat any processed food, it was all fresh from the garden.
Granted it was easy then as most women were stay at home mums. My mum worked, but on her way back from the office she will stop by the local market and buy fresh produce and cooked on the day and eaten up.
Today we have both parent working with good reasons, with this comes quick, easy fast food laced preservatives, and sugar. These quick easy meals are handy and attractive as cooking daily is time consuming and tiring after a hard day’s work. Processed food seems to be the easiest way to get something onto our dinner plate.
The advise of the health service is to avoid too much of process food: Here are five ways to do so.
1. Buy Frozen Vegetables. Frozen vegetables are frozen almost immediately after harvest. Hence the vitamins and nutrients are locked in for freshness. They last longer than unfrozen options and depending on the size you can get several uses out of them. Check the packing to ensure that nothing else has been added to the vegetables.
2. If you must buy fresh go for locally produced vegetables. Vegetables flown 100s of miles to the shop floor often loses a fair amount of their nutrients by the time they get to the shelf. Buying locally produced goods means that your vegetables still have most of its goodness and you are supporting local farmer. Visit farmers market for locally grown vegetables you will be amazed at what you will find.
3. Plan Meals Ahead; it may be helpful if you plan your meals ahead of time. Think of the 3 Ps. Plan, prepare and peel. Set a few minutes aside each week. Pick a time you are less likely to be rushed off your feet and plan your weekly meals. This will ensure that you are organised and are in control of what you prepare.
4. Prepare Vegetables and Protein in Advance. Cut up, wash up and freeze up your vegetables and proteins. Proteins can be fish, meat, chicken, beef, etc. You can either get already washed protein and freeze them or you can buy the frozen ones. De-freeze them at room temperature a few hours before cooking or you can bring them out 4 hours before use.
5. Cook in Bulk. Cooking in bulk is also another way to avoid process food and also avoid spending hours in the kitchen. Think 3 S, sauces, stews and soups. These can be prepared and frozen. By cooking in bulk, you know what you will have daily basis it also makes weekly planning easy
In Conclusion, prepare any soups, stews or soups which you might need for the weeks ahead and freeze them in small bowls. At meal times only bring out what you need.
With these few tips you will be well on your way to ensure that you and your family eat fresh, healthy and balanced meal.