If you are full time caring for a member of your family, it is often difficult to plan meals and eating healthy among all the other daily tasks. As a carer I find the best way to address this is planning or having nutritious no cook options when time is scarce. Planning is the best way forward particularly if you or the person you are caring for is following a gluten free diet.
When you are caring for someone as well as yourself, eating a balanced diet is essential to provide your body with all the nutrients you require. Balancing your intake will keep your body strong and give you enough energy to give the care to the person you are looking after and to look after your own health.
A balanced diet should include
Starchy foods: gluten free wholegrain bread, fortified gluten free breakfast cereals, potatoes, brown rice, and gluten free pasta are a good source of energy. Always choose wholegrain varieties and lentils where you can.
Plenty of fruit and vegetables
Aim for five portions a day to provide you with a good source of vitamins and minerals.1 portion is equivalent to: 1 apple, 1 medium banana, 7 strawberries, 1 handful of grapes, 150ml glass of unsweetened orange juice, dessert bowl of salad, 3 heaped tablespoons of mixed vegetables. Homemade soup is a great way to include a variety of vegetables in your diet, made in a larger amount and frozen in portions means you always have a healthy lunch at hand, it can even be heated from frozen.
Protein: Meat, oil rich fish, eggs, beans are a good source of protein. Dairy: Cheese, yogurt
Include healthy fats here e.g. olive oil, seeds Tips for eating well when tight on time.
Make 2 litres of soup on a day you have extra time, to have in the fridge for a quick and filling lunch option, if this is not there we tend to grab nearest food. It is easy to make a naturally gluten free soup, so it suits everyone.
Here are two recipes for easy soups, the minestrone can be eaten as a main course as it is or with the addition of diced chicken.
Affordable & Easy Options
If you are on a budget, there are affordable ways to shop for a healthy, balanced diet: Look out for offers on foods that keep, such as tins of pulses or tomatoes.
Dried, frozen, or canned fruit (injuice) and vegetables are cheaper than fresh varieties andjust as healthy.
Quick options for lunches or dinners which are nutritionally balanced include protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables
- Baked beans and grilled tomato with gluten free wholegrain toast (or serve with a baked potato which can be done in the microwave on full heat for 4-6 minutes
- Poached egg with avocado and gluten free wholegrain toast.
- An omelette made with 2 eggs, leftover diced cooked potato, diced tomato, mushrooms, scallion. Another option for a tasty omelette is goats’ cheese, ham/chorizo, and baby spinach.
- Gluten free pasta and chicken salad, mix pasta with leftover roast chicken, gluten free pesto mixed with mayonnaise, diced peppers, sweetcorn.
- Tuna and mixed bean salad. Mix tuna with a tin of mixed beans (drained)
- Vegetable egg fried rice. When cooking brown rice cook a little extra, cool it completely under cold water and strain, keep in the fridge. Cook some frozen mixed vegetables with a clove of chopped garlic in little olive oil in a large frying pan, add a pinch of Chinese 5 spice, and a handful of cashew nuts, toss in the cooked rice, and stir until completely hot. Briskly stir in an egg, using a fork. Add in a few drops of gluten free soy sauce and finish with a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- Pitta pizza. Using a gluten free pitta bread, top it with 2 tablespoons of passata and add baby spinach leaves, season with salt and pepper, top the spinach with a couple of slices of buffalo mozzarella and grated cheddar, bake in a preheated oven at 180°c for10mins. After the passata is on you can add any of your favourite toppings.
- Low fat natural yogurt with fresh fruit and berries, sprinkled with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
When making meals, prepare larger quantities and freeze the extra portions. This can be a cost and time effective way of maintaining a balanced diet. Here is a tasty nutritious recipe for beef and vegetable pasta bake which can be made quickly, it works equally well with turkey/chicken mince or pork mince.
When you buy fresh fruit and vegetables, it can be cheaper to buy them loose rather than pre-packaged as you can buy exactly the number you need. Try to buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season this is when they are cheapest
Supermarkets often reduce prices on products that are close to their sell by date, and this can be a good way to pick up a bargain. But it is only a bargain if you can cook or eat everything you buy (or are able to freeze it) before it goes off.
An example of this is when cherry tomatoes are in plentiful supply and at a cheaper price, buy a larger amount of them and slow roast them with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, balsamic vinegar and rosemary in the oven at 150°c until they are soft and starting to caramelise, allow to cool and store is sterilised glass jars or airtight containers in the fridge. They are a delicious option to serve with cold meats, cheeses or as a side dish to a barbequed or roasted chicken/ meat