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As a long-term fan of healthy eating, I know how to make the right choices. My daily diet is usually a pleasing mix of fruit and veg, carbs and protein, with the odd lip-smacking fried chicken or burger dish thrown in for good measure.
But still, I do have a habit of falling off the wagon. Because I’m only human and as much as I try to convince myself of the contrary, deep fried stuff tastes better than salad. It’s science, innit?
I don’t have to live a life of fried food and unhealthiness to enjoy what I eat, though. And to prove it, Tesco set me a challenge to substitute some of my very favourite foods for smarter options, utilising their ranges that champion choices containing less fat, sugar and salt than their unhealthy counterparts. These Helpful Little Swaps are brilliant: can you believe they’ve taken out 8,000 tonnes of the bad stuff since January 2016? That’s LOADS.
You’ll find all kinds of their own-brand foods have been formulated in this quest for better living: from pasta sauce to pepperoni pizza to pomegranate juice. And it’s not just for grown-ups either… kids lunchbox drinks no longer contain sugar and Tesco have handily removed sweets from the checkout area to save those last-minute impulse buys, too.
Of course I was up for the smarter eating challenge, so I headed off to my local store with their Helpful Little Swaps shopping list clutched in my slightly sweaty, greedy palms.
After detouring past the Florence + Fred section (their swimwear is WELL worth checking out) I hopped over to the food aisles to begin my food shop.
Tesco wanted me to take an example of an entire day’s worth of my favourite meals, and pimp them imperceptibly so I’d be making small changes that would have a big impact. This was easier than I thought ; I used the examples of my favourite breakfast of yoghurt and fruit followed by a vegetable tart for lunch and a lovely chicken satay with cucumber and rice for dinner. Yum!!
Breakfast was easy enough. I substituted my usual Greek yoghurt for a 0% version, and loaded it with strawberries and raspberries. It was as delicious as usual and I didn’t notice any difference in the taste. Boom! Health – 1, Fried Chicken – 0.
Next up was lunch. Slightly trickier, as this is a meal where I’m usually at home, so generally speaking I’ll just heat up last night’s (occasionally unhealthy) leftovers and eat while I’m working. I wanted to try a bit harder this lunch time though, so I put together something healthy that would last me the rest of the week.
For this I took my crowd-pleasing puff pastry tart recipe (basically: take ready-rolled puff pastry, load it as you wish, stick it in the oven and wait for people to be impressed) but used Tesco’s lighter version of the pastry to make it more health-friendly. I topped this with roasted peppers and tomatoes as well as Tesco’s light salad cheese, and half an hour later had a very delicious and quick lunch which I served with a bagged salad and half an avocado.
Dinner was one of my very favourites: satay chicken with a cucumber salad and wild rice. This is one I usually worry about in terms of fat content (peanut butter being LOADED with the stuff, obviously), but I find the taste too difficult to swerve in favour of something more saintly.
No more! This time I used Tesco’s low-fat version of their peanut butter, and again by some witchcraft I didn’t notice a difference in taste at all. Magic!
My day of Healthy Little Swaps was surprisingly easy: once I’d made the mindful decision to purchase the healthier choices in-store there was no difference to my cooking routine at home. Each and every meal I made was as enjoyable as if I would have been eating the full-fat versions, and I felt pretty darned saintly for making those better choices.
I think this is a habit change that will be mega easy to instigate: all it takes is picking up a slightly different product in the supermarket. It’s as easy as actual pie!
Thank-you to Tesco for working with MTT!