Eating well is one of the foundation stones for good health, especially in later life.
If you can stick to a wholesome balanced diet, with a variety of foods in the right proportions, you’ll have more energy, find it easier to maintain a healthy weight and generally feel better all round.
One of the best ways to know exactly what you’re eating and avoid many of the additives and preservatives in pre-packed foods is to cook plenty of your own meals at home. Older people are generally better at home cooking than younger ones, not having grown up in the ‘fast food’ and ‘ready meals’ era, but some people still shy away from the stove. There’s really no reason to, as many healthy and nutritious meals are quick and simple to prepare, and taste delicious.
This easy-to-follow recipe for an simple version of the classic Italian dish Spaghetti Bolognese is from the NHS’s Change 4 Life website, which has lots of ideas for healthy and nutritious meals. It’s a warming and filling dish for a cold winter’s day and includes some of your five-a-day vegetables. Serving four people, it takes just 15 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes’ cooking time.
- 300g extra-lean minced beef
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 300g dried spaghetti
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 3 handfuls button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 courgette, chopped
- 150ml reduced-salt vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- Heat a large saucepan and add the minced beef, breaking it up and cooking until browned. Add the chopped onion and cook for another few minutes.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan except the spaghetti. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.
- When the sauce has been cooking for 10 minutes, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Stir well and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the spaghetti is tender.
- Season the sauce with a pinch of black pepper if desired. Drain the spaghetti and serve onto pre-warmed plates or bowls with the sauce.
- You can add extra vegetables or swap out any you don’t like for ones that you do.
- If you can’t get extra-lean minced beef, use lean or regular but drain off as much excess fat as possible after frying off the beef and onion and before adding the other ingredients.
- You can buy tinned tomatoes with garlic and herbs already in, to cut down on ingredients.
- You could make larger quantities of the sauce (just multiply ingredients) and freeze it in batches so you’ll always have a healthy meal in store. Just remember to thaw if fully and makes sure it’s steaming hot before serving.
- For a treat, top each portion with some grated lower-fat cheese, but remember this will increase the calorie count slightly if you’re watching your weight.
• Each portion (as per recipe) contains: Energy 1803kj/431kcal; protein 30g; carbohydrate 70g, of which 15g sugars; fat 6.5g, of which 0.2g saturates; fibre 6g; sodium 140mg, equivalent to 0.3g salt.