Feeling heavy and bloated after Christmas and New Year? Use a week of lighter eating to focus your mind and body on healthy eating and banish cravings.
The key to long-term health, fitness and weight management is a balanced diet that you can stick to consistently, day-in and day-out. But sometimes you need a kick-start to break bad habits and refocus your mind on healthier eating. Detoxes are not always the way to go (your body detoxes itself all the time via the liver and other organs). But adding homemade juices and soups to your daily food plan can have massive benefits:
Homemade Soups and Juices:
- Introduce extra water into your diet at a time of year when drinking plain cold water can be unappealing
- Gets natural, whole food nutrients in to your diet from vegetables, leafy greens and fruit
- Helps you cover all your micronutrient needs (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants)
- Bumps up your fibre intake, which is useful for digestive health, fullness and weight loss
- Can save time if food preparation time is tight
- Is great for batch-cooking and simple, easy recipes
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- Help you focus on simple ingredients and recipes
- Take away the overwhelming choices of food after Christmas
- Can help beat cravings for sweet treats and stodgy foods by filling you up with fibre and nutrients
How to Use Juices and Soups the Healthy Way
We don’t suggest you have to replace all your meals with juices and soups for the week. A great idea is using a juice for breakfast (with or without some solid food, too) and a soup for either lunch or dinner. Have your other main meal as a solid meal. If you snack between meals, you could either have a second juice, or have a solid-food snack like Greek yoghurt with berries and nuts.
It’s crucial that you don’t go too low on calories by juicing and eating homemade soups. Keep a track of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and over all calories by using a food tracking app or a recipe planning calculator. The great thing about soups and juices is that once you have worked out the calories and macronutrients for one serving, you’ll know exactly what another bowlful will contain.
Base juices on vegetables and low-sugar fruits, adding higher-carb fruits in last. This will prevent you from ending up with a breakfast drink which is the equivalent of 5+ pieces of fruit. There’s nothing wrong with fruit, but you need to balance it out with vegetables and leafy greens for a truly beneficial juice.
If you find you need more protein in your soups, add chicken (or any other lean meat), pulses (beans and lentils), seafood (this is best for broths or chunky soups), or stir an egg through towards the end of cooking.
You can bump up carbohydrate content to juices by juicing higher-carb fruits like oranges, apples or pears. Add more carbs to soups by using potato as a base ingredient, or adding pearl barley to the mix.
Fats can be added to soups either by cooking some ingredients in oil or butter before creating the soup, or by pouring a little olive oil over the top when serving up.
Keep an eye on your overall daily caloric intake to make sure you’re not going too low with your extra liquid diet.
January Veg-Boost Soup
This soup is packed with vegetables, healthy fats and protein (without meat). Use it as a base to create your own favourite flavours, or keep it as a go-to soup recipe for a Winter health reboot.
- 20 ml olive oil or 20g coconut oil or butter
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 white onion, diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 100g frozen sweetcorn
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
- Vegetable stock or broth (low sodium)
- Salt, pepper, red chilli (to taste)
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh lemon juice
- Heat the fat (olive oil, coconut oil or butter) in a heavy stock pot or lidded soup pot. Add the garlic, spices, parsley stalks, onion, carrot and celery and cook over a medium heat until soft.
- Add the tomatoes and broth.
- Blend the soup using a handheld blender or juicer, until it retains some texture.
- Return to the heat and add the sweetcorn and chickpeas.
- Adjust the consistency with more water or stock.
- Add lemon juice to taste.
- Serve topped with the parsley leaves.