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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
6 easy food swaps to make for healthier meals
And no, it doesn’t involve spiralising everything within reach.

STILL STRUGGLING TO stretch to those ambitious goals of concocting three wonderfully nutritious meals a day?

Make things easier on yourself with simple changes to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables instead, to protect yourself against heart disease, stroke, obesity, and some types of cancer.

The new national Healthy Eating Guidelines now recommend that we eat five to seven portions of fruits and vegetables per day.

Here are some brilliant edits you can make to your meals for the added fibre, vitamins and minerals that fruit and vegetables can bring to your diet.

1. Leave the baked goods and have an apple

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Find yourself reaching for a chocolate croissant or Danish pastry as part of your breakfast while picking up your coffee on the way to work in the morning?

Instead of opting for refined sugars (that will definitely cause a mid-morning slump), reach for an apple as part of your sweet but vitamin-filled breakfast.

Apples are full of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants that are concentrated in the peel. Or choose any other colourful fruit that you enjoy.

2. Leave the jam and add bananas to your porridge instead

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It can be so easy to lob several spoons of jam that is high in sugar into your porridge in the morning for a boost of energy.

For an energy boost that will actually get you through to lunchtime, slice up some bananas instead.

Contrary to popular belief, bananas are not fattening but are a healthy and handy snack. You can also add grapes, raspberries, kiwis and any other tasty fruits to complement your porridge.

3. Reduce chicken and add spinach to your salads

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Let’s face it, the chicken that is added into salads is often fried, and can make a salad unintentionally high in calories.

Mix it up by reducing your intake of chicken and adding more spinach, one of the best sources you can get of Vitamin K, which is hugely important for maintaining blood and bone health.

4. Leave the crisps and have half an avocado

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Craving something filling post-lunch? An average bag of crisps contains about 200 calories, not to mention high levels of salt and little other nutrients.

Half an avocado is 75 calories less, is loaded with vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, and best of all, doesn’t contain any sodium. It’s an easy change your body will thank you for.

5. Add cauliflower into your rice

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Make the switch from white to brown rice, and for an even healthier addition, throw some cauliflower in your food processor (or if you don’t have one, use a grater) and just roast it in the oven for twelve minutes.

This can be added into any rice you make for nutrition-filled texture – it’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and has less than 200 calories in a large head.

6. Reduce meat and add chickpeas

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Overly reliant on the inclusion of mince or other red meats in your dinner? Make things easier on yourself by stocking up on a few cans of chickpeas instead, and throwing them into any pasta or rice dishes that you are adding mince to.

Chickpeas are filling, cheaper, lower in sodium and higher in fibre than mince, so they are the perfect accompaniment if you are looking to reduce your red meat intake.

If you’re looking to make positive changes for your health in 2017, your diet is a brilliant place to start. You can read further information at
For ways to complement these changes, visit

This article was supported by the HSE’s Healthy Eating and Active Living programme.

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