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How to get more vegetables into your meals and other easy healthy eating tips from five chefs

As we approach the end of January, the vigor you first felt when you set New Year’s resolutions may be starting to fade, and continued healthy eating can feel like an uphill battle.

But instead of spending money on takeout, what if you could meet your goals, in a colorful, vibrant and delicious way, instead of relaxing with a soggy salad.

If you want to keep up with a healthy diet for the rest of the year, these chef-approved tips can help…

Gennaro Contaldo

Staying healthy is balance, not deprivation, says Gennaro Contaldo. Image: PA Photo/David Loftus

For chef Gennaro Contaldo, staying healthy is a matter of balance, and never completely depriving yourself.

“I try to eat healthy [but] I have never been on a diet. I need? I do not think so. Today it’s a big pasta flavor, and tomorrow it’s a big vegetable flavor – I try to strike a balance. Do we eat a lot of meat today? Tomorrow we will eat a lot of fish. Balance,” says Contaldo, who trained Jamie Oliver in Italian cooking.

Recently, he baked his own bread with pork scraps from a local butcher. “That beautiful bread,” he recalls. “But for the next few days, I’ll eat something else. I’ll have a slice of toast.

“Sweet cake? Yes, whatever they put in front of me, I will eat it. But only in small portions, not because I can’t eat it, because at my age you can’t [a lot of] very, very sweet things, but I taste everything.”

Gennaro’s Cucina: Hearty, Money-Saving Meals from an Italian Kitchen by Gennaro Contaldo (Harper Collins)

Kwoklyn Wan

Kwoklyn Wan says that Chinese food can be made healthier very easily.  Image: PA Photo/Sam Folan
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Kwoklyn Wan says that Chinese food can be made healthier very easily. Image: PA Photo/Sam Folan

For Kwoklyn Wan, cooking more Chinese food at home could be the secret to staying healthy.

“The great thing about Chinese food is that you can make it healthy very easily,” she explains.

“So instead of using your vegetable oil, your coconut oil, or any oil, you can use oil spray, [with] fried chicken and vegetables.

“Here it is: there’s your protein, you’ve got your vegetables and your vitamins, and even boiled rice instead of fried rice.

“Or you can have noodles, or rice noodles. I’m very lucky in the sense that I was born into this amazing culture with foods that you can make healthy very easily and you don’t give up any of the flavor.”

One Wok, One Pot by Kwoklyn Wan (Quadrille)

Skye McAlpine

Try adding fresh vegetables to the pasta water when cooking pasta with pesto.  Image: Alamy/PA
Try adding fresh vegetables to the pasta water when cooking pasta with pesto. Image: Alamy/PA

Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out on your favorite meals; they may just require a few smart tweaks.

“I love adding fresh vegetables to the pasta water when I’m cooking pasta with pesto: green beans, chopped fennel, zucchini chunks, broccoli florets, broad beans when in season… Whatever I have on hand, really,” says Skye McAlpine. .

“Basically, you cook the vegetables in water with the pasta and then add the pesto sauce. It’s delicious and a very nutritious and complete meal.”

A Table Full Of Love by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury Publishing, available February 2)

Suzanne Mulholland AKA The Batch Lady

Making extra food that you can bring to work for lunch is Suzanne Mulholland's best tip.  Image: Alamy/PA
Making extra food that you can bring to work for lunch is Suzanne Mulholland’s best tip. Image: Alamy/PA

Unsurprisingly for someone who worked as a time management expert before writing cookbooks, Suzanne Mulholland’s best advice is to make a plan.

“Organize ahead of time and prepare as much as you can, so everything is in your fridge… It is [then] easier to follow a routine, right? she says.

“If you’ve made a couscous salad, you make it [extra] that you can take to work, you’re less likely to find yourself in Pret and eat a 700-calorie sandwich, because you’ve made it ahead of time and brought it with you.

“So doing anything in advance, spending time thinking about things and writing them down on paper or on your phone, out of your head, means you’re more likely to achieve the goals you want to set.”

The Batch Lady: Cooking on a Budget by Suzanne Mulholland (HQ)

Heather Thomas

Light and spicy meals are key.  Image: Alamy/PA
Light and spicy meals are key. Image: Alamy/PA

To really get excited about eating healthily, and then hopefully stick with it beyond January, Heather Thomas is all about eating in season.

And at the beginning of the year, it is the citrus fruit that excites the most. “I live, most of the time, in Greece and can walk the streets of Athens collecting [oranges and lemons] from the trees, they’re everywhere,” he says.

After the “Christmas and New Year party,” he recommends “really refreshing, bright and citrusy and lighter” meals.

The Veggie Christmas Cookbook by Heather Thomas (HarperNonFiction)