Mum and kids making a nutritious smoothie

Keen to up your nutrition with affordable swaps? As a naturopath and a single parent these simple swaps helped me stay healthy on a budget. Whether you’re watching your weight or have a fussy sprogs you want to sneak more nutrients into.

Get to the good stuff:

Hide the Greens

Got a fussy eater on your hands? Or not keen on veggies yourself? Here’s a sneaky trick - hide greens in your savoury dishes. Finely chop silverbeet or baby spinach into your nacho mince.

Top tip: 
Need to disguise it completely? Try a favourite superfood like barley grass powder. Barley grass is the mildest tasting of all the  supergreens (spirulinawheat grass, and chlorella). Greens are extremely nutrient-dense - they’re like a wholefood multivitamin and mineral.

Lifestream Barley Grass Certified Organic Powder

Top pick: Lifestream Barley Grass Certified Organic Powder

  • Excellent quality
  • Local Kiwi brand
  • Well-priced
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Favourite barley grass recipe: Superfood rainbow energy balls.

Reach for healthy fats

Instead of butter or margarine – try  coconut oil – it melts onto toast. It’s got a high smoke point so you can fry with it. It’s a solid or liquid depending on the temperature (solid under 23degC or a liquid above 230 C), which makes it very versatile. It adds great flavour to curries and stirfries.

Top tip: 
This simple swap can cut your cholesterol and trans-fat intake – great for your heart health. MCTs - great for mental clarity.

BioBalance Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Top pick: BioBalance Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

  • Premium organic quality
  • Multitasker for kitchen and bathroom
  • Customer favourite
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Favourite coconut oil recipe: Tahini ginger crunch.

Do the zoodle

Try zucchini ‘zoodles’ or wholegrain pasta instead of white pasta. White pasta (and bread too) is refined, meaning most of the nutrients, like energy-giving B vitamins and gut-loving fibre are removed. This leaves ‘empty carbs’ or energy without nutrients.

Top tip:
Zoodles and wholegrains are better for your  blood sugar levels too, Refined carbs like white pasta, white bread (and sugar of course) are more likely to give you a spike in your sugars, then a crash that leaves you hungry again, (or in my case, hangry).

Get friendly with lentils and beans

Swap beans or lentils for half the meat in your savoury dishes. They up the fibre content (for microbiome and gut benefits) and they’re a great protein source (which lots of us tend to lack). You’ll find them in cans or in packets in all supermarkets.

New to the bean scene? Here are four of my faves and easy ways to use them.

  • White haricot beans – or navy beans, are a great entry-level or gateway bean, because they’re mild tasting. They’re light in colour so meld easily into chicken and white meat dishes – you can also puree them if you’re looking to sneakily hide them.
  • Red kidney beans – great added to chillis and Mexican inspired dishes - their rich red colour pairs well with darker meats. Dried kidney beans do need to be cooked before eating.
  • Red split lentils – these humble lentils cook faster than others – they’re a gorgeous coral colour – ideal in pumpkin soup, veggie soups and broths or in a stew. If cooked for long enough they meld into the dish and become virtually undetectable.
  • Brown lentils – these versatile beige beauties are cute as a button, they can go into pretty much any savoury dish, and look cute doing it.

Beans and lentils more affordable than meat so you’ll cut costs AND amp up the fibre and protein in your diet. It’s a win-win. Winner, winner chicken and bean dinner.

Keep the skin on

Did you know most of the goodness in fruit and veggies is in the skin? The peel is full of nutrients, like bioflavonoids, potassium, fibre and a plethora of vitamins.

Top tip:
Pop your potatoes, kumara or carrots in some warm water and leave them to soak – then go at them with a pot scrubber. If your potato skin is green, peel those parts off.

My favourite tip to get more fibre in every day? Leave some of the skin on your banana, kiwifruit or citrus in your smoothies. For fruit and veggies with more tough or gnarly skin, like pumpkin… try leaving 50% of the skin on.

Bone broth is the bees knees

Bone broth has taken off this year, and I couldn’t be more here for it. You can use bone broth concentrate as a meal base that’s packed with nutrients. Bone broth is rich in collagen (for skin and joint health) and calcium (for bone health). It makes an excellent flavour base for soups.

Top tip:
Pop your vege offcuts and peelings (if you insist on peeling) in an ice cream container stored your freezer. When you’re ready, add them with bone broth to a pot and boil. You’ve got an affordable meal that’s full of nutrients.

Gevity Bone Broth Body Glue Natural

Gevity Bone Broth Body Glue Natural

  • #1 bestselling bone broth
  • 1 jar makes 39 cups
  • 5-star customer favourite
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Favourite bone broth recipe: 20-min nourishing ginger chicken soup.

Up your protein

Add  protein powder to your baking – sounds more expensive but hear me out. If your big cookie or muffin is full of protein, it now becomes a meal in itself - instead of a mere sugar-spiking snack. Great for the wallet and your weight. Protein is a high satiety food, which means you’ll feel fuller for longer – great if you’re watching your weight or have sprogs who are constantly ‘feeling snacky’.

GO Good New Zealand Whey Protein Unflavoured

Top tip:
Protein is used to make our ‘ happy hormones’, amongst many, many other health-giving benefits. Don’t get me started on the benefits of protein.

Unflavoured protein powders or vanilla flavoured protein powders both work well for this. GoGood When Protein Unflavoured is a winner for its mild taste (whey protein tends to taste better). Vital Protein Vanilla is my top pick as the best value for money, and it’s plant based so more environmentally friendly.

Looking for tips on how to use protein powder in baking or your favourite recipes? Check out this guide What are the best protein powders in 2024? It has a roundup of the most popular, bestselling protein powders too.

Favourite protein powder recipe: Superfood summer smoothies.

Shop all protein powders →

Mitchells Bone Broth Chocolate Protein Powder

Top pick: Mitchells Bone Broth Chocolate Protein Powder

Keen to up your protein and like the sound of bone broth too? This delicious  Mitchells Bone Broth Chocolate Protein Powder gives you both. Hear me out before you question chocolate favoured bone broth – it’s delicious and packed with nutrients. You get 25 grams of protein and a whooping 23g natural collagen per serve. And it’s an easy, convenient way to up your protein in your morning smoothie.

  • Best of Natural awards winner
  • Two supplements in one – great value for money
  • Great customer reviews for yummy chocolate taste
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Stevia is queen

While we’re on about sweets.  Stevia has no calories, which opens you up a world of healthy puddings! I think it’s the best sugar substitute. It has zero carbs or sugar (unlike many other popular sugar substitutes) – so it’s great for your blood sugar levels. Try it in your coffee or cacao.

Top tip:
Make a fruit jelly by adding  gelatin and stevia to hot water, blend in some frozen berries and add for colour and flavour and leave it to set.

weetNZ Liquid Stevia Pure

Top pick: SweetNZ Liquid Stevia Pure

  • Hands down the best stevia sweetener I’ve ever tried
  • Superb value – a little goes a long way (300 servings)
  • Easy to take on the go
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Favourite stevia recipe: 10-min avocado chocolate mousse.

Frozen goodness

We all know fresh is best, and the ideal is to eat fruit and veggies when they’re in season. They can be pricey though – that’s where frozen saves the day. Research shows that frozen produce can have the same amount of nutrients as fresh. Also, they are in season when they’re harvested, so technically you ARE eating in season. They’re frozen soon after picking, which locks in the nutrients.

Did you know:
Modern cool store technology means that some ‘fresh’ produce can be stored for up to a year?! Nutrients like vitamins, and beneficial polyphenols can deplete over that time, which means frozen options can be just as nutritious, if not more so. The key is to keep your frozen bags sealed well (I use  stainless steel pegs) this eliminates any flavour loss and freezer burn.

Frozen is usually cheaper than fresh so that’s a saving win. It can help reduce food waste too, if you’re anything like me, and buy fresh produce with the best intentions but occasionally abandon it to moulder in the fridge, when life gets a chaotic. I particularly love frozen berries, so full of nutrients and they add colour to smoothies, desserts or drinks.

Hopefully you’ve found some healthy gems in here, that will suit both your tastebuds and your wallet. If you’re keen on more naturopath tips check out  How to stay healthy on a budget.

Healthy on a budget →

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