Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins

Foods from this group include meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses (like chickpeas and lentils). These foods are sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. It is important to eat some foods from this group. 

Pulses

Pulses include beans of all kinds, peas, chickpeas and lentils. They’re a great choice for vegetarians, but meat-eaters should try them too! Pulses add good texture and flavours to meals, and are normally cheaper than meat and fish. But they’re just as nutritious, giving us iron, fibre and vitamins and minerals.
 
You’ll find both tinned and dried pulses in the supermarket. Tinned pulses can be used straight away. Dried pulses need to be soaked and cooked before using them. Make sure to follow the instructions on the pack carefully.

Tips to get enough pules in your diet

  • Add kidney beans to chilli con carne, spaghetti Bolognese or casserole dishes - they can replace some or all of the meat
  • Try beans on wholemeal toast as a weekend breakfast or a light family meal. Compare brands of beans, and go for those that are lower in sugar and salt
  • Add chickpeas to green green salads for a more satisfying bite
  • Add lentils to curries for a traditional twist

Fish

Aim to eat at least two portions (2 x 140g) of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish. Eating oily fish regularly can help to prevent heart disease. It can be hard to get kids to eat fish, but it’s worth trying your best to get them started - you’ll be giving them healthy habits for life. Try starting them off on grilled fish fingers or a small piece of mild flavoured fish like cod or plaice.

Examples of oily fish

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Fresh tuna

Examples of other types fish

  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Whiting
  • Sole
  • Plaice
  • Canned tuna

Eggs

Eggs are a really nutritious food, packing in iron, protein and some vitamins. And the possibilities for eggs are endless – try scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast for breakfast, boiled eggs chopped into a salad for lunch, or a tasty Spanish omelette using last night’s leftover potatoes!

Meat

Meat is a great source of iron, which we all need to keep our blood healthy. Make sure that the meat you buy and cook is as healthy as it can be:

Tips for buying meat

  • Buy chicken and turkey without the skin
  • If you’re buying your meat from a butcher, ask him to remove any fat or skin from the meat before you buy it. This should save you some money too.
  • If the meat is pre-packed, check the label for fat and salt. Compare brands, and go for those that are lower in fat and salt
  • Go for lean cuts of meat (like a lean pork chop) more often than processed meats like sausages, burgers or rashers
  • Go for lean cuts of meat (like chicken legs or breast without the skin) more often than meat pies or battered meat like chicken nuggets

Tips for cooking meat

  • Cut off any fat or skin you can see from the meat before you cook it
  • Grill meat instead of frying it
  • Try not to add any extra oil during cooking (try gently frying your meat without oil on a non-stick pan)
  • Use beans or other pulses (like lentils and chickpeas) now and then instead of meat. Kidney beans go perfectly into a chilli con carne

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