As I venture into 2022, at the forefront of my mind is my health and the health of my family.

I could vow to walk 5km each day, or banish all refined sugar from the house, but realistically the past couple of years have been difficult enough to navigate without the added pressure of unrealistic resolutions.

Instead, I’m pledging to make some small changes to my daily life, which in turn should benefit my physical and mental health.

I’ve made a list of 21 positive things that I feel could help to improve my daily life and each day I try to tick off at least three.

The list is personal and based on goals that I feel are achievable for me. I’ve loosely divided the suggestions between exercise, mindfulness practices – such as meditation – positive dietary changes, plus a few things I love to do but normally have little time to dedicate to, such as putting 20 minutes aside in the middle of the day to read a book.

Glancing through the list, each suggestion may seem minor or possibly insignificant, but my hope is if repeated regularly, these small positive changes may become habits, and soon they’ll be effortless, but valuable, additions to each and every day.

If you’d like to give this idea a go, make your own list based on goals you feel would be achievable and most importantly beneficial for you; for example, I would be perfectly happy if I managed a 30-minute walk each day, others would be more satisfied with an hour’s jog, whereas some may find a 10-minute stroll would suit them best.

Boosting your daily diet

There are many nutritionally beneficial dietary recommendations that can easily be incorporated into our daily diet. Eating more fruit and vegetables is a standard suggestion when aiming to improve the nutritional content of one’s diet.

Most fruit and vegetables are good sources of fibre, which is vitally important for a healthy gut, and they’re also packed with valuable vitamins and minerals. There are many ways to increase our fruit and vegetable intake. One suggestion could be to tuck into an apple straight after dinner. Not only will it somewhat satisfy the need for something sweet, but an after-dinner apple has been suggested to aid with the digestion of the meal, while breaking down some of the meal’s fat content. Including a fruit-filled smoothie to your breakfast or serving a big bowlful of salad alongside your lunchtime sandwich would make for nutritious and delicious additions to your day.

Another simple suggestion could be swapping white rice and pasta for brown. There is little difference to the taste, but nutritionally the brown variety is superior.

If you have a pre-existing health condition there will be certain foods, and even some fruit or vegetables, which may disagree with you, therefore it’s important to write your list according to your health status and include what works best for you. CL

Sweet potato Buddha bowl

Serves two

This is a delicious way to serve a variety of vegetables in one bowl. I prefer to eat this dish when the sweet potato wedges and broccoli are warm, but the dish also serves well cold, making it a nutritious lunch to make ahead of time.

For the chickpeas:

1 tin chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp sugar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

400g sweet potato, scrubbed well, washed, and dried

200g tender stem broccoli

Handful of salad leaves

1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

1 carrot, finely grated

To serve:

2 scallions, finely sliced

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Coriander leaves

Hot sauce

½ lime, sliced

  • 1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C /gas mark 6.
  • 2 Place the chickpeas in a bowl and combine well with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, 1 tsp smoked paprika, cumin, sugar, a little salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour onto a baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly as they cook.
  • 3 Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges and place in a bowl. Drizzle over the other 2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle in 1 tsp smoked paprika. With your hands, coat each wedge with the oil and paprika, and place them evenly on a large baking tray. Cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  • 4 In the meantime, steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, and set to one side.
  • 5 To assemble the Buddha bowls, place a layer of salad leaves at the bottom of two bowls, top each with a good helping of the cooked chickpeas, the sweet potato wedges, the steamed broccoli, avocado and the grated carrot. Sprinkle over the scallions, toasted sesame seeds and some coriander leaves. Drizzle with some hot sauce and serve with a wedge of lime for squeezing over. Enjoy.
  • Fruit-filled smoothie

    Nessa Robins's smoothie recipe. \ Nessa Robins

    This refreshing smoothie is packed full of nutrients. It makes for a great start to the day, especially when paired with a bowlful of porridge or some wholemeal toast.

    2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves

    1 apple, peeled

    1 banana, frozen

    80g blueberries

    1 large slice of pineapple

    Squeeze of lime

  • 1 Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender. Top up with filtered water. Blitz until smooth and enjoy straight away.
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