I have always enjoyed cooking and eating healthy food but since the accident good nutrition has become an essential part of my life. At the beginning, in hospital, it was about recovering from operation after operation, knowing I needed the right fuel for my body to recover. Each operation left me weaker and more and more anaemic. I knew that if I didn’t eat properly I couldn’t go home and be a mother to my children, which they desperately needed. I learnt very quickly that the best thing I could do for my body was to nuture and nourish it, in short to Eat Well.
None of us know what is around the corner but we owe it to ourselves to make a lifestyle choice and eat well for a long and healthy life. Taking control of food for ourselves makes us feel positive about all aspects of our life as we feel better in ourselves, our energy levels soar, we sleep better, look better, and are better equipped to deal with life’s challenges, big or small. The ramifications of this positive choice go way beyond you, taking control of your life improves your relationships with everyone, your partner, children and friends. Eating well has kept my body strong and well, when I have my low days, I don’t reach for the chocolate or biscuits as this is not what my body craves. My comfort food is a warm chicken broth or a creamy spelt and butternut squash risotto or maybe an almond milk, almond butter and raw cacao smoothie. Once you change your eating habits, you crave the food your body needs, chocolate and crisps just taste like fake food, which is exactly what they are. I will still have the odd pizza with the kids or big slice of chocolate birthday cake but I try to eat well for 80% of the time, it is the 80:20 rule.
It seems ironic that in this time of plenty we are all afraid of food. There is so much on offer and advice from many different sources that we don’t know what to eat anymore. Most of know what is nutritionally right for our body but we have become reliant on others who dictate to us what to eat. We no longer trust our instincts, afraid of getting it ‘wrong’. Do we eat like cavemen did or like our grandma did? Do we eat no carbs or no sugar? Do we cut out gluten and dairy? To juice or not to juice? Food has become too complicated. Dieticians have even identified a new eating disorder, called Orthorexia nervosa. This is not about how much or how little you eat but how you eat, it is about compulsively following these healthy diets until it becomes unhealthy. It is obsessive behavior around food which maybe healthy for the body but is unhealthy for the mind.
Eating well should be for life, not a stage in our life. We all know that diets don’t work, but we still go on them? All they do is make us realize what we are missing and then crave it more or feel ‘bad’ when we eat the ‘wrong’ things. What lessons are we teaching our children when we feel guilty about eating ‘bad’ foods but we reward them with the same foods when they have done something good! Food should not be about good or bad, it is delicious and should be enjoyed, it is not there to make us feel guilty and confused.
We need to simplify food and stop relying on other people telling us what to eat. Start listening to your own body about what you feel like eating, what is your body craving today? Freedom to choose what to eat puts us back in control and eating well becomes second nature. Following a diet plan is difficult and time consuming, we invariably don’t have all the ingredients and how do we know what we are going to feel like eating in three days time and if we will have time to shop for it?
So what do we eat? Well we don’t want to eat like a cave man and we have moved on from grandma’s lamb chops with boiled cabbage and potatoes. The new trend of cookery books are great but feel too extreme for my lifestyle, they are unattainable for most of us on a day to day basis. In our busy lives we need to cook what our family is going to eat, and unfortunately that is probably not a cauliflower crust pizza or a sugar free quinoa and courgette muffin, however much I wish they would. We may well make these for a girls’ lunch but everyday cooking needs to be more realistic. We all live busy lives with different ages of people in our household to feed and we may not all have the time to make a delicious Ottolenghi salad right down to the last pomegranate seed, but we do want to give ourselves and our loved ones the best food we can every day of life.
You need to understand what your personal goal is. Is it to lose a few pounds or more or is to feel more energized throughout the day? Is it to give your body the best fuel to recover from an illness or stave off an illness? Is it to put on weight or build muscle? By knowing our personal goal we are better equipped to make certain food choices.
I like cooking delicious food that the kids can have for supper and I can adapt slightly for my dinner or when I have friends over. Of course the older the kids get, the more adventurous they are with their tastes and I am always encouraging them to try things but it is slowly slowly…Having said that the more they see you cook healthy food, the more normal it becomes. Kit, my 6 year old, starts the day, like me, with a green smoothie.
Kit’s Green Smoothie
A handful of kale or spinach or both
A stick of celery
A 5cm chunk of cucumber
A pear of apple chopped up with the core taken out
A small ripe banana
About 5/6 mint leaves
A glass of coconut water and a glass of filtered tap water and some ice.
Put it all in a strong food processor (I have a Vitamix and can’t recommend enough investing in one) whizz up and enjoy!
I then pour him his glass and add a few extra goodies to the vitamix for me – a teaspoon of spirulina, some chia seeds etc…
Be Kind to Yourself Smoothie
When I am flagging a little or feeling low, I make myself this smoothie and take myself off for a little time out, re-group and re-energise….
A glass of almond milk
A tbsp of almond butter
A ripe banana
A tsp of cinnamon
A tbsp. of maca powder
A tbsp. of raw cacoa powder
A tbsp. of vanilla protein powder
2 large pitted dates
whizz it all up until thick and creamy and enjoy!
For me healthy eating is about always having delicious things to eat in the house as it is when I come home STARVING that I reach for the unhealthy stuff. I have a cooking frenzy most weekends when I will make 4 or 5 different things, some homemade granola, some houmus, a soup maybe, roast some vegies, a casserole and maybe a cake or biscuits. Then I know I have enough delicious things to get me through the next week, all I need to add is some fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and maybe a trip to the fishmonger or butcher.
I am going to post regularly some of my favourite recipes that are delicious and attainable and hopefully the whole family will enjoy.
Live Well Bites
These power packed balls give you a little love and energy whenever you need it. They are great for taking out and about with you.
3tbsps raw cacao powder
2 big scoops of chocolate or vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior)
15 pitted medjool dates
2 tbsps of maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
dessicated coconut to coat the bites
Whizz the almonds up in a food processor for a few minutes, then add the other ingredients and a splash of water and whizz up until it comes together. You may need to add a little more water.
Take bits of the mixture and roll together in the palm of your hands to form balls. Pour the coconut into a shallow bowl and roll the balls in the coconut, pressing it in gently.
Store the balls in a Tupperware in the fridge.
My favourite quinoa salad
I usually have some cooked quinoa in the fridge to make a salad out of. Just cook one part quinoa to two parts stock for 10 mins and then take off the heat and place a tea towel under the pan lid to soak up the excess moisture and leave perfect fluffy quinoa.
You can add anything to this, but this is my favourite combination:
Some roasted butternet squash
Pistachio nuts, shelled
Dried apricots quatered
Spring onions thinly sliced
Parsley and mint chopped
Squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Sticky Oriental Chicken
For the whole family serve with any of the following –
egg fried brown rice
in a wholemeal wrap with crunchy lettuce and hoi sin
in a wrap with little gem lettuce leaves as the wrap
noodles and stir fried vegetables
chicken broth with crunchy vegetables
For adults serve with –
Any of the above
Thai crunchy salad
Scatter with chopped red chilli, coriander, crushed peanuts and shredded lettuce
Marinate 6 chicken thighs or breasts in:
3 tbsps of Tamari soy sauce
2 tbsps of Sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp of Rice wine vinegar
2 tbsps of Tomato Ketchup
2 cloves of Crushed Garlic
a 5cm chunk of grated Ginger
Thinly shredded Red and green Cabbage
Spring onions sliced thinly
Mange tout thinly sliced
Chopped coriander and mint
Sauce for Coleslaw
1 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp tamari
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil