Because it is nearly the weekend. The perfect time to plan the week of delicious food ahead, I thought I would share a few tips, healthy eating suggestions and recipes to make the lives of you lovely foodies that bit easier.
Eating well everyday can be difficult. I know this as much as anyone, I practically eat out for a living nowadays. Doing restaurant reviews, teaching one-on-one cooking programmes and running my Grazia column means I am around all sorts of food all of the time, so invariably my diet is not as healthy as it would be if I were cooking for myself on a daily bases. It is a blessing to be able to enjoy good food for my job and I am eternally grateful for it but restaurant food generally contains a lot more salt and fats than we would use in home cooking so I have to compensate for this by teaching and eating as cleanly as i can when I’m at home, to make sure my diet is balanced and I remain happy and healthful.
I think it is fair to say I live my life with a balance of 80% healthy and 20% treats. Life is for living and enjoying, so try not to become too much of a stickler for a perfect diet, because perfect doesn’t exist. I’m sure you agree.
For some the difficulty with eating well is the temptation of all the less body-loving foods that surround us, for others it can be monotony of the same dishes eaten over and over, or others its the desire not to cook and for convenience. The truth is that all if these reasons can be addressed. It is just a case of altering your weekly rhythm and changing up your routine just a little, until you find a way that works for you.
Cooking a speedy scrambled eggs with pesto and tomatoes (my current fave) with salad can be much quicker then a carbonara. As for those that are tired of the excessive use of date or bananas in puddings (yes I am too, they all taste the same) you should try these little dynamite Chilli Chocolate Brownies. Not are they the most gooey and soft brownies you have ever tasted, they are also gluten, dairy and sugar free. I think that the photo speaks for itself…
Get started with your everyday, on-the-go heathy eating essentials
Plan the weekly shop
Plan your weekly menu and food shop accordingly. Making a list is key. I do this to avoid impulse buying. I favour using organic vegetable boxes and often get a weekly delivery if I haven’t had time to make it down to my local Farmer’s Market and butcher, but you can order online if getting everything delivered is more convenient. Doing this is better then as-you-go late weeknight shopping from your local shop on the way home from work. Tiredness and work fatigue make it much more likely that you will buy the wrong foods for your dinner. When you start planning, remember to be practical about meal choice. If you know you will be working late several days in a row, plan easy meals such as shredded salads, soups, omelettes, or fast cook leaner proteins (such as salmon, lamb steak, pork chops…) things that are fast to cook and easy to make delicious. Try using condiments like good quality pestoes, curry pastes and herbs for quick glazes, rubs and marinades to pack in extra flavour.
Stock your kitchen with fail-safe slow/non-perishable foods like frozen spinach, peas, edamame beans and fresh berries tins of chickpeas, quinoa, rice, oats, oat cakes, almond milk, nut butter, nuts in case you are ever on the hop when the shops are shut. Also it important to have a good selection of spices. Experimenting with new herbs and spices is a great way to pimp up daily dishes easily. Other things I always have to hand, in my fridge are eggs, smoked tofu, lemons, and pesto.
Temptiation surrounds us at the checkout counter in all its palm oil, sugar, refined and processed sugar contained sparkly packaging. The best way to avoid this. First and foremost, don’t go supermarket shopping when you are hungry. Second, if you don’t have time to make healthy snacks, like my quinoa bars then stock your desk, kitchen and handbag with:
- Fruit: Oranges , apples and kiwis are all convenient and easy to keep in your desk drawer.
- Full fat Probiotic Yoghurt: A small yoghurt is the perfect afternoon snack. The fat is essential to help you break down the dairy proteins so don;t be tempted to go for low fat. Also it will keep you fully longer, whilst providing your digestive tract with good probiotic support. I tend to buy Yeo Valley or if I fancy a dairy free alternative I will go for a CoYo
- Healthy Snack Bars: Go for ones that are free from refined sugar, palm oil and processed flour. I like Rude Health’s beetroot bar, Pulsin’s Raw Chocolate Brownie, Organic Nom Bars and the Raw Chocolate Co coated berries
- Oatcakes: A useful snack to keep in your handbag. I like Rude Health’s Rye Oatys
- Nut Butter: Avoid nut butters that contain palm oil. My faves are Meridian’s Hazelnut and Cashew Butters.
Prepping your food in advance will make eating healthily much easier. On nights when you get home earlier, cook a big batch of soup, make a slow cooked stew or tagine and cook up a few portions of rice or quinoa. These will last in the fridge for a few days and can be ready to eat faster than it takes to oven-heat any supermarket chicken kiev, or microwave meal. Any surplus can be frozen and frozen in 1-2 person portions. This is a good way of portion sizing and saving waste. If you are feeling super organised, you can also peel and chop vegetable you will be using and store them in a zip lock bag. Carrots, cucumbers and peppers can be kept in the fridge for a number of days on hand for speedy stirfrys and salads. They also make a handy snack to take to work. Perfect on the go healthy snacking!
Although having more time definitely makes healthy eating easier, you don’t have to be cash or time-rich to make delicious healthy food everyday. A little preparation, some thoughtful meal planning and a well stocked kitchen is the first and most imporant step to your healthful and happy food adventure.
I don’t suppose you need any tips on where to find recipes. There are a fair few on the blog. But if you are finding yourself in need, here is a list of other blogs, chefs and websites I follow for health tips, pretty pictures and inspiration.
Ottolengthi: Chef and Food writer
James Ramsden: Supperclub Host and Food Writer
Hip and Healthy: Online Health and Wellness Magazine
My New Roots: Veggie
101 Cookbooks: Veggie
Deliciously Ella: Vegan, Gluten and Sugar free
Top with Cinnamon: Healthy Baking and Brunch Treats
If you have any recommendations or suggestions for other sites I should check out, please do leave me a comment below. I hope you have a wonderful healthy and happy weekend.