This weekend, I really fancied an open-faced sandwich, but had no bread in the house. I shuffled through the cupboards and found a bag of sweet potatoes and decided to see what sweet potato ‘bread’ tasted like. Stay with me… it was pretty good. I […]
Tag: healthy eating
Aside from their significance as a major plot point in the Harrison Ford – Rachel McAdams film, Morning Glory, frittatas are one of those recipes that everyone seems to have their own little twist on. And why not? Their versatility means that even the newest […]
This week, a prominent doctor in the UK talked about the need to reduce the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable intake recommendation because it was ‘unrealistic’ for low-income families to achieve this. She says that lots of families may struggle to afford the recommended amounts and that “many children are being brought up with a culture of not having any fresh fruits and vegetables at all.”
I was shocked when I read this headline (which was repeated across multiple websites) and decided to dig deeper into the story. What she is actually says, is that “in the consultation with patients, it’s vital that GPs sometimes need to tailor the advice to the family in front of them. That may be starting with one or two portions a day and building up to the five portions a day.”
My frustration with this misleading story (tailored advice is a good thing) reminded me of a quote I recently read in a profile of Jamie Oliver.
“It’s quite British, this association with having any degree of thought or love of food being upper class or middle class or whatever you want to class it up as. That’s not the rest of the world. On my travels, the best food has come from the most economically challenged areas.”
It’s easy to understand why there are such strong class associations with food in the United Kingdom – classism persists across all areas of life. It’s really quite remarkable. Even still, there has been a lot of great work by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Jack Munro and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to make food and food preparation more equalitarian and accessible.
It’s remains true that the more fresh fruit and veg you eat, the better for you.
So here are the million pound questions:
How can we continue to spread the message that eating well needn’t cost a lot?
That it is possible to get your 5 to 7-a-day without breaking the bank?
What role do supermarkets play in this? Schools?
I don’t have all the answers, clearly.
What I know, is that it’s our role as nutritionists and health professionals to present simple, easy to understand messages of food and health to our patients and clients. To teach them tasty and nutritious food can be inexpensive.
This lovely warm chickpea and bacon salad (47p per serving!) is a great example of cheap, tasty and nutritious.
I’ve been on a massive pancake kick recently. It’s probably because I associate pancakes with the comfort food of my childhood and right now, I seem to like the idea of getting a bit of comfort through food. Analyse that how you will. Other foods […]
There’s been a lot of chatter in the media this week about the end of ‘clean eating’, with many disavowing this term, saying that it has led to a rise in disordered eating and anorexia. The denouement of the majority of these pieces tend to […]
We’re into the dog days of summer and the weather has gotten exceptionally warm here in London. No complaints here – I adore hot weather and any opportunity to spend some time getting some vitamin D.
Happily, my enforced furlough at work has coincided with this heatwave and I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, playing around with new recipes and ingredients.
Last week, I tried the Beetroot Crisps recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book, It’s All Easy. It wasn’t successful for me, so I made my own twist on the recipe. I knew it was successful when I got a text from M telling me they were ‘the bomb’. 😊
What you need:
2 large sweet potatoes, washed. (don’t bother peeling them – the skin has loads of nutrients!)
4 tbsp dukkah spice blend
4 tbsp olive oil
How to make it:
- Preheat your oven to 175C.
- Place your mandoline over a small bowl and use it to make circles of sweet potato. Slice up both sweet potatoes.
- Use a baking brush and brush 1 tbsp of olive oil over a large baking tray.
- Place the sweet potato circles on the tray, making sure they are evenly spaced and don’t overlap.
- Brush 1 tbsp olive oil over the sweet potatoes, making sure they only have a light coating. Too much olive oil and the sweet potatoes won’t crisp up.
- Take 2 tbsp of the dukkah spice blend and sprinkle it over the sweet potatoes.
- Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the sweet potatoes.
- Place the tray into the top shelf of the oven for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes, move the tray to bottom shelf of the oven.
- Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl and repeat steps 3-10 with the rest of the ingredients.
I made these very moreish date, cashew, seeds and cinnamon balls on Saturday and needless to say, they were almost all gone by Monday morning. Hence the name, more balls – you know, because you want more! They’re a really nice variation on the date […]
It’s FINALLY summer here in London and I’ve been experimenting with some fun warm weather recipes. You know, the type of food that you want to eat when the temperature rises and you desperately need to cool down. I made this ice lollies at the weekend […]
This is truly one of my go-to dishes. I love making a big pot of the bolognaise on a Sunday and then having it as a part of easy meals throughout the week. I like to eat the sauce with spiralised carrots or courgettes or if I want to change things up a bit, I might pop the bolognaise into an omelette with a bit of rocket. Wild!
My recipe has evolved over the years to the point where I feel like I’ve almost perfected it. Note that I said almost! 🙂
Courgetti Bolognaise (serves 4-5)
What You Need
2 tablespoons fat – I like ghee
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 large garlic cloves , finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, roughly sliced
2 tablespoons Magic Mushroom powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
200ml bone broth
500g minced beef or lamb
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 large carrots, spiralised
4 large courgettes, spiralised
How To Make It
- Heat fat in a large enamel pot over medium heat.
- Add onion, garlic and carrots, with a large pinch of salt and saute for at least 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softer.
- Add the peppers, 1 tablespoon each of oregano, basil and magic mushroom powder. Stir and saute for 5 more minutes, until peppers are softer.
- Add the mushrooms, chilli flakes and bone broth. Let this cook for 5 more minutes, but do not let the mixture boil.
- If using the minced lamb, brown the meat and drain off half the fat. If using minced lamb, add to the main mixture, breaking up the meat with a spatula so no large chunks remain.
- Let this mixture cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add the rest of the oregano, basil and magic mushroom powder, as well as the fresh and canned tomatoes. Stir and increased the heat, so the sauce is lightly simmering. Season to taste with salt.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes and let the sauce reduce, stirring occasionally so it reaches the desired thickness. I like a very thick sauce so I leave the cover off the pot and let it reduce that way.
- While the bolognaise has 10 minutes left to reduce, spiralise the carrots and courgettes.
- Heat the olive oil on a medium-low heat and lightly saute the carrots so they reach a ‘al-dente’ consistency. After 5 minutes, add the courgettes and lightly saute for 2-3 minutes. Do not cook them for any longer or they will get too soft.
- Take the sauce off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve with the sauce on top of the spiralised courgettes and carrots.
One of my favourite things to do is spend an hour or two browsing the aisles of a health food shop like Whole Foods, Planet Organic or As Nature Intended, looking through the products, seeing what’s new, picking things up, flipping them over and reading the labels.
Do you read labels when you go grocery shopping, either in store or online? It can be a bit of a minefield, right? The good news is that in the UK and Europe, food labelling is strictly governed by law and manufacturers can’t just say what they want on labels. It’s illegal to have false information or misleading descriptions.
From understanding what the different food additives, emulsifiers, thickeners and flavour enhancers are, to figuring out how much added sugar is too much, to navigating calories, then adding in the different kite marks from the various standards associations, such as the Soil Association, Fairtrade, Organic (EU & USDA) and Freedom Food – it feels a bit mind blowing, doesn’t it?
I have a few rules of thumb that I follow when I buy food and read labels and I promise that with practice, it does get easier!
1. Shop along the edges of the supermarket and start with fresh produce first.
Fresh fruit and vegetables should have a single ingredient. If you can afford organic, great. In the UK, look for the Soil Association to help guide you through organic purchases, in the US, look for USDA Organic and in Europe, look for the EU Organic logo. If you can’t afford to do a full organic shop, try to buy the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables organic. Here’s Environmental Working Group’s most recent update to the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.
2. Five ingredients or less.
When I buy packaged goods, I like foods that have 5 ingredients or less. Food labels appear on all processed foods, and the more ingredients, the more processed the food is. I’m not creating a strawman about processed food, as I know all food is technically processed is some way when it is changed from its original state. The difference is when I ‘process’ it in my kitchen, I know exactly what ingredients are being used and how it’s being ‘processed’ or er, cooked.
Food labels must list the ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight, so keeping this in mind helps you understand if something like a beetroot, carrot and apple juice is actually mostly apple!
3. Know your E numbers.
E numbers are the European Union’s code for substances added to foods to perform specific functions. Here is the UK Food Standards Agency’s exhaustive list of the colours, preservatives, antioxidants, sweetness, emulsifiers, stabilisers, flavour enhancers and other additives that are classed as E numbers.
It’s worth noting that not all E numbers are bad for you. Additives may be natural, nature identical or artificial, however many people tend to avoid E numbers, because there are so many of them and it’s easier than trying to decipher what each one is, what it’s made from and their effects on the body.
4. Know your additives and which additives to avoid.
Whole Foods have put together a wonderful list of ‘unacceptable ingredients for food‘, that includes additives and ingredients such as aspartame, bleached flour and hydrogenated fats. This is a good starter for ten. I also personally avoid carrageenan as there have been a few studies showing that it can cause inflammation and has been used to induce inflammation to study something completely unrelated.
5. Know the different names for sugar.
It’s not just glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose. Sugar comes in many forms and natural or not, your body responds to it in the same way – an insulin release to help break down the sugars into energy. This image has the names of 56 different types of sugar, and believe it or not, there are more to add to this list, like coconut sugar!
6. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.
Until you understand exactly what the different food additives are, this is a good rule of thumb to follow.
7. Keep practicing.
Get into the habit of reading labels and understanding what’s in the food you eat. It will soon become an automatic reflex to lift, turn and read. If you want to read more about food labelling and additives, Joanna Blythman released a fascinating book last year called Swallow This: Serving Up The Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets.
Part 2 covering calories, reference nutrient intake and the traffic light system coming soon!