Monday 10 February 2014

Eat well, live well

Anyone else bored with their weekly shop?  I confess to throwing the same things in my trolley week after week, and with so many media articles encouraging us to eat more healthily, I'm trying to mix things up a bit, boost the family's fruit and veg intake, reduce the amount of meat I eat and hopefully find some new and delicious alternatives to the biscuit tin along the way.

Roasted Fennel with nuts & spices on a bed of Cauliflower Rice

Reading around the subject, the eating plan (I refuse to use the word diet) that is the nearest to the way I want to eat is Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson's Honestly Healthy alkaline plan which promises better digestion and improved skin tone and mood - I'm in.

Their new book Honestly Healthy for Life is out in March and available to pre-order on Amazon now. The everyday eating principles aim to keep the body's pH balance alkaline by cutting out processed foods (which are highly acidic), eating predominantly vegetarian meals, with lots of wholegrains, nuts and seeds - working on the 80/20 rule - plenty of vegetables on a bed of good grains, with your small amount of protein perched on top.

Calgary Avansino - healthy eating expert and UK Vogue's Weekly Wellbeing columnist, believes in applying this principle across the week aiming for 80% of her intake to consist of 'nutritionally dense foods' and the rest being as she puts it "whatever chaos the rest of the week brings".  I think that's the right attitude - eating like this for most of the week, means that it's OK to relax the rules on the weekend, or when you have friends round or when on holiday. This is not about restrictions for me, but about being more mindful of what I am eating, and what I am giving my family to eat.

Lentil & Tomato Stew with Roasted Vegetables (top); Quinoa with Roasted Courgette & Fennel (bottom)

We all know that unrefined foods are better for us, and the key is to find those raw, natural alternatives to the supermarket favourites. It's not rocket science, just good, plain sense. So, as well as trying out new and varied vegetarian recipes - is great for inspiration, I am also aiming to incorporate some good habits into my weekly routine and whilst it's not every day, I'm definitely making inroads into the healthy lifestyle.

Photo: Getty Images

Green juice
Following on from the US, the UK has finally got the juice bug and from Pinterest to Instagram you can find as many and varied concoctions as you can think of. Here in France we're still some way behind - no cold-pressed juiceries opening near my field just yet - so homemade juicing is the way to go.

Blueberry, pear and spinach smoothie

You don't need to go and blow the budget on an expensive juicer either, a blender will do just as well. Kale is considered the master ingredient in a green juice/smoothie, but if that's not available, a variety of Swiss chard, spinach, savoy cabbage (the curly one) or broccoli will provide similar nutrients. It sounds pretty grim, but I promise you, when blended up with apples, mint and lemon, the overall taste is perfectly palatable.  I've been adding some spirulina and baobab powder (available in healthstores) for an extra boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and I've even managed to get my boys to have a taste, though I have to say they prefer the smoothie versions with blueberries and bananas....

Spinach, broccol, apple & lemon juice

Coconut Oil
Whilst a saturated fat, coconut oil (make sure you buy extra-virgin) is cholesterol and trans-fatty acid free, and is known to raise metabolism, boost immunity, and have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It is great for cooking and baking, with a lower smoke point than other oils. I've discovered roasting vegetables in coconut oil is a revelation - the taste is subtle with a hint of sweetness that most vegetables are improved by. Plus you can also use it as a cleanser, moisturiser, hair conditioner and eat it straight from the jar - who knew? I'm buying three jars at a time, it's so useful.

Nuts and Seeds
Rich in the good oils that our bodies need, and essential for our skin, I've been throwing pumpkin, sunflower, flax and hemps seeds on my salads, as well as in with the roast veg. Almonds and walnuts are great to snack on and almond butter is plain delicious - a spoonful on a rice cake or with an apple is a great afternoon pick me up.

Chia seeds
These are one of the latest wonder foods and you can use them in several different ways. They have a huge nutritional profile, containing calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, and are a great source of healthy omega-3 fats, fibre and protein. You can sprinkle them on your salads, soak them in almond or rice milk to make a chia seed pudding (perfect for breakfast), or whizz them up with dates and coconut oil to make energy bites when you are on the go. I'm loving them (though they do tend to get stuck in your teeth....)

Organic Cider Vinegar and Manuka Honey
A capful of cider vinegar with a tsp of honey in some warm water in the morning is a great detox drink, and helps keep the body's pH levels alkaline.

Spelt, Buckwheat, Millet, Quinoa
My store cupboard is well stocked with refined flour, pasta and rice, but I'm trying to use some alternatives wherever possible. That doesn't mean we've stopped eating risotto, or light, fluffy basmati rice with a curry, but it makes a satisfying taste change to experiment with the different textures and flavours of these wholegrains.

Photo: Deena Prichep

So, it's not all about raw carrots and a bowl of undercooked lentils for every meal - good, varied, tasty, healthy food is my goal and by turning our weekly meal plan into something of a culinary voyage of discovery I'm hoping to also boost our health and general well being - a win win situation in my book.  And of course, treats are absolutely allowed - I'm off to make some raw cacao Brownies, choc-full of good ingredients and no cooking required - I'll let you know how they turn out. 


StealthCrystal said...

Ma Juju, please bring back Laduree and Lemon Meringue. No kale allowed on our Scandinavian getaway.
Missing you from SFO

Juliette Chisholm said...

Don't panic,there's always a place for Laduree and Lemon Meringue. Can't wait! Off to cook up a feast, and no kale in sight ;)

Unknown said...

Hey Jules,
Sitting here reading your post while having my first green smoothie. Looks disgusting but doesn't taste too bad. Needs a bit of tweaking but quite happy with my first attempt. Not sure it will keep me going until lunchtime though! Bonnes vacances xx