1. Organic is preferable
Right….I know I will probably get some raised eyebrows but please bear with me. Yes, organic is expensive…especially when we talk about meat. I have moved to organic in more than 80% of my ingredients. If you feel that this will push your budget too far then please make sure your meat is organic and fruit and veg that have a thin skin are also organic as these are most prone to absorbing the chemicals and pesticides sprayed directly or left in the ground.
So why is it so important to eat organic?! Organic food will ensure that you will not eat all those chemicals and pesticides. Unfortunately our body is not designed to get rid of these as fast as we put in so we accumulate these as toxins which on the short medium term will slow our metabolism and will make it close to impossible for some of us to have the body that we desire. Long term the accumulation of toxins could potentially lead to long term illnesses. Our body has only 2 organs that help us get rid of toxins: the liver and the kidneys. If we put toxins in our body every day through the food we eat, the alcohol we drink, the stress and the pollution then no wonder at some point out body cannot cope with it!
Eating organic will ensure that you will at least limit some of the toxins (this is something you have more control over; you cannot control that much the pollution you are surrounded by). But if you want numbers behind this…I managed to find papers that analysed the content of various organically grown vegetables and fruits and compared their mineral content. Weight-for-weight the organic produce was, on average, 63% higher in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. For me the numbers speak for themselves…
2. You are what you eat
Food and whatever we eat and drink has a massive impact on the ability of our body to function at it’s best. What I mean by that? Firstly it is know that food has so called “healing properties” through the cocktail of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, etc that work in synergy to promote health. Through the recipes I will post here I will try to call out the different benefits of certain foods and how to best get the most nutrients (raw is good in vegetables and fruits but there are some that will have different benefits when cooked). Secondly, there are some foods that have very little or no nutritional value and load our bodies mainly with toxins, making our organs work harder. Not surprisingly I am calling out refined sugar (in my opinion the biggest hurdle for our health and the biggest problem in packaged food industry – I will explain more in one of my posts dedicated to this subject), processed food (loaded with preservatives and retaining very little of the original goodness), caffeine (there are some benefits of coffee but the challenge is more how we drink beverages containing caffeine – again more in subsequent posts on here), alcohol (while it is known that red wine has antioxidants called anthocyanins which supports healthy ageing I am afraid to say that it would be better to eat the grape it is coming from; wine is ultimately a processed product containing preservatives like sulphites so best to drink in moderation 🙂 ). Best to lower the intake of these foods as much as possible. Believe me I know how difficult it is (especially in the refined sugar department) but I hope my recipes will inspire you how to make healthy choices and how you can still have dessert without 100% empty calories.
I think it’s a good time to call all that dreadful and fearful word…DIET. I am one of those who are not fond of this word. Rather than following a particular diet (which I believe is not sustainable as it means restriction and short term) I am more the advocate of a healthy lifestyle with a few indulgences because I know eating this way it can be delicious as I am not losing flavour and I feel much better, lighter and energised ready to take on the world. Looking into the different “diets” or ways of eating around the world (Japanese, Mediterranean, Paleo, Asian) we can see that most cuisines are plant based with meat considered more of a treat and occasionally eaten, rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants. These foods are mainly seasonal, not treated with industrial chemicals which means they get a rich nutrient boost for optimal health. Studies have shown that following these kind of principles ensure a fewer incidents of Western type diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity. In comparison the Western way of eating is mainly focused on high protein, high fat (mainly the saturated kind), refined sugar and refined grains. A word on gluten. People say currently there is a gluten free fashion promoted by celebrities. However, there is some science behind it. In our modern diet we seem to be over-reliant on certain cereal (mainly wheat). In order to keep up with demand food producers need to find different ways to ensure the crops are guaranteed every year so the grains ends up being intensively processed through industrial approaches. This means the grains are stripped by their nutritional value and our body does not get any benefit. Moreover, due to the over-processing the grain increased it’s gluten level over time which our digestive system is not used to. Consequently the incidence of gluten intolerance has increased which most of us is manifested in a feeling of bloatiness. The cereal’s outer coat contains anti-nutrients a compound that interferes with the absorption of essential minerals like iron, calcium, zinc in the gut. These are present in most cereals and while consuming whole grains is good for bowel regularity eating these not properly cooked and in high quantities might be the reason for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I love grains but that doesn’t mean I am restricted by wheat. There are so many other grains like spelt, rice, rye, millet, oats, quinoa, amaranth and the list continues. These grains and cereals have different nutritional values, are less processed and good to include in our diet. But they need to be properly cooked: sprouting, soaking, souring (like sourdough) will aid in neutralising the anti-nutrients naturally occurring in the cereals.
For me it’s not just about body shape, but it’s about how eating healthily makes you feel and takes care of your internal body!
3. Flavour and variety are key
Eating healthy does not mean boring and bland. There are incredible ways of ingesting some flavour in your food and the good news is that these are good for you as are detoxifying and alkalising. More will be shown in my recipes.
Also, the challenge with human behaviour is that we are creatures of habit. We love feeling comfortable protected by certain boundaries, by having our on space and rarely we love getting outside of the box. Routine gives us a sense of control in a very hectic world…and I am the first to admit this! And it is the same in food and the ways of eating. Think about your supermarket trips…how many times have you put in your basket things that you haven’t eaten before? Too little times! We tend to go for the comfort of same things over and over again: same veg, same fruit, same meat. And the same when we have the luxury of eating out. This is why I love these food box deliveries. Besides being able to choose organic it also sends me foods that are in season and forces me to think how to cook or eat food that I usually not choose in supermarkets (I mean how many times have I chosen fennel, courgettes, winter squashes, green cabbage, white cabbage, blackcurrants, rhubarb, chard, celeriac etc). In London we are truly spoilt by food markets so go explore! It will be an amazing experience…ultimately food is what brings us together.
So force yourself to eat something different at least every other 2 days rather than the same cereals and milk or toast for breakfast or chicken vegetables and rice for dinner. I hope my recipes will inspire how to cook with seasonal available food and amazing flavours!
4. Exercise should be like oil to a machine
While good food and eating healthy will make sure what you put in your body will be utilised in the right way and will get your body going being couch potato is no way of achieving a healthy lifestyle. Exercise will ensure your body will become stronger: muscles will become tighter and they will help maintain your posture, your joints will also become stronger, your heart will work better at delivering all those vital nutrients to the other internal organs, your attitude and mental health will focus on what is more important and help you with daily stress, all in all which will help you achieve a smooth, healthy ageing process. I know of people in their late 80’s that are still very much active, playing tennis and leading an active, independent life. Of course this is not down only to exercise but a good, healthy lifestyle which means good food and positive mind attitude!
If you are in a position when you would like to lose weight then food and exercise will be even more important. Most personal trainers will tell you that losing weight is 80% down to diet and 20% to exercise. The key is to ensure your body gets variety in exercise just like in food. Our bodies are great “machines” that adapt very well in different conditions. This is why after a while we do not see differences in our body shape or body composition. It takes the body about 3-4 weeks to get used to a certain regime. This is why it is important to change the “game” and ensure you are targeting different muscles groups or you increase the difficulty of your regime. In my perspective a combination of weight training, high intensity exercises and yoga are a good combination. But ultimately you need to find what is your best combination for yourself (everyone is different and people respond to different motivations). Also start easy. If you have never exercised regularly start 2 times a week, then increase it regularly. It will be easier to achieve rather than going straight into 4-5 times a week. However, this means that results will be slower. I will talk more about this and my personal experiences in my posts.
5. Try and be a green mean machine
In this day and age we need to be more conscious about the impact our actions have on the planet. With the increase it greenhouse gas and population we might want to ensure our children and their children get to enjoy the same wonderful places we have. One of the biggest problems we have is waste. And what I will particularly talk about here is food waste. In the UK we throw away over 7 millions tonnes of food and drink every year and more than 50% of this is coming form household waste (food and drink that we throw away). We either buy too much and then we do not use it in time or we cook too much and throw the leftovers. This is the equivalent of £60 per month in average which is huge! The impact is not just on our wallet but also on our planet. We use 4% of fresh water in the disposal of this waste. Also the impact of stopping all of this food waste from a carbon footprint perspective would be equivalent to removing 1 in 4 cars from the road (source: lovefoodhatewaste.com). And this is only in the UK. There are 196 other countries in the world that as they become more developed they will contribute to these figures more and more. I think it is our responsibility to do something about it. Through my posts and recipes I hope I can inspire you how you can use as much as possible from the whole fruit, veg and meat and also how to make your leftover a bit more exciting. It’s gonna be a challenge but one I am willing to take #greenmeanmachine!