For me there are two fundamental philosophies for healthy eating – firstly, this is absolutely not a diet and you really shouldn’t think of it as one, it’s never about deprivation or starvation but instead it’s about creating a new mindset and a new way of life. It’s about embracing all the delicious foods that you should eat and all the amazing things that you can do with them. Secondly, I believe that the concept of healthy eating should embrace a diet of pure, unprocessed, unrefined plant-based foods. You can eat as much of these things as you like as your body absolutely loves them and can process them so easily. This means that your digestive system works a million times faster and more efficiently, allowing you to easily process and breakdown everything that you put into your body, which in turn will fill you with an amazing new energy.
So what should you eat?
All of Mother Nature’s goodness! Embrace all fruits and veggies; whole grains – quinoa, brown/wild rice; all beans and legumes – chickpeas, lentils; potatoes – sweet and regular; all nuts and seeds; superfoods like goji berries, hemp, flax & chia seeds; dried fruits etc. Almond milk makes the best dairy alternative, and actually contains more calcium, while quinoa, almond and brown rice flours make the best baking materials. Honey, dates, pure maple syrup, ripe bananas and date syrup make the best replacement for sugar, and are really just as sweet and cacao makes the best chocolate recipes ever while loading you up on superfood nutrition. Dried fruits dipped in nut butter make the best candy replacements and frozen blended bananas make the perfect ice-cream substitute. There are ways of making all your favorite foods healthy, you just have to learn how. But remember with everything I’ve mentioned here that if anything contains weird additives then it’s not going to have the same awesome effect on you, store brought non-dairy milks are a great examples of this as they all contain the most bizarre ingredients. So, make your own, it’s the easiest thing in the world, tastes delicious and gives you more goodness than you can imagine! Also you should always cook everything with coconut oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil and use things like hemp oil and flaxseed oil for cold dressings – never use things like vegetable oil, vegan butters and sunflower oil – these are nasty and processed and don’t contain any of the good fats!
So what does this mean I cut out?
This may seem like a long list at first but trust me the list of all the awesome things that you’re adding in is even longer! To really thrive you should say goodbye to the following as they’re all incredibly acidic and your body works best when it’s alkaline, they’re also really hard to digest which means they suck your energy and slow down your digestion:
▪ Refined sugar, including all candy, fizzy drinks and almost all chocolate – don’t worry you can buy amazing healthy chocolate and make your own incredible treats using raw cacao
▪ All other refined foods – white rice, white flour, white pasta etc
▪ Anything with chemicals, additives and flavorings, including natural flavorings as trust me these are anything but natural!
▪ Almost all supermarket products that are labeled as ‘healthy,’ such as dairy free butter, gluten free rolls and pizzas, soymilk and soy yoghurts, store brought almond milk etc – these items tend to be full of weird additives and chemicals that your body cannot digest, they’re really not much better than the gluten/dairy alternatives.
How to start?
Start with smoothies, try having a smoothie for breakfast everyday for a week and see how you feel – I can guarantee you’ll feel so awesome! It’s amazing to make such a positively healthy decision first thing in the morning; it energizes you and sets you up for a great healthy day. Smoothies are also so unbelievably delicious and the quickest thing to make, they’re also one of the best ways to get lots of nutrition into your diet really quickly. My advice would be to use a ripe banana as the base, then add any fruits you want – strawberries, mango, blueberries, pineapple, pear, apple, raspberries etc, avocado also tastes amazing as it gives such a creamy texture, plus a cup of spinach or kale for green goodness. If I want to sweeten it then I add a couple of medjool dates, maybe some almond butter and then a mix of gluten free oats, ground flaxseed, chia seeds and hemp protein, blended with either some water or homemade almond milk – water is much healthier than most store brought non-dairy milks. I sometimes even add things like broccoli florets to my smoothies but I think it takes time to build up to that!
And learn to snack, the less you deprived yourself the more you’ll embrace this diet and reap it’s benefits. This is a long term health solution not a crazy 24 hour or 7 day diet so it’s important to feel satisfied. I normally eat five times a day – my favorite snacks are gluten free toast with almond butter and sliced banana; dried fruits – apricots, figs & dates with nut butter; avocado mashed with 1 large tomato/a handful of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 a red pepper, 1 lime and salt; and frozen fruit – for some reason fruit tastes best frozen! All of these things are so easy and so delicious – you’ll never miss processed food with things like this! They’re also really easy to take into work, just stock up on Tupperware boxes!
Oh and always start your morning with hot water and lemon as this kick-starts your digestion, alkalinizes your body and boosts your immune system!
What are my pantry staples?
▪ Apple cider vinegar
▪ Brown rice
▪ Cacao powder and cinnamon
▪ Coconut oil
▪ Dried fruit: figs, dates, apricots (unsulphured – they’re always brown not orange)
▪ Fresh fruit: bananas, berries, apples, limes and lemons
▪ Fresh vegetables: spinach, avocado, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, courgettes (zucchini)
▪ Gluten free flours: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, ground almond, ground flaxseed
▪ Gluten free pasta: brown rice, quinoa.
▪ Hemp powder and seeds and chia seeds
▪ Home made granola
▪ Lentils & chickpeas
▪ 100% pure maple syrup & raw agave syrup
▪ Nuts: almonds, cashews, brazils, pecans, walnuts
▪ Nut butters: almond, cashew, pecans
▪ Olive oil – high quality organic extra virgin
▪ Rice cakes and gluten free bread (I use a brand called Biona – http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk/cgi-local/frameset/script/search.html?query=biona+bread&snar=)
▪ Seeds: pumpkin, flax, sunflower
What are the most important kitchen accessories for this diet?
A juicer, a food processor, a blender and a vegetable spiralizer
I have these ones:
My Food Processor
My Vegetable Spiralizer
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, I used to use this Food Processor/Blender Set which works really well and is very inexpensive.
In terms of measuring I just use a standard coffee mug which is 3 by 3 and a 1/2 inches!
What are your favourite restaurants in London?
42 Raw - amazing raw food and juices/smoothies, great take aways and the best raw lasagne ever. The cafe itself isn’t too cosy but it’s nice and the location is great.
Borough Market - my favourite place in London, the best fresh produce you’ll ever see plus amazing olives, artichokes, hummus, sundried tomatoes etc. Great organic smoothie/jar called Total Organics attached to a great salad bar plus an amazing stall selling vegan burgers with pesto potatoes, as well as the best hummus ever from the arabic stall.
Manna - a great vegetarian restaurant, works well for everyone as it has a lovely interior and makes vegetarian food seem accessible – not all vegan/gluten free but lots of great options. Especially nice for dinner.
Mildreds - the coolest vegetarian place in London, carnivores love it and again makes vegetarian food seem awesome. Not all gluten free/vegan but amazing options, I love the stir-fried asian vegetables with brown rice, so delicious!
Tibits - fantastic place for everyone, amazing vegan/gluten free options and a great lunch spot. They have a huge buffet and you fill your place with whatever you fancy and pay by weight. Really delicious and inventive salads.
The Good Life Eatery - a new cafe and a great option, very small so tricky at peak times but fantastic food and amazing raw juices. Especially love their signature salad with kale, sweet potato, lentils, pomegranates and a tahini/nutritional yeast dressing. Lovely interior too and a great atmosphere.
Wild Food café - one of my favourites, the best raw food and a lovely atmosphere. A little too ‘hippy’ for some people with its communal tables but I love it. They make an especially awesome raw pizza and insane desserts! All vegan with gluten free options for everything.
Wild Juicery - this juicery is attached to the wild food cafe and is awesome, amazing selection of awesome juices and smoothies.
Vitao - a delicious vegan place, cute atmosphere but like wild food cafe it’s more alternative. Fantastic food though, especially love their squash risotto!
So embrace all of mother nature’s goodness, throw away anything with additives, learn to love food, love snacking and love your body and I can guarantee it will love you back! You won’t believe how fast your body will metabolize foods when you do this and how much energy you’ll have. Just remember that just because something is marketed as healthy or sold in a health food store, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually healthy!