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Healthy Fast Food

Healthy Fast Food

Posted by Jess on 04/04/2014

I am looking forward to having a lovely client for lunch tomorrow. One of her many goals is to fit healthy eating into her daily life and as a currently 'single' mother, navigating divorce, with two young children and a demanding job, food preparation needs to be FAST and as healthy and energy giving as possible.

I am a 'single' mother too with four hungry children, a busy working life and time is of the essence as with most people. Supper during the week needs to be on the table in half an hour tops so we can all eat together and have time to catch up on our days before finishing homework and other, mainly sporting, commitments.

So here are a few personal top tips on FAST HEALTHY FOOD and  what works for us. First up it's a team effort. We have a rota, so preparation is rarely solo and I love the times when we're all in the kitchen together chatting whilst we chop.

It is all in the preparation and also about having the right things in your cupboard and fridge. I invite you to clear out the biscuits and crisps (donate to a local food bank?) and all the unhealthier stuff so you're not tempted. Buy healthy carbohydrates eg brown rice, quinoa (also a protein with almost the complete compliment of amino acids), lentils, sweet potatoes and lots of other interesting multi coloured veggies, pots of growing herbs (eg parsley, coriander, basil, rosemary) salad leaves (most supermarkets do great selections of mixed leaves)  a beautiful selection of fruit, seeds (eg sunflower, sesame, chia, hemp and pumpkin).

What we do at the beginning of the week is have a 40-minute moment of cooking a changing selection of carbs - perhaps rice, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas, which last about 3-5 days in the fridge (I do something else in the kitchen whilst waiting for them to cook). We then have a base to throw a meal together in minutes. I will often combine two carbs together, eg rice and quinoa perhaps to do a stir fry, throw in some chopped veggies (vary the shape you chop/grate them and the  combination of colours/flavours to make it more interesting) and perhaps some raw leaves, eg baby spinach or watercress. Throw together a salad with some seeds, nuts or pine nuts and oil/lemon juice or other dressing combi and serve with some grilled chicken, fish or seafood. We also do quite a lot of roasted veggies, which is superfast to prepare, varying the colours, combinations and cuts, and someadded herbs eg beetroot, onion and garlic, then toss in chopped dill and spring onions or parsley, or tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, onions, garlic and rosemary etc.

We also do a lot of super quick 15-minute soups to which we add fresh veggies if there is any left over for another meal. Ideally you should use homemade stock but organic veggie Kallo stock cubes often come to the rescue: literally simmer whichever veggies you feel like with some herbs and perhaps some fresh ginger then either whizz with a hand blender or have a chunkier soup. It's delicious with added whole grain or buckwheat (a seed and not related to wheat) noodles. One favourite soup is broccoli, spinach, watercress, ginger with blended roasted butternut and rosemary.

The cooked rice and quinoa work well for porridges for breakfast too as a change (and a model friend introduced me to a delicious breakfast of superfood chia seed with almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, mashed banana and perhaps some maple syrup or brown rice syrup - yum!) although we love oat porridge and homemade mueslis too: simply oats, a combination of different dried fruits, seeds and topped with some chopped fresh fruit.

And particularly now the Summer is here, it is a joy to have good colourful bowls of fruit, which brightens up any kitchen. We do try to vary according to the seasons and buy localwhere possible. Fresh fruit is a great snack anytime perhaps with a handful of nuts: almonds, pistachios or cashews. We also generally have humous or another healthy dip in the fridge so chopping a carrot, some cucumber or celery is a pretty quick snack too.

I am often asked what and how I eat healthily, and I am a passionate healthy foodie.  Good nutrition, energy, vitality, health and ability to perform at your best do go hand in hand, don't they ?

And so it was a joy to train with the very zen macrobiotic and philosophical teacher, Simon Brown, for a year. I was inspired to research macrobiotics more by the results I witnessed from two cathartic stays at the macrobiotic SHA wellness clinic in Alicante. Macrobiotics is not right for everyone. However, there is general agreement amongst all expert nutritionists about what 'healthy' eating means, basically a balanced diet including:

  • lean protein
  • wholegrain carbohydrates
  • a variety of multi-coloured vegetables and fruit daily
  • staying well hydrated (water being the best)
  • healthy oils (eg olive oil, avocado)

And doing your best to cut out:

  • processed food
  • sugar (as far as possible)
  • caffeine
  • and reducing unhealthy oils and fat (hydrogenated and animals fats)

Plus eating a wide range of foods making sure you have sufficient nutrient intake, vitamins, amino acids and calcium (eg almonds, sesame seeds and  leafy green veggies eg kale, broccoli, spinach etc).

Also, depending on our weight requirements it is recommended we eat the right amount according to how active we are. Exercise raises our metabolism and the burning off of the calories we consume. An obvious point is that if we eat more calories than we need, we will of course put on weight and if we generally exercise more we lose weight (although stress and lack of sufficient 7-8 hours sleep can cause us to hold on to, or put on weight).  The jury is out on the debate about dairy. From the balance of research I have read I personally avoid dairy and have also cut out wheat, which uncomfortably bloats many of us!

The ripple effect of us eating healthily as a family reaches the children's friends too and I love having gorgeous gaggles of children and teens at home chatting heathy eating, juicing and saying how great they feel when they eat well. Sadly however many bemoan why they don't eat healthier at home: other busy, working parents who all understandably fall back on old habits and ready meals when the going gets tough. And when the going gets tough is precisely the moment we all need to be eating even healthier!

We would love to know what you do to eat healthily when time is of the essence. Please do share your top tips back! Healthy Fast Food inspiration for us all.

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