Healthy Comfort Food

It’s like I jinxed the weather! All of a sudden winter has arrived in London and it’s bloody freezing… And when it gets cold all I want to eat is comfort food while sitting under a blanket with the heating on. But comfort eating doesn’t have to mean letting your clean eating plan go, here’s my hints and tips on how to ‘healthify’ some of my favourite recipes. 

Healthy and comforting dinners

Minced meat is one of the most comforting dinners in my opinion, you can make it into so many things! Lasagna, shepherd’s pie, bolognese, chilli, the list is endless. 

Shepherd’s pie:

Shepherd’s pie has got to be made with lamb mince so why not lighten up the topping by using a mixture of sweet potato and carrot rather than white potatoes? Simply boil 2 large sweet potatoes with 1 large carrot and mash with a tablespoon of coconut oil (to give it that creaminess) and some salt and pepper. Top your cooked mince with the sweet potato/carrot mixture and bake for 45 minutes until bubbling and delicious.

Chilli:

For a start, try lean turkey mince rather than beef to make your chilli, you won’t be able to tell the difference, I promise! It’s still high in protein but it’s naturally lower in fat. Then, once it’s ready, serve it with some roasted sweet potato wedges and a big pile of steamed greens rather than white rice. 

Healthy snacks

Sometimes you just need a snack but an apple or some celery sticks just won’t cut it (pretty much every afternoon right?) and as snack time is one of the easiest places to slip up, make sure you’re prepared. Here’s a couple of ideas… 

Popcorn:

Corn kernels are very cheap to buy in the supermarket and so ridiculously easy to make that you’ll wonder why you ever spent money buying any other popcorn! Put a handful of corn kernels (it makes more than you think!) in a microwave-safe container, cover loosely with a plastic lid and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take out the popped kernels and put the remaining unpopped kernels back in for another 2 minutes, continue this process until they’re all popped. You can then sprinkle with salt, coconut sugar or a teaspoon of butter and cinnamon, basically whatever you want! But keep the toppings light otherwise you’ll undo all the good work you’re doing by making your own popcorn. 

Frozen yogurt:

This one is so simple! Buy some yogurt (I prefer full fat goats milk yogurt) and freeze it. See, I told you. Just remember to stir it every 20-30 minutes so that it stays creamy, or use an ice cream maker if you’re lucky enough to have one. Again, you can flavour it with anything. I like a scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder, some crushed raspberries or if you’re feeling posh you could make a syrup of agave infused with basil and lemongrass to mix in. 

So there you go! Although we all struggle with staying on the straight and narrow when there’s biscuits and cakes in the office, or the allure of the takeaway menus in the drawer, you can eat comfort food to soothe your soul and still stay healthy. 

What recipes would you like to see made healthy? 

The truth about running

Running and I have a turbulent past but we’re mending old issues and becoming friends again. Here’s how…

Way back when, in my school days, I was very sporty. I represented the school at lacrosse, tennis and athletics but as I got older the puppy fat started to appear and I lagged behind everyone else. The final straw was not making it into the top 30 of the cross-country run and therefore being dropped from the lacrosse team when I was 15. After that I pretty much gave up.

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I played football for my university and struggled through every single fitness session, only ever coming on at half time as I wasn’t fit enough to play a whole game. I half-heartedly tried to improve my fitness by going on a few runs but together with the prodigious amounts of alcohol I was drinking and my weakness for Chinese takeaways, I didn’t get very far.

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Jump forward to mid-2013 and I’d been working at a desk job for 4 years. It had taken its toll on my fitness to the point that walking a couple of miles felt tough. It was time to get in shape…

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I started going to classes at the brilliant London Fields Fitness Studio, doing Pilates and yoga to strengthen my muscles and eating properly (most of the time). But running was still a pretty major mind block for me.

I started small and slow, 10 minute runs down the road followed by 20 minutes of walking. Everything hurt, I sweated and swore but vowed that I would get better.

Gradually, I started running the short route home from work (1.75 miles) at a crawlingly slow pace but eventually I could do it without having to stop and walk.

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Fitness and eating clean began to be a major part of my life. I was exercising 6 days a week and eating healthy and nutritious food. As boring as it sounds, the difference it’s made has been amazing.

I can now run 4km without stopping which is a major achievement for me and my little short legs. My goal is to run 5km in 30 minutes or less this summer and I’m working up to this by doing some steady runs combined with interval and strength training at various different classes. It’s a big challenge but I’m determined to do it.

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And the strange thing is that I’m actually starting to enjoy running!

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