Hello lovelies and happy St Patrick’s day!
I thought that given today’s holiday, this blog post would be so well-suited as it’s all about greens, greens, greens! Well, healthy eating but in my case that’s just all forms of greens, I can’t get enough.
I have to admit that I enjoy a good pig-out as much as the next person, I love getting into bed for an 8 hour Netflix binge with bowls of food and snacks surrounding me, I really do. However what I don’t enjoy is the feeling the next day when I recall every single thing I ate the day before to know how much self-loathing to take into the shower (Eat Pray Love reference for you there). I find that healthy eating makes you feel so much better about yourself in more ways than one, and you can see a difference in your lifestyle and mood almost immediately so it’s definitely worth keeping up with it even though all you might want to do it cave and get a burger or something instead of a boring salad.
That brings me to my next point; how some people assume that eating healthy is ‘boring’. Holdddd on right there! I was under this impression too before I started really committing myself to a healthy diet, but now I get so excited about my next meal because I know just how delicious and interesting they can be if you get the right ingredients! Since moving to uni and having to cook for myself, I’m so much more aware of what I’m actually putting into my body rather than getting meals given to me and snacking in between, and I’ve realised that with a little self-control I can really make a difference to my lifestyle without limiting myself to meager rations of crackers and water.
The most important thing about healthy eating is obviously getting enough fruits and vegetables every day. I know that fruit is quite expensive, or in my opinion it is anyway, but it’s so worth it especially if you buy long-lasting fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas etc. Something that can be kept out to ripen so that you get the longest period of time to eat it. You’re supposed to eat 5 portions a day, although I think it’s been increased to 7 now which is kind of excessive. I’ll admit that I only eat around 4 but I think this is pretty normal especially for students who are infamous for eating those gross noodle pots- the smell alone makes me queasy, I don’t even want to know what they taste like!
My favourite fruits and veggies are;
- Spinach/leafy greens – my absolute favourite in terms of veggies, I eat bags of salad and tonnes of spinach/rocket in particular
- Tenderstem broccoli – I don’t like my broccoli soft and my favourite part is the stems, so tenderstem is obviously a beautiful discovery for me
- Sweet potatoes – I don’t eat many potatoes because they’re very starchy, but sweet potato feels like such a lighter/healthier alternative and is so yummy!
- Yellow plums – they’re in season at the moment and are so sweet and juicy!
- Lychees – I get these from my local fruit vendor who has a stall outside the tube station near my house and they’re so cheap but do go off really quickly
- Mango – again, mangoes are quite expensive but they make a really delicious treat alternative to sugary snacks and can go in all meals/salads
- Avocado – the same principle, I adore avocados and the fact they can be ripening for several days gives me a chance to actually eat them
- Pomegranate seeds – I love these for the taste obviously but also because you can add them to salads and smoothies or have on their own, they’re so versatile
(smoked salmon parcels with a salad including pomegranate seeds and avocado)
A way in which I get most of my fruit intake, especially in the summer, is through drinking smoothies! For me, ‘smoothie season‘ begins after Easter so in May right through to August, basically when it feels like summer. I make my smoothies with either small amount of almond milk or just water/ice, and normally have two to three different kinds of fruit plus omega seed sprinkle, sometimes spinach or carrot too, in there to make it really delicious and healthy. As I don’t like eating breakfast (shock to all my older relatives who consider it the Holy Grail of meals), I normally try to have either a smoothie or a detox water as a substitute as at least I’m not running on empty for the first few hours of the day. I’m going to be doing a blog post nearer the time because I have so many smoothie recipes that I want to share with you all!
As for meals, I actually may not be the best promoter of balanced eating. I know everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or that if you’re trying to lose weight/maintain a healthy lifestyle that you should eat 5 small meals a day… well I can’t keep up with all of these different health guidelines so I just do what feels the most natural for my body, which I think is the most important. I’m really bad with breakfast, for some reason I cannot eat it as it makes me feel really queasy and sluggish to eat that early in the morning. I normally get by with just a coffee or some herbal tea and I won’t feel hungry until lunchtime anyway, so I don’t see the benefits in forcing myself to eat anything at this point.
My favourite and biggest meal of the day is lunch. I wait until about 2pm and have a really big lunch, as this is when I feel like I am hungriest during the day and also I feel that I’ll have the most time to digest the food at this point rather than having a big dinner later in the evening or when I’ve just woken up in the morning. I eat slow-releasing carbs during this meal so I get an energy boost during the rest of the day, and I find that if I pick the right foods and resist the temptation to snack due to boredom (happens so often) then I am carried over right until dinnertime.
Examples of slow-releasing carbs;
- Non-starchy veggies ie greens – my heaven!
- Fresh fruit
- Sweet potatoes
I then find that after the big lunch, I don’t get ravenously hungry during the evening, so come dinnertime I’ll only need something light like a salad or soup for example. The worst feeling for me is going to bed feeling stuffed from over-eating, so I try to avoid eating after 8pm to stop this from happening. I also do my workouts during the night because I simply don’t have the time in the morning and I’m more switched on at night, so not having had a big stodgy meal helps me with this and stops me getting cramps/stitches. I’ll be doing a blog post on my workout routines in a few weeks time, when I have a chance to take photos of all of my exercises- or rather rope my little sister into helping with it!
Here are a few examples of the lunches I’ve had for the last few days. All of the meals that I have for lunch can be easily transferred to dinner meals, and are by no means the ‘correct’ thing to eat, it’s all just what I enjoy eating and what makes me feel the most satisfied.
Grilled Veggie Omelette
Starting with what I had for lunch just now; a spinach and tomato omelette. I’ve never successfully made an omelette before, that is I’ve never cooked one, flipped it and had it come out whole when plating up; it normally ends up resembling scrambled egg as it always breaks. However, I tried a technique today that I will be using every time I go to make an omelette now; grilling! This ensures that both sides of the omelette are perfectly cooked and actually helps it to come out of the pan when serving as it shrinks at the edges. For this recipe I used;
- 3 eggs, beaten with an electric whisk because I’m lazy
- 5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
- Generous handful of spinach, ripped into rough pieces
- 1 avocado on the side
This dish took me less than 15 minutes to prepare and cook which is really ideal for making speedy lunches in between lectures/work. Whisk the eggs, then add to an already heated frying pan- I didn’t add oil to it as it reacts weirdly with the eggs and ends up separating into the egg mixture, blergh! I then added the ingredients to the omelette while it was cooking in the frying pan and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes, until the edges began to shrink away from the sides. I then put the whole pan under the grill for another 5 minutes so that the top was browned off as well, and served it up. It’s such a simple recipe and you can use any ingredients! Mine came out really thin like a sort of crepe but that’s only because the pan was so big, although I actually think I prefer it like this! Plus it looks sort of like a pepperoni pizza which is good enough for me!
Simple Mackerel Salad
I am a huge fish lover, I actually eat fish over meat most of the time because it’s cheaper to buy and feels so much healthier. I was pescetarian for 10 years of my life until recently, and although I now also include meat into my diet, I naturally still maintain that mentality when choosing meals. Could be worse I think! My favourite types of fish are cooked or smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, tuna, cooked prawns, I really like most fish apart from raw seafood like the kind you’d find at the seafront ie cockles… no thanks! The other day, I had a mackerel salad which was essentially just a fillet and a half of smoked peppercorn mackerel on a bed of spinach, rocket, lettuce and tomatoes. It was so simple and although it might seem really plain, the flavours from the fish were just amazing; I could just eat mackerel on its own out of the packet and still be the happiest girl in the world.
Another dish I made with mackerel a week or two ago was slightly more exciting and I actually ate it for dinner as I’d been too busy to have my big lunch during the day. This can be made with any fish or meat, or even without by just substituting in another vegetable if you’e a veggie/vegan.
- 1 cup kale
- 1 cup broccoli stalks
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 pepper – I went for yellow as they’re the sweetest
- Whatever meat/fish you like – I have 1 fillet of piri piri smoked mackerel
I simply prepared the couscous in a bowl by pouring boiling water over the grains and leaving covered while making the rest of the meal, by which time it was fluffy and ready. In the meantime, I sliced the mushrooms, cut up the broccoli stalks and kale, and fried them all in a pan until cooked al dente then set aside. I cut the top off of the pepper, leaving the stalk on so it can be used as a sort of handle for the ‘lid’ of your couscous bowl. De-seeding and getting rid of the white pith in the middle, I then uncovered the couscous and laid out on a flat baking tray, then put the pepper onto it as well standing upright with the lid off, and baked the whole thing in a pre-heated oven for around 10 minutes or until the couscous was golden/the pepper was browning. I then put the couscous into the pepper, put the lid on, and served with the veggies and of course the mackerel! Simple and delicious!
Salmon and Kale
Another favourite of mine is salmon, although this is more of a treat as I don’t have it often. I used this meal for a dinner as it’s a bit too heavy for lunch. It’s basically just a cooked salmon fillet with stir fried kale, green beans and broccoli plus sweet yellow pepper and soy sauce. It was so yummy and didn’t take that long to take although ensuring that the salmon was cooked took the most time. I fried my salmon but it can be cooked in the oven and will still be delicious.
Chicken and Spinach
I don’t have meat very often as I’ve said, but when I do my absolute favourite is chicken. I could eat chicken until the end of my life if I had access to it, it just works with so many flavours and makes my mouth water smelling it cooking. I usually fry diced chicken breast in garlic and some sort of sauce, my favourites being soy sauce, teriyaki, citrus juice or even just a few simple herbs. I then wilt spinach or other leafy greens and add tomatoes for more colour and fry them all together to get the flavours really mixing, and that’s it! It’s important to eat meat for the protein and nutrients that it provides so I do try and have at least one or two meat eating days per week, mainly if someone takes me out to eat or cooks for me!
I’m a big pasta lover; it would be a crime not to be as I study Italian! I eat pasta once or twice a week, often simple dishes like basil pesto penne/spaghetti with broccoli and parmesan, but my dad and I created this beautiful dolcelatte cheese dish a few years ago and have it as one of our treat meals every so often. There’s a really good recipe for it on the Good Food website, although for mine I don’t use parsely, and add more white wine plus add broccoli and leeks as it gives it a really interesting taste and a nice pop of colour among the paleness of the pasta and chicken. I wouldn’t say this was a particularly unhealthy dish, and obviously alternatives can be created to make it less heavy, but it’s a very lovely treat to have- for example on a cheat day!
I normally snack on nuts – I’m really enjoying Mr Filbert’s Peruvian Pink Peppercorn Cashews & Peanuts at the moment – or actually mints because they’re sweet but very low in calories so it doesn’t really count. I do try and steer clear of fatty, high sugared treats such as chocolate bars, but come on I’m only human! I bought these two Lindt bars as a treat for getting through a bunch of controlled assessments as uni. There’s quite a few flavours such as strawberry cheesecake, cookies and cream and nougat, so I bought the two bars for £1.20 from my local Tesco and hid them in my drawer for a rainy day. Being the rich, chocolately, heavenly goodness that any Lindt product is, there’s quite a lot of calories in each bar, so when I opened the salted caramel yesterday I vowed to only have 2 squares out of the 6 that come in the pack. Granted, I actually ended up having 3 because they’re just so damn good (!!!!!!!) but I think they’re better as a little naughty indulgence with one or two squares than having the whole bar in one. Yesterday was my cheat day anyway because I had a tonne of lectures and uni work, so it was allowed…!
I am in no way saying that any of what I eat or the lifestyle choices I make, especially when it comes to my diet, are correct. I am a firm believer in listening to your body and rather than constantly asking the number on the scales for reassurance, making sure you understand when your body is telling you it needs something. I drink about 6 litres of water per day, half of which must be herbal tea because I’m obsessed. Drinking lots helps keep the skin hydrated and healthy and also is really good for keeping your body well detoxed etc. Sleep obviously very important for the body, although I don’t get much during the week because of uni/work, so on Friday and Saturday I make sure I have a long lie in to make up my sleep-debt. Exercising really helps the body stay active and helps with all sorts of health problems, but I know it’s gross and uncomfortable and no one really enjoys working out- you gym bunnies are all lying, let’s face it!
I really hope that you liked this post, as I have quite a few planned that are related to healthy lifestyles ie smoothie recipes, workout routines etc, though they will be shorter and more concise than this one I promise; I really won’t have this much time on my hands to ramble anyway! If you want to know anything about my diet or maintaining a healthy lifestyle then just let me know!
Have a beautiful St Patrick’s day and stay healthy and happy!