First came the paleo diet, then it was ‘clean eating’, now it’s all about the JERF (Just Eat Real Foods). Whatever label you want to give it, it pretty much equals the same thing. Cut out the crap (anything processed) and stick to the good stuff. It sounds so easy, but if you work full time or have kids (or both!) it’s not. Here are a few ways to cut corners…
Use natural sweeteners
If you believe the press, eating refined sugar is pretty much as bad as feeding your kids cocaine. While I’m not about to ban birthday cake and the odd bag of Percy Pigs it has made me think about how much sugar my kids consume. Agave Nectar is always on my shopping list these days – it’s a natural plant syrup that looks and tastes like honey. I put it on the kids’ porridge and toast and they don’t even notice the difference. You can also use it in baking – there are some great recipe ideas on Pinterest.
If I’ve had a busy day, it’s a given that I’ll end up reaching for the crisps or chucking a frozen pizza in the oven, so it’s handy to have a few recipes up my sleeve. Omelettes or Spanish-style tortillas are quick and full of flavour. If I’ve cooked roast beef on a Sunday, I’ll save the leftovers and use it in a curry. Make the sauce using onion, garlic, chilli flakes, coconut milk, ginger and turmeric (this spice has so many health benefits), then drop the beef in at the end.
Eat seasonal + local
It makes sense to me that the less food has travelled, the better it will be for you. Supermarkets use all kinds of methods for ensuring it stays fresh for longer (cold storage of fruit, for example), many of which affect the nutritional value. We tried out an organic veg box delivery service recently – it forces you to be more inventive with your meals and tastes so much better than supermarket produce! If you want to read up on this there’s a good article on the Sustain website. BBC Food also has a handy Seasonality Table .
Eating all-natural food can be expensive and time consuming. There’s a lot of cooking and washing up involved, and let’s face it who has the time?! Batch cooking is the way forward – for example, make up pasta sauces by roasting tomatoes, garlic and onions before blitzing them the food blender. In fact, chuck in whatever you like – carrots, leeks, celery… Put the sauce in plastic food bags (so it takes up less room and is easier to divide up) and keep it in the freezer. OK, so pasta isn’t paleo, but in my eyes life too short to avoid all carbs. Just eat less of them and choose brown not white.
Eat the rainbow
I love a plate full of colours, and summer makes this so much easier. I chop radish, mushroom, celery, mange tout, courgette, tomato, olives… whatever needs using up in the fridge to make a super-tasty salad. Top with avocado, chicken, puy lentils, quinoa, fish or grilled halloumi and I promise you’ll feel full for hours. It goes without saying that eating raw fruit and veg will give you even more of a nutrient boost too.