How would you define your relationship with food?
I absolutely love food. It’s not only my job but my biggest passion. It’s such a powerful thing and to me is a lot more than just fuel. I’m much more aware now of how food makes me feel. I never used to be, and just went round feeling exhausted and bloated all the time. But now I know what it is that makes me feel good and what really doesn’t agree with me. If I eat bread and pasta and lots of dairy, I know I’m going to feel awful and sick. Knowing that makes it much easier to avoid!
“Food is such a powerful thing and to me is a lot more than just fuel. I’m much more aware now of how it makes me feel.”
What do you believe are the cornerstones of a healthy, balanced diet?
Everything in moderation. A healthy, balanced diet should be full of delicious, nutritious foods that make eating a pleasure and which make you feel great! I don’t believe in faddy diets and I definitely don’t believe in deprivation or skipping meals. It’s all a case of balance.
“A healthy, balanced diet should be full of delicious, nutritious foods that make eating a pleasure and which make you feel great!”
What foods or groups of foods (if any) do you avoid?
I don’t eat gluten as I’m intolerant to it and unfortunately it makes me really sick. I hate that there are things I can’t eat now, as I think it means that I am a fussy eater, which I really don’t want to be. If I go to a friends for supper and they’ve cooked ordinary pasta, I will eat it as I don’t want to be rude but I will be in agony for the next 24 hours.
I also try to avoid dairy as my body finds it really hard to digest and it can really affect my skin. I’ve noticed such an improvement since cutting out dairy and with all the nut and oat milks, it’s really easy to do.
What do you think are the most nutritious foods?
Avocados. I love them so much and I’m forever in search of a perfectly ripe one. They are just so good for you – full of lots of healthy fats that our bodies, hair and skin need. I love them with my porridge (you have to try it!), scooped into salads, baked with eggs, or just smashed on a piece of toast and sprinkled with chilli flakes. The list could go on. I am also a banana addict and love one before I go for a run, or when I’m in need of a nutritious snack. They’re just amazing.
“I am a banana addict and love one before I go for a run, or when I’m in need of a nutritious snack.”
What is your food routine?
I eat three meals and two snacks per day. I try to live by the old adage of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper. In an ideal world I also like having a relatively early supper, as I feel so much better if I don’t go to bed feeling full and find that I sleep really well. But seeing friends, working and going to restaurants means that I don’t often have the early bird special!
Avocado with just about anything, bananas, Medjool dates with peanut butter and boiled eggs. My handbag is always full of food! My motto is ‘keep your friends close, and your snacks closer’!
Are you a breakfast lover?
I’m a complete breakfast lover. I’d go as far to say that I’m obsessed. It’s definitely the most important meal of the day for me, as it sets me up for the day and just makes me feel so energised and focussed. I will get up early to make sure I can take my time to have a proper breakfast. I am a complete oat fiend. I love making my own granola (currently peanut butter and apple), bowls of warming porridge or overnight oats.
“Weekends tend to be all about eggs, avocado and smoked salmon. Having a delicious breakfast can help you bound out of bed.”
I really love making big batches of bircher muesli that can see me through the week. My current favourite is blackcurrant, coconut and almond, served with stewed gooseberries on the top. Weekends tend to be all about eggs, avocado and smoked salmon. Having a delicious breakfast can help you bound out of bed.
How do you treat yourself in terms of food?
I guess a treat for me is being cooked for and that’s something I really love. I know my friends used to be a little nervous cooking for me, but honestly, I’m the easiest person to cook for, they can cook me anything and I’m just so grateful!
Do you believe in diets or detox programmes?
When I was at university, I think I tried everything – so I can honestly say that the only thing that works is just to eat a balanced wholesome diet and to get moving. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet and you can be thin but not healthy if you’re not exercising.
You need to nourish your body from the inside out with nutritious foods and you need to get exercising to increase your muscle mass. The stronger you get, the higher your metabolism becomes and the more calories you burn. It’s as simple as that.
“I can honestly say that the only thing that works is just to eat a balanced wholesome diet and to get moving.”
How do you stay on track when you travel?
I have to admit I find travelling the hardest. I always take snacks and food for the journey and it’s really important to drink lots of water. It’s the unpredictability of travelling that can make it hard to stay healthy. But little things can make it easier.
I always take a couple of packets of healthy, gluten-free bread so that if all else fails I know that I can buy some avocados and enjoy avocado on toast. Then I just try to track down local markets and stock up with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and try to enjoy the local food, which, after all, is one of the best things about travelling.
Does your interest in a healthier lifestyle cross over into other parts of your life?
Definitely! The skin is the biggest organ we have, so I think it’s definitely worth thinking about what we put on it, as all those chemicals are absorbed straight into the bloodstream. I try to avoid chemicals and additives in the food I eat so it only makes sense to think about avoiding them in skin and beauty products too. I also love natural cleaning products and I make my own!
What is your go-to meal on a busy day?
I love eggs. I put them on everything. If in doubt, put an egg on it. They are the ultimate in fast, nourishing food, and I am the queen of frittatas. Just mix eggs and vegetables in a 50:50 ratio, with a little cheese if you’re that way inclined, pour into a lined baking tray and pop in the oven until it’s set in the middle – completely delicious and wonderfully nourishing.
How did you learn to cook?
Growing up I helped my mama cook a lot and I still love everything she makes. But when I decided I wanted to cook professionally I went to Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. It was amazing there and it was really inspiring to be around so many people who were completely passionate about food and what they did.
“My fruit bowl is always overflowing with bananas and avocados. That’s how I know everything is going to be alright.”
What are your pantry essentials?
My cupboards are never without quinoa, black beans, brown rice, coconut oil, tinned beans, coconut milk and lots of nuts and seeds. My fridge is always full of almond milk, dates, gluten-free bread and my freezer always has peas and soya beans. My fruit bowl is always overflowing with bananas and avocados. That’s how I know everything is going to be alright.
Any cookbooks you couldn’t live without?
My desert island cookbook would, without a doubt, be The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It’s a must-have for anyone interested in cooking and I look at it at least twice a week.
What’s your exercise routine/schedule?
I love doing a combination of cardio and strengthening work. I tend to go running three times a week and I have a routine of home exercises I do for strength and toning. I do also love reformer Pilates and am a recent yoga dabbler. Running is really important for me as it’s a chance to clear my head and zone out and I love running in the park next to my house.
“Running is really important for me as it’s a chance to clear my head and zone out.”
Do you like trying new exercise classes/trainers/trends?
It’s really fun trying out new things with friends. I think it’s important to keep exercise fun, as then it feels like less of a chore. I’ve never been a gym goer, so classes really appeal to me. I’ve just been to try out Rebound (trampolining) fitness with some friends, which was really fun. Me and my housemate try to go to Sweaty Betty bootcamps whenever we can.