Tuesday, 1 September 2015
The Unlikely Healthy Food Bible
Once upon a time, only a few years ago, I had to re-teach myself how to eat. In fact, I reflect now and feel I didn't ever really know how to eat. Coco pops or toast smeared with jam would be a usual breakfast. Perhaps a cheese and cucumber sandwich for lunch with a packet of crisps and a big chocolate cookie or Penguin bar for lunch. There was a phase when I was about 15 when I'd only eat those Special K Mini Breaks and an apple for lunch - highly nutritious, obviously. Dinner may be pasta, chicken kiev with oven chips and some peas or a 'microwave magic' as my Mother likes to call them. I used to eat chocolate and those mini bakery tubs you get in supermarkets like they were about to disappear off the face of the earth. My diet was basically full of sugar.
Then I faced some rocky years that I still, to this day, have absolutely no idea how I ever came out of it.
How To Eat is a pretty special book. There, I've said it again. But seriously, this opens up your eyes to how bloody brilliant food is. You can do so much with food, there are so many different flavours and combinations for you to try, and I'm sure there are several that have barely been discovered either. Who would have thought, 10 years ago or so, that salted caramel would ever exist? It's genius and I feel so lucky to live in a world where it does!
Back to the main subject, How To Eat is a cookery book that acts as either the starting point to your future in the kitchen, or it acts as the missing gap to your vast array of cookery books. There are unfortunately some unwanted memories I have associated with the book but mainly, this served as the core textbook, if you like, to learning how to eat. My Mum refers to it as a 'story book', one with absolutely no accompanying images, which, at first, is rather off putting. However, Nigella's words and abilities to tell a story associated with particular meals, occasions and recipes is enchanting and you find yourself absorbed in her tales about food.
The thing that is continuously getting to me about healthy food and lifestyle blogs, writing and dedicated social media sites is the idea that in order to be healthy, it means the food you eat has to be Green Smoothie + Salad + Courgetti. You need to have a pantry or cupboards bursting full of chlorella, wheatgrass, baobab, and so on. For the everyday person, you absolutely cannot live like this. It isn't liveable, it's expensive and it's actually boring. Your body craves nutrients, of course, but there are tastier methods of ensuring you are hitting your nutrient and mineral targets daily. Social media, mainly Instagram I'm afraid to say, has lead so many of us who just want to lead a healthy lifestyle, astray. There is so much confusion and mis-education surrounding healthy food and healthy lifestyle's, which is why I have so much praise for Nigella for writing this unlikely 'health bible'. Her passion for food shines, and she happily eats an abundance of carbohydrates because that's what satisfies her soul and her mind - something so many people ignore when trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, and I'm sorry to be blunt.
We all know Nigella is not afraid of using butter, oils, sugar and so many ingredients that we are day by day being told to avoid 100% if we want to be healthy. I'm a strong believer in living by moderation and believe a healthy lifestyle is a balanced lifestyle. I would go mad if I couldn't have a chocolate dessert if I'm at a restaurant; equally if I wasn't allowed to enjoy a glass of wine once or twice every few months. The book is split into sections such as Basics (basic vinaigrette's, pastry, victoria sponge etc); Fast Food; Weekend Lunch and so on. This is a 500+ paged book that should really be celebrated as a healthy lifestyle 'Bible'.
This book made me excited about food again, and made me feel as if I could actually eat again which was unbelievably important at the time of discovering the book, and I'm incredibly thankful that the book even exists.
Example recipes are: Moules Marinière; Gooey Chocolate Puddings; Lamb with Garlicky Tahina; Roast Cod with Upmarket Mushy Peas; Lemon Meringue Ice Cream; Guacamole with Paprika Toasted Potato Skins...
You could eat these foods and still be healthy, it would just be a means of moderation and not having heavily piled plates. A healthy lifestyle is one where you can enjoy food, enjoy cooking, enjoy flavours. You don't need to be as strict about what you're eating as you think. Courgetti and cauliflower rice certainly have their place, and they can certainly be made exciting and delicious. However, healthy eating does not mean cutting out a food group, or several and saying no to certain ingredients just because everyone on Instagram is. I cannot eat tonnes of carbohydrates and sugar for personal health issues, but that doesn't mean I say absolutely no to them. Hence why, a book like How To Eat really will teach you how to eat and, in disguise, will encourage you to be healthier.
I'd like to thank my lovely Mummy for introducing me to How To Eat during a very troubled time in my life. I spent hours up at night reading her sticky, stained copy (a sign of a well loved and used cook book!) from cover to cover and I really do believe this is one of the tiny baby steps it took to helping me get back to being Lucy again - thank you!
Are you a fan of Nigella Lawson's books? Had you ever considered her books to be considered as 'health bibles'? What is your take on the very intense healthy lifestyle messages thrown at us on social media and in the media in general?
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