Here are five reasons you should make time to cook:
1) Cooking is a great way to connect with family and friends. I think it's important to share ideas and experiences about food with people (hence the blog) and the best way to do this is to cook for them. They will also be very appreciative!
2) Cooking is therapeutic. Even in the busiest household, cooking is a time where you can be mindful and focus on producing something. When I need to switch off from a stressful activity, cooking allows me to do this in a productive way (rather than staring at my phone).
3) Cooking your own food makes you more aware of what you're eating, which is great if you are trying to eat healthily.
4) Cooking allows you to be creative. As a pesketarian I often end up eating different meals from my family or variations on the food they are eating. Often at short notice I end up creating something new from the store-cupboard ingredients, and whether the meal is a disaster or a triumph, the experience is valuable.
5) Cooking allows you to discover new ingredients and new cultures. I think one of the amazing things about travelling is discovering new dishes and ingredients and due to the range of stock easily available today you can recreate this experience in your own kitchen. And without paying for flights!
I hope this has inspired you to make a home cooked meal. It doesn't matter if it's once a month or three times a day, the act of cooking is valuable for all the reasons above. I also think it's addictive so if you give it a go you may get hooked. For advice on how to make up a recipe as you go along, read my post on How To Improvise In The Kitchen.
As I'm writing this on Boxing Day, Christmas has (obviously) been and gone but the festivities continue around me with lots of food and even more game playing. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and ate far too much, something I'm a strong advocate of once a year - I even wrote a post last year called How not to have a healthy Christmas! However after all that eating, many people move on to thinking about their New Year's Resolution, and whether this year will be the year they finally stick to it. I'd always been quite half-hearted about resolutions in the past, until in January 2016 I vowed to stop eating meat and went pesketarian. I'm proud to say that at the very end of the year my resolution is still very much intact and I'm going to carry it on next year. This year I thought I would share some tips on how to sucessfully stick to your New Year's Resolution.
If you haven't heard of Nakd bars, I seriously think you need to spend more time researching healthy snacks :)
In all seriousness though, apparently they're not a thing in the US, but they are similar to something called Larabars.
They are a big brand of snack bars, that are "containing 100% natural ingredients with no added sugars or syrups, wheat, dairy and gluten free". I think that counts as pretty good for you! They are not perfect, and I'm not advising you to eat them five times a day or anything like that, as they contain natural sugars from the dates. But more importantly they are absolutely delicious and very filling.
Nakd bars are not particularly expensive, but they can be made at home quickly and very cheaply, from store cupboard ingredients (I know that not everyone has dates in their kitchen, but if you don't - you should.) As well as this, cooking things at home is really fun, especially with friends or kids. This is also classic five minute food so "I don't have time for cooking" isn't a valid excuse.
I haven't listed this as a recipe (instead as a food blog post) because I don't take credit for anything here. I'm simply reading the packaging carefully and sharing my knowledge. This is the back of a chocolate orange flavoured Nakd Bar:
I recently went on the first family holiday since I turned pesketarian. We had an amazing time, but the food was a bit of a challenge. I've never been the problem child when it came to eating out, that role always fell to one of my fussy-eater (but lovely) brothers. However, this year I got a bit more freaked out when it came to restaurants.
I always attempt to be open minded and try unusual things when eating out, especially on holiday. We were holidaying on the beautiful island of Mallorca, but the 'island' bit was causing some problems! I am a pesketarian so I eat fish and not meat. "No problem!" You say, "just eat fish" . But while I do eat fish, I try and eat it sparingly and try to be sustainable. It found it difficult to fit in with a diet of fish everyday.
It was also difficult as I was the only one out of our party of eight that didn't eat meat. Things looked better though when we ordered tapas. One of the things I loved about Mallorca was how uncomplicated the attitude to food was in some places. The restaurant staff in some places were so confident that we would enjoy the food that the only choice you were given about the menu was how many plates of tapas you wanted! This seems like my idea of utopia, no stress or arguments over ordering, just lots of good food presented to you. I was able to check whether some of the tapas would be vegetarian (in mediocre Spanish) and then just enjoy the meal. Some of my favourite dishes are listed below, try them if your ever in Mallorca:
Tumbet - An aubergine, tomato and vegetable stew that reminded me of ratatouille but less smooth and with more vegetables.
Granizada de Almendra - This almond drink is possibly the most refreshing thing I've ever encountered and definitely one of the most delicious! As far as I can tell from my taste buds, it's made of almonds, ice, sugar and milk. It doesn't really count as a health food, but it is perfect on a hot day.
🍻 🍹 🍻 🍹 🍻 🍹 🍻🍹 🍻 🍹 🍻 🍹 🍻 🍹 🍻
Boquerones - This is a tapas dish of fresh white anchovies on toast. It is light and delicious, and it goes very well with tumbet!🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞🐟🍞
We also had ensaimadas, the Mallorcan speciality pastry. However I was pretty unimpressed by these as I found they were sweet but had no other flavour or texture. So, to summarise, if you are ever in Mallorca expect a lot of fish, eat nice tapas and skip the ensaimadas!
These days it seems like the internet is crammed with food bloggers promoting exotic ingredients that most of us have never heard of. I want to explain some of the more confusing, and why you should bother to buy them.
This is one of my personal favourite 'weird' ingredients. It is used to replace cocoa powder, and one of the plus sides is that you need much less of it for a chocolatey flavour. I use it in smoothies, such as my Carrot and Banana Smoothie or in mug cakes such as my Banana and chocolate mug cake.
Used instead of - Cocoa powder
Where to buy it - Large supermarkets or health food shops
Why should I buy it - It is much better for your body than shop bought chocolate, and a little bit gives you a lot of flavour. It is much less processed than chocolate and doesn't have added sugar.
But being so busy has meant that I've had to focus on what's really important to me. When you want to just crash out and watch TV, you have to push yourself through. Everyone has those moments where you feel like giving up, but what matters is that you push through.
My rehearsal director with my youth company is someone I look up to constantly, and she recently told us all that the moments when you push through tiredness and pain are the moments that truly make you a better dancer and I think she's absolutely right. I also think those moments make you a better person, as you realise how strong you can be and how much you can push through.
So I wanted to share this message with you guys, and to remind you that when life is crazy and it seems like you never have any rest, it will come to an end and you will be stronger for it.
In my crazy life I've been trying to act like a juggler, putting pressure on myself to get too many things done at once (I'm a hopeless juggler!) But now I've realised that I have to let some things go. As a committed dancer, I can't always do the same amounts of work that school friends do or watch so many TV shows, but if I can stay organised and keep priorities running then I know I can manage everything. As well as staying organised, I've started to plan fun things to do after exams are over to keep myself motivated. Beach parties are happening people!
Finally, I've tried to keep a positive attitude. I'm completely not perfect and there have been many times when I haven't managed it, but when I do stay positive it really helps me. I also talked about positivity in my last post about Motivation in Class, as I find it essential in how much I get from an experience.
So to sum this all up, my top tips for when life gets crazy are:
1) Push yourself through it as best as you can
2) Make sure you prioritise what is really important to you
3) Look forward to the end goal
4) Keep smiling!
As we say goodbye to 2015, many of us will make resolutions for the new year. However, despite the best of intentions, these can sometimes go downhill very early on. I have created a list of things found in my kitchen, that will help you to get through the rest of winter, healthily and happily.
These next few items are a little bit more of an investment, but I think that they are well worth it.
Thanks for reading and have a healthy, happy new year!
I love Christmas, it's my favourite time of the year. But I feel really strongly that it is a part of the year that we should't try to make healthy, put restrictions on our diet or stop ourselves from having fun.
I'm not suggesting that the whole of December is signed away to binge eating and letting go of good intentions. However, we can easily have a great time and bend the rules when we get together on Christmas day with family and friends - and I don't think we should have to feel guilty about it. After all, new year and all the resolutions that come with it are just a few days later. A week of indulgence never killed anybody.
This is what you get if you google 'how to have a healthy Christmas' :
Now I can't talk for you, but to me this overload of information seems overwhelming and just unhelpful. Christmas guilt isn't a phrase yet (I hope!) and definitely shouldn't become one. It is a time for indulgence and celebration, regardless of the consequences for your waistline.
As well as this, I don't think that eating healthily and treating yourself have to be opposites. Many people work on an 80, 20 rule - eating healthily 80% of the time and treating yourself 20% of the time. This can work brilliantly and adds another layer of motivation to eat well. Save up a few weeks of good eating, and Christmas can be your 20% off.
I will ask you this as your Christmas present to me:
Forget eating healthily for a few days, and instead
See you in the new year!
I love cooking from recipes, be it from other food blogs (you can find some great examples in the useful websites section if you are stuck for inspiration) but I feel really passionately that people need to have the confidence to rely on their own knowledge and experience in the kitchen sometimes. You may the proud owner of a super organised kitchen and plan all your meals perfectly when you go shopping. But I know that, at least for me, all the right ingredients are pretty much never in the house at one time. That doesn't put me off creating a delicious meal though, as I know that I have the skills to do so without following a recipe word for word.
Here's how I do it:
1) Decide how much time you are willing to spend on a meal. Half an hour? An hour? It shouldn't limit you at all if you want a quick meal, I spend most of my time dashing to dance classes and rehearsals and still manage to cram in a little cooking now and then!
2) Choose a base. This is generally a carb of some sort.
My favourites are:
Couscous / Giant couscous
I prefer to eat these rather than something like pasta or white bread, but it is completely up to you. Eat whatever you want if it will make you feel great! Cook this according to the instructions on the packet.
3) Pick another main ingredient. I like this to be veg but if you are more of a carnivore then that is also fine.
Great examples are:
Green veg eg. spinach, kale
Root veg eg. butternut sqaush, carrots, parsnips
Then cook this as you want. A frying pan will improve pretty much any dish, even if it's only for a minute or two. Some vegetables and meat will need a little more forward planning if you are going to roast them.
4) Add some protein if your main ingredient was veg.
It is really important that you eat a balanced diet if you are vegetarian or vegan. While I personally do eat meat, most of my meals come from plant based sources. I make sure to sprinkle a few nuts or seeds over most of my meals, or another plant based protein such as avocado or lentils / beans. I generally avoid supplements as they are a hassle to get hold of and I think natural alternatives work just fine.
Food Matters made a great list of plant based proteins that can be found here.
5) Add a sauce or dressing, if you think your meal needs it. I am not ashamed of using 'cheat' ingredients sometimes such as ready made pesto or harissa. But I find that mixing these up with a bit of oil or some other store cupboard ingredients. I think the ability to mix up a sauce or dressing without really thinking about it comes with practice, if you are starting out in the kitchen maybe use a ready made sauce or skip it all together.
6) Enjoy your meal! If you make anything delicious by improvising in the kitchen I would love to hear about it. Leave a message in the comments below or on social media.
Confused by labels like this? Don't really know the difference between some of the categories? This post should help you.
The internet is full of people telling you, what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat and how to eat it.
However, that was never my intention on dancer talks food. I wanted to share healthy recipes and ideas that would make it easy to change or continue a healthy lifestyle, if YOU want to.
This post aims to tell you a little bit more about what the labels on your food mean, and how you can interpret them.
Contemporary dance student and food-lover, sharing tips and tricks, recipes and generally random ideas.