I’m very lucky to know an abundance of people who lead interesting and healthy lives so I thought it high time I start to share their wise words with you all. These people include friends, family and colleagues. They help to continually fuel my knowledge, inspire my work and my adventures in cooking. I’ve decided to make my Wellness Warriors a regular feature on the blog, I’ll ask them the same five questions and I’m sure I’ll get five very different answers.
My first is Sarah Tridgell, a good friend I’ve known for a very long time. We traversed our teenage years together in our big gaggle of friends. We’ve shared many laughs, tears and some very funny holidays. Thankfully we are still close as we are to all the other gorgeous women who were part of our school gang. She now juggles motherhood, teaching yoga, and keeping her brood healthy and happy in London.
What key principles guide your eating?
Well, overall I believe in living healthily and I care about our planet and it’s people, I look for seasonal produce with a low-carbon footprint, where possible I buy fair-trade and organic. I’m vegetarian (I eat fish) and I have sensitivities with both my gut and sinuses so I tend to avoid cow’s dairy – these things all affect and inform my food choices! As a parent I feel it is really important to be a positive role model allowing my children to try new things, develop their palate, understand where the food we eat comes from and what’s healthy for the body. It’s a balance as too much control or restriction can be dangerous territory for many reasons so I try to take the ‘everything in moderation’ approach.
In general I want to eat food that is: tasty, nutritious, simple, unprocessed, and ideally homemade.
What’s your morning routine
I try to drink a glass of water as soon as I get up. I’ll make tea whilst I’m preparing the food – I like herbal teas like Nettle, Fennel and Peppermint, or fresh Lemon with Ginger, White tea is also delicious… we are creatures of habit but I like to mix it up a bit! In an ideal world I’d like to get into loose leaves but at the moment the convenience of the teabag suits me. During the week I usually only get round to drinking my tea in gulps just before leaving the house once its cool enough, but if possible I like to have tea before I’ve eaten anything. It wakes up the digestive tract before the food arrives!
…On to the food… With two young children to feed and get ready first thing, I try to keep my breakfast fairly simple and something we all like. We usually have porridge (with jumbo oats), I mash some banana (for vitamins/minerals and sweetness) into each bowl, add some cinnamon, then stir in the hot porridge. The kids like raisins on theirs. A recent addition that I sometimes add, is a spoonful of ground flaxseeds – this adds a new dimension! The kids have whole milk but I make mine with Oat-milk (or Almond milk) and water, 50/50. I come back to a second cup of tea (or my cold cup from earlier!) around mid morning, this time probably something like Assam. Breakfast is my favourite meal, perhaps because it sets up the day and its when I am most hungry. At the weekends it lasts a lot longer with more variety – boiled or scrambled eggs being favourites, as well as the homemade cinnamon buns (see below!).
What’s your go-to week night evening meal?
We go through phases in our house, we get a veg-box delivered so our meals tend to be governed by what’s arrived in that. We like hearty stews and soups with an Indian vibe, and do them a lot in the winter. At the moment I am in a bit of a warm salads phase (I like one-pot meals that reduce the washing up!).
For a warm salad I would:
Grill, roast, steam or stir-fry the veg (or keep it raw if its salad-y),
add some cooked brown rice (or spelt barley, occasionally quinoa),
then, depending on the variety and cooking style of the veg, I’ll add some flaked grilled salmon, (other options might include: chopped feta or griddled haloumi, perhaps some lentils, chick peas or beans of some description, or some fried tofu).
I like to give it all a bit of crunch so I often toast some seeds or nuts to throw in, or coconut chips, and if there are any I’ll finely chop some fresh herbs to go in too.
A splash of olive/coconut/sesame oil, maybe some balsamic vinegar/tamari – again depending on the ingredients.
If I’m pretty hungry I might poach an egg to go on top too.
A pile of tasty nosh!
Who has inspired your eating approach and choices?
We love food in our family (days revolve around meals rather than the other way round!) so I have been brought up being encouraged to try new things and explore new recipes. My grandmother lived in Italy for a while as a young mother, and that influenced her cooking, I have a lot of good memories of that. My travels and the people I have lived with have influenced my cooking style and the food I like to eat, fresh produce, herbs, spices, everything really from how you chop a vegetable to the flavour combinations makes a real difference!
I love Indian food and use both Madhur Jaffrey and Prashad cookery books. In terms of everyday simple cooking I love Nigel Slater’s books (Real Fast Food, Kitchen Diaries, etc), they are no-nonsense and always delicious. With all recipe books (I like Ottolenghi, The Silver Spoon, Cranks, Everyday Veg…) I tend to flick through, read the recipes and then recreate something inspired by what I have read. I am not great at shopping specifically for a recipe – I don’t plan meals enough in advance, only for special occasions!
I never read up on new fad diets but my sensitive gut has led to various exclusion experiments, and my study of yoga has led to more interest in the Ayurvedic diet, and the more Western take of ‘eating right for your blood type’. Both of these as ideas make a lot of sense to me – put simply the food you eat is directly linked to how you feel and how well your body functions – I feel it is important to eat well – and what’s ‘right’ will be different for everyone.
I do follow a few foodie people/chefs on instagram, namely Honey & Co, who make the most delicious cakes. I really love baking and eating cakes, and always look for ways to adapt recipes to make them dairy-free or reduce their refined sugar/flour content without compromising on taste. There is a really gorgeous Cinnamon Bun recipe I like to do for special weekend brunches, it uses olive oil and I make them with Spelt flour. The Nutrition Diaries often comes to help by offering alternatives – I love Miriam’s Vegan Brownie recipe and the Peanut Butter Cookies too! I was recently fortunate enough to try Hemsley & Hemsley’s avocado and lime cheesecake (completely raw, dairy and gluten free!) which was pretty unique and made with nutritious goodness, definitely inspiring.
Thank you Sarah for being my first Wellness Warrior. To find out more about her and her yoga classes (she teaches at venues across London) go to her website and please ‘like’ her Facebook page (Sarah Tridgell Yoga Teacher). You can also follow her on Twitter @thisisme_smt