Happy 2020 everyone, and welcome to all my new subscribers, I'm very excited to have you along! This blog is for anyone who wants to eat well without all the fanfare and fuss that seems to accompany healthy eating these days, and let's face it, there's a lot of it about at this time of year!
It is my strong belief that cutting things out (no carbs!, no sugar!, no dairy!) unless you have an allergy of course, only eating 'superfoods' (a meaningless term), taking a load of obscure supplements (edible clay anyone?) or imposing strict rules (only eat on the second Tuesday of the month - OK I made that last one up, but some IF regimes do advocate only eating every other day!), are totally unsustainable which, in the long term, is not good for either your body or your mind.
So, after rather running out of blogging steam at the end of 2019 I'm back with a vengeance at the start of a brand new decade with my message of moderation and StealthHealth, which really means eating fresh food that tastes so good you'll hardly notice its protective and supportive credentials. There are two ways to go about this if you are minded to this month...
First, if you don't already have it you can buy my book The Midlife Kitchen: Health-Boosting Recipes for Midlife & Beyond (click here for link). It's packed full of simple, tasty, interesting recipes that will help ease you into a more healthy way of eating.
Also, this month I am running my 28 Day StealthHealth programme on Instagram if you follow me there (@midlifekitchen). Each day I'll be introducing new tips, recipes and advice for making 'StealthHealth' changes to the way you think about food and a bunch of lovely recipes along the way. You can also access the programme from the landing page here on this blog - you can start at anytime, by clicking here.
I also thought, seeing as we are talking about a new decade and for me that means making lasting, sustainable changes, that I would share with you my Midlife Manifesto for healthy eating. These are my guiding principles when it comes to developing recipes, but I think they are just a great way to think about what you cook on a day-to-day basis:
1] Variety is vital. Restrictive diets aren’t just a bore; they reduce gut microbe diversity and can lead in turn to all manner of health issues. In the West, the average person once ate around 150 different foodstuffs; now it’s 20, re-packaged in 50 different ways. So, my mantra is inclusion, not exclusion, a welcome sign not a keep out notice.
2] The whole truth. A balanced diet, rich in fresh produce and low in processed foods and refined sugars, seems to be the most effective long-term health insurance and current best advice, so I aim to maximise the use of natural, whole plant foods in everything I make.
3] Less sugar, better fat, good carbs. We’re well aware that decades of low-fat diet regimes have got us nowhere; obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer rates haven’t responded – so we’re looking elsewhere for clues. Good fats (the unsaturated Omega-3s, olive oil, coconut oil and, yes, some butter) are very welcome at the Midlife table. The only foodstuff I'd put a bit of a limit on is sugar. There’s good evidence to suggest that curbing your free sugar intake and sticking to slow-burn, whole-grain carbohydrates can help control blood sugars and improve insulin sensitivity, which lessens the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. That’s one reason why I like to use grains and slow-burn cereals – brown rice, bulgar, oats etc.
4] Taste comes first. Healthy eating must, ultimately, be built upon foods we love to eat, not on those we hate. The point of every recipe I create – each one honed through experience, experiment and quite a lot of tasty research - is that you’ll want to make it again.
5] Easy does it. While I want each recipe I share with you to look and taste wonderful they also need to be do-able. I'm not in the business of adding to the pressure that already exists around food, so my recipes are purposefully simple, speedy and practical. Midlife is no time to be soaking beans, peeling grapes and stuffing mushrooms. We really have better things to do!
6] Small changes, big difference. In developing recipes over the last few years I've realised the importance of “tweaks” - adding Midlife goodies to familiar recipes to enhance their healthy properties. Adding seeds to porridge, salads and wraps, using more fresh herbs and dusting off those spice pots are all key to injecting more nutrition into your meals. Another tip is to try and cook with colour - swap white onions or cabbage for red, eat plenty of berries and highly coloured fruit and veg and of course eat plenty of lovely leafy greens.
7] Something old, something new. I try and make food that is comfortingly accessible, ensuring that most items are basic, available and that they pass “the supermarket test”. I want my recipes to become part of your everyday life - a habit, not a one-off where ingredients then languish hopelessly at the back of the cupboard. The holy grail for me is something super simple, extremely healthy and made predominantly from store-cupboard ingredients, like my Quickest Ever Spinach & Chickpea Curry.
So that's where I'm coming from with all this StealthHealth stuff, I hope it's a welcome antidote to all the nutribollocks that clutter up the health headlines these days. You don't need to cut out the things you love, eat only trendy 'superfoods', have a shelf of expensive supplements or only eat when there's a full moon. You really can have your cake and eat it - in fact there are some great cake recipes in the book!
P.S. If you are enjoying the blog please spread the word. I'm hoping to publish my next book this year and I really need your help to grow my StealthHealth community. Thank you.