Healthy Cooking Challenge with St Enoch Centre

I can’t quite believe how quickly 2016 has passed, and we’re very nearly at the start of 2017!

Regular followers will know that I started one of my New Years Resolution earlier this month… I started a new diet which I am hoping will help my Crohn’s. I cut out alcohol, caffeine, wheat, dairy and refined sugar… and I went cold turkey!! It sounds horrific, but it actually hasn’t been that bad. I’ve been missing cups of tea with some milk chocolate on the side the most, which I have replaced with fruit tea and raw chocolate bars (IQ Chocolate is the best I’ve found so far) but the rest I’ve given up pretty easily. Christmas Day was tough, and I did indulge in two glasses of fizz but I managed to avoid all the sweets, chocolate, cheese and ice cream.

Anyway, I’ve joined forces with the St Enoch Centre to bring you some ideas for healthy cooking to get you off to a great start in 2017.

I was in the Centre just before Christmas, and armed with my complimentary gift voucher I was on a mission to find some paraphernalia that would help with my healthy cooking challenge.

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First stop was Debenhams to browse the electrical gadgets. I had spotted online that the Tefal Actifry systems were heavily reduced, however unfortunately the price reduction isn’t reflected in-store. Seems crazy that Debenhams are willing to do an electrical price promise with their competitors, but they won’t match in-store the price that is on their own website. So I bypassed the Actifry in search of other bargains… and I decided to purchase the Morphy Richards Spiralizer. I have a manual spiralizer at home, which I never use, and I thought that with this one being electric that it might encourage me to do it more. It was also reduced from £50 to £35.

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There are lots of appliances in the electrical department at Debenhams that would be ideal for the health fanatic including juicers, smoothie makers, soup makers and slow cookers. My only suggestion would be to check online to make sure you are getting the best price.

Another item that I picked up in Debenhams was some new Tupperware – a must for batch cooking and meal prepping.

With my spiralizer and Tupperware in tow I then made my way to The Works… again, I had done some research online ahead of visiting the store and had spotted that there were a number of cookery books that looked right up my street. I couldn’t find all the books that I was after from the website, but I did come away with Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer, Juiceman, and The Lean Machines book Eat Well, Move Better and Feel Awesome – all at reduced price compared with the RRP. I’m looking forward to reading them and getting some other ideas for healthy meals.

Useful little tip – whilst you’re in The Works you could pick up some post-it notes so that you can bookmark your favourite recipes, a notebook for writing in your meal plans/food diary and some new colourful pens.

My final stop was Tesco, to collect some ingredients so that I can start making proper, nutritious food. I relied heavily on processed foods in 2016, and the is something I am looking to change this year.

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Once home with my stash, I was keen to get started. The first dish I made was spiralized carrot with a dash of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some toasted cumin seeds – an ideal accompaniment for a curry (thanks to my colleague Zoe for this recipe idea) and I ate this with a dahl for dinner. 

I have to admit that the electric spiralizer is a bit of a faff, and probably is harder to use and clean than my manual one. Not sure I’d recommend it; reckon it’s a bit of a gimmick. I also tried to spiralize an apple to include in the baked porridge that I’ve been making lately (Deliciously Ella recipe), and the instructions included with the device do suggest that spiralizing an apple is possible – but I just couldn’t get it to work.

I spent the rest of the evening pouring over the cookery books, flagging pages with recipes that interested me. I then wrote up a meal plan for the week ahead.

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The Jerk Chicken Wraps with Pineapple Salsa from The Lean Machines was a simple but tasty evening meal (although I skipped the tortilla in favour of lettuce boats to keep it wheat-free). I have also tried The Lean Machines Breakfast Smoothie, with almond milk, banana, dates, ground cinnamon and protein powder which certainly kept me satisfied until lunchtime.

Nut butters are fast becoming one of my favourite staples, and it is great drizzled over sliced apple or banana for an easy snack putting a stop to sugar cravings.

So in summary, here are my top tips for starting with a healthy eating resolution:

  1. Get organised – arm yourself with some healthy eating cookbooks and draw up some meal plans. To keep yourself motivated, buy a pretty notebook and some colourful pens as it will keep things interesting (maybe that’s just me and my inner stationery geek!)
  2. Tupperware will become your new best friend – make sure you have lots of containers for batch cooking meals. I’m finding it very useful to have meals ready in advance so that I’m not reaching for the bad stuff if I get hungry.
  3. If you don’t already have them, then a food processor and/or a smoothie maker will make your life a bit easier for chopping veg, whizzing up soups or making healthy shakes. I’d advise that you avoid the electric spiralizer!
  4. Spices are an easy way to add flavour to a dish – stock up on the most commonly used ones and keep them handy. I used to store my herbs and spices in a cupboard but they are now on the counter where I can access them readily; as such I’m more inclined to use them. My favourite spice at the moment is Chipotle Chilli Flakes, which you can get from Tesco. Add to roasted veg or sprinkle over chicken for a smokey taste.
  5. Finally, if you fall off the wagon then don’t beat yourself up about it… just get back onto your plan as soon as you can.

Good luck if you’re about to embark on a healthy eating journey – I’d love to hear how you get on.

I received a gift voucher to spend in store at the St Enoch Centre. However, the views expressed in this post are my own, and as always are honest.
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