In 2019 I radically overhauled my diet starting with a 3 week elimination plan to reset my gut. In that time I couldn’t have dairy, gluten, onions, garlic or chilli. The gluten or dairy wasn’t so bad as there were so many alternatives out there, but onions, garlic and chilli were my go to flavours when cooking so I was slightly concerned I’d have a bland few weeks. I needn’t have been. Some of the recipes my nutritionist provided me have become firm favourites. It encouraged me to try new foods and flavours and I’m going to share my top ten discoveries. I might be late to the party with these but if you haven’t tried them, or perhaps like me, had forgotten how great they are, give them a go in 2020.
1) Greens! – I, of course, had eaten greens before but it was mainly reserved to spinach. In 2019 I grew to love cavolo nero, a very dark green that I think is just as great raw in salads as it is cooked. I have struggled to enjoy kale before, I always found it a bit too chewy, but I learnt a great tip on a cookery course with Fearless in the Kitchen, which is to massage kale with a little oil first, especially if having raw in a salad. I also made a great spinach and kale soup from plant based mag which I’m sure will become a favourite recipe. Greens for me are a great way to get extra fibre in to my diet which I had been severely lacking.
2) Ginger – Great in soups, stews, stir fries and with amazing anti inflammatory properties it’s a spice I had got out of using. My nutritionist had included ginger in lots of recipes including this great chicken and veg stir fry. It adds such a warming and nourishing flavour.
3) Smoked paprika – this is great for added warmth and a gentle kick to dishes and also gives great colour to dishes too.
4) Nut milk and nut butters – I’m not sure how nut milks and butters passed me by for so long! When I couldn’t have dairy for 3 weeks I made overnight oats with almond milk and I’ve not looked back. I prefer nut milk in porridge and oats to cows milk now. Nut butters and milks are also great additions to smoothies, pesto, and sauces.
5) Silken tofu – after a dodgy tofu stir fry at uni some 20 odd years ago I’ve never really got on the tofu bandwagon, I still struggle to enjoy firm tofu but I’ve had some tips to make that a bit more palatable. But silken tofu has been a revelation. My nutritionist, Glowing Balance, gave me a sweet recipe for a mousse/yoghurt like snack which was just silken tofu, honey, lemon juice and zest and berries, whizzed together in the nutribullet. It is delicious and I have served it as a dessert and had it for breakfast with nuts, fruit and chia seeds on top.
6) Chia seeds – This was another foodstuff recommended for the dietary fibre benefits, but there are many other good things about chia seeds. I have them in oats and smoothies, sprinkled on salads and soups and have also started enjoying chia jam which is so easy to make. Just heat some berries with some chia seeds and some sweetener like maple or date syrup or honey and you have a delicious jam which i love to add to porridge.
7) Linseed/Flaxseed – Again recommended to me for their gut health benefits, linseed or flaxseed have many great health benefits too. My skin and hair condition have improved greatly in the last year and I think, apart from a better diet overall, linseed/flaxseed has been a great contributor to this. I again add it to smoothies, porridge and overnight oats.
8) Miso paste – Possibly my favourite find of 2019 it basically can be used anywhere you might use a stock cube so curries, stews, stirfrys, soups. Deliciously Ella has loads of great recipes using miso paste, my favourite I think is the miso mushrooms.
9) Persimmons – These were doing the rounds in our office just before Christmas and everyone was going mad for them. I would describe as a cross between an apple and a nectarine and they can be eaten like and apple or chopped up and added to yoghurt. Again some amazing health benefits from eating persimmons.
10) Brussel sprouts – again I’ve had these before, mainly a few obligatory ones at Christmas lunch once a year, but this winter I have been roasting them with some root veg and a drizzle of maple syrup, tamari/soya sauce, sesame oil, ginger and chilli flakes. Delish! Roasted sprouts are definitely the way forward.
I think my main tip would be just try new stuff. I’m not a nutritionist but by working with one and mixing up the way I eat it has been easy to get a good varied diet that I can consistently stick to.