Feeling more confident and happier can really start at a basic level, what we eat. We’ve noticed with the rising trend in a healthier lifestyle that what we eat and how, can have a fundamental impact on how we feel. Processed foods are high in fat, sugar and salt which can leave us feeling lethargic, listless and exhausted. Our hectic schedules mean we’re more prone to resorting to ready meals and pre-packaged food items (cold cut meats, salads, vegetables and fruits included) which in turn is not aiding us sustainably in health or emotion. This is me included. So we took a look at some of the healthier cookbooks out there and here’s our verdict.
Hungry Healthy Happy- Dannii Martin. Publisher Jacqui Small
Dannii Martin started her food journey when her weight became a health concern. Her philosophy and results are because of a healthier lifestyle choice: eat less and better and be more active. Her results are astounding and inspiring and I highly recommend taking a look at her story, especially if these are concerns that resonate. The Hungry Healthy Happy blog was born and is now available in book form.
You may think it’s quite basic on first glance but it’s anything but. The recipes are super easy to follow- no adjustments needed whatsoever, and you get to eat all of your favourite foods (we’re talking kebabs, curries, sandwiches, cakes and pasta) they’re just better for you. To be honest with you, they taste better too. I was completely surprised. The Healthy Noodle Pots for example (page 93) is an extremely delicious pot-noodle. I’m actually craving one right now. They’re also not complex ingredients. You may be cooking with a few things you’ve not experimented with before but they’re mostly things you can find in the supermarket- hurrah for us country bumpkins where a health food store is miles and miles away. What’s more, there is an array of recipes for every mealtime- snacks and drinks included.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this one and highly recommend giving it a go. If you want to be healthier (and encourage those around you) this is the way to go, you’ll have no idea of the difference in taste but trust me you’ll be gaining major benefits.
The Feel Good Plan, Dalton Wong and Kate Faithfull-Williams (Ebury Press, £14.99)
An incredibly powerful combo in the form of personal trainer to the A-lister celebrities (Dalton Wong) and experienced health and lifestyle journalist to some of the top publications in the UK (Kate Faithfull-Williams). If you’re looking for a structured plan then look no further. No ordinary cookbook, The Feel Good Plan is a way of life and encompasses everything you could possibly need to consider your overall wellbeing. There is a cooking, fitness and even a relaxation segment ensuring you’re well prepared to feel better without extreme dieting and actually allowing yourself the freedom to eat out, sate your cravings in eating what you want and an all-over lifestyle education. The Feels Bad, Feels OK and Feels Good charts in particular are extremely helpful in guiding you on ways in which to switch up your meals ingredients to feel better whilst eating what you want.
There are also a number of charts to help debunk how you’re feeling which highlights our bad habit tendencies and gives us a directive to not ‘give in’ and actually listen to what our bodies want and need. It’s about making conscious decisions when it comes to eating and the activities we conduct in our ‘free’ time. They recognise it’s easier said than done but this book is about guidance, your own personal reference to help equip you with the tools and knowledge to make informed healthier decisions that will ultimately make you feel…good, as simply as that. We’d all love to have a nutritionist and personal trainer on hand with any query or concern relating to our eating and exercise habits and this is the next best alternative at the price you could only ever dream of.
There is this raised awareness in every aspect from cooking alone, to recognising the symptoms of ‘what’s wrong’ and how to overcome it as well as best time to eat and when that’s not possible what to eat at a time that suits to compliment your body. We’ll all be able to relate to this book in some aspect or other; whether debunking why you eat what you do, curb your cravings, understanding your bodily functions better, discovering some healthy alternatives or just to have someone give you a plan, The Feel Good Plan is an incredible resource. As they say, you don’t have to read it cover to cover if you don’t want. We each have our own personal journeys and focus on what we specifically want to adapt or change but, to be honest; I’d personally recommend reading it cover to cover. Get an overall understanding of the concepts discussed as they’re all interwoven and complimentary, a holistic overhaul if you will. Then use the book to go back to the areas you want to focus on first and use it that way round. It’s not just all spiel, there is actionable content for you to make the desired changes. Even when you feel you feel you’re ‘done’ with the content, keep hold of it as your healthy dictionary for future reference. Habits are hard to form remember.
Deliciously Ella- Ella Woodward
You’ll undoubtedly have seen the Deliciously Ella cookbook before, it’s absolutely everywhere. And it’s incredibly loved. Ella, much like Dannii Martin, started her food journey for medical reasons. She cut out gluten, dairy, processed foods, refined sugar, meat and additives and instead favoured a natural- plant based diet; it helped her cut her medication out completely! It follows that her recipe books (the one we tried is the latest, Deliciously Ella Every Day) are based around such a dietary plan.
Ella openly admits that adjusting to such a lifestyle can be extremely challenging. Especially when it feels like you’ve got to give up things you loved and relied on as well suddenly, seemingly, limiting yourself considerably ingredients wise. But that’s what’s so brilliant about Ella’s cookbook. She’s been there, done that. She found when she first started her quest for health that, for ease, she was creating the same meals day after day which soon became boring. So she pushed herself to vary it. Her blog, Deliciously Ella, provides those that want to move towards a more natural diet a basis for inspiration, encouragement and guidance. Her experience is extremely invaluable.
Most things in her recipe book can be found at your local supermarket and can easily enjoy most recipes. You could also substitute ingredients that are perhaps not so readily available or even leave them out entirely and adjust the recipe accordingly- which may require some experimentation. There will, however, be a few ingredients where you’ll be reliant on specialist stores whether for staple ingredients or a variation of fruit and vegetables not available at your local shop. Maple syrup, cacao powder (in its purest form) and coconut oil are common in Ella’s recipes and although may seem more expensive than the other alternatives, they’re well worth investing in. And I seriously mean investing. You’ll find you get plenty of use out of these ingredients and they’ve a long shelf life too.
I experimented with a few of the recipes and what I love about them is they’re flavourful, delicious and colourful- you’ve never had food quite like it and the boyfriend loved it too- a complete added bonus as this is a man who has a strong liking for pasta and curry as primary food choices. He’s even put in his own special requests. Lots of these recipes can be prepared well in advance too so it just takes a little planning to get a really healthy and delicious meal plan in order. Oh and I can’t recommend the cinnamon and maple trail mix recipe highly enough, snacking will never be the same again.
Good + Simple – Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £25)
I’ve wanted to try the sister’s cookbook since I first came across their recipes on Vogue. The food looked so mouth-wateringly delicious I kept book marking pages to come back to, except I always forget about my bookmarks. So when the cookbook came out, I was thrilled. I’ve heard incredible things about it too. Anyone who’s tried one of their recipes is amazed that it’s the healthy option.
As for Dannii and Ella, this too was a personal journey. Hectic lifestyles and a realisation of the effects it had on their bodies and overall health, Jasmine and Melissa began to educate themselves on food in various forms. The difference in their diet was notable and it had everyone craving their secrets. They started with workshops and local deliveries and now assist businesses help branch out into healthy eating and thankfully help us all in the form of blogs and cookbooks.
Their second book Good + Simple follows the incredibly popular Art of Eating Well– which includes some of those famous Vogue recipes (the Blueberry Pancakes are to die for!). The H and H philosophy is eat naturally. Simply, their recipes are oriented around meat, fruit and vegetables. Having tried them I can honestly say how delicious, wholesome and nourishing they are. I can finally make delicious kale crisps, hearty salads and guilt-free breakfasts. I’m a huge fan of the meat aspects too, being a meat eater, as many of the healthy orientated cookbooks leave this option out- anyone for pulled pork or ribs? But even in the Feel Good Plan, meat is a part of a complementary and moderate diet; they provide tips to help you obtain the benefits from the meat and digest it fully without causing upset.
Much like Ella’s book, most ingredients you’ll find happily in the supermarket but they’ll be a requirement to shop from specialised shops and experiment with foods you’ve probably never dared. But that’s part of the beauty of all of these books. You’ll get to experiment, learn more about your tastes- and how extremely diverse they are, but more incredibly than that feel better in the long run for it.
I can wholeheartedly say that these dishes really are as tasty as they look and aren’t complex. Like anything else that’s new, it make take a while to adjust and get use to but you’ll feel better for it (cooking is a great way to destress too) and everyone will be majorly impressed with ‘your’ new talents.
I really love that these books have an offering for every meal time imaginable. They cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, occasions (I was inspired for a Summer BBQ that’s for sure), desserts and even drinks. You could pick up any of these books and start a whole new journey with food that I think you’ll love. I certainly enjoyed the experimentation (as did everyone around me) and actually found it fun and enjoyable- believe me as a foodphobe this was an incredible feat for me. I also, personally, made several recipes from each of these books and conducted it over a course of a week and found it wasn’t any more expensive than my usual food shop- if I don’t factor in the cupboard essentials in seeds, nuts, oils, herbs and spices which will only ever be an initial cost as they’re so lasting and staple to most of these recipes. I was completely surprised by how delicious everything was that I made and how actually straightforward it was. More than anything I enjoyed the process and felt satisfied with my meals.