Whether it’s taking up a new hobby, saying yes to more downtime or overhauling your diet, nothing propels people to action like a brand new year.
As we settle in to 2020, many of us will have promised ourselves that we are going to eat healthier, but if you’re not sure where to start, or how to stay inspired in the kitchen as the months go on, it might be worth picking up a cookbook or two.
Amelia Freer’s new release, Simply Good For You, is a worthy buy. The nutritionist- turned-foodie writer, who lives down south but hails from the North East, has filled it with 100 quick, easy and varied recipes – each one as speedy, simple and as nourishing as can be.
“They are entirely geared for real-life; the hectic, everyday, imperfect version of life that I know many of us are very familiar with, but which I feel has sometimes been a little overlooked in our quest for nutritional and culinary perfection,” she says.
What I love most about Amelia’s meals are that they don’t shy away from the feel-good stuff. Nutritionally, they’re perfectly balanced and serve up just what your body needs – and yet I know some readers will be surprised to discover that carbs, fat, dairy and sweetness all feature. But it’s a relief, if you ask me. Not just to see in print, but to eat, too.
As you’ll discover, Amelia doesn’t advise restricting or cutting when it comes to our grub. She actually wants us to eat more; a big, colourful, tasty mix of everything.
One of my favourite recipes from the book is the chocolate raspberry pots – a perfect pick-me-up on a cold, dreary January night, or a sweet Valentine’s Day treat. Dig out the ramekins and thank me later. Not cutting out sugar tastes so good.
HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF FOOD AND NUTRITION BEGIN?
After a flat mate suggested that some of the medical symptoms I was experiencing might be influenced by my diet. I went to see a nutritional therapist and as soon as I felt the effects of great nutrition first-hand, it inspired me to return to college as a mature student and train to be one. I suppose the rest is history.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU TURN TO WRITING?
I sort of fell into writing by accident, really. I was busy running my nutrition clinic and after a few more familiar faces shared their stories of working with me, I was approached to see if I would like to share my message in a book.
It has all happened quite organically, but I’ve really loved the writing process so far.
Simply Good For You is my fourth book and I hope it’s the one people will find most useful and relevant in their day-to-day life.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORKING WEEK LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
Every week looks a little different, but I work from Monday to Thursday and those hours usually consist of various meetings, lots and lots of emails, perhaps some recipe testing and development, checking in with clients and catching up with my team on our various ongoing projects.
One of my favourite parts of the job at the moment is hosting workshops and cooking demos at the insanely-gorgeous Lime Wood Hotel in Hampshire.
I’m really excited to run our first residential retreat there in April 2020 and have recently been busy plotting the content for that.
YOU’RE FROM THE NORTH EAST – WHAT DOES THE REGION MEAN TO YOU?
I was born in Hexham and spent my entire childhood in that area. We had summer holidays on Holy Island (my daughter’s middle name is Lindis and I can’t wait to take her to see the island one day!) and I still have fond memories of visiting Wallington Hall and The Bowes Museum.
I always return to Northumberland whenever I can – my mum still lives there.
It’s a pretty special place.
ANY TIPS FOR THOSE LOOKING TO IMPROVE THEIR DIET/LIFESTYLE IN 2020?
I know that many people do follow diets, but it’s not something I generally advise.
I see so many people who feel that restricting their diet is ‘healthy’, but they forget that our bodies actually need us to consume quite a lot of food on a daily basis to make sure we’re reaching our minimal essential nutrient requirements – things like vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and protein.
I try to advocate a healthy, balanced and widely- varied diet as much as possible.
AMELIA’S HEALTH-BOOSTING TIPS…
WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD, TRY TO AIM FOR…
Plenty of colourful vegetables, high-quality protein sources, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and unrefined wholegrains – or other complex carbohydrates.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE BENEFITS OF…
Enough restorative sleep, appropriate movement, having a sense of purpose and connection, and taking steps to manage stress. I see them as the foundations upon which our sense of wellbeing, energy and health can be built.
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY POTS RECIPE
“Usually, pudding in my house is a simple portion of fresh, seasonal fruit. However, sometimes the occasion calls for an extra course. And this rich chocolate pot is what I would turn to!”
100g raspberries (fresh ideally, but frozen would also work)
3 large eggs, separated
100g organic 85% dark chocolate, melted and left to cool slightly
3 tbsp honey
A pinch of sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
50g ground almonds
Coconut yoghurt and extra raspberries to serve (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan.
Divide the raspberries between four ramekins and place them in a roasting tray.
Whisk the egg yolks with the cooled, melted chocolate, honey, salt, vanilla extract and ground almonds.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks.
Fold small amounts of the whisked egg whites at a time into the chocolate mix, until well combined.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins.
Carefully pour boiling water around the ramekins, creating a ‘bain-marie’.
You are aiming for the water to reach about three quarters of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Be careful not to over bake – you want the centre to be very moist.
Serve hot or cold, perhaps with a dollop of coconut yoghurt and a few extra raspberries.
Simply Good For You by Amelia Freer (Michael Joseph, £22) Photography by Susan Bell