There’s a lot of talk these days about healthy eating, but some things I hear make me question if we really understand what eating healthily means
I have teamed up with the butlers pantry to explore the area of healthy food on the go. I have been given some of their winter menu to sample for this series of articles.
The idea of excluding whole food groups from your diet does not seem to me to be a sustainable or healthy way of eating, and I enjoy my food too much ever to be able to give up bread, butter, or good dark chocolate. That said, I love my fruit and vegetables too, and cram as many of them into my daily diet as possible.
What’s clear to me is that it’s important to eat good quality food, and to keep processed food to an absolute minimum, and that includes the so-called ‘healthy’ foods in the supermarkets.
The Butler’s Pantry, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year was ahead of its time when it started out, because it focused on making wholesome fresh food from the very best of ingredients, always putting flavor to the fore. Over the years, some of the dishes have changed to keep up with changing tastes, but The Butler’s Pantry has stayed true to its core values, and its team of chefs and bakers make the food for its shops from scratch each day in its own kitchen in Bray.
Why eat healthily?
It may seem obvious, but to me it makes sense that if you eat good, fresh and nutritious food, you are making the best choice for your mind and body. And freshly-prepared food is far more nutritious than anything made with additives and preservatives to prolong its shelf-life.
Here are some top tips for eating more healthily:
Replace salt with alternatives
Although we all need salt in our diet, the ideal amount is just a teaspoon a day and some processed meals can contain that much in a single serving! If you have elevated blood pressure, restricting the amount of salt in your diet can help lower your blood pressure.
Some great substitutes for salt are pepper, fresh herbs and spices, all of which add flavour to your food. At The Butler’s Pantry, they use dillisk (powdered seaweed) in some of their delicious meals – it’s particularly suited to fish dishes.
Make sure you are eating real bread, like proper sourdough
Sourdough bread is everywhere these days, but how much of the bread that’s labelled ‘sourdough’ is the real deal? True sourdough bread contains only flour, water and salt, is fermented slowly and has great flavour. The Butler’s Pantry’s bakers make fresh sourdough bread each day, using a ‘mother’ or ‘starter’ that they have nurtured carefully for several years. The slow fermentation using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast that produces real sourdough bread breaks down hard-to-digest gluten into more easily absorbed nutrients, and adds B-vitamins. When you eat proper sourdough, you ingest lots of the good bacteria that are important for maintaining and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
Commercial sourdough brings none of the healthy benefits of authentic sourdough because neither the process nor the time allowed for fermentation permit the breakdown of gluten or the growth of good bacteria.
How do you spot a good sourdough from an imposter? Cut open a good sourdough and inhale – it’s slightly sour, tangy, and very comforting.
At the end of the day, choose real food
After dinner once a week have a small piece of a delicious seasonal dessert such as the Winter Fruit Crumble from The Butler’s Pantry. The recipe is below if you fancy making it yourself at home.
THE BUTLER’S PANTRY WINTER FRUIT CRUMBLE
Serves 4 – 6
Blackberries 2 punnets
Vanilla 1 pod
Ground almonds 100g
Plain Flour 100g
Cut the plums into quarters and remove the stones.
Core the apples and cut into eighths
Heat a large frying pan, add the butter and split vanilla pod and, when the butter starts to foam, add in the fruit and sugar.
Toss in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring to a an 8 inch pie dish.
For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until it becomes a crumb.
Sprinkle on top of the fruit and bake in a preheated oven at 160c/ fan 140c / gas mark 3 until golden brown.