I might have a fancy kitchen, but truth be told I designed it more for looking at than cooking in. How else would you explain my decision to rip out the very practical extractor fan above the hob, replacing it with a hand-blown glass pendant lamp which looks like a glamorous strawberry (see above)?
I’m not known for my culinary skills. I never have been. When I lived in Edinburgh, my mum and I had a running joke that the funniest stand-up any Edinburgh Festival goer could see in our fair city, was the sight of me attempting to bake a cake. We went so far as to devise a comedy show concept in which we’d charge American tourists a pretty penny to stand in my kitchen and marvel at my incompetence.
In the end, I moved back to London before we could implement this sure-fire hit. But to this day, I have to consult Delia Smith (via her ‘How To Cook Book 1’, not in person) if I so much as need to boil an egg.
Over the years I’ve tried to work out why I’m so incapable of cooking. My conclusion goes like this: when I’m hungry, I want to eat RIGHT NOW. When I’m not hungry, I don’t think about food/cooking. As a result, I very rarely:
think about what to cook
spend time deciding what food to buy
make sure I have the necessary cooking equipment
You can just imagine my poor friend Sarah Ann Macklin’s face when she arrived to whip up a three-course (delicious, plant-based) meal in my kitchen for our very first Pink House Supper Club (my last pre-lockdown social engagement!) and couldn’t find a single baking tin. Or egg whisk. Or set of scales. Thankfully she a) is a resourceful girl and b) had brought the actual food with her, or we’d have had lots of disappointed guests. Although I *could* always have entertained them on my trapeze…
The point is that when I’m hungry, I tend to make whatever is quickest/most convenient. And not what is healthiest.
Thing is, I’ve always known deep down I wasn’t eating as well as I could/should be. As a kid, my mum drummed into me the importance of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. And friends like Sarah (who is a nutritionist) prove to me that healthy eating can be really delicious. But somehow it always seemed like too much hard work – all those recipes, all those ingredients, all that cooking. And how much does it really matter anyway?
Turns out it really does matter. A LOT.
Back in pre-lockdown precedented times, and lured by the promise of hanging out with my fabulous mate, Deborah James (AKA @bowelbabe) and Davina McCall (AKA my girl crush), I went to a Ryvita ‘FibreFit’ event called VegFest 2020.
But while I went for Debs and Davina, I stayed for the game-changing information. Which is:
According to the NHS EatWell website, eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Eating enough fibre also helps with your gut health
Only 1 in 10 of us are eating enough fibre
Fibre is only found in plant-based foods – high-fibre options include wholegrains; fruit such as berries and oranges; veg including broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn; nuts and seeds; peas, beans and pulses; potatoes with their skins
You don’t need to be a good – or even semi-decent – cook to get your daily dose of fibre
Basically, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a keen or capable chef - the most important thing is eating more fibre-rich plant-based foods. And while there are some fabulous planty recipes from the likes of hot Irish twins The Happy Pear, I’m much more comfortable ditching the cooker and coming up with fibre-filled topping combos for Ryvita crackers (I’m particularly fond of the protein cracker range), which have totally been my lockdown saviour.
Here are some of my lockdown lunch favourites using Ryvita crackers, each of which takes about a minute to prepare:
Red Quinoa & Sesame crackers, hummus and cherry tomatoes
Red Quinoa & Sesame crackers, egg mayo and cucumber
Linseed & Nigella Seed crackers, mashed avocado with sunflower seeds
Linseed & Nigella Seed crackers, chicken & avo with sweet chilli and coriander
Chia Seed & Buckwheat crackers, almond butter with apple slices
Chia Seed & Buckwheat crackers, peanut butter and berries
Crunchy Rye Bread, prawn cocktail (mayo, lemon and tomato ketchup) and cucumber
Knowing I can have a quick and convenient lunch, or substantial snack, that not only tastes good, but is so much better for me than anything processed and in a pot, has improved my diet, upped my fibre intake – and eased my IBS symptoms (hooray x3).
All that, and no extractor fan required!
This post is sponsored by Ryvita as part of my paid partnership with them. I only work with brands I feel a genuine passion for, and the ideas and opinions expressed here are all my own. For more topping ideas, ways on increasing your fibre intake and to sign up for the #30in30 fibre challenge, visit www.ryvita.co.uk