Over the last year I've been on a continuous culinary adventure, learning more about which foods keep me healthy and support my active lifestyle and those that don't. I'm currently reading 'It starts with food: Discover Whole30 and change your life in unexpected ways'. It sounds very simple and obvious but one of the key things that's stuck with me from this book is that everything we eat is either making us healthier or less healthy. It's as simple as that.
People can find it difficult to get their head round why I don't eat pasta or bread. "Where do you get your energy from?" is a common question I hear. The truth is, eating refined carbs make me feel lethargic, bloated and like I'm not getting the nutritional value I need.
Call it fitness food, clean eating, paleo... there's a revolution going on at the moment and there are so many amazing places you can go for inspiration for ways to eat your favourite foods but keep them clean.
Here are my favourite food swaps and why I love them both for their taste and health benefits:
Pasta for courgette spaghetti
Courgette spaghetti or zucchini noodles are taking the world by storm and are consumed in the Radcliffe household at least once a week. Packed full of nutritional vegetables and coupled with your favourite pasta sauce, you can't go wrong. If you haven't tried these before, buy yourself a julienne peeler and give them a go. Be sure to check out Inspiralized.com, she's the Queen of spiralizing veg.
Pizza for cauliflower pizza
Another lower calorie, gluten free and paleo friendly version of one of our favourite foods that we tried and loved; making pizza base from cauliflower. I was very sceptical the first time I made this, but quickly became a convert. Great to share with friends over a film or a bottle of wine. Cauliflower pizza is delicious, nutritious and doesn't leave you with that bloated, dehydrated feeling I often get after eating pizza.
Pancakes for paleo pancakes with peanut butter and banana
An absolute fav for Charley and I, post workout on the weekend are these peanut butter and banana pancakes. Ridiculously easy to make, and great to fuel tired muscles. You only need three ingredients - banana, peanut butter and eggs. Mix them together in a blender and then whack them into a frying pan with some butter. Top them with your favourite topping and you're onto a winner. We usually opt for maple syrup with fresh berries. Totally yum!
Potato for sweet potato
Sweet potato is a staple in my diet, they are a rich source of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that are essential for good health. The calories in them come from complex carbs providing me with much a needed energy source, I usually eat these around training sessions.
Tea for green tea
Green tea is packed with anti-oxidants and can also lay claim to having superfood status. A few cups a day of the green stuff can boost weight loss, reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease, and prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Wow! Also great for keeping your teeth healthy and bacteria free. Sounds good to me!
Oil for coconut oil
We use coconut oil in all our cooking and have a teaspoon of it in my mug of green tea every morning. Also one of the superfoods increasing in popularity as it is high in medium chain triglycerides/fatty acids aka 'good fats' which fuel our bodies by being easily absorbed and not stored as fat! Widely accepted as boosting metabolism, driving weight loss and leading to improved digestion, total winner.
Wraps for lettuce wraps
Love fajitas? So do we. A quick and delicious dinner, so naturally we wanted to try and find a more paleo version, ie: no flour wraps. Iceberg lettuce, cabbage, or other strong leaves do the job amazingly and mean you can enjoy the filling carb and gluten free!
Flour for almond flour in cakes
Again, one I was really sceptical about. Surely eating cakes without sugar, flour and butter totally defeats the purpose? Well... I have proven myself wrong and had a bunch of fun experimenting in the process. Our friends have loved it too! There's tons of inspiration on Instagram and blogs of people who are adept at clean baking. My flavour of the moment is the flourless chocolate and orange cake from Fitter Food, OMG! Like seriously good, it's moist, rich and you won't miss the flour or sugar.
Chocolate and sweets for dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is good for more than just fixing a broken heart, it's packed with anti-oxidants. Stick to dark chocolate with at least 70% cocao and you'll get to nurture your sweet tooth as well as look after your health.
Sweet breakfast for savoury breakfast
A big transition for us, we would always have our oats with fruit in the morning, I still have this but probably once a week for a bit of variation. Savoury breakfasts give you the nutritional value you need without hitting you with a sugar rush from fruit or other sweet breakfast options. We strictly limit dairy in our diets, so when we do have oats/porridge we use almond milk, water or coconut yoghurt. Our most regular breakfasts are usually based around eggs, spinach, avocado, salmon, bacon and sometimes steak!
For inspiration in the kitchen with your own nutrition and clean eating, here are some of my favourite places I go to:
Have fun and share your experiences and recipes with me!