As part of our exciting new kitchen series, we’re taking you behind the scenes this week with Mind Body Bowl blogger and PT in training, Annie Clarke. After working as part of the Deliciously Ella team, Annie recently made the move to focus on her own fitness and food brand – so we caught up with Annie in the kitchen, to discover her secrets to shopping well, taking care of herself, and the ultimate go-to superfoods.
Annie, what would we find on your weekly shopping list? What are your staples and which items are you throwing in at the moment?
I like to go to my local market – Brixton Village – and see what is on offer when I can, but I will always pick up spinach, mushrooms, avocados, some good quality fresh fish (usually salmon and some white fish too), big and baby tomatoes to throw into salads or use for sauces, butter beans, black beans and kale. I’m also really into peas and broccoli at the moment so my shopping is going through a real green phase. I usually get Biona bread (which is organic and gluten-free) as I don’t often find the time to make my own.
What are your best food prep tips for really busy weeks, and generally making sure you’re taking care of your body when things get hectic?
When I first changed my diet I was a lot better at Sunday food prep – I would always make almond milk, a batch of roasted veg and fill Tupperware with grains to last the week. It was much easier as I was studying at the time and had a very set routine. Now that I am working and running around a lot more, things change so I don’t tend to be so rigid with my food prep. Sometimes I’ll plan to be home and then end up out and about (luckily it is getting much easier to find healthy, natural and delicious food on the go in London).
I always make sure that my fridge and cupboard are stocked though with things like beans and veggies so that I can quickly throw something together if I’m in a rush.
Which of your staples do you buy and which do you make from scratch (and why!)?
I used to make absolutely everything myself but there are more and more brands around that have cleaner ingredients which saves some time! I quite often buy hummus now and recently came across a great brand that I now love called Natural Vitality. The organic ranges in most supermarkets have good hummus without lots of rubbish in so if I’m stuck and having a craving for it then I will pick that up, although I do love to make my own. Like I said earlier I always used to make almond milk but now I actually buy either almond or oat milk from Rude Health. Alt Milk also make the most delicious milk! It’s a little more expensive so I save it for special occasions.
What’s your take on organic fruit and veg and how do you work with it? Is all of your produce organic? Or are there some you’re less worried about?
There are two great lists called the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen which provide a really good guideline for what to buy organically (you can Google them). Generally speaking, anything with a thick skin is a little less important but something like kale or tomatoes I will always try to buy organic.
Where would we find you shopping in a typical week? Do you head to the supermarket and then to farmers markets, organic supermarkets and health food stores for your organic needs?
I always try to get to my shopping from local markets where possible but sometimes I do make a dash to the supermarket if it’s more convenient. I also love my local health food store and will always pop into Whole Foods or Planet Organic if I’m passing by (who can help it?). Amazon is also great for staples like nuts and seeds, big bags of grains etc – it feels a little unfair on the amazing independent health food shops, but for me I have to find balance in order to make my lifestyle work for me so online shopping really helps me to do that.
Where do you go for hard-to-find health food products?
Which superfoods are always in your kitchen? Which are your go-tos?
I use hemp seeds and hemp powder most days because the protein boost is really important, especially when I’m working out a lot – also chia seeds! I keep baobab, maca, and various green powders in my cupboard but don’t tend to use them as frequently and try to get what I need from all my whole foods!
What’s your favourite way to get the superfoods in? Smoothies? Bircher Muesli? Bliss balls?
Smoothies are best really for me, or topping my porridge with hemp seeds for example.
Superfoods are great – we’re big fans. But do you think the food industry has created a somewhat misleading “hype” around them?
I think superfoods are a really great way to supplement our diet but sometimes I worry that people become too reliant on them. You can’t cancel out processed food with acai or spirulina! It’s much more important to have a varied, balanced and nutritious diet in my opinion.
Do you have a particular focus on portion sizes between dinner, lunch and breakfast?
I don’t think too much about it as a rule – I think breakfast is really important and I’m not great on a big evening meal but in truth it depends what my options are, what I feel like and when in the day I work out. It’s hard if you socialize in the evening to not make that the big meal but I try to work around what suits my body best!
Do you prefer a big, buffet style meal or a sit-down course by course set up?
I think it depends – I like the casual nature of a buffet style (although I tend to eat a LOT more that way!) but I also enjoy cooking something a little more special and having a sit-down meal with friends.
Canapes? Love ‘em or hate ‘em? What’s your favourite?
I’m not a huge canapé person really but stuffed chestnut mushrooms are my favourite. Otherwise dips! Hummus, guacamole or some sort of aubergine dip always goes well.
Drinks? Superfood cocktails? A crisp white wine? What your favourite?
I tend to stick with spirits as wine doesn’t agree with me. I love a superfood cocktail – Imbibery’s new range of cold-pressed cocktail mixers are such a great concept and a really great step in the right direction to encourage people to be more conscious of what goes into their drinks. There are so many people who follow a ‘sugar-free’ diet, even cutting out all fruit, who will then drink cocktails and wine. It’s about balance and things like superfood cocktails help people to find that – it’s just a shame that they tend to be so pricey!
Check out Annie’s incredible recipes and summer yoga event series at www.mindbodybowl.co.uk