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Healthy Food Doesn’t Equal Orthorexia

After Nigella spoke out about ‘orthorexia’ I keep reading articles about it. It feels to me that some of them are saying its bad to try and eat food which is better for you and be healthier. If you haven’t seen anything about this there is a suggestion that there is a new class of eating disorder ‘orthorexia’ where someone has a ‘excessive’ fixation with only eating healthy food.

If I was more cynical I might think the food giants were pushing this as PR to say it’s good to eat processed foods…. 

Yes eating disorders are a real thing. Yes you can have disordered eating without having a full blown eating disorder (I see it as a spectrum). Yes I’m sure sometimes a choice to ‘eat clean’ (whatever that means to you) can be used as a way of masking an eating disorder.

However, what I’m not sure about. In fact what I totally disagree with is that trying to avoid toxins and eat real food which nourished your body is an eating disorder. Who defines what is disproportionate when someone is choosing to only eat foods they deem to be healthy.

I would argue that a focus on healthy foods only becomes ‘excessive’ if the persons health is suffering i.e. if they are using this focus to hide disordered eating.  

It’s become so common to eat fast food and processed food. To fill our bodies with toxins and chemicals. But surely it’s not a bad thing to go back to the goodness of Mother Earth and eat more real food?

Yes I’m sure that there are people out there using diet choices to mask an eating disorder but I’m also sure that there are plenty of people making daily choices to improve their health.

Every single one of these diet choices can be contorted to be very healthy or very unhealthy.

For example you could eat tons of sugar, simple carbs and processed food and still be vegan. Or you could be paleo and have most of your diet consisting of bacon, butter and maple syrup. With both you can also be make choices that suit your body and give you sufficient nutritional benefit.

Bodies are very clever and good at dealing with toxins. It may be that some fast food and processed food won’t impact our health, but is it so bad to take steps to increase the amount of vegetables and nourishing food we’re eating?

Has it become so common for ‘food’ to be created in a lab that we find it odd to eat real food? 

For health reasons I’m unable to eat gluten and cows milk. In addition, I chose to avoid soya and high FODMAP foods. I also take steps to reduce the processed food I eat. This does mean restrictions to my diet, which I suppose I could hide behind if I wished to conceal an eating disorder, BUT it doesn’t automatically mean a slippery slope to disordered eating.

For me, I’m comfortable that my eating choices are not ‘disordered’ providing that: 

1. I eat in a way which makes by body feel good afterwards

2. The food I eat tastes delicious and I savour the tastes

3. Within whatever diet constraints I have, I chose to have occasional treats.

4. I prioritise foods with good nutritional value.

5. My body is healthy and strong.

What are your thoughts? Is clean eating, veganism, paleo etc a cover for disordered eating? Does it automatically make you too obsessed about food?

Orthorexia

Baked Camembert Cheese

Not perfect but a healthier alternative. Enjoy!

bakes camembert cheese

Baked Camembert Cheese
 
Recipe type: Lunch, starter, dip
Ingredients
  • 1 whole camembert
  • Thyme
  • a drizzle of white wine (optional)
  • half a garlic clove
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 C or 400F. Take a whole Camembert cheese
  2. unwrap it
  3. You can bake it with nothing added or just put the flavour on the top. Optional step but I like to cut it in half to get the flavour inside
  4. Rub the Camembert with the cut side of half a clove of garlic. If you like lots of garlic you can put thin slices in.
  5. Sprinkle over your choice of herb. My favourite with Camembert is thyme
  6. Add a drizzle of white wine (optional so I only do this if I have a bottle open)
  7. Put the cheese back together and in the box. If your box is made of plastic or cardboard out it in an oven proof dish instead. Bake it in the preheated oven for 10 mins or until the centre is melty
  8. Take your choice of food to dip into it. Crusty bread is good but to make it slightly healthier I used little gem lettuce
  9. And slices of apple.
  10. Dunk them in and enjoy
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2-4

Tomato and Lentil Soup

I make a couple of soups at the beginning of each week and then keep them in the fridge. They make a cheap, healthy and nutritious lunch. Plus nice and warming in cold weather.

tomato and lentil soup

Tomato and Lentil Soup
 
Recipe type: lunch, dinner
Ingredients
  • your choice of veg (I used carrots, leeks, celery and spinach, but kale, mushrooms, aubergine, peppers and, courgette work well)
  • olive or rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced or crushed
  • ½ a cup lentils
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stock cube
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Take your choice of veg. I used carrots, leeks, celery and spinach, but kale, mushrooms, aubergine, peppers and, courgette work well
  2. Chop the veg that take a long time to cook (leave the spinach out for now as it only needs a few minutes at the end)
  3. Sauté them in a little olive or rapeseed oil. You can skip this step to reduce the fat or save time but as it adds flavour and is good fat then I tend to do this.
  4. Add two cloves of garlic thinly sliced or crushed
  5. Once the veg have softened in the oil add your lentils. About ½ a cup
  6. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a stock cube (I like beef with tomato), salt and pepper and about 2 tbsp of tomato purée (I'd run out so had to do without)
  7. Add two tins of water. Bring to the boil and simmer until all of the veg and the lentils are soft. This will take 30-45 mins
  8. Chop any soft veg, in this case the spinach. It looks like a lot but will wilt to almost nothing.
  9. Once veg is soft add the spinach to the soup and put the lid on to allow it to wilt. This will take about 5 mins. I also stir in about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  10. Finished soup ready to serve. If you have fussy children you could blend this to a smooth soup so the vegetables and lentils are 'hidden'.
  11. Serve immediately. This also keeps well in the fridge and can be reheated. I top with Parmesan. Again this can be omitted to save fat but as Parmesan is strong you only need a small amount

 

 

Tasty Sugar Free Granola

I make a pot of granola every week. It’s a great quick breakfast but so many you buy are loaded with sugar or honey. This has no added sweetener at all. It is sugar free, gluten free and dairy free.

tasty sugar free granola

Tasty Sugar Free Granola
 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Ingredients
  • 200g porridge oats
  • a couple of spoons of bran
  • 2 eggs
  • flaked almonds, pecans and hazelnuts
  • 2 tsp of spice
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp each of ground ginger
  • nutmeg
  • cranberries
  • dates
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Weigh 200g porridge oats into a mixing bowl. I also add a couple of spoons of bran for added fibre but that is optional.
  2. Add two eggs and mix in
  3. Add the nuts and mix well. I used flaked almonds, pecans and hazelnuts
  4. Add 2 tsp of spice. I used 1.5 tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp each of ground ginger and nutmeg
  5. Spread out in a fairly thin layer on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven until the mixture has dried out. This will take around 20 mins depending on your oven. Check and stir it every 5 mins
  6. Be careful to make sure it doesn't burn and when it has dried out and looks toasty like the photo remove it from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. Stir in your dried fruit. I used cranberries and dates. You can also break up any large lumps of oats
  8. Store in an air right jar and enjoy daily.
  9. A great quick breakfast is Greek yoghurt (I use Total 0%) with grated apple stirred in (leave the peel on its good for you!) and topped with a handful of granola. You can also add a few berries

 

Tomato and mixed bean soup

I make a couple of soups at the beginning of each week and then keep them in the fridge. They make a cheap, healthy and nutritious lunch. Plus nice and warming in cold weather.

tomato and bean soup

Tomato and mixed bean soup
 
Recipe type: lunch, dinner
Ingredients
  • choice of vegetables
  • garlic
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes (you can also add 2 tbsps of tomato purée but I didn't have any)
  • 1 tin of mixed beans, drained
  • 1 stock cube
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • green olives
Instructions
  1. Chop all of the vegetables to a fine dice or if like me you are short of time pulse them in a food processor
  2. Add to a pan along with the garlic finely sliced or crushed. You can sauté these first in a little olive oil but I didn't have time today
  3. Add two tins of chopped tomatoes (you can also add 2 tbsps of tomato purée but I didn't have any)
  4. A one tin of mixed beans, drained
  5. Add a stock cube. I like beef with tomato as it has a deep flavour but you can add vegetable or chicken.
  6. Now you can decide whether to make it with Moroccan or Italian flavours. I chose Moroccan so I added 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cumin and ½ tsp ground coriander. If Italian add a bay leaf. Season.
  7. Add one can of water and stir. Cook for about 30 mins stirring occasionally
  8. As I went with Moroccan flavours I added some green olives. If you want Italian flavours add some fresh or frozen basil
  9. Serve immediately or cool and store in the fridge in an air tight container

 

 

Parmesan Chicken with ‘Pasta’

I’ve read a few times about using ribbons of courgette (zucchini) as an alternative to pasta for a healthier meal so decided to give it a go and here are the results!

parmesan chicken

Parmesan Chicken with 'Pasta'
 
Recipe type: dinner, lunch
Ingredients
  • 1 rasher of bacon
  • four chopped mushrooms
  • olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 chicken breast per person
  • 1 egg
  • parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 courgette per person
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of low fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or wholegrain)
  • handful of shredded spinach
Instructions
  1. Start by frying one rasher of bacon and about four chopped mushrooms per person in a little olive or rapeseed oil
  2. Once brown remove from the pan and put to one side
  3. Take one chicken breast per person and bang it flat. Dip in some beaten egg (or egg white) and sprinkle with Parmesan and salt and pepper
  4. Fry in the pan turning occasionally until cooked through. Depending on the thickness it'll take about 5 mins on each side
  5. In the meantime use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons of courgettes. You'll need one courgette per person
  6. Boil these in salted water for two minutes and drain
  7. Leave the water to drain off. This will be your 'pasta'
  8. Once the chicken is done remove it from the pan and put it to one side to rest
  9. Put the mushrooms and bacon back in the pan along with a crushed clove of garlic and the zest of a lemon
  10. Add a tablespoon of low fat cream cheese. I used Philadelphia, add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or wholegrain) and stir well
  11. Add a handful of shredded spinach and a little parmesan
  12. Stir in the courgettes with a little lemon juice and serve immediately. Don't cook the courgettes for too long as they will get too soft.
  13. Serve the chicken on top of the 'pasta' with a little more Parmesan grated over. Yum!

 

Small Fruit Salad

I almost didn’t post this as its so simple it hardly needs a guide, however until I ordered a fruit salad like this for breakfast is a cafe in Istanbul and I’d never considered cutting fruit so small!

small fruit salad

Small Fruit Salad
 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack, Dessert
Ingredients
  • Your choice of fruit
  • pomegranate seeds
  • lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Start by choosing your fruit. I try to focus eating fruits naturally lower in sugar such as berries, apples, pears and citrus. Try to get a range of textures and flavours.
  2. Cut the fruit up to a really small dice. The smaller the better. I leave blueberries whole. The original salad had pomegranate seeds which gave a great crunchy zing. Add a squeeze of lemon juice
  3. Mix the fruit salad and serve as part of a healthy breakfast. You could add a little honey/agave but I think fruit is sweet enough. Also, little mouths might find small fruit more appealing!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1

 

Paneer Cheese

Paneer is an India cottage cheese and I’ve recently found that its so simple to make!

Paneer cheese

Paneer Cheese
 
Recipe type: Snack, Lunch
Ingredients
  • 4 pints (2 litres) of milk (whole milk works best)
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Take 4 pints (~2 litres) of milk. Whole milk works best. It also doesn't matter if it is turning slightly sour so a great way to use up milk.
  2. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn't catch and burn. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice (lime juice of white wine vinegar work too) Keep stirring so the curds and whey separate
  3. If they don't separate add a little more lemon juice and keep stirring. Once they have pour into a cheese cloth or muslin and drain. You can gather up the cloth and squeeze the liquid though
  4. You will be left with the curds. If you want you can save the whey for baking or instead of stock in soups.
  5. You can use the paneer cheese like this some dishes in Indian cookery do
  6. Or you can wrap it up in cellophane and put under a heavy pot or pan so than it forms a ball.
  7. This means you can cut into chunks and marinade in Indian spices and grill. I don't think I put mine under a heavy enough pot as it was still a bit too crumbly
  8. Cottage cheese or paneer cheese doesn't have masses of flavour but is a lovely texture so makes a great carrier for other flavours. Enjoy!

 

 

Berries and Greek Yoghurt

I have this for breakfast or as a simple healthy pudding.

berries and yoghurt

Berries and Greek Yoghurt
 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack, Treat
Ingredients
  • 1 portion of yoghurt
  • half an apple, grated
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract, paste or powder
  • your choice of berries
  • some flaked almonds and mixed seeds
  • cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Start with a portion of yoghurt. I use Total 0% Greek Yoghurt. Greek yoghurt is great as it tastes really creamy and is higher in protein than natural yogurt.
  2. Add half an apple, grated and stir in along with ½ tsp vanilla extract, paste or powder.
  3. Top with your choice of berries. You can also add dried fruit. Chopped dates or dried cranberries are good
  4. Sprinkle over some flaked almonds and mixed seeds and finish with a dusting of cinnamon. You can add a drizzle of your favourite natural sweetener honey but I have it plain as it's sweet anyway.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1

 

Mushroom Barley Risotto

I love the creamy, comfort of a risotto but this is a great alternative when I’m trying to eat healthier as it uses the whole grain, barley, rather than white rice. This serves two.

Mushroom Barley Risotto

Mushroom Barley Risotto
 
Recipe type: Dinner, Lunch
Ingredients
  • 12 medium mushrooms
  • olive or rapeseed oil
  • thyme
  • porcini powder
  • 1 leek
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 handfuls of barley
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 spoonful of low fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Start by choosing your mushrooms. I like a mixture but all the same would be fine. In total you probably want about the equivalent of 12 medium ones
  2. Chop the mushrooms. I like to cut some in chunks, dice some and slice some
  3. Sauté them in a little olive or rapeseed oil with some thyme on a fairly high heat
  4. You want them to be quite brown
  5. I added some porcini powder at the end, but if you can't get hold of any soak some dried porcini and add them and the liquid to the risotto towards the end. Put to one side
  6. Cut up one leek and sauté in a little oil on a low to medium heat until softening
  7. Add two crushed garlic cloves
  8. Once the leeks start to soften add two handfuls of barley
  9. Add a chicken stock cube
  10. Add about a wine glass worth of boiling water, stir until it is absorbed. Add the water gradually, about half a litre in total. Put the lid on and cook for about 20 mins. Stir occasionally.
  11. Once nearly all if the water has absorbed add the mushrooms, some chopped parsley and salt and pepper
  12. Add a spoonful of low fat cream cheese, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a grating of Parmesan. Stir well.
  13. Serve in bowls with a little more Parmesan.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2