It’s fair to say that about halfway through my A-Levels, I felt like sh*t – day in and day out. I was constantly tired, drained, suffering with bad skin and generally lacking in energy. This had effects on my studies where I found myself stressed out and always worrying about not completing assignments on time. As well as college, I was also learning to drive and working almost full-time hours (out of choice) as I began to save money for university. A busy lifestyle meant that I rarely had time to take care of myself, whether that meant working out or having a bubble bath. I often found myself having a quick shower and hair wash at midnight after work so I could get to bed ASAP in order to wake up 6 hours later for college…
I decided that something had to change and with the support of friends and family – I altered my diet. Prior to this change, I didn’t have a ‘bad’ diet. I’m very lucky to have a beautiful mum who cooks beautiful homemade meals often and has taught me a lot about cooking from an early age. However, like many families, living in a busy household we’d all find ourselves acting as passing ships – eating different things at different times instead of all together. I’d often have quick snacks after college or cook quick and easy meals before work as I always seemed to be in a rush. My go-to’s would be similar to every teenagers go-to’s; pasta, toast, cereal and so on. All being starchy carbs, it’s no surprise that these foods would fill me up but later on cause me to feel sluggish.
I decided that enough was enough. I transitioned to a pescetarian diet and began researching into food and nutrition through books and online platforms. My best friend and fellow foodie bought me a fantastic book, Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart which has been my bible ever since.
As I got into a routine I started to feel a lot better about myself and could see more clearly as time went by. When September came, I was a little nervous about how I was going to keep up this lifestyle choice in student accommodation; surrounded by alcohol, pizza and bad choices 24/7. I was determined to remain as healthy as possible on a budget and decided to purchase two more books, Get the Glow by Madeline Shaw and The Body Bible by Clean Eating Alice. Both books are a huge help and provide recipes without using too many extravagant ingredients which wouldn’t fit into my student budget. Before I moved, I took advantage of the offers in Holland and Barrett and bought lots of staple ingredients for my cupboard in the kitchen at University. Listed below are a few of my key ingredients which will last me a long time and form the basis of many meals.
Quinoa has 9 important amino acids which help to strengthen and repair hair, nails and skin. Quinoa is also protein-packed, gluten-free seed which keeps you full without bloating you thanks to its complex carbohydrates.
Fun fact: Quinoa is related to spinach!
Lentils are protein rich and stabilise your blood-sugar levels. Because they are rich in folate, an important nutrient for cell repair. I always cook mine with a vegetable stock cube to bring out the flavours.
Chickpeas are rich in antioxidants and boost your immune system. They promote skin cell growth as well as keeping your scalp and hair healthy. In addition, they contain magnesium and copper – minerals for healthy, energetic and youthful cells.
Beans on toast. The humble, staple meal. Baked beans are in fact very good for you as they are protein rich, low in fat and provide you with lots of energy. A great student breakfast or lunch served with a slice of seedy bread and a little grated cheese.
Oats are my breakfast go-to. Whether it be a hearty bowl of porridge or chucked into a smoothie, you can rely on oats to give your magnesium and iron levels a boost. My favourite smoothie at the moment is made with banana, oats, peanut butter, honey and almond milk.
Luckily for me, my best friend back home keeps bee’s and therefore is my main supplier! I like to add a spoonful to smoothies, porridge or drizzle it over some yoghurt.
Coconut oil is great because it is so versatile. It is made of good fatty acids which actually burn quickly causing an energy and metabolism boost – helping to burn stored fat. I often use it when cooking veg in my wok or baking in the oven.
Meridian peanut butter is one of the best on the market. It has less added sugar and salt and doesn’t have any palm oil in it. I often add a spoonful to smoothies or have it on a slice of seedy toast with sliced banana on top.
Did you know: palm oil plantations are the leading cause of rainforest deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia currently.
Almond milk is my favourite non-dairy milk alongside Bonsoy Soya milk. Unsweetened almond milk is low in sugar and calories and provides you with calcium, vitamin D and E. Unlike conventional dairy milk, it is free from hormones and antibiotics which can cause your skin to break out along side other health issues.
A cup of mixed nuts forms the basis of my energy bites which you can find out about HERE. I combine them in my Nutri-bullet with other cupboard staples such as cacao powder, chia seeds and dates.
These items are just a selection of ingredients I always have 🙂 I intend of creating many blog posts about food and nutrition. You can also find videos on the topic over on my Youtube channel as well as photos on my Instagram.
Thanks for reading!