We caught up with Author Amelia Freer to talk about her new book Simply Good For You, which is packed with quick and easy recipes that simply are good for you! Read on to find out about Amelia's tips for those who have struggled to eat healthy over lockdown, growing your own veggies and where Amelia get's her recipe inspiration.
What sparked your interest in nutritional therapy?
In my early twenties, I found myself suffering from a wide range of health complaints and symptoms. After trying various different treatments my flatmate suggested it might be worth thinking about my diet. I took myself off to see a nutritionist and rapidly began to feel and see the results of some pretty simple changes. It sparked a passion for understanding how the food we choose interacts with our physiology and psychology. Soon after, I quit my job and spent 4 years training in Nutritional Therapy. I have been practising and learning ever since (which is now almost 15 years).
Your new book Simply Good For You has some wonderful recipes in. Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?
My garden is often a good starting point (or our veg box in autumn and winter), but often, new recipes are created out of a motley collection of ingredients we happen to have in the kitchen. Occasionally you land on a really happy accident. But I also love Pinterest. Just browsing the pictures sparks my imagination hugely.
Since having your daughter Willow has your approach to cooking changed at all?
It has fundamentally changed my approach. I don’t have anywhere near as much time anymore to make elaborate dishes. My cooking is much more functional and cost/time efficient. But crucially, given my nutrition training and absolute love of good food, I really didn’t want the inevitable time constraints to make our meals less nutritious or tasty. I basically wanted it all and I also wanted to offer Willow a really wide range of different foods to help develop her tastes and the range of food she likes. I thought I probably wouldn’t be alone in wanting this, so I put together all our everyday family recipes into Simply Good For You.
Your veg garden is spectacular, what do you love most about growing your own foods?
I was talking to a friend about this recently and she said that growing vegetables (or any plants) is so appealing as it is the absolute antithesis of our virtual, increasingly abstract world. There is nothing more concrete or requires so much delayed gratification, as planting a speck of seed into some mud, in the hope of a more beautiful (or delicious) future months from now. The sheer excitement I still feel, even after all these years, makes it an absolute pleasure to do. Also, just-picked vegetables really do taste better.
Do you have a favourite go-to ingredient?
Lemons. There are not many dishes that aren’t improved with a squeeze of lemon (and perhaps a drizzle of good olive oil). It’s how I dress my everyday veg and is no less delicious for its simplicity.
Are there any foods you particularly dislike?
I honestly don’t like super-sweet foods. Cakes and biscuits never really do it for me and I actively dislike white chocolate. I’m much more a red wine and French fries girl when the fancy sometimes takes me.
Do you have any tips for those who have struggled over the last few months with eating a healthy balanced diet?
Go easy on yourself. It’s been a hugely challenging time for so many of us and we do not need to pile on the pressure by expecting a perfectly balanced diet. Nor is it remotely helpful to beat ourselves up over what has already happened.
For many of us, especially those trying to juggle the impossible triad of home-school or childcare, working from home and house/garden keeping, it’s been the busiest and perhaps most stressful few months of our lives. The fact that we are getting something on the table is worthy of celebration. So try to keep expectations realistic.
You can invite three people around for dinner (past or present) who would you invite and what would you cook?
This is absolutely one of my favourite daydreaming games and it changes all the time. Currently, I’d want Sandi Toksvig, Afua Hirsch and Elizabeth David. We’d have an eclectic mix of salads and sharing platters (it always seems to help ease conversation) and drink ice-cold, cucumber-infused sparkling elderflower.
We've got some amazing recipes of Amelias to share with you including Peanut Butter Cookies, Breakfast Pizza and Butternut, Cashew & Sage Pasta Sauce, so take out your favourite apron and wooden spoon and let's get cooking!
Recipes extracted from Simply Good For You by Amelia Freer (Michael Joseph, £22). Photography credit: Susan Bell.