AN INTERVIEW WITH HOLLY HOWARD, OPUS NUTRITIONIST | NOVEMBER 2017
What are your golden rules for achieving a year-round healthy body and mind?
Mine are moderation and nourishment. I believe food should be both enjoyable and full of life force.
What are your 5 fridge or store cupboard essentials?
1. Eggs: a quick, easy complete protein- poached egg on bulgar wheat or added to a bowl of soup makes a super easy, filling and comforting dish.
2. Flaxseeds: to add to porridge, smoothies, soups and salads.
3. Unsweetened Almond milk: I tend to only use dairy milk in tea and coffee and stick to unsweetened almond milk for everything else. Unsweetened almond milk is much higher in protein and fibre than dairy milk.
4. Frozen bananas pieces and berries to add to smoothies or to make protein ice cream.
5. Fresh herbs, either mint or coriander for an added flavour burst. I try to eat something green from the earth each day and this is an easy way to do it.
What does your typical weekday look like in terms of food and drink when you’re busy working?
My current eating doesn’t reflect my normal diet - I’ve just realised I’m guilty of saying what every clients says at the beginning of a nutritional consultation! I’m currently in my second trimester of pregnancy and it’s been a challenge finding out what settles in my stomach and what doesn’t. A cup of Earl Grey and the naughtiness of two rich tea biscuits have been a staple as well, as craving more carbohydrates. I’m now over the worst (fingers crossed) and after just two weeks of eating more mindfully, I’m feeling SO much healthier and more energetic. I’m having to let go a little on food control and I’m learning to embrace the changes :) I opt for smaller meals more frequently to maintain my energy levels, as this works for me between clients.
Breakfast is easy, I love porridge oats with a teaspoon of flaxseeds, chia seeds, almond milk and a stir of almond butter after it’s cooked. Especially warming at this time of the year.
Mid morning snacks are normally home made energy balls or salted almonds with a piece of fruit. I love Joe’s tea company Berry Best tea.
Lunch is often soup - I made butternut squash and celeriac with cumin this morning, with and a slice of Profusion protein bread and butter of course. Poached eggs on quinoa with avocado and chopped herbs is another favorite.
If I’m training that day I also add in a berry and chocolate protein smoothie. Made with whey protein isolate, frozen berries, spinach, flaxseeds, babobab powder, nut milk and cacao nibs.
Dinner is often grilled salmon and green veggies with sweet potatoes wedges. And in the winter I make use of the le creuset casserole dish, anything slow cooked with plenty of flavours and added barley, lentils or black beans tastes amazing. I also like experimenting with alternative recipes like sweet potato pizza bases and edamame bean pasta.
Are there any supplements you recommend clients take at certain times of the year?
Probiotics when travelling. I always take into consideration a client’s digestive system. If the digestive system isn’t in a happy place, the nutrients are not absorbed effectively and it won’t matter how many nourishing foods and supplements you add to your body, the benefits aren't going to be as good as they could.
Vitamin D in the winter months, along with fish oils for healthy skin and a vitamin B complex for energy. A fresh papaya and lime smoothie is always great to help clear an overloaded winter system.
Which ‘health’ foods should we be wary of?
Low fat products, especially fruit yoghurts. They have less fat but more sugar. Also, watch out for some shop bought smoothies. Even the super green options can contain 59 grams of sugar which is almost 15 teaspoons of sugar per bottle!
Many of us seem to suffer from the mid-afternoon slump. What’s the best way to avoid this?
Complete slow release carbohydrates foods for lunch. These include brown rice, bulgar wheat and sweet potato. Also, have a healthy snack factored into your diet before your blood sugar levels drop and you reach for the quick sugar fix. Be prepared with almond and pumpkin seeds roasted with chilli and lime. There are some super amazing protein bars out there now that taste just like chocolate bars - a great alternative.
What’s your advice when trying to decide whether or not to take protein supplements?
I’m a big fan of the protein smoothie, it’s nutritious, effortless and an easy way to get 30 grams of protein. That’s the same as 5 eggs or two chicken breasts.
Everyone’s body responds differently so it is a matter of experimenting and seeing how it aids your fitness goals. Protein shakes are sometimes scary and considered too hardcore for a new gym goer, but a shake is an extremely helpful tool to aid recovery time by repairing and rebuilding muscle quickly. It is also a fantastic way to boost your daily nutrients when you add in extra fibre from flaxseeds and nutrients from smoothie boosters like baobab or Lucuma powder. Look for a protein supplement that has more than 20 grams of protein per serving and keep the sugar under 3 grams.
What are the best pre-and post-workout meals?
Pre workout is always about creating energy - slow release carbs are your best bet. Just make sure you allow enough time for your stomach to digest it. I’m a morning workout person so porridge is my pre workout meal.
Post workout it is all about protein and ideally within 45 minutes of finishing the workout. A whey isolate protein shake is fast absorbing and helps contribute to the growth and repair of muscle mass.
With December just around the corner, we’re heading in to a hectic time of year. What are your tips for looking and feeling your best?
1. Eat a variety of seasonal veggies. Make a big pot of nourishing soup at the weekend and have it ready to go for nutritious lunches.
2. Eat well when you are at home and in control of food options and allow yourself to eat a little of what you fancy when out. Christmas time means more dining out and a higher alcohol consumption. This overloading of the digestive system takes it toll, so factor in some digestive rest days with green juices, smoothies and shakes. Keep hydrated before you go out and stick to peppermint tea rather than that last espresso martini (easier said then done).
3. To help boost your skin’s vitality increase your intake of avocados, oily fish (omega 3’s), pumpkin seeds (high amounts of zinc and vitamin E), strawberries (vitamin C and antioxidants), water cress is the new facelift in a bag (antioxidants, vitamin A, C and E and is a rich source of beta carotene) and finally nettle tea.
What’s the one best piece of nutritional advice you can give?
Practice mindfulness when eating. This means eat to nourish yourself and don’t calorie count. Enjoy your food, eat slowly and chew well. Our food has such a huge impact on how we feel, our energy levels, training output and recovery time, why would you not want to feel the best you can? Small changes make a huge difference.
QUICK FIRE ROUND...
Favourite brunch spot in London?
For a taste of home The Providores on Marylebone high street or the cured salmon on rye bread at Snaps + Rye on Golborne Road.
What are you reading at the moment?
Baby names books!
After watching the series, a handmaid’s tale is next on my list.
To relax I….?
Socialise with friends normally with a meal out a few glasses of good wine - life is for living after all. I also enjoy restorative yoga at the Life Centre Notting Hill, Diana Holland’s class incorporates hypnosis. I can’t tell you what happens but when I re-emerge I feel like I’ve had 8 hours sleep.
Your perfect Sunday consists of…
A sleep in, baking, spending time with my lovely husband, a treat facial or massage finished with a walk down Portobello to get ramen for supper.
Who would you love to be nutritionist to?
Nigella Lawson - I love her passion for food and flavours. It would be super to work with her to create nutritionally balanced flavoursome dishes that have energetic properties. Convincing her become less heavy handed with the salt and oil would be the challenge!