Lizzie King aka 'Lizzie Loves Healthy' is a real healthy eating tour de force, as you'd expect from the name of her blog/socials etc but there's more to her than that. A nutritional health coach who also trained at Prue Leith's cookery school, Lizzie has both brains and the braun and she's not afraid to use 'em. Rather than peddling some faddish diet, Lizzie is passionate about trying to help us all eat a little better but her approach feels a lot more honest and accessible. Also, and to me most importantly, she knows how to cook which makes all the difference.
I'll admit I am relatively late to the party as I only recently discovered Lizzie thanks to a friend but now I'm pretty hooked. Lizzie, mother of three, manages to make healthy food look genuinely tasty. Really tasty. She has a knack for making healthy cooking/eating feel accessible and turns nutritionally good stuff into great stuff to eat. There's no lofty airs and graces as you might expect from a woman hell-bent on getting us and our kids eating well and understanding the merits of nutritionally good food. Lizzie is down-to-earth and, personally, I've been struck by her passion for what she does. I also find if I'm lacking inspiration I can have a nosey at what she's up to and get an idea for dinner.
With a cookbook dropping in early 2017, a blog chocka with recipes, Social Media full of tips and tricks, plus three kids who get delicious dinners every night how is she doing it all? Have a read to find out.
You've trained at Prue Leith's cookery school and you're a Nutritional Health Coach, is this powerful mix of food know-how the reason 'Lizzie Loves Healthy' started?
I guess I realised that was what was needed when I had my first child. I loved food and could get it tasting ok but I wanted to make sure it was packing as much nutritional punch as possible. So, I did the nutrition course whilst I was at home a lot breast-feeding my second.
I started off by making and delivering frozen kids’ meals. After I had my third baby, I realised I needed to change something as my health fell apart (thyroid shut down). So my Instagram and blog were born and I was sharing what I would have wanted to see when I had had my first. It really took off like I couldn’t have imagined, and then I got approached by a couple of agents and a publisher last year, which was a mad, crazy dream come true.
My son can spot green veg a mile off, despite eating it well when I initially weaned him. Your kids seem very good at trying new things and eating a lot of healthy stuff. What's your approach to the age old veg battle?
Oh it might look easier from the outside but I think we all have tough times with our kids and what they eat. All three of mine have such different likes and dislikes, I really believe the new thinking that some of this is inherent. There are so many aspects to food that we take for granted as adults but for kids it can be huge; texture, temperature and toughness I think are the three key ones and they should be respected.
If you can’t deal with squelchy, hot or chewy food in your mouth, it’s not about the ingredients at all. But you can go about it a different way and get the same foods in by chopping the tough bits up, cooling it down if it’s too hot and crisping up a mushy risotto type dish. I also get it if someone doesn’t go wild for courgettes or squash but the deal is they always have to try everything. My best tip is to try different ways with the same foods and just keep repeating them without giving back-ups afterwards. If they know they won’t get something else after, they’ll definitely give it all a better shot. Hunger is a powerful tool!
As an entrepreneur and a mum of three, what keeps you motivated and sane whilst juggling it all?
The zillion dollar question! I’m not sure I’m totally sane, or juggling it all, there are certainly some dropped balls along the way; forgotten homework, burnt suppers, neglected husband….. but I’m always motivated to keep going, because I love food, and creating it, and I just adore seeing the effect a decent meal can have on kids. My three children are my constant motivation and all the lovely people who make my recipes and tell me how much their kids love them – that’s the magic.
There are a lot of healthy eating trends about at the moment, many focused on eating 'clean' and similar which in turn demonise a lot of everyday food staples many of us rely on and actually need nutritionally. There's a real danger of it all getting a bit obsessive and unhealthy but, on the flip-side, there's also a growing problem with health and weight now in the UK. What's your take on it all?
As far as the whole clean eating thing, it’s turned into a minefield out there and I try to tread carefully but I feel so strongly about it. It seems the in-fighting about which healthy ideas are healthier is missing the point and is such a waste of energy. If more people are cooking for their kids and less people are eating Cheerios and McDonalds then that’s only got to be a good thing? I have no energy to fight about which types of superfoods or coconut oils should be shamed as it seems to be sheer madness.
The really big issue for me is that we’re talking about health and food and this has to be a good thing. What I do find really sad though, is that there is an undercurrent that any ‘healthy’ food – and particularly making it for your kids, is kind of smug, superior, trying too hard and somehow annoying. I think there are definitely mums who wouldn’t want to say they were giving their kids green smoothies for breakfast, for fear of sounding goodie two-shoes, and because it’s funnier, they talk about the bowl of coco pops instead. It’s not that funny talking about eating well, but it’s way less funny having snotty, sick kids all the time. This reverse snobbery is scary I think, as it’s never shameful in other areas to try your best for your kids, and I really hope that most mums can see this.
As far as the general clean eating thing, I have so many issues with all things involving the words ‘diet’ to start with. I don’t believe in ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’, ‘guilty’ or ‘guilt-free’ when it comes to food and I think all of these things have sent us down a rabbit hole and meant we’ve forgotten the real issues at stake here.
As I’m mainly focused on how we can feed ourselves and our families as best we can, I have a different agenda, which is to pack in as many delicious, nutrient dense mouthfuls into our growing kids as we can. This isn’t about exclusion or dropping food groups. It’s about an old school approach of just eating more vegetables, fruit and freshly made food as a baseline, and then finding your own path. We’re all different and no singular eating plan works for everyone.
Personally, I don’t eat gluten, as my Hashimoto’s thyroid disease has been hugely improved by this, and I don’t use sugar in any food as it has no nutritional value at all, is crazy addictive and has tons of bad effects. But otherwise all foods have their place and the only person fit to judge what should or shouldn’t be eaten by your family is you.
What are the most realistic and effective 3+ things adults and kids can introduce/realistically cut out that will make a tangible difference to our winter health and general energy levels?
If you look at adding stuff in and making it a target, it seems way more fun than making a long list of forbidden foods. I would say in winter the three things to add in easily, with most effect would be:
1) Sweet Potatoes
2) Vitamin D supplement
All of these support the immune system, boost energy levels and will do great things to fight off any bugs going around.
And if you wanted to avoid these you’d definitely benefit:
2) Packaged cakes/biscuits
3) Cartons, tins, cans of drinks
Ditching these will mean you’re not flooding your system with sugar and trans fats throughout the day, so you'll get an energy boost and bolster your defences for sure. As well as sleeping better, concentrating for longer and having a more stable and happier mood! Give it a go and see for yourself, that’s the only real test.
Your first cookbook is dropping in March 2017 and I know a lot people, myself included, are very excited about this. Why did you decide now was the time to publish a cookbook?
I’ve always dreamed of having a Cookbook, my parents moved house this year and I found a ‘cookbook’ I wrote at the age of 8. The timing, is purely down to my lovely editor at Orion who got hold of me and asked me to write one.
What's your go-to midweek meal and why?
For their speed, deliciousness, reliance on store cupboard goodies, as well as packing in a good load of nutritional hits, my Spinach and Sweet Potato Bhajis are always a safe bet.
I've noticed you've often got music on in your kitchen (check out Lizzie's brilliant Instagram stories)! What are your top 3 tunes to cook to?
Music is as crucial as food to me! I think a mixture of a great newly discovered track that excites, a treasured old fave, and something that reminds me of my kids as they’re all at school all day now – I was pregnant with Phoenix the summer this was played non stop, and the opening line is part of the reason he got his name. Either way I have to cook with a sound track:
1) Paisley Park – Prince (His Purpleness isn't on Spotify so is missing from playlist below, sorry)
2) Redbone – Childish Gambino
3) Daft Punk – Get Lucky
I work from home, as I think you do too, and I actually make myself get dressed into 'work' gear rather than sitting at my desk in a very comfy tracksuit as, oddly, I find it really helps me kick my frame of mind into business mode. You always seem to look glam! Do you have a go-to piece of clothing you find helps transports you and your frame of mind from mum mode to 'Lizzie' mode?
I’m cooking a lot of the day, and I do a workout most mornings first thing, so I wear leggings, trainers and hoodies a LOT. I can’t stomach make-up in the morning for some reason - I’m kind of all or nothing, but I can turn it around in 10 minutes.
A great boot or a scarlet lipstick can do everything, and since I hit 40 I think I care less but a last minute, walk-in blow dry is always my go-to to perk me up and makes me feel like I look the part.
Lizzie's Spinach and Sweet Potato Bhajis and playlist:
Ingredients (makes 10-12 Bhajis)
1 Cup Gram Flour (Chickpea flour)
½ Cup + 2 tbsp Water
2 Red Onions sliced thinly
1 Large Sweet potato Grated
1 Tsp ground cumin
1 Tsp Turmeric
½ Tsp Ground coriander
2 Tbsp Olive oil
Sea Salt and Pepper
1. Saute the onion gently in oil for 10 minutes until softened but not browned
2. Mix the Gram Flour with water and whisk into a smooth batter. Add grated sweet potato, spices, spinach and cooked onion and stir together
3. Heat oil in large pan and spoon in patties
4. Fry until browned on both sides. Drain on kitchen roll, and serve immediately.
Cooked Bhajis can be stored in the fridge or freezer but reheat thoroughly before eating. These are delicious served with Hummus and lime to drizzle over and dip into.
Listen up! For the month of December Lizzie has created a brilliant advent calendar packed full of awesome goodies from all sorts of brands which she'll be giving away everyday starting from tomorrow (1st Dec). You don't want to miss out, I've heard there's lots of cool stuff in the mix (you can win some Kidchup if you keep your eyes peeled) so make sure you're following her on instagram: @lizzieloveshealthy
Checkout Lizzie's blog here, it's packed with goodness (check out the family meals bit for some inspo): CLICK
You can Pre-order Lizzie's cookbook 'Family Food' here: CLICK
Follow her on Instagram here (I love watching her cooking it up in her kitchen via Instagram stories): CLICK