For our first edition of our “cooking” series we’re dying to sit down and chat with Tessa from London Paleo Girl. Tessa is a true foodie, but unlike you and me, she also knows how to mix amazing recipes with health! Both to satisfy her well-being and health drawbacks from her youth, Tessa has always researched the best ways to balance a healthy lifestyle with a diet by also making sure that she satisfies her cravings to stay happy.
First things first, now what exactly is a Paleo diet? Let’s get the answer straight from the source with Tessa:
AG: Hi Tessa! Welcome back to Dressarie! We truly love your recipes, lifestyle tips and goals regarding fitness, but could you explain to our readers in a few words, exactly what a Paleo diet involves and how best to follow it?
LPG: The best part about the ‘Paleo Diet’ is making it a sustainable lifestyle of wellness and not just a fad, yo-yo diet. Incorporating all aspects of general wellness from sleep, stress, moderate exercise and food. With regards to the diet/ food side it is about going back to basics, eliminating processed food and eating ingredients at their most natural state. With the foundation of removing gluten, grains, dairy and refined sugar, focus on quality and plant based nutritious ingredients full of good fats, and quality lean proteins. This nutritional approach works with your genetics, boosting your overall wellbeing leaving you feeling energetic, strong yet lean.
AG: That sounds like the perfect diet to me!
As a big foodie and with the dream of opening your own restaurant, how and why did you get into the health and fitness world?
LPG: From a very young age you couldn’t get me out of the kitchen, I was at every dinner party hosted by my grandparents and loved the social, foodie gatherings. I competed in chef of the year competitions and worked with Master chef judge John Torode where my passion for good food and hospitality grew to another level. Following my graduation in Hospitality Management I became ill with glandular fever and mild ME which led me to get into the Paleo lifestyle. Being such a foodie it was hard to eat basic and bland food that ‘free from’ was portrayed so I re-educated my culinary skills to re-create unhealthy dishes into healthier versions, incorporating an array of superfood, nutritious ingredients into all my cooking.
With exercise playing a role in my journey back to good health I found some amazing classes and workouts. I felt there was a real need to expose them in addition to all the amazing places you can go out in London that offers delicious yet nutritious food. My passion for the industry increases every day and the health and fitness world has changed my life so much I wanted to share it with others, from recipe creations, workouts and how to maintain a healthy social life.
AG: Apart from sharing amazing recipes with your readers and followers (she has over 50k followers on IG), how has your business and blog expanded over the years, and could you tell us more about “Two Influence”, a brand that you co-founded?
Working and collaborating with some great brands, products, people and events enabled me to grow as a blogger and for me to be able to create my own products. In September 2015 I launched Co Fro; the UK’s first coconut soft serve frozen yogurt that is free from dairy and refined sugar in addition to being paleo and vegan friendly. I have big plans for the brand this year in addition to growing London Paleo Girl and Two Influence. TI is a company that I founded with Becki (Alt Healthy Becki) a brand influencer and communications agency, working with an array of leading brands within the wellness sector.
AG: Regarding your personal experiences with food and its effect on your well-being and lifestyle, what would be the most important tip you wish to give to all the women out there seeking to find healthier eating habits?
Do what works for you, listen to your body and be mindful. Most of the time it comes to common sense, I have learnt to listen to my body and consume foods that agree with me, leaving me feeling satisfied and energised. My biggest advice is don’t get caught up in macros, and focus on the micronutrients by eating ‘real’ food and meals. We lead busy lives so it is important to fuel our bodies the best we can however not forgetting balance is key to it being a sustainable lifestyle.
AG: We couldn’t agree more, sometimes life just makes it so difficult to balance everything out!
Lastly, we’d love to hear your go-to tips on what you should order at a restaurant if you’re out with friends or on a date, to help maintain one’s lifestyle?
The majority of restaurants these days have healthier and gluten, dairy free options on their menu, even some with their own free-from menus, or they highlight specific ones that are GF etc. However there is no harm in asking if it can be made it, or removing something from the dish. Stick to dishes that are grilled, not fried and fill up on the right sides, order a side of vegetables or salad. Opt for finishing the meal with mint tea instead of what usually is an unhealthy dessert also helps with digestion and has many other health benefits.
This week Tessa talks us through on How to host a healthy dinner party without breaking the bank:
One of my favourite things is getting together with friends and what better way than over a delicious feast, in a relaxing environment, your home.
I love entertaining and hosting gatherings from brunches to dinner parties and when you know how, it is relatively easy, stress free and cost effective.
My top 3 tips before you begin:
Structure your evening. From the drinks and food you wish to serve, preparation is key. Ideally that morning or the night before, because you want time to enjoy your evening and not spend it wearing an apron and spending too much time in the kitchen.
Cater for all. One of the best parts of being Paleo (apart from things like nut allergies) is that it eliminates most things that people don’t eat or are allergic too. Demonstrating how ‘free from’ food can be naturally delicious, indulgent and not restrictive and boring as most people presume.
It’s all in the details. From how the table is set with your favorite plates and cutlery to decorative pieces such as flowers, candles etc.
1. Drinks & Nibbles
– One of my favourites is Aperol Spritz, if everyone brings a bottle of fizz you are in luck, just mix; 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water and a slice of orange). If you’re more of a wine lover, I recommend one of my favorite red wines, the Mesta Old Vine Tempranillo 2015, it’s so light and delicious, not to mention one of the most reasonably-priced organic wines on the market!
A bottled drink that I love is called “Twisted Halo” (sparkling vodka coconut water with ginger), it is low in calories, refreshing and obviously because I am coconut everything obsessed, it’s my favourite.
Spice up your table with water jugs by infusing it with fruit, my go to’s are:
- Slices of fresh lemon and mint
- Ribbons of cucumber
- Pear & cinnamon stick
Opt for nibbles instead of a starter for a cheaper, more informal and perfect for reducing your workload on the night. This could be anything from:
- Roast nuts (you can buy these or bake your favourite nuts in a little avocado oil, paprika, rosemary and black pepper at 170* for 15 minutes in the oven)
- You can make your own crackers, alternatively Raw Health offer a really nice range of seeded crackers which you can buy online.
- Crudites platter; slice your favourite vegetables. I love cucumber, celery, radishes, multi-colored carrots with an artichoke dip, baba ganoush, tomato salsa and guacamole.
- Ginger & Lime marinated prawns on sticks
- Nutty chicken satay with an almond butter drizzle
2. Main course: Salmon Veggies with Salsa Verde
The perfect Spring sharing dish bringing a colourful array of vegetables easily combined into one tray.
– Salmon fillets (1 fillet per person)
– Diced butternut squash
– Baby beetroot
– Red pepper
– Red onion
– Cherry tomatoes
– Coriander seeds
– Black pepper
For the sauce:
– Bunch of mint
– Flat-leaf parsley
– 2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
– 200g of green olives
– 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
– 3 tablespoons of olive oil
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 garlic clove.
– Pre boil the baby beetroot for 20 minutes, when cooled, peel and chop. Prepare all the vegetables ready for roasting, ideally earlier on in day, before guests arrive.
– 40 minutes before you wish to eat add the diced butternut squash and beetroot and 2 tablespoon of oil (I use avocado oil) and 1 garlic clove into an overproof dish, at a 200* pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Add in the remaining vegetables then top with the seasoned and lemon juice salmon fillets and cook for a further 20 minutes.
For the sauce, simply finely chop the herbs and blitz together in a blender (served cold for people to add on at the table if they wish).
3. Dessert: Chocolate mousse
Keeping it guilt free yet satisfying I have chosen something chocolaty. Once the plates have been cleared all you want to do is bring something straight out from the fridge, which is why I have chosen these chocolate mousses with coconut chips and cherries. An interesting talking point is when you tell them they are eating avocado and believe me they wont believe you!
Ingredients (makes 6):
– 3 ripe avocados
– 60g cocoa powder
– 3 honey
– 4 dates
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– Handful coconut shavings (for topping)
– 12 ripe cherries (for topping)
– 4 dates (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes)
– Combine all ingredients into a blender until it is in a smooth yet fluffy consistency. Spoon into ramekin/glass dishes and leave in fridge until ready to serve. Top each dish with a sprinkle of coconut and 2 cherries just before serving.