I don’t feel as if my feet have touched the ground in the past couple of weeks, as I’ve had to travel so much to see patients and family, as well as jumping into the car and rushing to see friends going through tough times. And that’s not to mention the logistics of putting on Nourish Afternoon Teas in Edinburgh, the Cotswolds and at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, plus attending the Admiral Nurses Forum in Nottingham. All this means my usual food routines have been thrown out the window. I’m sure many of you are super-busy, too – whether that’s with hospital appointments, caring for a loved one, your work or family life – and have days when food is the last thing you think about, although you know you should.
I’ve always been good at planning ahead and stocking my freezer with dishes that can be grabbed and popped in the oven when I arrive home late and don’t have time to prepare a meal, but the last few weeks have stripped those supplies to a bare minimum. It’s been particularly tricky as this has been a time when I’ve needed to feel resilient. When we’re worried about people or don’t have a moment to relax, it causes adrenaline levels to spike, meaning we feel more anxious and jittery than ever. Add in skipped meals and the type of quick-fix snacks we often resort to when travelling, and our blood sugar also starts to fluctuate, so we’re high with false energy one moment and crashing in exhaustion the next.
Living this way isn’t sustainable, so I’ve needed to dig deep and set aside a few minutes to pack a little travel bag to take with me on my journeys. It includes herbal teabags – liquorice, mint and a little tub of sliced fresh ginger if I have it – so I just need to ask for a mug of hot water and I can have a soothing drink instead of reaching for caffeine. I also take a flask of soup, either quickly made with miso paste and boiling water, or a fresh soup that I’ve taken out of the freezer the night before and reheated. You can increase the protein content of a simple soup by stirring in some nut butter or hummus; it’s a good way to stabilise those roller-coaster blood sugar levels. I also take a pot of nuts – the protein and healthy fats they contain are great for energy when I’m on the go. And a bottle of water, as it’s so easy to forget to drink when you’re busy, causing you to feel drained and sluggish.
I haven’t yet had time to restock my freezer supplies – I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend at home when I can cook up soups and roasted vegetables ready to be portioned and frozen – so instead, I’ve had to think of quick, nutritious and sustaining suppers. A standby is simple baked eggs, with kale and tomatoes. I simply tear some kale into a large ramekin, break two eggs over, add some sliced tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning, then pop it into a hot oven for 10 or so minutes, until the eggs set. It’s complete comfort food which sits lightly on the gut, so it’s fine to eat if I’ve returned home late. Afterwards, a cup of chamomile tea and a bath with magnesium salts help me to relax and drop off for a good night’s sleep, ready to hit the road again the next day!
If you have time to think ahead and do some simple prep, these Nourish recipes will help you to sustain you on your journeys.
Peanut flapjacks Good for a mid-afternoon energy boost, and they’ll last for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin.
Cashew nut butter Stir it into porridge or soup, or put a dollop on a lunchbox of roasted vegetables – roast a tray at the weekend and keep in the fridge ready for the week’s lunches.
Broad bean & pistachio hummus Light on the gut and the pistachios are a great source of protein.
Power pack cereal bars A great grab-and-go breakfast.