My Day on a Plate: Alison Curtis

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Alison Curtis presents her Weekend Breakfast Show on Today FM every Saturday from 8 to 11am and on Sunday 7 to 10am.

Where do you shop? 

Like most people I split it between shops – it is mainly between Aldi and Nolan’s in Clontarf (for the fancy bits). 

Can you list the contents of your weekly shop? 

Fruit

Vegetables

Chickpeas

Rice cakes

Greek yoghurts 

Feta cheese

Sourdough bread

Wraps

Chicken 

Fish for my hubby and daughter 

Red wine

Describe your typical breakfast

Yoghurt with fruit and muesli and lots of coffee.

Describe your typical lunch

I work from home mainly and find lunch the hardest meal as I am usually by myself, so it’s usually hummus with bread or a bowl of pasta with a lot of vegetables.

Typical dinner

Dinners are tricky as the three in our house all like different things and I am a vegetarian. I love making rice or pasta dishes that meat can be added too. I also do a lot of tapas style dinners so we can each pick and choose what to eat. 

Snacks

Rice cakes, salty bits and fruit.

Is there anything you won’t eat? 

Meat. And cold pizza – I can’t hack that for some reason.

What would you cook to impress someone? 

I could try! But in honesty I need to up my kitchen game and get a bit braver.

What is your guilty food pleasure? 

Marks and Spencer do these tasty sour cream and onion mini pretzels and I could finish the whole bag even though their “suggested serving” is for six per serving! 

What is your ultimate comfort food?

I love making pancakes. I do this for dinner some nights when I am feeling lazy but always make sure to add a lot of fruit. 

What is your favourite takeaway? 

Tuk. Thai food always hits the spot.

Have you tried any diet fads in the past six months? 

No, I have never been on a diet in my life. I hope that doesn’t sound obnoxious but I just try to eat well. 

What would be your Last Supper? 

The biggest bowl of pesto pasta, coated in cheese and a jug of Malbec. 

Rosanna’s Verdict: 

Alison’s weekly shopping list reveals a good balance of whole, fresh foods and plenty of meal and snack options for her and her family’s dietary preferences. It’s always reassuring to see plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables being bought, and I can see that Alison focuses on foods like chickpeas, feta and Greek yoghurt as vegetarian sources of protein. While all whole foods contain the amino acids that come together like beads on a string to form proteins for necessary everyday use by your body, some foods are richer in the set of essential amino acids than others. Animal-based protein foods are usually what most people think of first, but if you follow a plant-based diet, then it’s still easy to get the amino acids your body requires each day for muscle repair and the production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Tofu, tempeh, quinoa, hummus, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and nut butters are all good examples of complete protein foods for vegetarians. 

Another big benefit of eating a wide range of plant foods is that the various fibres really help to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut to support digestive, immune system and neurotransmitter health plus so much more. Animal protein does not contain fibre and I can’t stress enough how important it is to eat plenty of fibre each day to encourage normal digestive health. 

Alison’s breakfast features yoghurt, fruit, muesli and coffee. With well-chosen foods, this can make a really healthy, balanced morning meal and fruit gives you a great natural energy boost plus a wide range of vitamins and antioxidants. However, I would encourage Alison to ensure that the yoghurt brand she buys is free from added refined sugar and same applies to the muesli. It’s easy to make your own muesli and granola at home too using toasted oats and coconut, nuts, seeds and cinnamon for a touch of sweetness. 

Current research suggests that coffee can have some health benefits and we all metabolise caffeine differently, but I would encourage Alison to ensure she’s well hydrated in the mornings too as coffee acts as a diuretic. Warm water with fresh ginger and lemon is a useful way to rehydrate after a night’s sleep and can help to boost immune and digestive health. 

For lunch, Alison grabs a simple meal of hummus with bread or pasta and vegetables. As mentioned, hummus is a useful source of vegetarian protein and can help to make a filing snack or light meal. Alison may want to add some chopped carrot, cucumber and celery sticks to use as a dip to boost her intake of fresh veggies. Pasta can make a satiating lunchtime meal, helping to boost energy levels for a busy afternoon. However, it’s best to choose a brown or wholemeal version as white flour foods can digest rapidly and cause a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash which may affect energy levels and even your mood. There are some tasty chickpea and edamame-based pasta brands available in most supermarkets now, which contain high levels of protein and make a good option for vegetarians and vegans.

Alison’s evening meal tends to be a selection of vegetarian tapas or rice and pasta dishes. Again, I would encourage her to choose brown versions of rice and pasta, and to make sure she includes plenty of leafy greens and colourful veggies at dinnertime too. I would definitely encourage Alison to increase her intake of healthy fats such as avocado, olive and flaxseed oils, walnuts, flaxseed, hemp and chia seeds. They’re all good sources of essential omega-3 fats, which are so important for maintaining cell membrane structure and supporting brain, cardiovascular, joint and eye health. As she doesn’t eat oily fish, Alison may be missing out on the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fats. Otherwise, it’s super to see that Alison’s diet is very low in refined sugar and other junk foods. Well done.

 

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