My Day on a Plate: Mariam Ribon

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Spanish born Mariam Ribon is the Artistic Director of the Irish Youth Dance Festival. 

Where do you shop? Organic market in New Market Square, some items in Lidl and Super Valu.

Can you list the contents of your weekly shop? I tried to go organic as much as possible, so tons of greens and vegetables including kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas, green salads, beetroot, sweet potato, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, olives, avocados, mushrooms, unpasteurized cheese, 100% dark chocolate and all types of berries, coconut milk, ginger, lemons, coffee, chickpeas and lentils.

Describe your typical breakfast Kale shake with ginger, spirulina, wheat grass, turmeric, berries and a bit of lemon juice and black pepper, sulphite–free black pudding (fried in coconut oil), avocado, scrambled eggs, a bit of cheese; stir fried mushrooms and a cup of Matcha tea.

Describe your typical lunch I would have lunch between 3-6pm, I would start with a glass of carbonated water with lemon and apple cider vinegar, I usually have a big green salad with avocado, olives, carrots, onion, celery, beetroot, radishes with lots of olive oil, Himalayan salt and balsamic vinegar accompanied with organic steak or fish and tea or bullet proof coffee and a piece of my home made sugar free chocolate cake. At wintertime, I would opt for hot pots with lots of vegetables and a source of protein.

Typical dinner I only eat in a window of 8 hours and fast for 16 hours, so usually I would skip dinner, or if having dinner, I would skip breakfast.

Snacks My favourite are almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, berries, sunflower seeds, toasts (home made bread with arrowroot or tapioca flour, both very low in carbohydrates) with butter and almond butter, absolutely delicious!

Is there anything you won’t eat? Mainly sugar and food that contains more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 grams, and carbohydrates such as wheat, pasta, rice and other grains. 

What would you cook to impress someone? ‘Spanish meatballs’ and ‘Tigres’ which are stuffed mussels. They are very laborious but an absolute treat! 

What is your guilty food pleasure? My chocolate cake, but not feeling guilty as it’s sugar free made with xylitol instead. I make it with butter, eggs and cream or coconut milk and in the oven for 32 mins. 

What is your ultimate comfort food? Seafood chowder and bone broth, I always feel restored after having it, especially in the winter. In the Summer Jamón Ibérico from my mum’s village ‘Montánchez’. 

What is your favourite takeaway? I have to say the paneer cheese dish from Govindas, fantastic with cauliflower rice!

Have you tried any diet fads in the past six months? I have been doing the Ketogenic diet in a moderate way and I also do intermittent fasting for longer than a year, however it is a lifestyle for me and not a diet, my two gurus are Dr. Berg and Thomas De Laur. They inspired me to change my habits and changed my view and perspective in food and nutrition. 

What would be your Death Row dinner or Last Supper? Angulas is the Spanish name for young European eels or “elver” eels. Known as the caviar of Northern Spain, angulas are typically fried with some simple garlic and oil. 

Rosanna’s Verdict: 

Mariam’s shopping list reflects her keen interest in organic whole foods and healthy living, with an abundance of fresh greens such as kale, broccoli and salads. Greens are an important part of your diet and should ideally be included in meals everyday, not just as a garnish but as a substantial part of your plate. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is the current recommendation, although research suggests that 7-9 portions a day is what we should be aiming for. Greens are important for their fibre, vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content, with kale and spinach considered a useful source of vitamins A and C, plus minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium. They also contain chlorophyll, which gives them their green colour. Chlorophyll is shares an almost identical molecular structure to the haemoglobin found in human blood, making it helpful for supporting iron transport and the efficient oxygenation of body cells. 

Consuming plenty of greens and other colourful veggies, as well as a wide range of whole plant foods, will help to ensure you’re receiving adequate amounts of antioxidants in your daily diet. Mother Nature has cleverly provided thousands of different antioxidants in various amounts in fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and legumes. The primary vitamin antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C. As the body cannot make these, it’s crucial that they’re regularly supplied in the diet through a wide range of nutritious foods.

Vitamin E is a chain-breaking antioxidant and a fat-soluble vitamin found in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains such as wheat germ, and apricots. Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A and is found in spinach, carrots, broccoli, squash, kale, cantaloupe, kiwis, sweet potatoes and strawberries. Vitamin C helps to prevent the damaging chain reaction before it begins, and is a water-soluble vitamin in citrus fruits, bell peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, berries, kiwis and melon.

It’s good to see that Mariam also puts plenty of focus on buying healthy fats, including avocado, coconut oil and milk, olive oil and olives. While the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA are considered the most bioavailable form of omega-3, plant-based fats offer anti-inflammatory benefits and can help to support smooth skin and glossy hair. 

Mariam’s typical breakfast features a wide range of nutrient-packed foods, with a variety of superfoods to increase her antioxidant intake, and complete protein from eggs and black pudding to support muscle repair and hormone production. A growing body of research on turmeric suggests that it offers potent anti-inflammatory benefits, and black pepper may help to boost its bioavailability. 

For lunch, Mariam opts for water with lemon and apple cider vinegar to encourage the production of digestive enzymes, followed by a huge colourful salad with a protein source like meat or fish. Olive oil and avocado help to boost its healthy fat content, and encourage the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, such as beta-carotene. Mariam follows an intermittent fasting lifestyle, which research indicates may encourage improved sleep, energy levels, balanced hormones, more efficient weight management and mitochondrial support. So if she’s had a big breakfast, then she skips dinner and vice versa. Her snacks include more fibre-packed whole foods, including a range of nuts and homemade low-carb breads with almond butter, which offers vitamin E and amino acids. 

It’s great to see that Mariam has found an eating pattern and lifestyle that works well for her, providing her with the energy and immune support to fuel a busy and active lifestyle. She prefers to avoid processed foods and refined sugar, instead focusing on whole foods, medicinal herbs and spices and plenty of healthy sources of fat. Well done Mariam. 

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