My Week On A Plate: Lara Hughes

While studying psychology, Lara Hughes realised there was a close link between cognitive health and nutrition. Following her own struggles with IBS and food sensitivities, she retrained as a naturopathic practitioner and clinical nutritionist – determined to help others improve their physical and mental health. An advocate of a colourful, fibre-rich diet rich in blood sugar-stabilising carbohydrates and protein, here’s what she eats in a week…
By Tor West /
Mexican Buddha Bowl

MONDAY

Breakfast: Every morning starts with a 30-minute dog walk. Exposing yourself to natural light first thing helps ensure a regular circadian rhythm, boosts vitamin D production and improves mood. When I’m home, I do a 20-minute HIIT workout and head back out for a 20-minute gentle jog. Monday morning is usually my ‘cleanse and reset’ day, so I opt for a juice to give my digestive system a rest. This morning’s blend includes avocado, kiwi, lime, coriander and parsley. After an indulgent weekend, a liquid breakfast feels good.

Lunch: I went to Madera – a Mexican restaurant at the Treehouse Hotel – recently, and ordered its signature salad, which I have since been trying to recreate ever since. It starts with a bed of quinoa, and then you add baby kale, pea shoots, green beans, hearts of palm, baby tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and chia. I dress it with olive oil and a squeeze of lime juice. I eat this with homemade guacamole (avocado, lime juice and chopped chilli) topped with pomegranate seeds.

Supper: I make a mushroom and tofu stroganoff for dinner using a packet of mixed mushrooms I found in Waitrose. I make it with lightly fried onions, garlic, coconut milk, smoked paprika, and then add the mushrooms and tofu five minutes before I’m ready to serve. Mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse – they are rich in vitamins and contain cholesterol-lowering beta glucans.

TUESDAY

Breakfast: I love smoothies – they’re a great way to start the day and an easy way to pack in lots of nutrients at once. This morning, I add Vega’s vanilla protein powder to a blender along with a couple of handfuls of berries and pomegranate seeds; a handful of spinach; and some acai purée I found in Whole Foods. I pour this into a bowl and top with non-sweetened coconut slivers, golden kiwi, blueberries and buckwheat. 

Lunch: I love Mexican food. Not only is it rich and comforting, but done correctly, it can also be incredibly healthy and full of different colours – with that comes a plethora of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I make a Mexican-style Buddha bowl for lunch, with quinoa for fibre and protein, kale, tomatoes, sweetcorn, avocado, chilli, coriander and lime juice. I also add black beans, which are a great source of iron, protein and hormone-balancing fibre.

Supper: I continue with the Mexican theme for supper and make a light salad. The base is pea, alfalfa and radish sprouts (great for regulating hormonal metabolism and supporting detoxification), and I top this with chilli black beans, baby tomatoes, avocado and gut-nourishing kimchi. I dress this with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and lots of lime juice. It takes two minutes to pull together. 

Smoothie Ingredients
Plants By Deliciously Ella

WEDNESDAY

Breakfast: It feels chilly this morning, so I fancy something warm and nourishing for breakfast. My keto granola contains coconut oil-baked almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coated with cinnamon and a sprinkling of powdered Madagascan vanilla powder, which is a great sugar substitute. I have a serving of this fresh from the oven with coconut yoghurt and stewed apples. Cinnamon is great to help support stable blood sugar levels, so I try to include it at breakfast when I can. 

Lunch: I have meetings in Mayfair today, so I take the opportunity to try out Deliciously Ella’s restaurant, Plants. I opt for the spring vegetable salad and a side of roasted carrots and mushrooms. 

Supper: I meet a friend for dinner at the Alchemist in Canary Wharf – a fun cocktail bar that also has some healthy dinner options. I opt for a twist on the traditional Buddha bowl – a Japanese-inspired dish comprising a base of brown rice layered with edamame, pickled red cabbage, diced tomatoes, nori seaweed and avocado, topped with a fried egg. This is a well-rounded dish with protein from the egg and edamame, fibre from the brown rice and various nutrients from the vegetables. I’m not a big drinker but I do enjoy a refreshing gin and lime-based cocktail with my meal.

THURSDAY

Breakfast: This morning I have a chia seed pudding, which I made last night. A twist on the usual combination, it has a layer of omega-3 and protein-rich chia seeds, a layer of ground flax, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds, and is topped with freeze-dried blueberry powder and mixed with fresh blueberries. I soak this in coconut milk. It’s a simple but filling breakfast which is great during the menstrual phase of your cycle as it contains a great mix of essential fatty acids needed to balance mood, energy and hormones.

Lunch: I am at home today so take the time to make a shakshuka. I add black beans to the base and top it with halloumi, pickled red cabbage, avocado and coriander. Eggs are so versatile and work with countless flavours – plus, the healthy fats will taper any cravings and keep you full during a busy afternoon.

Supper: I’m not a huge fan of vegetarian meat substitutes – they are often highly processed and lack proper nutrition – but I do occasionally have a Beyond Meat burger, which is one of the more nutritious options. Instead of having it as a traditional burger, I roll the ‘meat’ into smaller balls and sauté them with tomatoes, chilli and smoked paprika to create a ragu. I serve this with red lentil and green pea pasta (high in protein without spiking blood sugar or upsetting the stomach) and oven-roasted cauliflower, broccoli and kale. 

Chia Pudding
Beyond Meat Meatballs And Roasted Cauliflower
Halloumi Shakshouka
Tomato & Paprika Shakshouka With Avocado

FRIDAY

Breakfast: I did an intense workout this morning so I know I need something hearty. I poach two eggs and roast celeriac, broccoli and tomatoes – I drizzle everything with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, lime and chilli and serve it on a bed of spinach. The lime contains vitamin C, which helps release the iron from the spinach and broccoli, which is important given I’m both vegetarian and in the menstrual phase of my cycle. This is a great tip for any meal – simply add citrus to help the bioavailability of iron.

Lunch: After a big breakfast, I’m not massively hungry so it’s a lighter lunch today. I blend mixed berries with half a lemon, avocado and Vega vanilla protein powder. Berries are a great option if you’re craving something sweet as they contain a good dose of fibre to fill you up and curb cravings. They’re also great for glowing skin, lowering inflammation and supporting healthy cognition and ageing – I try to eat berries every day, either fresh or frozen.

Supper: Friday night means date night – we head to Sticks‘n’Sushi prior to watching the new Top Gun movie with popcorn. Tonight’s dinner isn’t 100% balanced – it lacks protein as we eat vegetarian sushi, but it tastes delicious. We also order a seaweed salad, which is a great source of fibre, minerals and vitamins. 

SATURDAY

Breakfast: I fast until lunchtime – something I often do at the weekends after a later start. Fasting can be great for giving the digestive system a rest, especially if you’ve had a late or heavy dinner, and promoting cognitive function. However, if you have low blood pressure, blood sugar dysregulation, health conditions such as thyroid disorders or burnout, or are pregnant, you should avoid fasting. I break my fast with a delicious brunch at Barbie Green – I order the shakshuka. 

Lunch: I am still full from brunch but it’s a sunny day, so I make some healthy ice cream. I blend frozen strawberries and blueberries with vanilla protein powder and a small amount of coconut milk. The result is a delicious, creamy, half-sorbet, half-gelato fruity heaven. I top it with fresh blueberries and put the remainder in the freezer for another day. 

Supper: The fridge is full of odds and ends so I roast a mixture of vegetables – baby carrots, sweet potato and sprouts – and serve it with cauliflower rice, stirfried kale, pickled cucumber and a sprinkle of almonds. Dishes don’t always need to ‘make sense’, nor do they need to always be beautifully curated – this supper is a good example of something that’s healthy and delicious all the same.

Matcha Latte
Roasted Vegetables

SUNDAY

Brunch: I fast until lunchtime and then enjoy brunch at Where The Pancakes Are. I love pancakes at the weekend, and this brunch spot makes them with buckwheat flour, which is higher in both fibre and protein than regular flour, and comes without added sugar. I order pancakes paired with roasted tomatoes and butternut squash, chickpeas, avocado and a tahini and yoghurt dressing. This dish is full of fibre, protein, fatty acids, antioxidants and skin-supporting vitamins. 

Snack: I don’t need lunch, so instead I opt for a mid-afternoon snack – some nuts, alongside a chopped apple dipped in almond butter. I also have a freshly made chai latte, which I make with coconut milk, pure Madagascan vanilla powder, chai spices and turmeric. 

Supper: I round the week off with a Moroccan salad. I love hummus and falafel, so I have a generous portion of both with pea shoots, baby tomatoes and pomegranate seeds. I also spend time in the evening preparing a few ingredients for the week ahead – I roast two large trays of vegetables to act as accompaniments and bases for meals in the week ahead.

 

 

For more information visit Wholistic-Health.co.uk & follow @WholisticHealth_ByLara

Where The Pancakes Are

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