VERDICT: “A blueberry muffin is a classic example of an unhealthy baked good disguised as a healthy snack that can send your blood sugar levels into a spin,” says Ami. “While basic servings of blueberries can offer nutritional benefits, the inclusion of berries can’t automatically make anything they touch healthy.” Sophie adds that the muffin is high in sugar, which feeds the bad bacteria in your gut and imbalances of these bacteria can lead to bloating and constipation over time.
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “While this muffin does contain antioxidant-rich berries, it’s definitely a treat,” says Sophie. “If you’re considering it as a breakfast option, you’re far better off with a bowl of porridge topped with fresh blueberries.”
Beetroot, Lentil & Goat’s Cheese Salad
VERDICT: The experts agree this salad packs a nutritional punch and is the perfect, balanced lunch. “The lentils offer plenty of protein, complex carbs, fibre and minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. Beetroot is also rich in vitamin c, iron and folate. Goat’s cheese offers some fat and protein, while toasted hazelnuts add fat, which is important for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins this dish contains,” says Sophie. Ami adds this dish will keep you topped up with energy and feeling full until your next meal.
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “This salad is near perfect, but if you’re having it at home, consider adding an extra serving of green, leafy veg,” says Sophie.
Buckwheat & Pea Fritters
VERDICT: “Similar to a Buddha bowl, this dish is packed with a variety of plant foods and is a very healthy option,” says Sophie. “Buckwheat is a complex carbohydrate and a plant-based source of complete protein, while peas further boost the protein content. The almond satay provides some fat and the sticky aubergine, microgreens and red onion offer micronutrients and plant diversity. Wild and brown rice have a lower GI than white rice, making this filling and balanced.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: Both experts agree there isn’t anything you can do to make this dish more nutritionally perfect.
Cauliflower, Broccoli & Goat’s Cheese Quiche
VERDICT: On paper, this tart has some health benefits, says Ami. “Eggs are a good source of protein and contain B12, iron and zinc, while the added veggies further boost nutrients, and the cheese provides calcium. However, the big nutritional drawback comes from the pastry crust. In addition to containing refined grains, the crust also contains unhealthy saturated fats.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “This is calorie-dense and should be mindfully consumed as part of a varied, balanced diet,” says Sophie. “I’d love to see this served with a salad or more vegetables.”
Smoked Salmon & Kohlrabi Remoulade
VERDICT: This ticks all the health boxes, says Sophie, with the various components coming together to offer a balanced meal. “Smoked salmon provides a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for skin, brain and heart health, although many of us are often deficient. Black barley, meanwhile, is an overlooked grain that’s packed with iron, vitamin E, magnesium and calcium. Cress is a fantastic addition, too.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “This dish provides a variety of health-promoting antioxidants and is rich in antioxidants – there isn’t much you can do to make it healthier,” Sophie adds.
Summer Greens, Wild Rice & Broccoli
VERDICT: On paper, this salad may seem like a healthy option, but Sophie says it lacks in certain areas. “This is undoubtedly a very nutritious dish. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, folate, manganese and many other vitamins and minerals. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable which may help to balance oestrogen, providing numerous health benefits. The salad is also rich in fibre and the use of wild rice offers more nutrients than its white rice counterpart, which is essentially stripped of many nutrients. All this being said, I’d love to see some more protein to make this a balanced meal. The seeds on top contain some protein but not enough.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “On its own, this is more of a side dish than a main meal,” says Sophie. “Add some organic chicken or omega-3 rich salmon to amp up the nutritional value.”
VERDICT: “This is a balanced breakfast but definitely falls on the sweeter side of healthy,” says Sophie. With oats, strawberries, pistachios and passion fruit compote, this dish is high in fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients. “The addition of coconut yoghurt and nuts offers protein and fat to slow down the release of sugar, but it’s not ideal that the compote is made with sugar,” says Sophie. Ami, meanwhile, is a fan of overnight oats. “Soaking oats helps break down the starches and reduces the natural phytic acid, which helps your body utilise the oats’ nutrients more efficiently. Chia seeds are also loaded with fibre and are a great source of inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: In an ideal world, Sophie says you’re better off skipping the compote and adding fresh fruit instead, but given this is pre-packaged, this may be tricky.
VERDICT: “I tell so many of clients to up their porridge game,” Sophie enthuses. “When combined with the right toppings, it can greatly improve energy levels throughout the day and is a fantastic breakfast option.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: Porridge alone isn’t a particularly balanced meal, says Sophie. “Consuming carbs in the morning without added protein or fat is a sure-fire way to hop on a blood sugar rollercoaster. There are several options for toppings at Gail’s – avoid the demerara sugar and honey and instead opt for the vitamin-E rich almond butter which offers much-needed protein and fat to slow the release of sugar into the blood. The antioxidant-rich, fresh blueberries are preferable to the seasonal berry compote, which is quite likely to contain added sugar.”
RATING: 9/10 with the suggested toppings, 5/10 without
VERDICT: Sourdough is fermented, fostering beneficial bacteria that promote gut health, says nutritionist Sophie Trotman. “This sourdough is made with wholemeal and white milled flour, which is great, although it would benefit from some seeds to increase the fibre content.” Having said that, this sourdough is proof not all bread is bad for you, adds nutritional therapist Ami Sheward. “Sourdough bread contains higher levels of folate and antioxidants, and its lower phytate levels allow your body to absorb the nutrients it contains more easily.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “Pair with some eggs, hummus or cheese and some non-starchy vegetables to boost the nutrition content, minimise blood sugar spikes and keep your energy sustained throughout the day,” advises Sophie.
Parmesan Chicken on a Cream Bun
VERDICT: Chicken is a great source of protein and B vitamins, says Ami, while plum tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, K, potassium, folate and lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits. “Plus, iceberg lettuce may get a bad rap for not being as nutritious as other lettuce, but it’s packed with vitamins A, K and folate,” she says. “What lets this meal down is the cream bun, which contains high amounts of carbs and fat, making it a less than ideal bread. The carbs from the refined flour mean it will cause a spike in blood sugar.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: “Serve with a side of salad to increase the plant foods and antioxidants,” Sophie recommends.
Seasonal Soup & Sourdough
VERDICT: “Soup is a fantastic vehicle for nutrient consumption,” Sophie explains. “Especially we venture into autumn, this is a great option that provides both nutrition and comfort. Eating seasonally is always a good idea – the nutritional value will be higher if the food has been locally sourced.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: Before you jump in, read the menu, says Sophie. “Soups can often be low in protein, contain cream and lots of salt, so choose wisely. If you can also swap regular sourdough for a seeded variety even better, as this will help minimise blood sugar spikes. It also sounds odd, but when eating your soup, remember to chew it. This will generate the secretion of digestive enzymes that help you digest and absorb your food.”
Three Cheese & Tomato Toastie
VERDICT: “As the name suggests, this contains a lot of cheese,” says Sophie. “Cheese is high in calcium and iodine, which is often low in the diet since the explosion of plant milk. This toastie will be filling due to the amount of fat and protein it contains, although the saturated fat content is high and there is a lot of dairy for your digestive system to handle all at once.” Ami adds that this should be an occasional treat. “This sadly falls pretty short when it comes to nutritional benefits. That said, cheese is a good source of protein and tomatoes a great source of vitamin C. If you have the option, choose for wholegrain rather than white, refined bread.”
MAKE IT HEALTHIER: If you’re having this at home, consider serving with an additional portion of kimchi, a small amount of which is already in the toastie. “These are probiotic foods that replenish your gut with beneficial bacteria that have health-promoting properties,” says Sophie.
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.