Celebrity Health - Tess Ward

“You don’t have to deprive yourself to be healthy”

Tess Ward is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, food writer and certified health coach. Her first cookbook, The Naked Diet, champions the use of unprocessed ingredients and simple, stripped back cooking.

Q: You’ve recently been working with Kallø on their ‘Have Your Cake’ healthy eating campaign. Can you tell us a bit about this?

Tess: The idea behind the campaign has been to encourage people to get more creative with their cooking and to shake things up with healthy eating without depriving themselves. Being healthy doesn’t mean that you have to prescribe to a restrictive diet. It’s all about finding a balance that works well for each person. I don’t want people to have a panic attack over trying to choose a healthy lunch! It’s more important that they feel empowered in their decision and more educated about the food that they eat. My approach is to focus on good foods like unprocessed wholegrains, fruits and vegetables and to cook with them from scratch – that is the best way to phase out eating the bad foods.

Q: Do you feel that the general public is becoming more aware of the importance of healthy eating or do you think more work needs to be done to educate people?

Tess: I think there’s always more that can be done. But people like Jamie Oliver are doing a wonderful job. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who are quite radical and think that being healthy is all about giving up lots of things, but there are also those of us who want to find a gentle balance and take a more mindful approach.

Q: Where did your love of healthy food and cooking come from?

Tess: A lot of people become passionate cooks at a young age but I stumbled upon it quite late. I had a lot of free time at university and I became interested in cooking then. I realised that when I ate healthily I felt so much better about work and life. I knew then that I wanted to train professionally as a chef.

Q: You’ve worked in the kitchens of the Harwood Arms, The Ritz and River Cottage. Were those valuable learning experiences for you?

Tess: Yes. 100 per cent. Cookery is a craft and the best way of learning is by working alongside other chefs. It was such an honour for me to be able to work in those places and to develop my skills there.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from for your recipes?

Tess: Eating out, travelling, experimenting. Sometimes I’ll set out to make something and then the recipe goes in a different direction. It happens so randomly. At the moment I’m very interested in Scandinavian food but last year I went to Bali at Christmas and discovered some delicious foods there. I’ve also been to Sri Lanka and Thailand – the food there is incredible.

Q: What kinds of foods might you eat during a typical day?

Tess: I will often start the day with either smoked salmon or avocado on toast or my sweet potato hummus with Greek yoghurt, harissa and pine nuts. I don’t eat wheat in any form because I cannot digest it at all. So I stick to rye, spelt, millet or corn bread as it’s the wheat rather than gluten that is the problem for me. For lunch I might have soup. My favourite kind of snack is some Kallø rice cakes with some nut butter, a few slices of banana and a pinch of sea salt. It’s a great source of protein. For dinner I might have my Yoga Bowl recipe, which is a red lentil and sweet potato dal. It’s so easy to cook up and is really filling.

Q: How do you ensure that you still eat healthily if you’re busy and on the go?

Tess: Well the problem is that you can’t ensure it. Enjoying good food is a pleasurable activity, however in the fast paced lives we lead, meals are often on the go. The trick is to ensure that you have a way of bouncing back if you've been particularly busy or had an indulgent weekend. I tend to make up a big batch of healthy soup or a stew to make sure that I have plenty of healthy food to hand. And if I'm invited out to dinner I don't stress about it - I say you should go for it, enjoy yourself and make sure you eat healthily afterwards. It’s all about having a long-term goal rather than a short-term fix.

Q: Do you ever take any supplements or do you just rely on your diet to get all the nutrients you need?

Tess: I take vitamin C sometimes and also probiotics. I have quite low iron levels so I take an iron supplement as well.

Q: Do you enjoy exercise and keeping fit?

Tess: Yes. I’m very much into yoga and I also take a class called Paola’s BodyBarre. It draws on Pilates and ballet barre techniques. It’s hard but you get a good workout and it’s really good for toning the body. I’m naturally very slender so I try to do exercises that help to build muscle. I tend to do yoga twice a week and one of the classes might be Yin yoga, which is very relaxing. I also try to walk as much as possible and keep active.

Q: Can you offer our readers some healthy eating tips?

Tess: Firstly I would say that whenever you make a meal, try to ensure that two-thirds of it is healthy in some form or another. Although it's not always possible, wherever you can, try to set aside time to eat your meals without distraction and stress. This will not only help you identify when you are feeling satisfied but will also improve your digestion and enjoyment of your food. If you’ve had an indulgent weekend then make sure you make up for it by eating healthily. Avoid all processed food – that’s the key thing – and let your body recalibrate.

Q: Lastly, what are your plans for Christmas?

Tess: It’s always a joint effort with all the family pitching in together. There will be eight of us this year. We will probably have goose instead of turkey and I’ll do the sides. I always like to do my chilli broccoli with flaked almonds. I would never let anyone other than my Granny Rosemary cook the Christmas pudding – she’s the Christmas pudding queen. Christmas is a wonderful time of year and I don't think that people should deprive themselves of the things they enjoy. If you find that you’ve overindulged a little then eat some beetroot or take some milk thistle as they are very good for replenishing the liver. Enjoy the day and enjoy everything in moderation.

Tess Ward has created a collection of quirky and delicious topping recipes with Kallø Corn and Rice Cakes, encouraging people to get experimental in the kitchen. For more information visit www.kallo.com

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