London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

The Road to Recovery & Better Health!

Injuring my foot in June this year whilst on a walk in Walthamstow was not a good thing to happen to a tour guide. I cancelled walks, I gave away walks to other guiding colleagues and did what the doctor ordered (mostly) which was to rest. Without a car not walking at all was impossible but I did try. Instead of walking from Victoria to Westminster Abbey or Liverpool Street to London Bridge for my various temping assignments (in my other job as a legal secretary) I took the bus. Nordic walking in Epping Forest is (still) on hold.

I am still guiding – in fact the next week is quite busy with a number of Christmas Lights walks – but I’m trying to be sensible in between as I’m still not fully recovered.

This sedentary lifestyle has of course had an adverse effect on my weight which has shot up in the last few months. I don’t usually watch my weight but the fact that I can’t get into quite a few of my clothes tells me all I need to know.

I have also got myself into a bit of an unhealthy lifestyle – drinking a bit too much, having a few too many late nights and then not able to get up in the morning, missing breakfast and grabbing a croissant on the way. Not good. I have known for a while that things need to change but haven’t done anything about it.

So when I received an invite to a Healthy Eating Class at the Underground Cookery School organised by simplyhealth I thought this was perfect timing and would hopefully be the catalyst for me to start changing my diet and lifestyle.

On arrival at the School’s base in City Road near Old Street we were offered a choice of carrot or orange juice. Strangely I have never tried carrot juice so I had to go for this. It turned out to be a mixture of not just carrots but celery and spinach and I have to say was delicious. I am seriously considering buying a juicer now!

Photo courtesy of the Underground Cookery School

I have never yet included a recipe on a blogpost but this was so delicious I have to share it!

To make about a pint of juice:

450g carrots (skin left on)
1 stick celery
small handful of flat leaf parsley
large handful of spinach
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

The next part of the event was a talk entitled “Eat Yourself Young” by nutritionist Kate Cook. This was a real eye opener. I recognised lots of bad habits I had got into mostly caused by a lack of sleep and the knock-on effects the next day.  I have also never really thought of the long-term effects on my body. Kate told us that “Genes load the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger”. That really made me think.

One of the keys to a healthy lifestyle is to keep your blood sugar level well balanced. I was amazed to discover how much sugar is in a glass of orange juice; it’s much better for your body to drink the aforementioned vegetable juice than the usual fruit juices.

Kate’s reference to The Numskulls who used to appear in the Beano made me laugh but it brought the point home; showing how your body is affected when your blood sugar level is raised.

Kate emphasised that it’s much better to slowly change your diet to a good one than to diet off and on. She did encouragingly say that it’s impossible to change your way of life overnight; it will take time.

More of Kate’s advice can be found on this post by simplyhealth the hosts of the event.

The next part of the day was to do prepare and cook our meal. The menu was:

We were split into groups and my group’s first task was to fillet a mackerel. This was nowhere near as hard as anticipated.

After washing my hands my next task was to peel some pears. I was slow but I was methodical.  However I completely failed at the third task which was to de-bone a chicken. It probably didn’t help that I was feeling a bit under the weather and was standing next to the cooker but I started to feel a bit unwell at the thought of pulling the chicken apart and had to abandon this and watch from a safe distance.

The last (and best) part of the day was to eat the meal we had helped to prepare. I am there – honest! I was at the far end of the table and can just about see my turquoise clad arm!

The highlight for me was the pan fried chicken with puy lentils which had a spicy kick and was absolutely delicious. I definitely want to cook it for myself – minus the de-boning part of course.

The recipe to this dish can be found here. If you want to make it spicy the ratio is half a large red chilli de-seeded per portion.

I have recipes for all the items on the menu above so please feel free to ask me if you would like any of them.

What an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday; I learned so much and hope to start putting it all into practice soon. I am also planning to ask my GP to refer me to a podiatrist so I can find out what is wrong with my foot and get fully back to my normal energetic self.

The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End.  Details of all her bookable private walks are listed here and upcoming public walks are here.