If you should ever have any doubts over the power of prep, speak to green-eating guru – and Honestly Healthy founder – Natasha Corrett.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” she muses proudly. “It’s as simple as that. And I have the famous [Benjamin Franklin ] quote at the front of my cookbook so its the first thing you see.”
Discussing her latest title, Honestly Healthy In A Hurry, the 33-year-old explains: “I wanted to create something that was method [based]. Working in kitchens, I realised that we do everything mise en place, so we prep and cook it all [in advance], and just pull the dish together at the last minute.”
Extending the same approach to our day-to-day lives – putting in some prep and planning early – will help keep us on track with our healthy cooking, she says.
“I know if I get home from work and I’m tired, I am going to order a takeaway. I’m exactly the same as everyone else, so unless I have that food in my fridge, I’m not going to do it.
“Just put your favourite programme on and dance around your kitchen!” she adds.
She may say she’s the ‘same as everyone else’, but this London-born foodie certainly has one thing that many of us claim to lack – and that’s bundles of energy.
Meeting Corrett at her book launch-come-cooking class, the vegetarian chef – complete with enviable glossy hair and clear skin, despite insisting she’s knackered from a late night of promotional duties – certainly practices what she preaches. And today, her sermon is prep, prep, prep.
“Your freezer is your best friend,” she begins. “So if every two weeks you can make up a batch of stew or a curry – something with a lot of sauce, and freeze it in single-portion freezer bags, they can be heated up from frozen with no fuss.”
It’s how she and her husband, gym owner Simon Bateman, live – and with a bit of practice, she promises that all of us busy folk “won’t want to do it any other way”.
But while she’s mindful of what she puts in her body now, Corrett admits it took a trip to an Ayurvedic doctor to change her former yo-yo dieting ways, and ultimately inspire her 2013 overnight hit cookbook, Honestly Healthy: Eat With Your Body In Mind, The Alkaline Way.
“He told me I was really acidic and I needed to eat more alkaline foods,” she says, bundling her brunette locks on top of her head. “He told me to go on this 21-day [plan] and promised it would change my life.
“He gave me this muffin that was like cardboard, and I thought, ‘If I am allowed to have that, then I can create a healthier alternative where I feel like I’m not missing out and I don’t have to binge’. So that was the turning point for me; if I fancied a pizza, rather than feeling guilty, I’d find another way to make it.”
And that’s where the self-trained chef – daughter of restaurateur Graham Corrett and interior design mogul Kelly Hoppen – made her name.
Encouraging consumers to “cook smart” with no wastage, her latest mantra is designed to inspire readers to cook in three different ways: Quick – straightforward recipes that take less than 30 minutes; Quick Quick Slow – recipes that are quick to bring together but take a little longer in the oven; and Cook Once Eat Twice – recipes that take advantage of the food you’ve prepared in advance. All with tips, charts and check-lists aplenty.
Quite literally steering the revolution, this summer she’s also been touring summer festivals in a tuk-tuk decked out with juice blenders and smoothie makers.
“The idea is to hopefully franchise them out, and make them into a little business where we can go round to big offices and serve a healthy lunch,” she says, smiling. “We want to move [Honestly Healthy] around”.
Can’t wait for the Tuk-Tuk takeover? Here are three recipes from Corrett’s latest book to try now…
340g roasted sweet potato (500g raw sweet potato, roasted whole)
1/2 clove garlic, grated
1/4tsp smoked paprika
A pinch of Himalayan pink salt
1/2tsp sunfower oil
20g coriander, roughly chopped
25g quinoa flour
polenta, for dusting
For the yoghurt dip:
180g goats’ milk or dairy-free yoghurt
1/4 clove garlic, grated
Zest of 1 lemon
10g mint, chopped
A pinch of Himalayan pink salt
For the tomato salsa:
180g baby tomatoes, sliced
1tbsp olive oil
A pinch of Himalayan pink salt
First, roast the sweet potatoes (you can even do this in advance). Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Drizzle the sweet potatoes with sunflower oil, add a sprinkle of salt, then roast in the oven for 25-40 minutes until soft. Allow to cool.
When ready to make the full dish, again, preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.
Scoop out the flesh of the cooled roasted sweet potato and put into a food processor.
Grate the garlic into the processor and add the paprika, salt and sunflower oil and pulse until smooth. Add the coriander and pulse again. Stir in the quinoa flour.
Divide the mixture into 16 equal pieces and roll into balls. It is a wet mixture, but don’t worry: roll them in the polenta and they will hold their shape perfectly. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until crisp on the outside.
Combine the ingredients for the yoghurt dip and the tomato salsa in separate bowls. Serve the falafels with a mixed leaf salad and a gluten-free wrap, adding some dressing and salsa.
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
5cm piece of fresh turmeric, grated, or 1tbsp ground turmeric
1/2tsp fennel seeds
1tbsp sunflower oil
1tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
180g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
170g roasted sweet potato (250g raw sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped)
190g precooked quinoa (100g uncooked quinoa)
A generous pinch of Himalayan pink salt
A generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
30g hard goats’ cheese or pecorino, grated, or 2tbsp nutritional yeast
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Put the onion, garlic, turmeric, fennel seeds and sunflower oil into a wide-bottomed frying pan and saute for two minutes until soft. The wider the pan, the quicker the risotto will cook.
Add 250ml water and the vegetable bouillon powder and simmer for a minute before adding the tomatoes.
Cover and continue to heat for a further four minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.
Add the roasted sweet potato to the pan with a further 125ml water (you can follow the instructions in the previous recipe for roasting your sweet potatoes in advance, except that this time you’ll need to chop them too). Use the back of your spoon or spatula to break down any larger bits of tomato or sweet potato – watch out for splashes. You want to make sure that it’s really smooth and completely break down any lumps. Once it is a lovely thick mixture, add a final 125ml water and the quinoa and stir through.
Add the salt and pepper and leave on the heat for a further three minutes or until you get a thick, risotto-like texture. Stir through the grated cheese (or nutritional yeast), lemon zest and juice and serve nice and hot.
150g ground almonds
50g buckwheat four
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4tsp Himalayan pink salt
1tsp vanilla extract
80g (about 1 large) roughly chopped peach
150ml agave syrup
60ml sunfower oil
2tsp fennel seeds (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 small peaches, sliced in half and stoned
For the icing:
150g goats’ milk or dairy-freeyoghurt
2 tbsp agave syrup
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1tbsp coconut oil, melted
For the garnish:
1 peach, sliced
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5 and line a 24 x 14cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
Put the ground almonds into a bowl with the buckwheat flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the vanilla, chopped peach, agave syrup, sunflower oil, fennel seeds and lemon zest.
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, then stand the peach halves up evenly along the centre of the cake.
Put the cake into the oven for 30-40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and leave until cold. Peel of the paper.
Combine the icing ingredients in a bowl and pour over the cake. Garnish with the sliced peach and lemon zest. Allow to set, then serve.