Womenswear designer Zoë Carol lives in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. She teaches Sewing and Fashion workshops at 38coLab, 38 St. Kieran Street, Kilkenny.
For more info on her workshops and classes visit www.zoecarol.com
Where do you shop?
A bit of our local Lidl and SuperValu but I’m trying to shop a little more locally so I also go to my local butcher Pendergast’s and the greengrocer Aubergine in Kilkenny.
Can you list the contents of your weekly shop?
My daughter Zelda is 18 months so there’s a lot of fruit and vegetables (she’s obsessed with “froot”!). Frozen veg is big in our house too. The staples like bread, butter and milk. We don’t eat as much meat as we used to and try at least three days meat-free each week.
Describe your typical breakfast
Biona Rye bread with poached egg, porridge with fruit and seeds or granola for speed. If it’s a Sunday it’s a fry.
Describe your typical lunch
Leftovers, a sandwich of lacto-free cheese, ham and salad or homemade soup.
Rice with stir-fried veg and tofu or chicken. A spinach or chickpea curry is also popular in our house.
A biscuit with tea when visitors come. We try not to snack but fail regularly. Visitors come and bring chocolate bars and the like. I pretend to be upset but deep down I’m delighted.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
I wish there was, but no.
What would you cook to impress someone?
I’ve been able to make spring rolls since I was a little girl (my Dad had Chinese restaurants) so I’d make them and an Asian spread.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Supermac’s. I am a Galway girl after all!
What is your ultimate comfort food?
Bangers and mash or Miso Tonkotsu Ramen.
What is your favourite takeaway?
You’re better off asking me what’s not my favourite takeaway! I love them all. I don’t discriminate!
Have you tried any diet fads in the past six months?
I’m on one now. Every few years I do the Military Diet. I don’t recommend it at all and don’t recommend any diets but this one is the one I use to rebalance my weight. Last time I did it was over four years ago.
What would your Last Supper?
My Dad’s curry sauce from his restaurant days with chips and his Hong Kong style chicken balls to start, my Mum’s leftover pasta soup from my childhood and to finish, my Dad’s French toast with bacon (I can’t die without one last bite of bacon). I’m sentimental to the core.
It’s always great to hear of a weekly shopping trolley packed with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Whole fruit makes a great quick snack, but living in such a busy and fast-paced world can often mean that easy, processed foods are bought in the place of produce that takes a little bit longer to prepare. However, eating a healthy and fresh diet doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive once you shop around and work out what suits you, your budget and lifestyle. Being prepared is definitely key to following a balanced diet and having access to fresh meal and snack components means that you’re generally less likely to reach for chocolate, biscuits or crisps when you feel peckish.
Zoë mentioned that frozen vegetables play a big part in her family’s meals and while fresh is generally considered the best option, frozen veggies are great to have on hand too. If you find it difficult to get through the vegetables to buy fresh, then having frozen options to help prepare simple dishes is ideal and good quality frozen veg tends to maintain most of its key nutrients. Vitamin C can be lost in the process, however, so if you rely heavily on frozen vegetables, then ensure you eat enough fresh vitamin C rich foods too. Good sources included bell peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries and leafy greens.
Zoë’s other staple shopping trolley foods include bread, milk and butter. It’s usually a good idea to choose brown or seeded breads over the more processed white versions, as it contains higher levels of dietary fibre and certain vitamins too.
More and more people are choosing to enjoy vegetarian meals a few times a week instead of eating meat everyday, and it can be more cost efficient too. Vegetarian staples like rice, pasta, beans and pulses tend to be inexpensive to buy in bulk.
Zoë’s breakfast is a healthy and balanced combination of fibre-rich rye bread with eggs, porridge, fruit and seeds. This type of meal incorporates complex carbs with complete protein, healthy fat and plenty of essential vitamins and minerals. Choosing hemp seeds, flaxseeds or chia seeds instead of other types of seeds would give her meal a boost of omega-3 fats, important for heart, skin, brain and joint health. Adding a handful of fresh berries to her porridge would give her plenty of important antioxidants to help protect cells from free radical damage.
For lunch, Zoë enjoys leftovers or a soup or sandwich. All can make excellent, balanced meals and leftover stews, casseroles and curries are really satisfying and warming in colder weather. Adding plenty of fresh, colourful salad veggies and greens can help to boost your recommended daily intake. If she’s having soup, boosting it with lentils or sprinkling some seeds on top would provide some essential amino acids.
For her evening meal, Zoë leans towards vegetarian stews and a veggie and tofu stir-fry with some chicken in there too. It’s super to see that she enjoys simple homemade meals and loves to try a whole variety of different dishes. Variety is a big factor in achieving a well-balanced diet and Zoë’s meals tend to contain a good range of the important nutrients we need each day to function optimally.
She does enjoy some sweet treats too, so she may think about swapping her chocolate or biscuits for a square or two of dark chocolate or even a handful of raw unsalted almonds and save the sugar-filled foods for more special occasions. Overall, a healthy diet and super attitude towards home-cooking. Well done Zoë.