Linda Conway is a fashion editor and an entrepreneur who last year launched STIALL – an online store dedicated to stylish, environmentally-produced and ethical clothing. STIALL is also a platform of information for those looking to make more socially and environmentally-responsible fashion choices. When she’s not on a photoshoot or developing the brand, you’ll find Linda cooking up a storm or walking her dog!
Where do you shop?
I like SuperValu – they support a lot of Irish producers. Often though, it’s where I’m nearest to on shopping day. Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Dunnes Stores, Lotts & Co. I love Small Changes in Drumcondra and Nourish.
Can you list the contents of your weekly shop?
Describe your typical breakfast
Half a lemon and grated ginger in water. Eggs or porridge. In warmer weather it’s a Nutribullet blast of spinach, pineapple, ginger, unsweetened almond milk and lime juice. I love spending time making breakfast at the weekend – buckwheat pancakes with berries or smashed avocado on rye sourdough.
Describe your typical lunch
It starts with leaves then it’s usually based on what’s in season. I try to load up on veg and add chickpeas, beetroot etc. and usually some chicken or turkey if I include meat. For the colder days I love soup. The Little Green Spoon’s Green Goddess soup is one of my favourites.
I love spending time in the kitchen on a Friday evening making something that requires a little more time. Glass of wine in hand, it’s my perfect way to end the week. If I go to the gym after work I try to have a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner. During the week it’s usually along the lines of roast chicken, sweet potato and veg or a quinoa salad with roast vegetables. On the weekend it’s things like quinoa ‘pizza’ or healthy Mexican-style food.
I batch cook homemade energy balls and always have some seeds, nuts or fruit in my bag. Hummus with carrot and cucumber sticks. I love popcorn and corn cakes with almond butter. I love eating so snacks are essential!
Is there anything you won’t eat?
Wheat and dairy aren’t in my diet 95 percent of the time. I try to keep refined sugar to a minimum. I’ve started to eat prawns but only when they are cooked for me – fish freaks me out!
What would you cook to impress someone?
Nibbles instead of a starter are a favourite of mine such as Deliciously Ella’s mini baked potatoes with a cashew sour cream. Or a Mexican style feast – corn tortillas, pulled spiced pork, homemade mango and chilli puree, guacamole and a tomato salsa. To finish a homemade Hemsley & Hemsley Key Lime Pie.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Dairy doesn’t really feature in my diet but I can’t say no to a cheese board. I have a little dark chocolate every evening.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
Roast sweet potatoes cubes with chorizo, goats cheese, spinach and black beans with loads of garlic and a glass of red wine.
What is your favourite takeaway?
Not to be an absolute snore but I love cooking so takeaways aren’t a big thing in our house. If it does happen it’s a Paulie’s Pizza.
Have you tried any diet fads in the past six months?
What would be your Last Supper?
The full works in Dela restaurant in Galway. It’s all locally produced and grown and it’s the most gorgeous experience. The best meal I’ve ever had in Ireland. Thinking about it makes me hungry!
Linda’s weekly shop is filled with a wide array of fresh, colourful whole foods and nutritious ingredients to go into her home-cooked meals. I love to see so many types of vegetables, including plenty of leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in leafy green vegetables, and it’s essential to life! It has almost an identical molecular structure to human blood, which makes it an excellent blood builder and cleanser, helping to oxygenate your blood and body cells. Greens are packed with magnesium, the mineral that helps to calm and relax muscles. A sufficient magnesium intake may even help to support restful sleep and a calmer nervous system.
Linda buys a whole range of colourful, antioxidant packed veggies too, including carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potato, butternut squash and beetroot. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent oxidative damage to your cells by scavenging free radicals. Such damage may cause accelerated ageing to cells and organs, creating the catalyst for diseases. It is the same natural oxidative process that turns a chopped apple brown when left in the air.
Each type of antioxidant works either to prevent the chain reaction or stop it after it’s started. Mother Nature has cleverly provided thousands of different antioxidants in various amounts in fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and legumes. The primary vitamin antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C. As the body cannot make these, it’s really important that they’re supplied in the diet regularly through a wide range of nutritious foods, as Linda does.
Vitamin E is a chain-breaking antioxidant and a fat-soluble vitamin found in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, and whole grains such as wheat germ, and apricots. Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A and is found in spinach, carrots, broccoli, squash, kale, cantaloupe, kiwis, sweet potatoes and strawberries. Vitamin C is thought to help stop the damaging chain reaction before it begins, and is a water-soluble vitamin in citrus fruits, bell peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, berries, kiwis and melon. Green tea is a particularly wonderful source of protective flavonoids.
Generally, the most colourful plant foods have the highest content of complex antioxidants and each type operates in different tissues of the body, which is why it’s important to eat as many vibrantly coloured fruits and veggies as possible each day, as well as seeds, nuts, gluten-free grains and legumes.
Linda’s breakfast is usually a warming bowl of porridge, eggs or a smoothie depending on the season. All are good options, with porridge helping to supply complex carbs and fire to help keep you feeling full for hours. Topping porridge with fresh berries and seeds, or pairing eggs with spinach and avocado, helps to boost the vitamin and antioxidant content of the meal. It’s great that she begins her day with a glass of warm water with lemon and ginger, as it helps to rehydrate the body and support both immune and digestive health.
For lunch, Linda opts for plenty of leafy greens, vegetables and protein from chickpeas, turkey or chicken. This makes a balanced meal and the protein should help to keep her blood sugars levels stable for the afternoon, which also supports mood and energy levels. On a busier day, she may want to add in sweet potato, quinoa or butternut squash for that extra boost of energy they can provide.
It’s lovely to know that Linda enjoys home cooking so much, and views it as relaxing time out. It also means that she knows exactly what’s going into her meals, as takeaway and restaurant food can often contain higher levels of salt, sugar and less healthy fats. Her meals tend to be healthy, wholesome and based on a protein source and plenty of vegetables.
Linda takes a really balanced, whole foods approach to her way of eating and manages to pack a great array of nourishing foods into her daily diet to help support her energy levels and overall health. Her meals are well-planned and her snacks are also based on whole rather than processed foods, with energy balls, nuts and fruit all staples. This means that her diet is low in refined sugar and processed foods and high in fibre and nutrients. Well done Linda.