Writer Louise Kennedy will facilitate a free writing workshop Sense of Place at Tread Softly… festival, 24th July, Sligo Central Library, 10:00 am – 5:00pm.
Booking essential. www.treadsoftly.ie
Where do you shop?
Lidl, mostly. For store cupboard stuff such as Worcestershire sauce and Marmite and strong flour I go to Tesco or Dunnes Stores. I use spices a lot and buy them from the local Asian supermarket, where I also get tubes of harissa, big bunches of coriander and tubs of runny tahini.
Can you list the contents of your weekly shop?
Lemons, garlic, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, baby spinach, French beans, bananas, apples, lettuce, scallions, cucumber, carrots, leeks, onions, potatoes, basmati rice, linguine, eggs, lardons, chorizo, Serrano ham, a whole chicken, minced beef, turkey escalopes, salmon portions, diced lamb, feta cheese, red lentils, canned chickpeas, canned tuna, tinned tomatoes, passata, butter, greek yoghurt, milk, porridge oats, granary sliced bread, bagels, frozen peas, wine, beer.
Brown toast spread with Marmite topped with either mashed avocado and sliced tomato or a poached egg. And buckets of strong tea with hardly any milk.
A salad, maybe nicoise or greek, bread, water, coffee
In the winter we eat a lot of Indian food, such as daals and curries and pilaffs. I work from an eighties Madhur Jaffrey book published by the BBC that my late aunt gave me when I was twenty and learning to cook. If you do exactly as she says, the recipes work perfectly. In the summer we eat a lot of Lebanese food; I lived in Beirut for a couple of years in the nineties and grew to love the cooked vegetable dishes and grilled garlicky meats they served there. When my husband cooks we have pasta with meatballs, that sort of thing.
I have been known to eat chorizo from the packet while standing up.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
Out of courtesy, I eat whatever is put in front of me. I draw the line at oysters, though. I had a couple of bad reactions after eating them and think I may be allergic.
What would you cook to impress someone?
I would beg a couple of lobsters from a friend who has pots near Raghley in north County Sligo. I would make ‘Dublin Lawyer’, a Theodora Fitzgibbon recipe that just adds whiskey, cream and a little chopped parsley to chunks of lobster flesh. New potatoes steamed with stalks of mint, split and spattered with butter and sea salt would be a good side, along with a salad of Croghan Gardens’ leaves and herbs. Afterwards I would serve oozy cheese and sourdough bread and my own chutney. I don’t really bother with dessert, but would make a plate of tahini cookies and buy a bar of sexy chocolate to have with coffee.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
I feel guilty about everything I eat.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
Hot apple crumble that’s slightly bitter, with Bird’s custard.
What is your favourite takeaway?
I don’t eat much takeaway food, but when visiting my parents am partial to the salt and pepper chicken wings and char sui pork from Silk’s in Malahide.
Have you started any fad diets in the past six months?
No. Unless you count the diet I start every Monday.
What is your Death Row dinner?
I read somewhere that most people on Death Row request fast food for their last meal, which struck me as kind of heart-breaking. In solidarity with them, I would order a large Big Mac Meal. With a full fat Coke, for once.
I love to hear of variety in food shopping, and Louise makes the effort to buy different products from a range of stores. She buys various spices and other versatile ingredients including tahini and harissa. It’s a great idea to have a cupboard stocked up with a multitude of herbs, spices and nut butters to help add flavour to meat, veggies, curries and salads. Tahini makes a delicious addition to salad dressings, dips and even smoothies, and it’s also one of the best plant-based sources of calcium.
Louise’s shopping list features loads of whole, fresh foods, including plenty of colourful veggies to help her reach her daily intake. She buys chicken, turkey and salmon amongst other animal foods as her protein sources, as well as oats and granary bread as her complex carbs. Overall, Louise’s shopping list shows super variety and awareness of the importance of eating a wide range of vegetables and complete protein foods to support good health. She does include a few treat item, such as beer and wine. But once enjoyed in moderation, I believe that it’s healthy to have a treat to look forward to each week. It’s important to reward positive health and lifestyle choices with a little indulgence once it’s not an everyday occurrence.
For breakfast, Louise usually has brown toast with marmite and avocado, tomato or a poached egg. This is a great start to the day and should help to boost Louise’s energy levels all morning. Brown bread contains more fibre and B vitamins than the more processed white version, while avocado is a satisfying and filling source of healthy fats, plus minerals including potassium and magnesium. It’s a good idea to eat protein with every meal and snack, and egg is one of the best sources of complete protein there is. Paired with fibre and vitamin-rich plant foods makes a nutritious first meal of the day.
Louise’s lunch is generally a salad, featuring feta cheese or fish. A salad makes a great lunch as it’s easier to digest than a heavier cooked meal and this helps to support afternoon energy levels. Adding a protein source such as poultry, fish, cheese, beans, nuts, seeds or quinoa and some healthy fats like avocado, walnuts, olives or olive oil, helps to make it a balanced meal. Many people prefer to eat carbohydrate foods earlier in the day rather than later, and sweet potato, butternut squash, brown rice, millet and quinoa make super additions to a lunchtime salad as they contain slow-release carbs and plenty of dietary fibre.
For dinner, Louise enjoys Indian and Lebanese dishes. These tend to be nutritious and vegetable-rich, with plenty of warming spices. Garlic is considered to be highly anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, and features heavily in many Eastern and Middle-Eastern cuisines.
Louises’s diet is very nutritious, with plenty of vegetables and lean proteins. It’s low in processed foods and refined sugar, with her guilty food pleasures and comfort foods presumably being a treat from time to time. Portion control is probably the only issue with Indian-style dishes as they tend to be richer, but otherwise her approach to eating is sensible, balanced and sustainable. Well done Louise.