Over the past year or so, I have been asked many times ‘who am I?’, ‘why do I eat as I do?’ and ‘why do I blog about it?’. Another comment I often hear is ‘you must spend all your time in the kitchen’ which actually is very wrong.
Rather hesitantly, I am writing this bio which you may, or may not read – the choice is of course yours, but hopefully it will answer your questions. By the way, my name is Gill.
At present, I am a retired housewife nearer 70 years of age than 60 – and very happy where life has brought me. I have been married to Denis (my second husband) for fourteen years and we live in Surrey, although I spend much of my summer on the Isle of Wight where we have a beautiful holiday home. Denis joins me frequently but since retiring he has taken up so many hobbies (singing, golf, Probus, history, more singing etc) that he is often torn between the two places. I have two sons, two amazing daughters-in-law and we have five beautiful grandchildren ranging in age from 10 down to nearly 3 (as of summer 2016).
Denis and I moved to our present house in 2002 after having TWO weddings; firstly a legal ceremony, and two days later a beautiful Humanist wedding service which we shared with all our family and friends. In 2002 I also started up an internet business which became very successful, whilst Denis carried on his career as a Shipbroker going from strength to strength. I was so proud when a colleague wrote this about him “The man is, quite simply, a legend in his field. As good as they come.” Life was very good.
It was therefore a great shock in 2006 when it was discovered that I had cancer of the bladder. I will be eternally grateful to my Urologist who I have come to know well over the last ten years. If my scans/cystoscopy/tests in December 2016 are clear, he will discharge me from his care. The big ‘C’ is frightening and I was determined to do everything suggested to improve my chances of beating it, which included stopping smoking and eating healthily, which I thought I did to a certain extent.
In 2009 Denis suffered a major heart attack! It came as a stupendous shock as he was not overweight; had not smoked (cigars) since 2006, had a full BUPA check every year which he passed with flying colours, and did a fast 25 minute walk every day from Waterloo station to his office. On speaking to his Consultant a day or two later, it was explained that had Denis not been in A&E when the major attack occurred, he most probably would not have survived. It was called ‘the Widow-maker’!
Determined to get back to full health, shortly after coming home from hospital Denis was attempting gentle yoga, doing the exercises recommended by the hospital and six weeks after his heart attack he started rehabilitation classes which he continues to this day. He now attends a Cardiac Gym once a week which monitors his progress and he also does a speed walk most days.
Needless-to-say, from the moment of Denis’ heart attack we cut out all cakes, pastries, crisps, scotch eggs and pork pies (his favourite snack at work) and followed what we believed to be a heart healthy diet.
In 2013 my daughter-in-law Sarena gave birth to our youngest grandchild and whilst on maternity leave learned about the benefits of natural food and juicing; what’s in processed food and how all of this can affect our health in the long run. So convinced of the benefits of eating healthily, Sarena started The Juicy Health Company (this is now Boost and Balance) and also began studying to become a Nutritional Naturopath with the London College of Naturopathic Medicine.
It wasn’t long before we could see the obvious effects on her family of cutting out all processed food and following a natural, healthy diet. Both she and my son positively glowed with health and my grandchildren were thriving.
It was at my grandson’s first birthday party/summer bar-b-que in 2014 when Sarena made this amazing sugar-free birthday cake that I decided I also wanted to make the most of our health by attempting to follow her lifestyle. Denis and I had both had health scares and we wanted to enjoy a long and happy retirement in the best health possible. No-one knows what’s hiding around the corner and everywhere you look you keep seeing “you are what you eat!”, “take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”, “sugar is the real culprit”.
Don’t get me wrong, I was determined not to go on a DIET – that dreaded word. Denis and I both love good food and one of the pleasures of life is eating a tasty and well-presented meal but my daughter-in-law was slowly showing me that you could eat amazing food which was also extremely healthy. Denis and I felt that we had been given a second chance as such and so with a little trepidation we started on the road to “healthy eating”.
Denis definitely didn’t need to lose weight (since his heart attack he had problems keeping weight on which we later found out to be an intolerance to gluten) and I wasn’t particularly overweight although ideally my weight should have been a bit less.
It wasn’t an instant ‘change’ but over time we cut out all convenience food and I started making everything from wholesome fresh ingredients. When we found out that Denis was gluten-intolerant we completely stopped buying any sort of bread and I found recipes that he loved: almond bread, courgette bread etc. Nothing is written in stone – we occasionally buy gluten-free bread or gluten-free pitta bread and we have even been known to sit and enjoy a Magnum on a hot sunny day, but 99% of the time everything we eat is cooked from scratch, from fresh ingredients and the benefits have been enormous.
We are not vegetarian but occasionally we have meat-free days. I do not completely follow a Paleo regime but some of their recipes are superb. All my old cookbooks went out the door and I now have a lovely selection from quite a few new authors. I do not use refined sugar in any recipe preferring to use natural honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or similar.
By the spring of 2015 I was amazed at how many people had commented on how well I looked and how fit I seemed. I had dropped a stone in weight without trying to and I definitely felt healthier and trimmer. I also had much more energy. At my annual MoT appointment with my GP, she commented on how well I looked and all my test results proved that point. I have recently visited an Osteopath for a tight muscle which thankfully he has released. He also commented on how well I appeared saying ‘I don’t know what you are doing, but carry on doing it’. My husband is in excellent health and now swims frequently, rides a bike (something he hasn’t done since he was young), walks miles with me as we are avid Geocachers and says he feels better than he ever has.
I have so many new recipes I want to try – I actually get excited when one drops into my mail box which is most days. I read many recipe blogs for ideas, frequently share recipes with my daughter-in-law, Sarena and can honestly say most recipes I cook require no more work in the kitchen than cooking meat and two veg!
So many friends and acquaintances asked me for the recipes I use that I decided to write this blog – to share my love of cooking, and eating healthily with others.