Established Irish food blogger Michelle Hunt, of Peachy Palate, has a storied past where food is concerned. Having suffered through various eating disorders throughout her teen years, she turned to food blogging to initially motivate herself, and inspire others, with the nutritional food she was happy to be enjoying. Now a fitness guru and a nutrient-savvy blogger, her recipes are full to the brim with goodness and she is the epitome of healthy indulgence. Michelle has grown to listen very carefully to her body and learned to respond as necessary with what it needs. About a year ago her body told her something she didn’t expect, and so her diet and lifestyle has taken another shift and the blog has transformed as she has…
Spending most of the past decade as a vegan, she explains that she initially cut out meat and fish “to avoid calories” and her body also found it difficult to digest dairy, making the jump to strict veganism more of a necessity than a decision. “It worked for me for a time, actually 8 or so years. It was a conscious decision though, fuelled by the nutrition knowledge that I had at the time, and which I chose to believe to an extent.”
You’ve blogged about a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle and recipes for a number of years, what made you start a blog?
I wanted to channel my love for food, health and fitness in to something more positive that would help me to move further along the recovery line. Having discovered the world of food blogging the whole concept intrigued me. I’ve always loved food, it comes part and parcel with eating disorders; a love hate relationship at times. Other people’s stories helped me to gain the courage to let go of my old habits, and I wanted to share mine in the hope that it would in turn be a means of inspiration to others in the same position.
What benefits did a diet filled with fruit, nuts, grains and vegetables have on your system and your lifestyle?
It allowed me to gain weight, to build a better relationship with food and also gave my digestive system a chance to repair itself. In hindsight I ate too much of the latter and not enough grains and nuts so I was left feeling a little depleted considering my activity levels! Now I let fruits and veg form a part of my diet, complementing other macronutrients as opposed to dominating them.
You have an impressive work ethic, juggling jobs and the upkeep of a blog, how do you make sure you don’t miss meals and ensure you’re snacking on healthy food throughout the day?
I tend to eat three to four large meals a day. I do meal planning once a week, usually at the weekend, making sure I have a well stocked fridge, food cooked, and some grab-and-go snacks at hand should I feel the need for something to tide me over until my next meal. Thinking ahead is definitely key for me, packing up meals and taking them to work with me, and eating when the opportunity arises because my schedule changes quite a lot!
You’ve recently re-introduced animal products into your diet which may have shocked some of your loyal readers…
Yes. I woke up around Christmas time 2013 craving eggs. I finally had the courage and strength to listen to my body and so went with it. I let go of feeling I needed to rigidly stick to a vegan diet and let myself try an egg, a fried one to be exact. I loved it and felt so incredibly satisfied… Next up was salmon, and then came beef… after that there was no looking back!
Talk us through your current diet plan – what do you focus on?
I’m currently following a relatively strict Paleo diet, devoid of sugar with the exception of that naturally occurring in dried and fresh fruit, a small amount of honey.
I focus on whole foods with nothing processed and all homemade, so that’s:
- no grains
- no dairy
- no legumes
but including lots of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and eggs. Plenty of fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil and small amounts of my own clarified butter, which both my digestive system and skin can tolerate. More recently I’ve begun to incorporate more fat to boost my performance, hormone levels and to also increase the satiety of all my meals.
Sounds strict, but lots of good stuff – how often does fruit feature in your recipes on the blog and your home cooking?
Fresh fruit is my go-to snack of choice post-workout to restore my glycogen levels so more often than not it’s incorporated into smoothies or protein pancakes. Fruit, nut butter and coconut yogurt is one my all-time favourite snacks. I’m more drawn to fruit in summer months when berries and peaches are in season. Nothing compares to peach, dripping with juice, so messy and oozy that the only possible way to avoid getting it all over yourself is to eat it half bent over with every effort not to get it on your shoes! [Great to see someone as enthusiastic about fruit as we are! Feeling fruity? Start your subscription to our service in a few clicks!]
If you could only live on one vegetable and one fruit for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Avocados!! Hands down…my favourite fruit, though considered by most a vegetable! Bananas would be the more convention fruit of choice. My vegetable of choice would have to be courgette. Cauliflower comes a close second – from creamy buttery mash to cauliflower pizza crusts and of course nut laced ‘rice’ – it’s a Paleo dietary staple!
Check out some of Michelle’s recipes on her site. We’re going to save this chocolate fudge cake recipe for after a Sunday roast very soon…