Food: Ready, steady, glow with nutrionist Shaw

Madeleine Shaw
Madeleine Shaw

Nutritionist Madeleine Shaw is on a mission to improve our attitude towards food, especially in how we deal with so-called diet setbacks.

Nutritionist Madeleine Shaw is on a mission to improve our attitude towards food, especially in how we deal with so-called diet setbacks.

“The worst thing you can do is be hard on yourself and negative,” says the 26-year-old, who counts Millie Mackintosh as a client.

“It’s almost like that stress on your body counteracts any of the good stuff you’re doing. For me, it’s not just about the food you put on the plate, but the attitude you have to food and yourself. I want to start a revolution of people being kinder to themselves.”

And that means putting that extra-slice-of-triple-chocolate-cake-shaped blip into perspective.

“You’ve got to tell yourself that this one meal isn’t really going to change things,” she explains. “One piece of cake doesn’t really put on loads of weight. Tell yourself that, and then get back to eating healthy with your next meal.”

Being kind to yourself extends to expectations around cooking food from scratch, too. It’s a great thing to do in theory, Shaw agrees, but whipping out the pans for every meal isn’t always realistic. It’s very difficult to make all your food,” says the foodie and yoga fan. “On a busy day like today, I’ll buy food out, but you can make good choices if you’re grabbing something for lunch; there’s always choice.”

She believes with a bit of planning, nutritious fuss-free meals can be achieved even during busy spells, and has devoted her new book, Ready Steady Glow, to just that.

Divided into “fast weeks and slow weekends”, many of the meals take 20 minutes or less to make, but there are more time-consuming recipes too, for those who want to “make that stew, do some baking...”, as well as a section detailing her basic yoga routine, and handy weekly meal plans.

Being busy is something Shaw can wholeheartedly appreciate. A year on from releasing her debut healthy-eating book, Get The Glow, life has moved up a notch.

Up until her teens, she admits she ate a “typical magazine diet of Diet Coke and low-fat yoghurt” to stay slim, but found herself riddled with digestive problems and energy slumps.

Things changed when she moved to Sydney aged 18 to study, and started working at a healthy cafe. Shaw admits her changes didn’t happen overnight, but inspired, she trained as a nutritionist and returned to the UK with renewed zest, eager to share her knowledge via her food and lifestyle blog. She now has 217k followers on Instagram and 39k on Twitter, and as well as writing, does talks and supper clubs, and has collaborated on a string of projects, including a special healthy menu for Brown’s Hotel.

So embedded is Shaw and fellow health blogger Ella Woodward’s positive message that comedian Bella Younger has even poked fun at their approach in her popular spoof account Deliciously Stella, where typical posts about the benefits of munching on nutritious trail mix are accompanied with a picture of a bowl of assorted sweets, crisps and chocolate.

“I love it!” says Shaw with a laugh. “Bella is a fan of healthy eating. It’s amazing how well she’s done in such a short space of time.”

The same can be said of Shaw, whose health and self-esteem have vastly improved since she started making changes. “I felt much more at peace with myself; I realised that life was here to be enjoyed. Quite a lot of the time, we’re expecting ourselves to be everything, especially as women: you’ve to be the mum or the girlfriend and the business woman, but also remain feminine and beautiful.’’ Show yourself some kindness with this recipe from Ready, Steady, Glow...



(Makes 1 medium loaf)

120g unsalted butter

200g coconut sugar (available from Ocado and Amazon, as well as health food shops)

1 egg, beaten

200g Medjool dates, pitted

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

2 apples, grated

1tsp baking powder

1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

280g rice or buckwheat flour (available in most supermarkets, including Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s)

Pinch of salt

1tsp ground cinnamon

200g walnuts, chopped

75g raisins

1tbsp sesame seeds

100g ricotta or Greek yogurt/coconut yoghurt, to serve

200g seasonal berries, such as raspberries or blueberries, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a 1kg loaf tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in the food processor, add in the egg, dates, vanilla and grated apples and pulse to combine.

Sift in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and flour with a pinch of salt and the cinnamon. Fold in the walnuts and raisins and process for five seconds so the nuts and raisins are mixed in well but not too broken up.

Pour the mixture into the tin, smoothing over the top gently, and bake for 50 minutes to one hour, until just cooked through. To see if the loaf is cooked, insert a skewer in the middle - if it comes out clean, it is done.

Leave the loaf to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Top with the sesame seeds.

Cut into inch-thick slices and toast. Serve with the ricotta/yoghurt and berries.

l Ready, Steady, Glow by Madeleine Shaw is published in hardback by Orion Books, priced £20.