The Path to Healthy Eating
Maria Harper from The Edinburgh Canapé Company
Lockdown has proved that anyone can cook, if time and motivation are in place we are able to
create the conditions for a better experience of our daily relationship with food. Modern life has
removed most of the craft in the kitchen and replaced it with convenient food, a dangerous
combination of preservatives, additives, low quality mass-produced products, bland taste and
dubious presentation. But there’s more, these products also carry pesticides and if they are from
animal origin they will also bring hormones and antibiotics to your dinner plate. So why are they
so successful? Because people don’t have time to cook, or so they say.
For the past year, we spent a lot more time at home, we stopped eating in restaurants and lots of
us started to notice what we eat and how we prepare our food. People working from home
organised their day differently, instead of buying a shop prepared roll and eating in in front of their
laptops, they probably made themselves a much nicer sandwich or got creative making a salad at
home. There were thousands of pictures in social media of amazing sourdough loaves, banana
bread and very impressive plant based dishes. Now that restrictions are easing let’s not forget this
lesson, don’t leave your kitchen unused, take this as an opportunity to transform your experience
The german philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach said ‘we are what we eat’ around 170 years ago and
this is still very relevant today. Unhealthy food habits have a high cost such as diabetes, obesity,
cancer, hear disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure, the list is too long to continue. We can
take a different path though, not just for ourselves, but more importantly for our families. Creating
healthy eating habits earlier in life can have a massive effect on people’s chances for an illness
free life. We can start by choosing to eat better, making a little effort and make at least some
dishes from scratch. And it doesn’t have to take too much of your time, take that idea right out of
your head. I promise, there are thousands of quick and easy healthy recipes out there. But more
importantly, the more you get involved in what you eat, the better you will feel and your food will
taste better too!
Food is such a huge part of our life, it not only nurtures our body and makes it work like an
amazing powerful machine, it also brings people together. Since the beginning of time we have
celebrated important events by sharing food with each other. I love cooking for people, it gives me
so much satisfaction to see people enjoying my food. I bake bread every Sunday, and I usually
make a little loaf to give away, which is a lovely habit I plan to continue. Make friends with your
food experience, embrace the chef within you and enjoy the amazing joy of cooking good,
nutritious fresh food.
The first step into your healthy path is your shopping trolly. It’s very simple task: stop buying
convenience foods. Make a conscious decision and avoid all those nasty snacks, buy fruit and
nuts instead. They are truly delicious, really. Also, avoid ready prepared food and canned goods.
Make sure at least half of your trolly is fresh produce, if not more. Also, find out about your local
producers, support local business and avoid giving all your money to big supermarkets. Through
buying from your local grocer, organic shop or market you will be contributing to your local
community as well. Find out about organic shops near you and try to invest in organic when
Second step: Cook from scratch, at least a few times a week to begin with. Keep it simple, pasta,
rice, quinoa and noodles are super easy to cook and most people like them but only use them as
50% or less of your meal, thus increase your intake of vegetables, slowly but surely week by week
cook a little more vegetables and a little less carbs. If you need ideas, practically all vegetables
are amazing roasted in the oven, they are so tasty I don’t even add salt to them. Try squash,
sweet potato or beetroot chips with some coconut oil, your kids will love them. Try salads,
vegetable pies, stews, soups, curries, stir fry (so nice an easy!). The Internet is full of easy and
Third step: Eat less meat but of better quality. Stop buying cheap mass produced meat, this
industry is not only killing the planet in terms of contamination and land use, it is also poisoning
your body with pesticides (from the food the animals eat), additives and preservatives if ready
prepared but also hormones and antibiotics given to the animals to achieve best results for the
producers and not for you. If you eat less meat, you would be able to afford organic meat,
ethically sourced and free of nasties.
Fourth step: Watch your snacks! There are far too many temptations in the supermarket, avoid
those aisles and focus on fruit, nuts and healthy cereal bars. And if you feel like it, bake your own
cereal bars, they are so delicious!! (See recipe below)
Just to get you started, I have selected three recipes for healthy snacks to share with you. They
won’t take too much of your time but I promise you are going to love them.
Pop Corn (4 portions)
Pop corn is not only healthy, it is also a very cheap snack and it’s super popular with children. (A
500g bag of popping corn cost £1.10 in Sainsbury’s and £1.70 in my organic local shop. For a
sharing bowl for 4 people you only need 150g). It take less than 10min to make. You don’t need to
buy any equipment, just use a big pot with a lid.
100/150g popping corn*
2 tbsp virgin oil olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Using a big pot (5L), place the oil and the popping corn inside and mix well, coating all grains.
* The 100/150g popping corn is estimated, I use the base of my pot as a guide: I make sure the
whole of the bottom of the pot is filled with corn and no more. Don’t season until the corn is
2 Cover with a secure lid, the idea is to trap the heat to create the right amount of heat for the
popping to happen. Place it over a high heat, (number 7 in induction hob) until you hear the first
popping, then lower the heat a bit, down to 6 in induction. Tip: Don’t open the lid until the last pop
is heard. Stay close by because it does cook quickly and it can burn very quickly too. The trick is
to shake the pot a bit and turn it around without opening, giving the chance to all grains to move
about and pop.
3 Once the popping stops, pop corn is ready. Transfer to a big bowl and mix with salt and sugar.
This choice is not only because is tasty, it is also healthier because while mixing sugar and salt we
create a deeper flavour so we use less salt and sugar, if you were only using one of these you will
need to use a bit more.
Variations for seasoning:
Spicy: create a mix of chilli powder and salt
Seaweed: Nori sheets (those use for making sushi) can be cut with scissors in very small pieces.
Wakame, aramame and dulce will also work, although you might want to soak them first. There is
a super Scottish company called Mara, who sells very handy little sachets with seaweed mix for
seasoning, and some of them have chilli too, they work great on pop corn. Very easy to use.
Healthy Pancakes (8 portions)
This recipe is ideal to use with fermented oats, I ferment oats every week with kefir. If you are
interested in learning more about this process drop me a line, my details are at the bottom of the
page) Please note that you will need to soak your oats 12 hours before, so plan in advance.
2 cups of soaked oats
4 egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
1 Soak the oats with 1 cup of water for 12 hours.
2 Mix the oats in a food processor with all the other ingredients.
3 Cook pancakes the usual way, if you want to continue the healthy path replace butter for
coconut oil or a vegetable oil spray.
4 Enjoy your pancakes with maple syrup or honey, but use less than normal as the banana in the
pancake will give a lovely sweet taste.
Energy balls/cereal bars (makes 16 small balls)
Find Maria and The Edinburgh Canapé Company at