Zoe Palmer Oates on Parenthood, Nutrition and Avocado Anxiety
A fascinating book, full of surprising facts that will force you to reconsider everything you know abut fruits and vegetables.
Our very own Co-Founders, Adam and Zoe, have been featured in Lousie Gray's latest book - Avocado Anxiety. Author of the award winning book The Ethical Carnivore, Louise explores questions we have about familiar food stuffs - answering them in a succinct way and supported by stories from real food producers all over the world.
We won't give too much away, but Zoe and Adam are featured in the chapter about beans and pulses, alongside other great producers including Hodmedods, Mike Stringer (our next door neighbour!) and food writer Jenny Chandler. We're in good company, that's for sure!
The feature in the book inspired us to ask Zoe a few questions about nutrition; what sparked her interest and why is it so important to her.
So, Zoe, what inspired your passion for nutrition?
I have always been quite active, from swimming a lot as a kid to climbing, cycling, yoga and pilates nowadays, but over the last 10 years or so I have realised the importance of fuelling your body properly in order to be the fittest and be the healthiest you can.
My mum was always very healthy, so growing up we were always encouraged to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, we hated her for it at the time, but I am definitely grateful for that now.
Since having my kids and starting The Honest Bean Co. simultaneously, it has stemmed a new passion (or obsession) with nutrition and eating well.
I love ‘The Science of Nutrition’ by Rhiannon Lambert – it has so much information which is very simply explained with great illustrations, I highly recommend.
Sounds like a great read! How have you changed your food habits since then?
We grew up in a farming family, so there was a lot of meat and veg where as nowadays I tend to cook a lot of beans and fish. About 10 years ago I made the conscious decision to eat less meat and the meat that I did eat needed to be welfare friendly and local.
I will never be vegan, I don’t believe that we all need to give up meat completely, but I do believe that the majority of us need to cut down on our meat intake considerably – especially cheap meat.
I love cooking a curry and must eat Dhal about once a week. I don’t have a huge amount of time to cook unfortunately but we try to cook from scratch as much as possible and tend to limit processed foods (sausages, fish fingers, beans) to just once a week.
It must be hard to make sure you're always feeding your family good food. What are your favourite ways to incorporate healthy food into your family’s diet?
Blend it up and hide it! Haha. No I try not to do that most of the time. Each child has a list of vegetable that they like, and it’s almost like a game or challenge for them to add another vegetable or fruit onto the list of stuff they like.
We get Oddbox and they love the concept of ‘rescuing’ fruit and veg but it also means they get to try lots of different stuff too. I like Oddbox for convenience but I think I could easily get in a habit of buying the same stuff every week too, so it means you have to use your imagination a bit more with the cooking.
My go to cook book for family meals is Little Veggie Eats by Rachel Boyett, I have her to thank for getting my kids to like curry (less curry powder and more cinnamon is always a winner for my kids, but then they do love cinnamon A LOT)!
What foods should we all be eating more of?
Fava Beans of course! Beans and Pulses in general as they are SO nutritious but also nitrogen fixing crops so they really benefit the soil too.
Try to stick to foods that are in season as that way we keep food miles down. If you can buy produce that is grown locally that is AMAZING but if not then as near as possible essentially.
The mad craze for Avocados is so unsustainable, hence the title of Louise Gray's book ‘Avocado Anxiety’, so keeping consumption of those kind of foods to a minimum is great. Louise talks about common items in your shopping basket and where these come from, which are best and how can we make good choices when doing our shopping. It’s so informative but I also love the way she has written it with research from experts and scientists, brands and businesses and passionate people. It makes a really interesting and thought provoking read.
Which are the best foods to eat that have had minimal processing?
For me, avoiding processed foods is the key to eating well, cooking from scratch and eating as much fresh fruit and veg as possible.
A lot of the fake meats that you can buy have such a huge ingredients list and a lot of nasty stuff in them to make them taste like meat. Try and get your protein from beans and pulses where possible, it is so much better for your body and the environment.
Obviously everyone needs to have a treat sometimes, but if everyone consumed less processed or unsustainable food, then the world would be in a better place!
Can you take us through the farm to fork journey for your fava beans? Or shall we say, seed to snack?
The Honest Bean Co. only use British grown fava beans and we actually grow some on our farm too.
They are usually planted in the ground around the beginning of March and harvested in late September. The pods are almost black and dried up when we harvest them; inside the pod each bean has a fairly tough skin.
We skin and split the beans to make the bean a little more versatile. Then, to make them into our snacks, we soak them in water and then roast them in oil before seasoning them. Absolutely delicious, and grown right here on our doorstep!
Naturally, we couldn't agree with Zoe more! Fancy giving our Roasted Fava Bean Snacks a go? Great with a refreshing beer, or grab a handful for high fibre, high protein snack...