Happy Food = Happy Dancer. Part 2: Lunch/Dinner

“You are what you eat. So don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake”. (Amelia Freer, 2015).

I look at food completely differently compared to a couple of years ago. Food was just food; a necessity, a pretty nice necessity but I made the same choices without much thought again and again. I would have acne breakouts starting in my 20s, I was shattered all the time, my mood was all over the place, I had regular stomach pains and then at the age of 35 I developed breast cancer. Now I see my food as medicine. Not just a necessity to keep me going throughout the day but as a tool to nourish, protect and give me energy to get the best out of each day, whether I am working or on a day off. The food I eat, also keeps my mood in check to help me stay centred and peaceful, which makes a massive difference to my everyday.

This weeks blog is part 2 of Happy Food = Happy Dancer and it is all about the yumminess of main meals; lunch and dinner. I have included some delicious recipe ideas which I have gathered over time and are favourites in my house! They are quick, easy and ultimately, very delicious. You can find them further on in this blog.

Before we get to the delicious part, there are a three important points, I wanted to share with you about food and how I now try and live, cook and eat:

1. Avoid Inflammatory Foods – many standard foods that are packaged, sadly are inflammatory foods; processed ready meals, sauces, processed meats, packed sandwiches, cheap chocolate, processed vegetable oils and our supermarkets are full of them… Inflammatory foods can cause damaging inflammation and cause major issues with our gut lining. As discussed in last weeks blog, good gut health is crucial in sustaining good mental health and happiness. In addition to low mood, poor gut health can cause fatigue, aches and pains, brain fog and digestive disorders. All of these issues we want to avoid but we can become used to having them and accepting them as a part of our normal life. All of the ingredients in the recipes below are as natural as they can be and aim to help you feel calm, centred, nourished and energised.

2. Buy the best quality that you can – ideally organic. I always used to feel organic food or ‘healthy eating’ was so expensive but I have had a change of approach… the better quality food you put into your body, the more you are investing into your health and wellbeing. There is the old cliche of ‘my body is my ‘temple’. How often do we mock this? However, it is so incredibly true and we only get one attempt at looking after our bodies and we must nurture and protect it. Natural and organic whole food has so much more taste, it supports our long term health, promotes longevity in a dance career and not to mention protects our species and planet.

3. Eat Consciously – try and avoid eating ‘on the go’, at your desk or rushing in between classes and rehearsals. When we eat unconsciously we deny our bodies the experience of nourishment and it also makes it much more difficult to digest. Take your time to select your food, value the time it takes to cook it and then enjoy the results when you eat it. Our bodies are clever and try and send us messages when it is out of sync. Either we may develop an injury, our mood is low or an infection or skin condition may arise. Listen to these gripes and alterations – your body is trying to tell you something.

“Listen to your body. It’s smarter than you”. (Amelia Freer, 2015).

Now for the recipes…

The following recipes are ones I have gathered and I frequently use them as they are quick and delicious.

Roasted Tomato Soup (Serves 4)

You will need:

6 x tomatoes or 15 x cherry tomatoes

3 x sprigs of thyme

500ml x vegetable stock

2 x cloves of garlic

Rapeseed oil

1 x onion

1 x 400g tin of Cannellini beans

Salt and pepper

You do need a blender for this one!!

1. Place the halved tomatoes and whole pieces of garlic in a roasting tin. Cover with a tablespoon of rapeseed oil, 3 x sprigs of thyme (remove the twiggy bit), salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes.

2. Once the tomatoes are ready, take them out of the oven. Then, in a saucepan, fry the chopped onion in a teaspoon of rapeseed oil and then add in the roasted tomatoes and garlic. Cover with vegetable stock, to just slightly above the tomatoes (any more than this, will make it too runny). Heat for 5 minutes.

3. Take it off the heat and allow to partially cool. The blend it!

4. Place it back in the saucepan. Add the Cannellini beans if you wish. Test for flavour and you can add a touch more salt and pepper if you like. Heat and serve with sourdough bread.

Roasted Squash, Olive, Avocado and Rocket Salad (A Deliciously Ella recipe) (Serves 2)

You will need…

1/2 butternut squash

Rapeseed oil

1x teaspoon of paprika

1 x teaspoon of mixed herbs

1 x bag of rocket

75g of pitted olives

1 x avocado


1 x teaspoon of tamari (vegan version of soy sauce)

1 x tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 x tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper

1. Cut and place the butternut squash on a roasting tray and drizzle with rapeseed oil, salt, pepper, paprika and dried herbs. Roast for 40 minutes in a 200C oven. Once it is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave to cool.

2. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together.

3. Mix the rocket with the dressing and olives, before cutting the avocado into small cubes and add them to the salad.

4. Once the Butternut squash is cool, add it into the salad. You can serve the salad with quinoa for a heartier dish if you prefer or with other grains. Simple and delicious.

Dahl – A Happy Pear recipe (Serves 2-4)

You will need…

3 x cloves of garlic

A thumb size piece of ginger

4 x spring onions

1 x 400g of chickpeas

1 x 400g of cooked lentils

10-15 cherry tomatoes

1 x tablespoon of rapeseed oil

A handful of baby spinach

1 x 400g of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 x tablespoons of curry powder

2 x teaspoons of cumin

1 x teaspoon of sea salt

1 x tablespoon of tamari


1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan on a high heat and add in the chopped garlic, ginger and spring onions. After 1 minute add in the halved cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients into the pan and leave to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes.

3. Serve it. I normally serve it with rice or you can serve it with pitta breads, rice or quinoa.

This is literally the quickest supper I have ever made and it tastes unbelievable!

Classic Stir-fry (A Deliciously Ella recipe) (Serves 4)

You will need…

4 x carrots

16 x long stem broccoli

2 x tablespoons of Coconut oil

2-3cm slice of purple cabbage

12 mushrooms

2 x red peppers

4 x servings of brown noodles

1 x bag of spinach

3 x tablespoons of tamari

3 x tablespoons of tahini (or miso paste)

Juice of 3 lemons

3 x teaspoons of dried herbs

1. Place the carrot slices and broccoli in a wok or frying pan with the coconut oil and begin to cook on a medium high heat. Add in the sliced cabbage, mushrooms and red pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes with the carrots and broccoli.

2. Cook your noodles and follow cooking instructions on the packet.

3. Once the noodles are nearly cooked, stir in the spinach along with the tamari, tahini, lemon juice, herbs and salt into the stir fry.

4. Drain the noodles and mix them into the stir fry. Serve and enjoy!

How quick was that!


THINK Happy | LIVE Healthy | DANCE Better

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hannilybendelldance/

Blog: hannilysblog.wordpress.com

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Eat. Nourish.Glow (2015). Amelia Freer

The Happy Pear (2018). David and Stephen Flynn

Deliciously Ella (2015). Ella Woodward.

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