Hungry Healthy Happy – isn’t that a perfect trilogy of words? It’s one of the reasons I have always been a fan of Dannii Martin’s thoughtfully-named blog and now, the mantra has been perfectly encapsulated into Dannii’s debut cookbook, of the same name, published by Jacqui Small. This book has been a very welcome addition to my kitchen this January. I’ve found lots of recipes to keep the family well-fed with high nutrient foods, without the usual calories count that winter comfort fuel brings with it. Particular favourites have been the Healthy Noodle Pots (recipe shared below) and Dannii’s Spicy Lentil Tacos.
What’s the book about?
Hungry Healthy Happy: How to nourish your body without giving up the food you love, is a beacon of sense in the current sea of fad diets and impossible commitments to clean eating. Dannii shares her story of how she managed to shed 98 pounds (the 7 stone that had crept on slowly thought her twenties) by setting her daily calorie intake to 1,500, which enabled her to lose 2 pounds steadily until she reached her own personal target weight. Dannii’s struggling health had been the main factor behind her trying to lose weight. However, as she lost the weight, she felt more motivated to keep active and find ways to stay focused, whilst gaining a healthier outlook on life and a better sense of how to stay balanced.
Dannii’s message is sensible, measured and down-to-earth, which is precisely what keeps the followers and fans of her blog coming back for more and, why publishing a book of her successful blog makes complete sense.
Thankfully, there is no giving up carbohydrates, no deprivation or fasting, just simple tips and tricks for leading a healthier life-style with a few less calories thrown in to the mix. It’s also not about eating less. In fact, Dannii suggests that you could be eating more, but by making some clever swaps and eating an overall greater proportion of healthier foods, Dannii shows you how you can start seeing small, yet significant changes to your health over the longer term.
Pad Thai (Photo credit: Jacqui Melville)
What’s the secret?
Just as persistence and perseverance are the key to maintaining a successful blog, according to Dannii’s own real-life experiences, the same principle can be applied to the journey to better health. There is no big mystery here – just small, incremental steps and consistency. And when things don’t quite go to plan, Dannii’s advice is not to beat yourself up about it; simply pick yourself up and move on.
Part of Dannii’s huge blog-appeal is that she is just a regular young woman, cooking from scratch, challenging herself every now and again by finding fun ways to keep active – such as by dancing or going for walks – and of course, by trying and sharing a selection of uncomplicated recipes with a focus on health and happiness.
There’s no huge team behind her, no hair and make up artist, no wardrobe stylist – just Dannii, from her home, telling it like it is. Dannii’s book is the perfect encapsulation of the no-nonsense message of her blog, with the addition of some beautiful food photography by Jacqui Melville.
Healthy Noodle Pots & Vietnamese Summer Rolls (Photo credit: Jacqui Melville)
The advice is simple:
“The Hungry Healthy Happy way of eating isn’t about totally restricting yourself, it’s about making small changes where you can, like adding extra vegetables, swapping cream for yoghurt and using fruit rather than sugar to retain sweetness but increase fibre.”
The book has a good solid introduction outlining:
- The Principles of Losing Weight
- The Importance of Exercise
- Eating Well for Less
- Store Cupboard Essentials
- Two-week Meal Planner
The chapters are organised into:
- Snacks and Treats
- Light Meals and Lunches
- Hearty Main Meals
- Side Dishes
Recipes I love:
As a family, we’ve really enjoyed some of Dannii’s recipes so far. I have found them to be quick and easy to prepare and even though some healthy substitutions are made, there is no compromise on flavour. For example, Dannii’s sweetens her pancake batter with mashed bananas instead of sugar, incorporates plenty of fresh fruit into her recipes, uses the grill more (for example for her Healthy Grill Up with Hash Browns) and offers her own versions of many of her takeaway favourites, such as her Portobello Mushrooms Pizzas, Sweet and Sour King Prawns and Chicken Tikka Masala.
Healthy Grill Up with Hash Browns (Photo Credit: Jacqui Melville)
Banana Pancakes (Breakfast, page 26)
For snacks I can recommend Dannii’s Blueberry Crumb Bars (Snacks and Treats, page 71)
For supper tonight we’ve having Dannii’s Pad Thai (page 144).
And, as you can see below, one of my own personal favourites have been the Healthy Noodle Pots (Light Meals and Lunches, page 93) – see recipe below.
Healthy Noodle Pots – Photo by Ren Behan
Winning Desserts – we love the Apple Nachos (Desserts, page 166) and also, Dannii’s vegan, gluten free and dairy free 2-Minute Healthy ‘Ice Cream’ (Desserts, page 176) – made very simply with ripe, frozen bananas. Dannii’s Mango and Raspberry Cheesecakes (page 165) are really simple to make and are very tasty.
Mango and Raspberry Cheesecake (Photo Credit: Jacqui Melville)
Who would love this book?
Anyone looking for some straight-talking, simple-to-follow advice and ‘good for you’ recipes!
If you’re following a plan such as Slimming World or Weight Watchers, many of Dannii’s recipes are easily adaptable, plus, each recipe has a nutritional breakdown so you can work out the ‘Syns’ or ‘SmartPointsTM’ quickly via your apps. Equally well, Dannii’s common sense approach means that you can incorporate her personal tips and tricks into your meal times from breakfast through to dinner with snacks and ideas for lower-calorie desserts in between.
Dannii’s philosophy isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being realistic, facing your ups and downs and making small, but significant changes and substitutions whilst still eating all the foods you love.
Recipe and images extracted from Hungry Healthy Happy by Dannii Martin, photography by Jacqui Melville. Published by Jacqui Small (£20.
With many thanks to Jacqui Small for my advanced review copy.
Amazon affiliate link included.
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