With a new baby, Hannah Alderson has little time to stay healthy but keeps on track with smoothies, soups and quick weekday meals. Here she shares everything she eats in a week – including her Friday night takeaway
Hannah Alderson, 35, gave birth just a few months ago and with two children under three (Otis is two and Dusty is four months old) and a busy career as a nutritional therapist to juggle, there's little time to prepare lengthy meals. Enter speedy smoothies, batch-cooked soups, ultra-easy 15-minute tofu stir-fries and quick Spanish omelettes. "I’d like to say I prioritise rest, but that’s not really on the cards at the moment in the Alderson household!" she tells us. "Nothing I cook takes longer than ten minutes to prep. If I’m roasting veg I’d have to account for their cooking time but it's all about speed and ease with me."
Despite being pressed for time, Hannah makes sure every meal ticks her nutritional boxes (essential when you're replenishing your body after giving birth), with lots of nutrient-dense colourful plant-based goodness and good quality omega 3.
"Pregnancy has an outrageous impact on your nutrient stores," she says. "Biologically you are the past and your baby is the future so you get ransacked for omega 3 and other major micronutrients. When it comes to losing baby weight the priority must be on replenishment in the postnatal phase. If you do this well, with the focus on your wellness, you will naturally lose excess baby weight over time. Patience is key. If you jumped into a calorie-restrictive diet you could push yourself further into your nutrient overdraft, putting yourself at a higher risk of postnatal depression or secondary infertility."
As well as a wellness approach to weight loss, Hannah specialises in PCOS with her clients after being diagnosed herself in her early twenties, along with endometriosis at 30, so her diet is focused on blood sugar balancing and anti-inflammatory foods to help manage her symptoms.
Monday – a speedy flax seed smoothie, oily fish and colourful veg and a 15-minute stirfry
"It’s just another manic Monday at the Alderson’s with nappy changes and floor splattered Duplo, so I reach for my blender for a quick nutritional hit. I throw in a green banana, which is high in resistant starch [a type of starch that resists digestion in your stomach and small intestine which has many health benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity and feeding your gut-friendly bacteria] and lower in sugar than ripe bananas which is a win-win for the gut, flaxseeds (for fat), frozen berries, frozen broccoli floret, one tablespoon of Bare Biology Skinful Pure Marine Collagen Powder , £35, (for protein) plus a splash of cashew nut milk and water. This is a great start to the day amongst the chaos as it will keep my blood sugar levels stable due to the fat and protein I added."
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"I had smoked mackerel with colourful roasted pepper, tomatoes, quinoa, avocado. Oily fish such as mackerel are anti-inflammatory due to their omega 3 content and I aim for three portions a week."
"I nibbled on green apple and cashew nuts. By having nuts alongside fruit you can flatten the curve of any potential glucose spike (which can cause sweet cravings) as you’re having a bit of fat and protein alongside the fruit."
"This is a quick 15-minute meal, which is excellent on a Monday when enthusiasm can wane. I mix diced tofu in a bowl with miso paste, soy sauce and a little chilli then grill until golden and serve with stir fry pak choi, carrots, peppers, red onion, toasted cashew nuts and a little brown rice."
Tuesday – apple crunch, wild salmon and a thrown-together salad
"I have a little more time on my hands this morning so I make my classic apple crunch which is a favourite with my clients; sliced green apple, cashew nuts, almonds, Meridian cashew butter , chia seeds, organic kerned yoghurt, sesame seeds and toasted oats. Keep an eye on the protein per 100g in yoghurt as kerned is around nine grams and some alternatives have less than three grams per 100g."
"I had wild smoked salmon, organic scrambled eggs, spelt sourdough, cherry tomatoes and a quarter of an avocado. When buying salmon I always try to get wild, recognisable by its vivid colour."
"I had grilled falafel, homemade houmous, served over tonnes of freshly chopped parsley, olives, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, watercress and spinach – the joy of a salad is that anything goes! I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean style salads and the secret ingredient to a good tabbouleh inspired creation is a teaspoon of sumac in your dressing."
Wednesday – gut-supporting fruit, soups with nuts and an ultra-simple dinner
"Following the birth of Dusty a few months ago I’ve been on a couple of antibiotic courses, so I’m working on building my gut bacteria back and one of the best ways to do that is to go all out when it comes to fabulous plant-based fibre , which your good bacteria thrive on. Today I went for fresh fig, kiwi, peach, blueberries, kerned yoghurt, chia seeds, low sugar muesli with a splash of cashew nut milk.
"Fitting in exercise can be tricky with the little ones but I meet my pal for a long brisk walk along the canal. I’m building my strength back up to start running again when the pelvic floor is ready."
"I had homemade watercress soup with avocado on spelt sourdough, toasted seeds. I garnish all my soups with toasted seeds and a drizzle of olive oil to ensure I have good fats to aid the absorption of those lovely fat-soluble vitamins such as A and K."
"I had a simple Spanish omelette with fresh leaves, olives, and tomatoes."
Thursday – a chocolate-lovers smoothie, batch-cooked soup and a France-inspired dinner
"I love this recipe and it’s great for any chocolate lovers out there. It’s a smoothie of cacao powder, banana, a handful of spinach, frozen cauliflower, flaxseeds, collagen powder, oat milk and water. Cacao powder is full of flavonoids that may improve insulin sensitivity, which is important when it comes to PCOS, plus it’s delicious."
"I went for red pepper and butternut squash soup with toasted seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. As a busy mum, I’m a big fan of soups as I can batch cook and have ready to go lunches in the freezer to enjoy over the lunchtime nap."
"I ate a seeded oat cake with cashew nut butter. A quick go-to snack that will keep your blood sugar stable as you’re pairing your starches (found in the oat) with the nut butter."
"Today it was grilled salmon with chilli powder sprinkled on the skin, puy lentils and roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, beetroot and broccoli. Your gut loves legumes and lentils, in particular, go well with fish, very French!"
Friday – a zesty green smoothie, pitta pockets and a Friday night takeaway
"I started the day with a green smoothie made from fresh mint from the garden, pear, spinach, frozen broccoli, frozen pineapple, collagen powder, maca powder (a real energy booster which is a fab source of vitamin C, zinc , iron , and calcium )."
"I ate raw sauerkraut, carrot, houmous, spinach pitta pockets. I try to include fermented foods into my diet when I can to help support a diverse range of healthy gut bacteria."
"It’s Friday night so we go for a takeaway (yes, I get takeaways). I chose charcoal-grilled chicken shish, Cypriot cuisine from Cyprus Grill Meze on Berkhamsted High Street, near where I live. It’s grilled lean protein, so a great option if you opt-out of any creamy garlic sauces, fried foods or bread. Mediterranean cuisine is great for takeaway options. If in doubt go SOS (sauce on the side) and ask for extra chillis! I swerve the rice and ask for extra red cabbage instead. It’s a great takeaway option and it reminds me of my years living in London. If you’ve ever walked along the Edgware Road on a summer evening and enjoyed the warm aroma of charcoal cooking in the air from all the middle eastern restaurants, you’ll know what I mean."
Saturday – muesli, a filling protein-based lunch and a fancy mussels dinner with white wine
"I ate low sugar muesli with coconut yoghurt, walnuts, cashews, blueberries and chia seeds, making sure I pair my starches (muesli) with fat, protein and fibre. I like the Daylesford Organic Toasted Nut 3-Grain Muesli and Rude Health's Spelt and Quinoa Low Sugar Muesli . I follow this with a postnatal strength workout as hubby disappears with the nippers. I’ve enjoyed online platform Results Wellness Lifestyle's workouts for my postnatal phase and on YouTube I do Pilates with Move with Nicole and Lottie Murphy , they're both free and fabulous. I’ve tried Tracy Anderson many times but I can’t keep up with the steps! I’ve tried Tracy Anderson many times but I can’t keep up with the steps!"
"Lunch was a quick frittata and salad shared with my husband. I throw in what’s knocking around the fridge which includes some purple broccoli, red onion, spinach, pumpkin seeds and some avocado. Having a big protein-based lunch is super filling."
"It’s Saturday night so we go fancy and make some moules frites in a homemade simple white wine, leek and cream sauce served with French fries and tonnes of wilted spinach and a good Sancerre. Divine."
Sunday – fruit, an on-the-go croissant and a hearty roast dinner
"I had lots of fruit this morning alongside coconut yoghurt and chia seeds, apple, blueberries, strawberries and kiwi.
"We go for a long family walk and I pick up a freshly baked croissant and an oat milk cappuccino on the fly from my local coffee masters Fred and Ginger . Otis eats most of my croissant but it’s a delicious mid-morning treat as we are having a late lunch. Yes, it will have spiked my glucose levels but as I’m on the move, the exercise would help flatten the curve, plus, what’s a Sunday without a croissant and coffee? Everything in moderation."
"We had roast chicken. It’s so important to eat around the table as a family (even if my toddler drops most of it on the floor). My trick for a good roast potato is goose fat, as animal fat has a very high smoking temperature so it’s great for its roasting power. The smoke point of a fat or oil is the temperature at which the oil will burn and become unstable and damaged – aka free radical damage in the body when consumed. This is not good news. Smoke points for fat or oils vary considerably and it’s important to not exceed a fat or oil’s smoke point when cooking. A little goose fat goes a long way. We have loads of steamed cabbage and peas alongside a lovely organic free-range chicken. I’ll save the bones to make a chicken soup.
"For pudding, we have poached fruit with a good dollop of yoghurt and later that evening I snack on some houmous and crudities and a bit of popcorn with a Sunday movie."
Hannah Alderson is a registered nutritional therapist, functional medicine practitioner, PCOS and weight loss expert, founder of The Positive Method - The Wellness Approach to Weight Loss. She works with women to positively lose weight for good, balance hormones and find happiness. Find out more about Hannah on her website and follow Hannah on Instagram @hannahaldersonnutrition.