In The Kitchen With: Food Fitness Flora

Accomplished runner, sustainability advocate and fitness enthusiast, Flora, is the perfect fit for the ZENB family, thanks to her love of creating easy, healthy dishes perfectly suited to those leading an active lifestyle. Like ZENB, Flora’s also passionate about caring for the environment and regularly penning articles for Eco Age on everything from sustainable coffee to bioplastics.

As part of our 'In The Kitchen With' series, we asked Flora to get creative with our new Yellow Pea Pasta, and she came up with a tasty 'Nothing in the Fridge' Penne Dish.  Learn how to make this yourselves by watching the video below or clicking here for the step by step instructions! 

We were also lucky enough to catch Flora between runs and ask her all things fitness, nutrition and sustainability! 

Tell us a bit about you, how did you get into sport and fitness? 

I'm 25 years old and have been active most of my life. I didn't start enjoying sport until pretty late though - I just figured it wasn't for me because I didn't enjoy it much, but it was more that I was playing the wrong sports! I took up squash aged 15 and fell in love with it, and the rest is history!  Since then I've enjoyed various sports, from horse riding to boxing to trail running. My current love is trail running, but I really enjoy doing a variety of activities, especially hiking. 

What has been one of your greatest achievements to date? 

Sports wise, the 2 boxing fights I competed in were two of my greatest achievements to date. Athletically it was of course tough, but mentally the preparation was like nothing I'd experienced before, or since! I feel very proud to have won both fights, but even prouder to have just given it a go.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re lacking in energy? 

It depends why I'm lacking energy. Often, if I've just been sitting down all day I remind myself how much I love getting outside. I'll head out for a run or walk and feel so much more refreshed when I return.

If I'm exhausted due to training or bad sleep, I respect the tiredness and don't try to force myself to do anything. A hot bath, lovely comfort food and a relaxing evening will mean I'm much more motivated the next day!

We know that nutrition is a really important aspect when you’re regularly active – do you have any advice on how to support your body pre and post exercise?

Getting my nutrition right was one of the most important aspects of enjoying exercise for me. Once I was eating the right foods (and enough food in general), I had so much more energy.  As someone who eats a plant based diet, I focus on getting in the right micronutrients that might be missing, such as iron and vitamin B12. As a runner, I also have to make sure I'm getting enough carbohydrates and protein into my diet. It comes naturally to me now, but I had to actively educate myself on what foods were best pre and post workout and how I could keep as healthy as possible. Everything is about balance for me - I don't restrict anything, and try to eat as many colours as possible (no, skittles don't count!).

What are your favourite go-to meals?

For a lazy day, a simple pasta dish with tomato and vegetable sauce is ideal. Stir fry is another quick fave - with plenty of soy sauce!

Toasted pitta with falafel, veg and hummus is always a winner too. There are so many, I can't decide!

What was the inspiration behind your Nothing in the Fridge Penne recipe?

I learned to cook when I was really young, because I was the only vegetarian in the family, so would often make my own meals or sides. My nothing in the fridge pasta was a great way of using up leftovers without having to go and buy my own food or spend hours cooking. It's great because it also reduces food waste from other leftover meals. You can chuck anything in there, douse it in olive oil and it always tastes delicious!

Had you ever come across Yellow Peas before? How do you feel Yellow Pea Pasta can help those who are active like yourself?

I knew of them, but I hadn't ever knowingly eaten them! Probably my favourite thing about the pasta is that it is so high in protein. I don't struggle to get in protein into my diet, but when I'm training hard, anything that can up my protein intake is a good thing. The fact that it's a source of iron too is fab - it's something that can be lacking in a vegan diet, so it's nice to have added sources throughout the week for extra energy.

We know that sustainability is a big passion of yours, as a contributor to ecoage, what tips would you give to someone who is trying to make more eco-swaps in their everyday life?

I think the most important thing is to look at what you already have at home. There's no point going out and buying an expensive 'sustainable' outfit if you already have enough clothes at home, or buying a tote bag when you can plenty of reusable carrier bags under your sink. It might be less 'sexy', but using what you already own is really the best way to be more sustainable. Consume less!

Also, on the subject of food, stop wasting it. Around 30% of food is wasted globally, and it's a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions here in the UK - not to mention it wastes the energy, water, time, and expertise the farmers have put in. Don't shop until you've used up what you have. Find meals that can use leftovers. And if you really have to throw something out, get a compost bin!

What is the best wisdom or advice you’ve been given about sustainability?

That while individual actions really do matter, influencing others is the most important thing. If you can get someone else to change their daily habits to become more sustainable, you've made double the difference you could on your own. If they influence more people, the trend continues.

Oh, and voting. Policy affects everything, and apathy is not an option when it comes to politics. Use your democratic right to vote for people you believe will protect the world you love.

And finally, what have you got coming up next?

Well, we've just got a rescue puppy which is awesome! So our time at the moment is spent looking after her, introducing her to new things and making sure she's happy. It's surprisingly full time, but incredibly rewarding. I'm hoping to be able to run with her when she's old enough!

Other than that, I have some really cool adventures planned for later in the year, which you'll be able to find out about by following my Instagram,@foodfitnessflora and YouTube, Flora Beverley. I'll be able to bring people along to these, so watch this space!