What’s In Your Pantry, Lyndi Cohen?

What’s in Your Pantry? is a recurring feature where I ask women to tell us more about their food and eating habits by opening up their kitchen pantries to us. This week I’m featuring Lyndi Cohen. Lyndi is an Australian TV dietitian known as The Nude Nutritionist. When she quit dieting, she lost 20kg and it changed her life. Now, she helps people around the world eat healthily without obsessing via the advice on her blog, recipes and body positive message.

Let’s get to know Lyndi and learn from her.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Sydney, Australia and have always been really close with my family. I’ve been married for two years, to a lovely man who helped me be more accepting of my body. Growing up I was constantly trying to lose weight or ‘be good’. I was obsessed with food and my weight – it really controlled my life. Nowadays, I eat healthily without restricting or controlling myself. I am a really balanced eater. You bet I have challah on shabbas and never stress about sharing dessert with my family. My favourite food is chocolate – and at some point I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life missing out on social occasions and my favourite foods. Luckily, I learned that you don’t need to cut out these foods to be healthy.

How do you typically feel, emotionally, when you open your kitchen pantry?

Hungry! But I also feel excited. Food used to make me feel anxious but I don’t stress about it anymore. I like to have a very well stocked pantry so now it makes me excited. A few years ago, I hated cooking and I wasn’t very good at it. I had to follow a recipe precisely because I didn’t have the confidence to play around. At one point I thought, “I’m going to have to cook for the rest of my life -whether I like it or not. I may as well get good at it!” Now, I’ve just written my first recipe book which is due January 2019.

What’s inside your pantry right now?

There are some ingredients I always have on hand.

Tinned chickpeas.

Pasta and tinned tomatoes are essentials for me. It’s an easy way to add another serve of veggies into my meals.

I love Sirena Tuna, the one in oil. I drain the oil a little before eating. I used to buy the tuna in brine when I was a dieter but I realised, I really much prefer the oil version! Life is too short to eat tuna in a brine 😉

Balsamic glaze (if you are unfamiliar with this is is simply balsamic vinegar with a sweetener like honey or maple syrup that is reduced into a syrup), which I drizzle on salads. You can make one at home if you keep kosher.

Pickles and olives. They’re so good to add flavour to meals, or serve if guests turn up. Plus, pickles count as vegetables so I love to snack on them.

What is your process for organizing your food pantry?

I live in a small apartment with a tiny cupboard for my pantry, so it can be a jungle in there. I ran out of space for all my foodie bits so my husband installed a shelf above my sink where I now store my food in jars. It’s also great for preventing weevils from noshing on my food.

What’s the healthiest item that you keep in stock?  

I’m not sure I can define anything as the healthiest food because healthy eating is all about variety but I think legumes (beans) are totally underrated. Legumes are the one food eaten by people who live the longest. It’s super cheap, loaded with protein, slow burning carbs and fibre. They’re so versatile too, so I’m always adding them into a meals. It’s quick to make a dahl, add lentils into a soup or throw a tin of four bean mix into a salad. I try to eat legumes about four times a week. You can soak your own beans but I’m more of a throw-together-last-minute kinda girl so tinned suits me perfectly. If you want to be healthier, adding legumes into your diet is a simple way to boost your nutrition and support your gut health.

What about your guilty pleasure that you always have on hand?  

No food makes me feel guilty anymore so I don’t have guilty pleasures – only ‘pleasures’! Chocolate is my favourite so I tend to have a block in the pantry. The block is nestled on the side of the pantry so that it’s not the first thing I see when I open the door looking to satiate my hunger. Because I give myself permission to eat chocolate, I don’t binge on it any more like I used to. That’s been a big change for me.

Compared to your mother, how is your pantry the same or different than what you grew up with?

My family kitchen was always very healthy but there used to be a stash of chocolate and lollies. As a teenager, I would ask my mum to hide it from me. The trouble is, this made me feel deprived so I craved the treats even more. When I inevitably found the stash, I couldn’t stop eating. It took me a long time to learn that making someone else into the ‘food police’ isn’t a good idea. When you try and control food, food ends up controlling you. So in my house, I don’t keep a stash of chocolate and lollies but I give myself full permission to have them. I have dessert at Shabbat dinner and remind myself that any time I want chocolate, I can go out and buy it. But I also prefer not to keep a stash of chocolate and lollies as I feel better when I’m not always eating that food.

What are your 2-3 go-to cookbooks?

I love Jamie Oliver like 15-minute meals,

Monday Morning Cooking Club cookbooks:  It’s Always About the Food and Monday Morning Cooking Club and The Feast Goes On  (I have all the books) and anything by Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and Simple.

If you could change anything about how your pantry is now, what would it be?

I would love a bigger pantry! One where I can see everything. I’m grateful for what I have now but in the meantime, I’ll keep my pantry dreams alive with help from Pinterest.

I am going to remember Lyndi’s words “When you try and control food, food ends up controlling you.”

Your turn:  Tell us in the comments what you remember from Lyndi’s interview?

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