03 March 2015

BBC Good Food Eat Well Show

The concepts of health and wellness have definitely been on the up in recent years. With more and more people becoming aware of how they can foster their own well-being, the healthy lifestyle industry has boomed. According to this article in the Evening Standard, it's now officially hip to be healthy. And even though the term fitster makes me cringe, swapping your can of pop for a green juice and hitting the gym more often than the pub can only be considered a good thing. On the back of health's new status, BBC Good Food has launched the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show (a bit of a mouthful, agreed). It's the sister show to the annual BBC Good Food show, but with a focus on healthy eating.

The show ran from 27 February to 1 March at Kensington Olympia, and I visited on the Sunday. The show had lots of exhibitors selling food and kitchen gadgets, plus a number of stages where you could watch interviews and demos, learn from the best and be inspired in the kitchen. There was a really great line up of guests over the three days, including Rachel de ThampleHemsley + Hemsley, Natasha Corrett, Gizzi Erskine and Lorraine Pascale. As well as the various stages, there was also a Dietitians Clinic, hosted by the BDA, where you could book a free 20 minute consultation with a registered Dietitian. This was a well thought-out addition to the exhibition, adding a strictly scientific element to the field of health and wellbeing, which unfortunately has a lot of unsubstantiated claims about the supposed health benefits of this or that product.

After a quick initial look at the stalls, I took a seat in the Healthy Kitchen where Lorraine Pascale did a demo. She's releasing a new book of healthier recipes, which is a bit of a departure from those incredibly decadent treats she created on Baking Made Easy. Apparently the BBC weren't interested in giving her a healthy cooking TV show (just slightly ironic given that they decided to open a show on healthy eating and book her on to it!) so she is releasing a book on its own. She prepared raw brownies which she made really easily in a food processor using ground almonds, dates (half medjool and half regular), cocoa and pecans, and then pressing the mixture into a tray and chilling it. It was so easy in fact that the demo was over in about 10 minutes and we went on to a rather random Q&A mainly about her gym exploits (which I as a gym bunny happened to find interesting, but I don't think talking about deadlifts was supposed to be the point of the session!). Given that she had about 30 mins to fill on the stage, it seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity that she didn't cook more. 

Following Lorraine onto the stage were Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, who I think we can safely say were largely responsible for popularizing a number of key food trends in 2014 (in the UK anyway), such as bone broth, spiralizing and the now ubiquitous black bean brownies. They've had a recipe blog in Vogue for a few years, and there's now a pretty impressive recipe archive available, which you should definitely check out. Their red lentil soup has now become a staple when I want something quick, cheap and satisfying, and I discovered that their strawberry chia jam is a joyful addition to breakfasts when strawberries are in season. During their demo they whipped up an impressive four dishes: ragu with courgetti, pesto with courgetti, vegetable noodle pots and black bean brownies. These recipes looked really easy to make and didn't require any hard-to-source ingredients. Whilst cooking they talked about their food philosophy, with key points including slipping as many vegetables into your dishes as possible, using high quality protein sources (making your own bone broth using bones bought from your local butcher is a way of doing this cheaply), that natural fats are not the enemy, and that cooking in big batches is a great way to eat healthily every day without having to cook daily. Afterwards they did a signing, and I got The Art of Eating Well signed by the sisters. It's a beautiful book to look at and to read and I can't wait to get in the kitchen and try some of the recipes!

The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley + Hemsley

In terms of shopping, I sampled a fair bit and bought a couple of items too. Moral Fibre's sweet and savoury snack pots are delicious: my favourites were the Choco Banananut bites and Chilli Crunch. These would make a great present for the foodie in your life, and they're also suitable for those with gluten and dairy intolerances. Seed and Bean chocolates were another highlight. These organic and fair trade chocolate bars come in some unusual but winning flavour options including Lemon and Poppy Seed, Tangerine, and Cornish Sea Salt. The Tangerine variety was amazing, much more tart and intense in flavour than your standard chocolate orange. Montezumas is usually my go-to for when I want to treat myself to a better quality chocolate bar - but after sampling Seed and Bean I'll be keeping an eye out for them from now on. I think I was fairly restrained in terms of actual purchases, buying a box of Nakd and Trek bars (the new Bakewell Tart flavour Nakd bar is AMAZING) and a couple of bottles of GOOD Hemp oil which is cold-pressed and has a delicious nutty flavour that is perfect for dressings.

Mixed box of Nakd & Trek bars

There are a couple of things I think the exhibition could have improved upon. Having a salad bar and juice bar for visitors to buy their lunches and refreshments from would have been nice. The few catering options there were weren't particularly in keeping with the healthy theme. I ended up having a halloumi wrap for lunch, which was tasty but with liberal lashings of garlic and sweet chilli sauces, it's not exactly what I would call a healthy choice! Also, a number of exhibitors had sold out or were running low on stock by lunchtime on Sunday which was a bit of a shame, but I suppose that's often the way on the last day of an exhibition, and the fault of the individual traders rather than the organisers. I guess they didn't realise quite how popular some of the products were going to be!

All in all, the BBC Good Food Eat Well show is an interesting addition to the food fair calendar, and if you enjoy healthy eating and cooking, I'd recommend adding it to your diary when it returns next year.


  1. Great write up! I went down on the Saturday and caught Natasha Corrett on stage. I found the show interesting...felt there were a few stalls / products which were not in my opinion healthy or anything to do with eating well! I bought some coconut oil, brita water filters..oh and VITAMIX! lol x

    1. Yeah I agree with you about some of the stalls, think whoever curated the exhibition was playing somewhat fast and loose with the term healthy! A vitamix - wow - those things look immense. I watched a demo of them making icecream at the show, very impressive. I really wanted to see Natasha Corrett too, but alas time didn't allow x