What healthy food essentials does Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes swear by? Healthista’s Vanessa Chalmers found out for our new Healthy Food Essentials series
When I meet Dame Kelly Holmes, she is wearing stilettoes despite enduring a 20 mile bike ride and 15 mile run for a charity the day before. ‘They help with sore Achilles’ tendons’, she says, and being a double gold medal-winning former Olympic athlete, with British record times for the 800m and 1500m still to be beaten, I trust her judgement.
I met Dame Kelly at the press launch of the new family fitness festival Refresh, running on the 2nd and 3rd of September. She will be hosting the festival, which aims to be the UK’s most sustainable, and running a children’s sports day, always looking to encourage new generations to find a passion within health and fitness.
Since retiring from athletics in 2006, life has been a whirlwind of exciting projects for Dame Kelly. She focused her attention on her charity, The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, which has impacted the lives of 200,000 young disadvantaged peoples (and counting) since 2008. As a motivational speaker across the world, aacross the world, raises awareness of mental health issues, has opened two cafes under the name of Café 1809 (her race number) in Kent, and still finds time to squeeze in exercise up to six times a week, with spinning, outdoor cycling, weight training and circuits. ‘They call it HIIT now, but I have been doing circuits for decades and it’s exactly the same!’, she says.
With all that training, a wholesome and nutritious diet is key, and I was eager to find out what Kelly always keeps at the ready in her kitchen.
My healthy food essentials – Dame Kelly Holmes
In May you opened your second Cafe 1809 at the Cylcopark in Gravesend. Are you experienced with cooking?
I don’t do any of the cooking whatsoever but I do the menus. I enjoy food anyway, and like to be creative, so I’ll come up with an idea, ask the chefs to make it, and then tell them if it tastes good. A little more thought goes into the juices and smoothies as they need to be nutritious and provide people with energy.
I believe in balance. I absolutely believe everyone has down days where they just want to eat everything
The Cafe 1809 menus are the kind of food I eat, but we do have a lot of cakes because I believe in balance. Everyone has down days where they just want to eat everything, and other days they are more switched on and want to eat healthier. You can’t predict what that person has been through that day when they walk in and want a coffee and a cake, so there needs to be something for everyone.’
EAT, DRINK, RELAX & SMILE This is the slogan from my new @cafe1809cyclo . For those that don't know, my first cafe is @cafe1809 in Hildenborough and I am creating a Lifestyle brand. A place where people come to socialise, enjoy the environment and the go away feeling good. (of course the coffee and food is fab) It is based in the @cyclopark.kent so a perfect fit as people can also keep active. So please take a look and follow the cafes so you know what we are up to and what events we will also be running. #coffeeandcake #ride #eat #drink #relax #smile #feelgood #lifestyle #cafe #cafe1809 #fitness #fitnessmotivation #run #cakes #coffee #tea #hotchocolate
What are your essential items in your own kitchen?
I bake or griddle everything
‘I think everybody probably cooks with fats at home, and I think there are better choices we can make. In my café we don’t fry anything, we bake it. It’s the same in my home, I bake or griddle everything. I do eat fats that aren’t so good for the body, and if I’m cooking I want to use some form of fat. Some such as coconut oil are trends and I do turn to the ‘in’ thing to have from a health point of view. 20 years down the line it will be something else! Almond oil or sesame oil is good, too’.
A massive jar of nuts and seeds:
‘I eat them all the time. I eat them as a snack as well as within recipes. I don’t have the roasted and salted ones – I used to eat them like billy-o! Then I looked at the packaging and I thought ‘Jesus’.
I’m a pomegranate freak
I’m not very protective about my calorie count because I train a lot – if I train I can eat more things I like. I have raw cashews, almonds brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, and a multitude of seeds; pumpkin, sesame, sunflower. I just enjoy them as a snack and also in stir-frys. Sometimes I’ll use them in flapjacks or oat cakes. I love adding cacao too. I’m a pomegranate freak so I try to add that in too – I’m a throw everything in type person!’
A Nutribullet (blender) is just right for my smoothies in the morning – literally the best thing ever! People think smoothies take a lot of effort, but in this day and age its so simple and convenient.
Some people can have really thick beetroot juices, but I just cant do the whole earthy thing
Because I’m away from home a lot, I will buy a load of fruit, chop it all up, put it in bags, pop it in the freezer and then use them for my smoothie with almond milk. I prefer a veggie one, with spinach, kale, apple juice, lemon juice, a high protein yoghurt and sometimes spirulina. I have to throw fruit in too, such as strawberries, grapes or apple, because I cannot stand vegetables on their own. Some people can have really thick beetroot juices, but I just cant do the whole earthy thing. If I want a thick shake in the morning, ill have banana, oats, seeds, nuts and yoghurt.
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Last question – a bit random but something everyone will want to know, how can an athlete pick themselves up from failures?
You get used to a lot of failure in the beginning of your career. The highs will be your greatest achievements but the lows are really tough. If you don’t get back to it straight away, it’s your career on the line. Anything that you see as failure in your eyes, you have to learn to make changes to be better and identify what you’re going to do differently. It’s very black and white in sport – you will either be the winner, second, third or a loser.
It’s learning to take the rough with the smooth
If you’re trying to be the best in the world you have to beat every other person at that standard, worldwide, on that one day, on a date that cant be moved – that’s pressure. You have to pick up from the lows, and you will become stronger every time. It’s learning to take the rough with the smooth. Everything I went through was worth the pain, emotion, commitment, determination for that minute [winning the 800m at the Olympics in 2004]. I believe in fate and I do believe If you put your mind to it you can achieve anything.