Fan of social media sensation Zanna Van Dijk? THESE are her healthy food essentials
Blogger, vlogger and one-third of #GirlGains (a social media movement empowering women to lift weights), six foot tall Yorkshire lass Zanna Van Dijk is one of the most influential people in Britain’s fitness scene. Now living in London and dividing her time between coaching at UN1T in Fulham, working with big brands like Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger and authoring books the 24-year-old is on a mission to make health and fitness accessible to her almost 200 thousand Instagram followers.
We caught up with the super fit star, to find out the foods that keep her on track and what she ALWAYS has in her kitchen cupboards. Parading nut butter jumpers and posting pics of the nut butters she loves on her Instagram on the daily, her first hero health food is less than surprising.
‘I feel like my life revolves around nut butter. I tend to just eat it straight from the jar. I’d say I eat nut butter twice a day, or just as and when one needs nut butter – which is all the time. At the moment I’m obsessed with Pip & Nut Crunchy Peanut Butter. Oh, my Lord, everyone needs that in their life. People look past the crunchy maple but it is the gem of the Pip & Nut range, it has the best texture. It’s a drizzler, you can drizzle it on everything. I love to drizzle it on a chopped apple with cinnamon. Meridian Cashew Butter is also really good for that.
Almond butter I like to eat straight out of the jar but I also like cutting a banana down the middle and baking it and stuffing that with nut butter, that’s delicious. Another one of my favourite things is to stuff a date with nut butter. You bake it for five minutes – it will blow your mind. I had dates stuffed with peanut butter for breakfast this morning.’
‘I love to have a smoothie, I feel like they’re a really easy way to get lots of nutrients into one meal. I usually have some sort of plant-based protein powder, frozen banana (it is essential that banana is frozen for the milkshake texture) and then some oat milk and then maybe blueberries and cinnamon. I love the creaminess of oat milk, it’s delicious. Sometimes I’ll opt for blueberry and vanilla with a little bit of cinnamon and my other favourite is chocolate peanut butter where I’ll add cocoa powder and peanut butter instead – I’d say breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day.’
‘Carrot cake is my favourite variety of cake, which is why I love making carrot cake oats. You grate carrot into your oats and then you cook them through with cinnamon, nutmeg, a little bit of maple syrup and top it with crunchy peanut butter and raisins, it’s the dream – it’s like pudding for breakfast.
I have carrot cake oats maybe twice a week. I love it because it tastes like dessert for breakfast. I’m a sweet person, I’m definitely not a savoury person. If you put a packet of crisps in front of me, I’d happily not touch them but if you put a chocolate bar in front of me, I’m not going to say no. If I’m on the go, I’ll make my oats the night before and put them in a Tupperware and take them out and about with me.’
Hummus and pitta
‘I love snacking on hummus and pitta. It’s great to have hummus with wholewheat pitta because it’s a complete protein so you get all your essential amino acids. I would say I have hummus and pitta every day of my life – it’s mainly because my boyfriend has it every day so I end up joining in.’
‘I’m plant based so tofu is one of my main protein sources. I eat a lot of tofu but not every day, maybe three times a week. I like to fry it up with some tamari and I’ll have it with either pasta or courgetti noodles. I add soy sauce, ginger and garlic and always add veg, that’s a given. I’ll throw in onions, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, asparagus or just whatever is around at the time. I’m not a pre-packed stir-fry mix kind of gal. There is a shop near me with loads of local food and ingredients so I buy whatever they have there and throw that into the pan. It’s good because they only have seasonal vegetables in there so you’re forced to eat what is in season.’
‘I eat so many black beans – they’re amazing. My standard (this is Zanna being crazy lazy) is to chop up red onion, red pepper and fry them in a pan with some garlic. Then I chuck in the black beans and pop in smoked paprika, salt, pepper, cumin – bosh. Fry it up, you can even add a bit of tomato puree and then I just serve it with a side of broccoli (or you can shove it in a wrap). I probably have that two or three times a week. I switch it up so I use either black beans, lentils, black eyed peas or chickpeas.
Make sure you rinse your beans because the water they’re stored in can sometimes lead to digestive discomfort. People often think that when they eat beans they get really bloated but it’s not actually the beans, it’s the chemicals which are in the water to preserve the beans. Just rinse your beans really well and you shouldn’t get bloated.’
At lunchtime, I’ll often opt for a pasta salad. I love a bit of pasta. I usually bulk cook it and put it in Tupperware or I’ll just grab it on the go when I’m out in London. You can get buckwheat pasta, chickpea pasta and edamame pasta and they’re packed with protein. My go-to is edamame pasta which has around 45g of protein per 100g so it has more protein in than a normal protein source (like meat). I quite often have edamame pasta but it’s quite pricey so I don’t have that more than once or twice a week. When I so have it I just cook it through with veggie or vegan pesto with vegetables. I’ll use whatever vegetables are in season.’
‘Pre-workout, I always go for black coffee. I don’t eat before I train because I just end up feeling heavy. My friend Tally [Rye, fellow Girl Gains founder and fitness blogger] always eats before she trains but I just can’t otherwise I feel like I can’t move my body, it makes me feel like I need a nap. If I have a bit of coffee it helps me psychologically, it’s that feeling of having something to give me energy. I probably train just the same without it but it’s just a mental thing.’
The Happy Pear cookbook
‘The Happy Pear
The Happy Pear are two Irish brothers who create vegetarian and vegan cookbooks – they’re great. I have a couple of their books. There are multiple reasons as to why I love them – the food is seriously good and they’re also very handsome vegetarians. They’ve just recently released a vegan carrot cake recipe on their YouTube channel. It’s a game changer.’
Upper Body Workout 💪🏼 Not gonna lie guys, this week I have lifted weights more than usual! It’s because @thebodyholiday have such a fab gym right on our doorstep 💦 Today we did: ➡ Close grip underhand pull down & seated row – 3×8-10 ➡ Seated DB press & around the worlds – 3x 10-12 ➡ DB chest press & … you’ll have to wait and see! 🙊 The rest of our upper body workout will be posted on @healthychefsteph’s page super soon so go follow her and stay tuned 💃🏼 Wearing @adidasuk using @technogym 💗 #girlgains #zvdworkout #upperbodyworkout #armworkout
‘I take vitamin B12 because as humans we usually get B12 through animal products and animals get it from the soil. So unless I’m eating soil, I’m not going to be getting B12 which means I do need to be supplementing. I’ve never had a deficiency so I wouldn’t know if it’s really making a difference but I do take it as a safety measure. A dietician friend recommended that I take it.’
‘I use a Nutri Ninja. It’s like an alternative to the Nutribullet but it’s more hardcore. It can handle anything. I feel like my old blender would die quite quickly, I went through a few of them whereas my Nutri Ninja has survived the brutality that is my cooking methods. I’m putting in lots of frozen bananas and that really takes a toll.’
Passionate about fitness AND eco-friendly living, this year Zanna embraced the opportunity to track her energy use with a smart meter – a new tool available to everyone in Britain at no extra cost, even if you rent your home. If you want to join in then just contact your energy supplier to arrange your smart meter installation.