Why healthy eating is big business

TAKING AQUICK COFFEE BREAK Busy Jo Banks

Why healthy eating is big business

by Eileen Leahy | 12th December 2018

FOOD fan Jo Banks, who lives in West Kent, launched her company Alive with Flavour three years ago and has seen it go from strength to strength. Here she tells Eileen Leahy why eating healthily is both achievable and enjoyable, whatever the time of year…

We’re officially now in full seasonal swing, where chocolate advent calendar treats often replace a proper breakfast, or endless trays of tempting canapés and flutes of fizz become the norm at the end of the day. In short, Christmas is a time of year when, for most, the wheels come off with regard to eating sensibly – but after the festivities are over, how about making sure that your everyday diet changes for good?

Local food blogger Jo Banks set up her company, Alive with Flavour, with just this culinary premise in mind.

“I started it three years ago, and the idea was based around the importance of creating healthy but flavoursome dishes,” she tells me.

But what was key, she goes on to say, was that they also had to be ‘fuss free and unpretentious’ dishes.

“There were – and still are – a lot of complicated cookery shows on TV, such as MasterChef, and I felt that people were becoming scared of how to approach food,” Jo explains. “I wanted to offer an alternative and show people there are simple ways to cook and enjoy food which don’t need to be a Michelin-style standard.”

Jo says that the other key aims with Alive with Flavour were to improve and build upon their classic recipe repertoire, but to also ‘give people the confidence to experiment with food’.

“I love experimenting,” says Jo. “I love finding new foods and am lucky enough to be often ahead of the curve on this.

“I was working with edible insects a while ago, and just last month Sainsbury’s have now taken to selling grubs! You can be sure edible insects will find their way into our major supermarkets very quickly now.”

As her business’s name would suggest, there’s so much more to eating well than just pushing a lettuce leaf around the plate. It’s about embracing a whole new approach to getting your five a day – and more – by creating dishes that are literally ‘alive’ with tons of interesting flavours.

This, for example, could be achieved by including more tasty herbs and seasoning in your creations, ensuring that you eat seasonally to maximise your taste experience, or seeking out some interesting new ingredients. In other words, don’t be afraid to get adventurous!

But as well as coming up with simple and delicious dish ideas for people to follow, Jo says that Alive with Flavour has the additional aim of educating people. She does this not only courtesy of her numerous blog posts, but also through the many personal appearances she has made at local foodie events and supper clubs –like her recent vegan one – and on the radio, too.

“I love bringing people together and frequently facilitate many events, such as food festivals, supper clubs and tasting tours. I launched Alive with Flavour because I spotted a need for a business that would help people understand more about food in a friendly way.”

Jo certainly has a wealth of support for her business. She often works with both emerging and established chefs, such as Will Devlin from The Small Holding in Kilndown, as well as the Kent Farmers’ Market Association and local food companies to ‘discover new trends, work with unusual ingredients and promote local produce’.

“It’s fair to say there is never a dull moment!” Jo laughs. “I am a busy lady, but I enjoy the juggling act and love the variety of all the work I am involved in. I think that my ability to cope with competing demands comes from my experience of working as a PA, which seems like a lifetime ago now.”

So what does the former personal assistant think she has achieved over the past three years, and what are her goals for 2019?

“Hopefully, Alive with Flavour is changing peoples’ taste buds and showing them the fantastic opportunities that food offers – not only in the experience of cooking, but also in bringing people together,” confirms Jo.

“I love my work. There is nothing better for me than presenting new ways of developing food and seeing the way that it inspires people. It is a big part of our lives, after all. I guess I just believe that all food should be ‘Alive with Flavour’.”

To find out more about Jo and Alive with Flavour, visit her website, alivewithflavour.com

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