The Importance Of Exercise And Healthy Eating For The Body And Mind

FINN NÍ FHAOLÁIN on why exercise and a balanced diet are ESSENTIAL TO HAPPINESS, plus a delicious recipe from her new COOKBOOK


Over the past few years I’ve begun to understand how a healthy life fits together. I’ve no idea why when I was younger I couldn’t see how the food I ate affected how I performed in sports, how the fuel you put in affects the performance of the machine. It took me a longer time still to see this on a bigger scale. Your whole lifestyle – where you live, what you eat, what you do, how you exercise and the people you surround yourself with – has to work together to make a happy, healthy human.

I could harp on about this for days so I will keep it short. The fastest way to hate exercising (I think) is to do it for a ‘bikini body’ or looks. I run to clear my mind, I surf for fun and adrenaline, I do yoga to unwind and I lift weights to feel strong and relieve tension and anger. Exercising is never a struggle because I’m only choosing it for good reasons. If you don’t like a type of exercise, don’t do it. I hate cardio machines in the gym, so I get most of my cardio from surfing or running for buses. Pilates is too expensive for me at the moment so I do yoga at home (or on the beach, for that matter). Considering it’s such a physical thing, I think it’s funny that I exercise for mental reasons – stress relief, uplifted mood and a break from everything that’s bothering me. I feel, when you look at it this way, the physical manifestations are just an added bonus – weight management, better skin and an improved immune system!



Sunny Summer Quinoa Salad

There are lots of little bits to this salad – but, oh my God, it’s so good. I use this quantity either as a main event at a summer lunch or I keep it portioned in the fridge to take out with me.

Serves 3 or 2 ravenous humans

1 cup (185g) uncooked quinoa

2 cups (470ml) gluten free vegetable stock

1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp lemon juice – more if you like extra zip!

2 bell peppers, sliced – I use yellow mostly, for some reason I can’t stand the green ones

1 cup (170g) green seedless grapes

300g cooked tikka masala chicken – I get Green Farm as it uses certified gluten free seasoning!

½ cup (25g) fresh coriander leaves, chopped

3 tbsp craisins – dried cranberries, not crazy raisins

4 tbsp toasted seeds – I use sunflower and pumpkin

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Give the quinoa a good rinse with cold water to stop it getting a bitter taste as it cooks (due to a coating on the outside of the grain). I do this in a sieve, since the quinoa grains are itty-bitty and they fall out of a colander.

Add the quinoa, water, stock and bay leaf to a pot and bring to the boil. I don’t tend to add salt as I find the stock cube/pot is usually salty enough by itself. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. I find my stove works best on a lower setting with the lid on – if it’s too high the quinoa can bubble over. After this, I take a teeny bit out and have a nibble. If it’s done (cooked through and no gritty feeling) I take the quinoa off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes with the lid on to fluffy-ize itself. In theory, you would let this cool down, go off on your merry way and come back later when it was cool to complete the salad. But I’m usually hungry, so that doesn’t tend to happen.

Slice the onion in super-thin strips and soak them in the lemon juice. This takes the raw-onion-esque whack off them (and colours the lemon juice pink, which looks cool in the salad). Slice the peppers into long thin strips. Cut the grapes in half lengthways.

Find a lovely big salad bowl – I love the turned wooden ones – and layer up the salad: quinoa first (don’t forget to take out the bay leaf), then chicken, grapes and veggies. Chuck the lemon juice on with the onions and sprinkle over the coriander, dried cranberries and toasted seeds. Follow with the olive oil and a little salt and pepper to taste.



Excerpted from Finn Ní Fhaoláin’s cookbook. Finn’s World (Gill Books, €22.99) is available from all good bookshops.

If you’re looking to get into an exercise routine, follow our GLOSSFIT Workout Series for a simple three-part workout that you can easily do at home.

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