This weekend marked 1 year of The Cooking Yam, and how time flies when you’re having fun!

It’s been such an incredible year full of plenty of exciting events (and a few unexpected challenges!), and I wanted to write a post to say thank you to everyone who’s supported me on my journey so far!

From Then to Now

What a difference a year makes! When friends and family finally convinced me to start writing a blog and Instagram account to share all of my recipes, I had no idea that people would care so much about what I wanted to share! I’ve learnt so much over the past year, not only in terms of food and health, but also about people. Listening to feedback that followers share with me and being able to connect with such a wide variety of people has given me an invaluable insight into what the public really care about.

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Good for breakfast, brunch or lunch – my favourite – poached eggs and smashed avocado on sourdough toast

When I first started my blog, my aim was to provide a reliable source of nutritional information and healthy recipes that everybody can enjoy. I wanted to show people that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult and ridiculously expensive to achieve, that social media trends are just that – a trend! – and aren’t the way to live a healthy sustainable life. And I wanted to show people how to add variety into their diet by making the most of seasonal food and experimenting with cultural ingredients too.

There’s no point in following fad diets and trends if a long-lasting healthy life is what you’re looking for! A lot of the time these diets can be restrictive or require the most expensive ingredients you could think of, and no-one can keep that up! Being happy in yourself is the most important thing, and so my message is always to do what you enjoy – whether that’s with exercise or with your diet. If you’re not a runner, don’t punish yourself with a gruelling 10k session – why not book onto a dance fitness class instead? (I’m a sucker for a high-energy Zumba class!) If the idea of a soggy salad scares you, why not do a quick Pinterest search for more exciting cultural salad recipes – Greek mezze salads, Asian noodle salads and fruity Scandinavian salads are so nutritious and packed full of flavour for a delicious twist on the classic house salad.

It’s all about experimenting to see what suits you best. It doesn’t matter what everybody else is doing, eating or posting, as long as you’re happy with how you’re living, that’s all that matters!

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Layered spicy chickpea and bulgur wheat salad – perfect for a sunny day!

Boost the Brain!

I started the blog at the same time as beginning my Advanced Diploma in Sport Nutrition, and after completing this in July 2018 with Grade Distinction, I felt as though my eyes had been opened to completely new aspects of nutrition that I hadn’t encountered much before! Learning about specialised diets in sport was one of my favourite areas, and as such I’ve ended up tailoring a lot of my recipes to suit vegetarian, vegan or ‘free-from’ diets. My aim is always to develop recipes for healthy and delicious meals that can be enjoyed by all, and if they’re meat/dairy/gluten free, then they really can be! So both my knowledge and experience in catering for specialised diets have grown, and I’ve absolutely loved how my creativity has been challenged when designing free-from recipes! It might take a bit more effort than traditional meat-based diets, but I’ve tried to show that meat-free/free-from diets can be enjoyed by all, and can also support active and athletic lifestyles better than people think.

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Homemade chickpea burger topped with feta and beetroot

The most exciting opportunities that have come along as a result of my blogging are mainly centred around free-from diets. I’m now a brand ambassador for new free-from company FoodSake, I’m due to start work with the passionate duo at Fuelled Loughborough as their meat-free meal-prep master, and have a few other projects lined up that all involve recipe development for specialised diets. And of course, our British Swimming Breakfast Club is now up and running, so that’s also keeping me busy as I look to test the limits of my creativity in the kitchen!

So it’s a big thank you to my friends, family, followers, and British Swimming, GetBuzzing, FoodSake and Fuelled Loughborough for supporting me on my journey to becoming a sports nutritionist and chef! With every day that passes I feel like I’m closer to achieving my dreams, and can’t wait to see what life after graduation holds!

 

A special mention to my closest friends and family (little sis’, Mom and my amazingly-talented editor, FantasyFanfare) for their incredible support throughout my journey – I wouldn’t be where I am now without you all.

-TheCookingYam

Written by TheCookingYam

I'm a BSc Sport and Exercise Science Graduate from Loughborough University, and also work as a Nutrition Advisor and recipe developer for organisations such as British Swimming, Colour Fit and Bam Organic. I'm passionate about all things food, health and fitness, and have an ambition to share my knowledge with others. Qualified with Grade Distinction in Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Sports Nutrition to support my interest in food and health for active individuals.

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