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Talking food with celebrity chef Jo Pratt

We sit down and have a quick Q/A session with Jo Pratt, a popular television cook, food stylist and author.

1. What new ingredient or ingredients are you inspired by right now?

Chia Seeds – these multi-purpose little seeds contain pretty much everything to keep us healthy. As well as providing energy, they are ridiculously high in fibre, omega-3 fats, protein and antioxidants. They are low in calories, classed as a ‘whole-grain’ and are naturally gluten free. Use them in baking (i.e flapjacks or cakes), as a crunchy topping for cereals, fish, or deserts, use as a healthy thickener or even as an egg replacement (great if you’ve run out of eggs when all you fancy are some pancakes).

Avocado – Highly nutritious versatile fruit containing vitamin E, iron, potassium and niacin. Though it is fairly high in oil, most of it is the good, monosaturated type. Great mashed with lemon juice, chilli and a pinch of salt then spread onto toast, sliced and pan-fried in a little olive oil (if you’ve not tried this then you must) in salads, to make a healthier version of a chocolate mousse and is also great in smoothies/juices.

Tahini – It’s such a versatile ingredient and wonderfully good for you as its protein rich and high in essential minerals. It’s distinctive flavor is great in dressings, spread onto toast/bagels, blended into dips.

Nuts – packed full of healthy fats that are essential to our diet and heart. An all round super ingredient and should be used to their full potential. Aside from the obvious uses such as in baking or for snacking, nuts can easily be made into flavoursome dairy-free milk, butter and cream.

2. We’re loving your new book In the Mood for Healthy Food, what are your top tips for healthy eating?

Healthy eating is all about eating a well-balanced, great tasting food that makes you feel full of vitality and not full of guilt.

I believe healthy eating shouldn’t be about dieting, eliminating, calorie counting, fasting, detoxing etc, but all about making the most of the wonderful variety of healthy ingredients we are lucky enough access easily. Try and keep a well stocked healthy larder and fridge so when it comes to making a meal or snack healthier ingredients are accessible. For example plenty of wholegrains, nuts, dried fruits, wholewheat flours, rice, pasta etc. Plus try and have plenty of fresh fruit and veg around to turn to when you need to make a meal or snack.

Increase your veg quantities in a meal rather than bulk out with too many carbohydrates, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. If you feel good after doing some exercise you are more likely going to want to keep that feeling there and eat healthily afterwards. Finally – don’t do a food shop when you are hungry – you’ll end up buying far too much food that you don’t necessarily need!

3. Who would work in your dream kitchen?

Anyone who is full of passion for good food, loves a laugh and isn’t shy of hard work. Plus people who like a bit of cheesy pop in the background while cooking!

Jo will be at the BBC Good Food Show Winter in Birmingham on Sunday 29 November. She will be cooking live on the Winter Kitchen Stage and the Bakes & Cakes Stage. As well as taking part in live interviews and book signings.