She may spend most of her Saturday nights swathed in the sequins, gowns and glamour, but glittering Strictly star Tess Daly likes to keep it pretty lowkey like the rest of us at home. Here, we sat down with the TV presenter to chat all things health, from how she gets her children to make better food choices to why she’s cutting down her meat intake. Plus, we steal some midweek meal ideas and dinner party tips for entertaining…
Tess, tell us how do you start your day?
With my mental to-do list poised and ready to go.. but I always give myself a 20-minute window to get up gently and sit meditatively before I actually do anything on that list. I take my time, make a cup of tea, watch a bit of news and maybe have a catch-up with my sister who lives in New Zealand. All before the rest of the household wakes up and the children and dogs need feeding! Then comes breakfast, followed by the school run, split between Vern and I. Following this, I squeeze in a gym session (at the gym or a little at-home session in our own gym – which is more of a shed, to be honest!
Are there any healthy eating rules you live by?
Breakfast. It’s non-negotiable for me and the most important meal of the day. Kids, especially, can’t operate properly on an empty stomach. I feel really strongly about that. Breakfast includes anything from sliced fruit, protein banana pancakes (a real treat ) or oatmeal. I’m obsessed with gut-friendly foods too, since a healthy digestive system leads to good overall health and contributes to a strong immune system. I’m lowering my meat intake too. I’m not about to get preachy about it; I mean, enjoy a steak if it floats your boat (my husband loves it!) but do it in moderation. I like to use Dopsu for really good meat alternatives – I’ve been looking for the best veggie options my entire adult life and this one has proper flavour. Plus, I love the fact that it’s frozen so less wastage. I honestly can’t bear the thought of wasting food. It feels so wrong. It’s not feasible at all.
As a busy working mum, how do you prioritise getting the children to eat well?
To me, it’s an act of love, feeding your family nutritiously. What I tend to do when cooking at home is make double the amount, batch cook and freeze, because it’s not always feasible to cook every day. If I’m busy it’s usually something quick like a stir fry, a one-tray bake, or pasta – all full of veggies. Sometimes there are compromises to be made though. Any parent will tell you that. We’re all trying, so hats off to all parents feeding kids at home. We’re all just trying our best.
If I’m busy it’s usually something quick like a stir fry, a one-tray bake, or pasta – all full of veggies. Hats off to all parents feeding kids at home. We're all just trying our best.
Who is the cook of the house? Do you and your husband have any standout, signature dishes?
I’d say it’s 80/20 with me doing the majority of the cooking; my choice because I love to do it. Vernon does do a fabulous spag bol and a veggie version for me, which is sweet. It’s heavenly. He makes a great chicken roast dinner or a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and peppers too. A favourite family meal is my chicken fajitas; the secret ingredient being honey for a little sweetening when it’s in the wok.
Any tips for getting children to eat better?
Kids are really visual when it comes to food so make it look appealing, colourful, playful. Don’t underestimate this, especially when it comes to kids’ fickle appetite. I remember when mine were little I would try and get creative; spaghetti hair, vegetable eyes and noses. Even now it’s fun to keep it interesting; jazz up the simple veggies like broccoli – dash on some balsamic and bake it in the oven so it goes crispy. Or toast some sliced almonds and sprinkle them on a plate of veggies. I’m always on the lookout for easy-to-replicate recipes because we all need a little help in the kitchen to save a bit of time.
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What’s your go-to midweek quick and easy dish?
A Spanish omelette. If I have time, I sauté the potatoes with olive oil and garlic to make them super tasty, throw in a handful of peas, sprinkle some cheese and you have the most delicious frittata. Add some oven baked cherry tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and the flavour just pops. I make a huge serving because I know it’ll be eaten the next day!
What would you serve for a dinner party?
People love a roast chicken dinner. If they’re veggie they can have roast veggies with lots of potato options like roast potatoes with lots of garlic or mashed sweet potato. Plus, Yorkshire pudding of course. Anything that can be put in the oven and forgotten about for a bit and gives me more time to socialise with my guests works for me. A straight forward but always well received starter is a cherry tomato, mozzarella, avocado, basil salad, and meringues with fresh berries and cream for pudding. Simple but delicious.
What items in your kitchen couldn’t you live without?
If I had to choose my top two kitchen ingredients it would probably be garlic and ginger. They’re the two basic ingredients in almost everything I cook. Even simple broccoli and asparagus in the wok with ginger and garlic, and a bit of soy? The dream!
What’s your approach to fitness? How often do you work out and what do you do?
I’m quite committed, which is good, so I try to work out with a trainer a couple of times a week. If I get time, I’ll do a 20-minute online yoga class for stretching and flexibility in between. It puts me in a good headspace. In the warmer months, I’ll get out on the trampoline or do some intermittent skipping. One minute on… one minute off… great for getting the heart rate up.
Do you take supplements or any other wellness products to aid a healthy lifestyle?
I first discovered Wellwomen when I was pregnant and now I’m an ambassador for them – I take one of their gummies every day to help with energy levels. I drink a lot of ginger tea too. We’re big on ginger in this house and love to make big pots of it. It’s even better the next day when it’s had some time to marinade and stew nicely. The more potent it is, the better it is for you! And I make smoothies in the blender with a handful of frozen fruit (and a lot of ginger again!)