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Food for the Soul

Happiness is what we’re all about this summer, and there’s little that can beat a delicious meal shared with loved ones to make the soul feel all filled up. Yes, it’s summer so we’re doing the whole ‘being healthy’ thing, but for us, healthy eating is all about enjoying food. For some happiness is found in the bottom of a tall glass of celery juice, and others prefer their fruit fermented in a wine glass shared with friends.

Since food is definitely the way to our heart here at Heart of the Lakes, we thought we’d share some of the best places to enjoy some gourmet delights here in the Lake District, from healthy snacks to indulgent treats. Pull up a chair and let’s enjoy some soul food together. 

Rainbow Diet

One approach to healthy eating is to ‘eat the rainbow’, which simply means being aware of the colour of the food that you eat in one day. The thing here is to make sure you eat a spectrum of colours and avoid a day of beige food, pasta, potatoes, bread for example. The Lake District has some fantastic vegetarian restaurants and even if you’re not a strict non-meat eater, fruit and veg are the place to go when looking to bring colour, and not to mention vitamins and minerals, into your diet. 

Ambleside is often called the vegetarian capital of the Lakes as it is particularly good for vegetarian dining. We’d recommend the Rattle Ghyll Café, which is a hearty beans, pulses, salad and cake’s kind of place. For a fancier affair Fellinis Vegetarian Restaurant, Jazz Bar and Zeffirellis Cinema is just the ticket. And new to the Ambleside Vegetarian scene is Ghandi’s Cafe, serving up a globally-inspired menu of veggie sushi, falafel kebabs and Thai dishes, alongside traditional Indian platters. 

Mindful Eating

This is a slow approach to food, leaving you more satisfied than a rushed and distracted endeavour with no thought given to what or how you are eating. And yes, this takes time and is hard to fit around a busy schedule. So your holiday is the ideal time to get rid of bad eating habits, like scoffing on the run or skipping meals altogether.

Eating healthily is as much about your dining habits as it is what you actually consume. Mindful eating is about being conscious as you eat of how the food is making you feel, in mind and body. The Japanese philosophy of ‘Hara hachi bun me’, translated as “belly 80 percent full”, is achieved by being aware of how you feel throughout a meal and not just when a plateful is finished.

You are more likely to be mindful of your food if you have cooked it yourself - something else that we have more time for on holiday. And mindful eating begins with the whole process of cooking, starting with shopping - another favourite holiday activity! 

Heading to a local farmer’s market and chatting to the producer about provenance and what makes their food so special is a great way to reconnect with food.  

We are really rather spoilt here as the Lake District is home to some of the UK’s very best food producers, including multi award-winning meats, cheeses, jams and relishes.

You’ll also find a vibrant hub of foodie events, from weekly markets to the likes of Holker Hall Chilli Festival, The World’s Original Marmalade Festival and Taste Cumbria. When buying from local producers you’ll pick up tips and recipe ideas as we love a good natter here in the Lakes.

Back home, put on a relaxing playlist and dish out jobs for everyone in the kitchen so the meal becomes a joint venture. This is a particularly good way to encourage children to enjoy meals. If they have peeled the carrot, enjoyed Daddy’s Peter Rabbit impersonations and watched it roast in the oven, they are more likely to happily munch on them at meal time.

The practice of mindful eating isn’t exclusive for home cooking. The Lake District is a hotbed of culinary excellence. Sharing a meal from a top restaurant is a great way to broaden your taste buds and pick up cooking technique ideas.

The tasting menu from Michlin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel has come straight from their nearby ‘Our Farm’ via Aulis, the exciting development kitchen of superstar chef Simon Rogan. This is certainly an experience for mind, body and soul.

Gilpin Spice, Windermere, brings the Lake District’s spice trade heritage to life in a blaze of mouth-watering delights, dished up in lots of bright colours where you really eat with all of your senses.

Eat in or dine out when staying in one of our holiday cottages in Bowness and Windermere.

Counting Steps and Calories

We started healthily and now onto some indulgence. For diet-fans, you’ve likely heard of the 5:2 plan, made famous by George Osborne and Benedict Cumberbatch, where a few calories are consumed for 2 days of the week, almost like a mini-fasting, and then normal eating resumes for 5 days. We like to apply this theory to treat eating when on holiday, because let’s face it, that’s what a holiday is all about.

There’s no guilt attached to enjoying a delicious cream scone enjoyed after a 5-mile hike, and we’d highly recommend Chesters by the River, at Skelwith Bridge just outside of Ambleside where a brisk walk along the River Brathay and back will clock up around 6,000 steps on your Fitbit. In the North Lakes, the beautiful 3.6 mile walk above Derwentwater from Surprise View to the hamlet of Watendlath provides a similar step count and an ice cream or cake at the Watendlath cafe, Caffle House Tea Rooms, is a must.