‘I don’t want my kids to see any food as good or bad’

Holly Bell was the series two finalist of the Great British Bake Off. The mother of three stands by her rule of everything in moderation’ – even cake

Do you find healthy eating a challenge? Now that I’m over 35 I find myself thinking more about what I eat (my weight fluctuates between a size 12 and a 14). I’m obsessed with eating my five-a-day. I’m actually more of a savoury person than sweet, so I’m more likely to munch on a carrot than an apple. Whenever I want a snack I’ll go for veg, and I load up on vegetables at lunch and dinner. Lunch is almost always protein with a huge salad. I love hearty cooking such as chilli, stews and casseroles because you can pack them with vegetables, and dinners always feature a huge amount of steamed veg on the side, such as green beans. Overall, I’d say there’s a credit/debit element to how I live my life. If I’ve started off with pancakes for breakfast, I’ll be moderate in my eating for the rest of the day. Though one challenge I face is ice cream. I’m mad about the stuff and will eat whatever’s going!

How do you manage cooking for the family in a hurry? When it comes to planning meals, my two main objectives are saving time and money. I’m not a master at cooking, which is where my love of kitchen gadgets comes in – though I steer clear of those that only do one thing. At the moment I’m using the Pressure King Digital Pressure Cooker, which I came across during my work with High Street TV. If, like me, you love that slow-cooked flavour and texture, but don’t want to wait a long time, this piece of equipment will be a revelation. Meals are ready in 20 minutes rather than three hours, so great for midweek. You can fry directly in the cooker, too, and I’ve even used it to poach a whole chicken from frozen in just 45 minutes.

As a baker, what do you think of the ongoing sugar debate? The most popular recipe requests I get are for low-sugar and low-fat bakes, but personally I take the French view: eat what you enjoy but just have less of those very indulgent treats. If you’re going to have cake I definitely believe homemade is better because you can control exactly what goes into it, and there are ways to inject more nutrition payoff into a bake. My advice is to think, ‘How can I enhance it?’ rather than to take something away. Adding nuts, seeds or some fruit is a good place to start. But a dentist told me recently this new overuse of dried fruit is the worst thing that’s happened to teeth in the past few years, particularly if you soak and blitz it. It’s especially bad news for children as it sticks to their teeth and stays there until they brush. So it’s back to that ‘moderation’ thing.

This interview originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Healthy Food Guide. To read the full interview, download the PDF.