Lean Living Girl talks cheat meals, exercise tips and healthy swaps for January

We sit down with Carly Neave to find out more about her love of food and fitness

What do you love most about what you do?

The fact that my work is my passion; I love food, fitness and health and everything I do revolves around that. I thoroughly enjoy working for myself because it means my time is my own.

What do you love about living in Dubai?

I love the opportunities that are available. I think Dubai provides a little more freedom – it’s allowed me to start my own blog, whereas I’m not sure I would have had the same chance to do so in the UK.

What’s your go-to cheat meal?

I would say pizza. Or my absolute favourite would be a big selection of cheeses with all the trimmings (chutneys, biscuits).

If you’re going out for food, where would you usually go?

If I’m going out on a standard night I would go somewhere like Mythos in JLT – casual food, a nice relaxing atmosphere and you can make use of the weather and sit outside. My favourite restaurant at the moment (if I’m going for a more fine dining experience) would be LaLuz in DIFC with its Peruvian-Mediterranean mix.

Is there one thing you usually get off the menu, or do you like to try different things?

There are normally two types of foods that I’ll go for – burrata or some kind of tartare, whether that’s steak, tuna, salmon...the list goes on!

Where in the world have you had some of the most memorable food?

At first I thought this was a difficult question but it’s actually pretty easy! I go to Mallorca every year and the Spanish tapas are so fresh and delicious – everything is just so wonderfully cooked. Yes, there’s oil in the dishes but a lot of great cooking contains it; things like dates and bacon, Padrón peppers, croquettes, jamón ibérico and calamari are among my top choices. It’s a very social type of cuisine and I much prefer a meal you can share with friends and family.

Sometimes exercise is the last thing people want to do after a full day at work. What tips can you give to inspire?

You fall into a healthy cycle when you start exercising regularly – you naturally want to eat better and work that bit harder in the gym. It’s been proven that it takes repeating a good habit three times to make it stick, so it’s deciding to exercise on the three times you feel tired that’ll make the fourth, fifth and sixth times much easier. Simply put, physical activity releases endorphins and makes you feel great.

Have you got any healthy tips or swaps?

Apple sauce instead of butter in things like cakes and pastries works really well. I use a lot of Medjool dates instead of processed sugar because while the sugar content is still high, it’s all natural and much better for you. Instead of fizzy drinks I tend to make sparkling water with fresh lime, or a recipe similar to this pineapple and ginger iced tea with no added sugar and only fresh ingredients – you can get a bit creative in the kitchen!

If you’re looking for a few nutritious dishes to kick start your New Year, Carly’s recipes are healthy, easy to prepare and just happen to be inspired by the flavours of Japan.