It’s that time of year again: artists are releasing new music, cut-off denim shorts, battered wellies and Glo-Sticks are back in fashion, and friends start flooding your Instagram with selfies taken in fields in the sun and rain. It’s festival season!
As veteran festival goers will vouch, this often means three-day weekends, partying into the early hours, sporadic eating habits and some dubious food choices.
But if you are a healthy eater or want to eat healthily it doesn’t mean this has to go out of the window just because you are attending a festival.
You may have attended summer boot camps to get in shape for the festival season and by following these tips and meal suggestions you can avoid all that hard work going to waste.
Angelique Panagos, who has written a book called The Balance Plan, says it is really important to be prepared.
“Don’t just stuff your bag with clothes and booze – spare a thought for healthy snacks! I like to stash away nuts, protein bars or energy balls, and small sachets of nut butter.”
This may seem strange to novice festival goers, but Tony Solomon, who is the founder of Anna Mae's, a popular festival food truck that has attended some of the UK’s biggest festivals, says it is a great idea.
He says, “We love to take a bag of carrots too. They keep really well in hot tents and it’s nice to have something crunchy and healthy to snack on. Other fruit tends not to keep so well in festival conditions.
Kristen Seymour, the Editor-in-Chief at Fit Bottomed Eats, recommends eating lots of vegetables at a festival and to visit the different food stalls to pick up the veg.
“Vegetarian and vegan items aren't always necessarily better for you -- but many of the food stalls that feature veg options tend to have health in mind, so they're great places to seek out nutritious food. Steer clear of heavy sauces and fried items. Raw, steamed, or roasted veggies will keep you feeling full and fantastic all weekend long.”
Angelique Panagos says that it is important to eat a good breakfast at festivals, especially as your food choices can be sporadic!
“Try to eat a protein-rich breakfast to avoid any blood sugar crashes, especially if you are going to be drinking throughout the day. Another idea is to find a van selling porridge which you can add your mixed nuts or nut butter to or even avocado and egg on toast, washed down with pure water or if there is smoothie truck have a fresh smoothie.”
It is so important to drink lots of water as it can stave off heat exhaustion, which is all too common at festivals.
Angelique Panagos, adds, “It’s so easy to get swept away with festival fever but it’s important to sip on water throughout the day to stay hydrated. This will boost your energy and see you dancing until morning! It will also support your liver, too. If you’re drinking alcohol, then pack some coconut water, which is full of electrolytes.”
Anna Mae's founder Tony Solomon adds, “Carry around a bottle of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice in it. Easy to make and refreshing and also contains vitamin C which is great for detoxing.”
Fit Bottomed Eats founder Kristen Seymour says that by sharing food with friends you can avoid eating too many unhealthy foods.
She says, “Part of the fun of attending a festival is enjoying some really delicious goodies you otherwise wouldn't have, right? But remember, you're not the only one drooling over that cheesy, bacon-filled baguette -- so ask a friend or two if they'd like to split one. That way, you get to indulge without losing ground with the healthy habits you've worked so hard to put in place.”
Festivals nowadays offer many more food options than just greasy burger trucks with a range of trucks now catering for healthier needs.
Angelique Panagos adds, “Try to make informed choices! Keep up your nutrients by getting some greens in the form of veggies or a smoothie (your liver will love you for it!). At bigger festivals, you can eat your way around the world: try the curries (I love chickpea curries for lots of fibre and plant protein) or grilled Caribbean chicken, delicious. If the worst comes to the worst, simply ask for a bun less burger and grab some extra salad!”
At some festivals it can be hard to find foods that are not processed, but fortunately festivals in today’s age are generally a lot healthier.
Kristen Seymour talks about some less processed foods, “You don't have to stick to just veggies, of course, but when it comes to meat, look for the least processed items. Lean, grilled chicken or beef is more healthful than fried chicken or sausage.”
Although not strictly to do with food, lots of festivals now offer health fanatics a variety of exercise and fitness classes during the festival and these are great for burning off the calories if you have been eating junk food throughout the festival.
Take Glastonbury Festival as an example, as it has a healing field that is dedicated to celebrating healing and togetherness.
There are free yoga and tai chi workshops that festival goers can enjoy as well as meditation and massage tents open to the public.
As you can’t enjoy all the treatments available at a spa during a festival, this is the next best thing to help you relax after dancing the night away.
Rated by the Evening Standard as London’s best street food and for boasting the best mac n cheese this side of the Atlantic by Elle UK, Anna Mae's is synonymous with festivals.
Founder Tony Solomon recommends two of its dishes for those watching what they eat, “Our mac n cheese is great for carb loading when if you plan to be walking around a festival all day - you’ll need the energy for sure.
“We have one item on our menu - the Spicy Juan - our mac with loads of chillies, sour cream and coriander. The chillies are definitely supposed to help with digestion and detox if you’re putting other unhealthy stuff in your body over the weekend.”
While there are lots of delicious food trucks at every festival, Boomtown has gone a step further by hosting a farmer’s market.
More well-known for its great music, Boomtown’s new Farmer’s Market will be taking place at this year’s festival between 10-13 August at the Matterley Estate.
The Farmers’ Market will feature the very best in local produce and will serve as an opportunity for local producers to promote their products to Boomtown’s 60,000 visitors from all over the world and showcase the delicious foods that Hampshire has to offer.
The organisers at Boomtown add, “A Farmers’ Market is a great way to provide a space to put the spotlight on a huge range of incredible products and crafts that Hampshire and this part of the South Downs area has to offer, and we look forward to discovering even more ourselves!”
Goan Seafood Company offers fresh Cornish fish (pollack and mackerel), from sustainable stocks, cooked to authentic Goan recipes. The health benefits of fish, particularly oily fish like mackerel, are well known.
David Hunkin from Goan Seafood Company, adds, “Our food is low in fat, with no saturated fats, low in salt, and contains no added sugar. All our food is gluten-free and dairy-free. Everything is made at the festival from fresh ingredients and cooked to order for the customer. The closest one could get to home cooking.”
Square Pie’s gourmet pies are renowned among festival circles for being utterly delicious and these pies as well as their Cumberland sausages with mash potato’s allow festival goers to enjoy meals that are filling, but aren’t too stodgy.
Alex Tarry from Square Pie, adds, “We always use the very best fresh ingredients available and work with chefs who know what they’re doing and care about the results. Basically, we don’t cut corners.”
In the past the likes of Kate Moss has enjoyed their spinach, sweet potato and goats cheese pie and Alexa Chung was spotted at their Glastonbury stand last year!
The Duck Truck is well-known for serving a range of duck-based foods and snacks to hungry revellers, but their foods are also very healthy.
Ed Farrell from the Duck Truck, says, “Contrary to popular beliefs, duck meat is less fatty than chicken! And duck fat is good fat, with similar properties to olive oil, and the body digests it better being an animal fat. You can't get much healthier than our duck salad!”
Since 2010 Wholefood Heaven have been offering delicious vegetarian, vegan, wheat and gluten free wholefood from their 1973 Citroen H van.
The food uses unrefined, unprocessed ingredients and organic produce wherever possible and their signature dish for mobile catering is the famed ‘Buddha Bowl’, winner of Best Main Dish at the British Street Food Awards and 2016 winner of the peoples’ choice awards at Glastonbury Festival. The dish includes massaman curry with new potato, pineapple and soya chunks, carrot and homemade kimchi pickle, flash steamed seasonal greens with cracked black pepper and Himalayan pink salt, organic short grain brown rice and omega seed sprinkle.
The festival is a bespoke banquet of music, arts, culture and gastronomy, taking place over 7-10 September in the magical village of Portmeirion in Wales.
The multi-award winning Festival Number 6 will again be running its bespoke dining experience, Dinner at Clough’s, for the fourth year in a row.
A number of Michelin-starred chefs will be in attendance at the festival, including East London’s Som Saa restaurant, which will be opening the culinary extravaganza by serving regional Thai food with uncompromising flavours.
Legendary chef Aiden Byrne and Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth will also be cooking at the food festival.
Festival visitors are really spoilt for choice when it comes to healthy foods as there will be lots of food trucks cooking their signature dishes in the Street Food Village area too.
Image Credit: Anna Mae's, Boomtown, Festival Number 6, Goan Seafood Company, Square Pie, The Duck Truck, Wholefood Heaven.