Eating a healthy and climate-smart diet doesn't have to be expensive. This is according to dietician Hanna Olvenmark. founder of the blog "Portionen under tian" (A portion fo less than SEK 10) and author of a cookbook with the same name. And she prefers to eat outside. We have just started discussing what is so special about eating outside.
when Hanna Olvenmark distracts herself with thoughts of beautiful days
spent in Änggårdsbergen Reserve, close to her home in Gothenberg. It is surrounded by suburbs but is still a real forest where she can escape for a moment of self-reflection. She thinks about Dalsland’s lakes and forests, where she spent her childhood holidays at her father’s summerhouse. And Bohuslän’s coast and walking the beautiful Soteleden trail.
“I am quite prone to stress and can really tell when I have spent too much time in the city. The best way for me to ground myself is to get outdoors. Away from all the hustle and bustle, out into nature where everything is calm.”
If you have read Hanna’s blog, you will know that her favourite activity is to eat outdoors, surrounded by nature. Setting up the camping kitchen, getting everything
ready, dedicating some time to just being out there. Or simply packing a sandwich and a thermos and heading to the closest park.
“But my favourite food? I don’t know. But I hate being hungry. I can’t really enjoy being outdoors when I’m hungry. And I’m not fussy. I actually truly believe
that everything tastes good when you are outdoors,” she says and then laughs a little at herself.
At the same time she confirms that this is in fact true. She may be an incredibly popular blogger and the author of a best-selling cookbook, but Hanna Olvenmark has both feet firmly on the ground when she repeats her mantras: Simple is often best. And most important of all: Food does not have to be expensive.
This is the basis for everything she has created in recent years.
It all started when she was a newly graduated clinical dietician and kept coming across the widespread belief that it was expensive to eat good food. Hanna didn't agree with this. Already as a student, she had started blogging about food together with some classmates; she even started her own column on the blog that focused on cheap and healthy eating.
Now she had even more fuel for her desire to start a larger project aimed at sceptics. She started her “Portionen under tian” blog in 2017 (undertian.com) and three years later her cookbook with the same name was published. Today, Hanna spends a lot of her time travelling around giving talks on the subject. Sharing knowledge of food is good for your body, your budget – and for the planet.
“From a climate perspective, it is really important that we eat more plant-based food than animal-based. When I choose ingredients according to what is cheap, I often end up with root vegetables and legumes. And legumes are among the most climate-smart foods!” says Hanna.
“But climate-smart eating is also about not buying more food than we will use,” she says. Food wastage is one of our biggest environmental problems, and buying expensive substitutes for meat is unnecessary.
“We get told that we should buy expensive things to help the climate crisis. Sometimes we take the wrong approach. Instead of thinking that we need to buy
products to substitute meat, why not cut back on meat. Eat it less often, and when you do eat it, make sure you buy good quality meat.”
Eating out for real
Hanna has been interested in spending time in nature since she was small, and whenever she went walking in the forest or by the sea, there was always a packed lunch and snacks. Regardless of season or weather. Eating outdoors makes her feel at peace in a special way. All five senses are fed.
“I have to eat anyway. So I might as well do it outside. It doesn’t have to be a big project; sometimes it’s just a sandwich. Sometimes it’s breakfast in the park
on my way to work, sometimes it’s an entire dinner cooked from scratch on my camping kitchen.”
She calls it “going out for dinner”, but instead of meeting up with friends at a restaurant, which is an expensive hobby, she likes to take them along to “eat
out” in a different way.
“In the summer, we enjoy a lot of meals around the camping kitchen. I like the whole process; setting it up, the noise of the gas. Being outdoors and chopping up ingredients and getting everything ready. It’s fun, and it gets easier the more you do it. You learn what order you need to do everything in, and how incredibly fast the pots get hot.”
Smart outdoor food
Even Hanna can understand the convenience of freeze-dried meals in a bag when you are out on a long multiday hike. But for daytrips and shorter hikes she would rather carry a little more weight and eat food that is more delicious – and less expensive.
“When I was in Lofoten with some friends a couple of years ago, we carried all kinds of things up and down those mountains. But when we were at the top we were so pleased to have that delicious parmesan or that really good drink with us,” says Hanna.
A good, simple idea for hiking trips is “one pot pasta”, where you throw everything you want into a base of crushed tomatoes and herbs. Everything can cook in the same pot, even the pasta can cook directly in the sauce. So you only need one pot and you save on dishes and time.
“Otherwise you can think of some meals you like to eat at home and how you can make them outdoors. Mixing can be hard, so if I want falafel outdoors, I mix it up first at home and take it with me. Vegetarian food generally keeps well overnight, if it isn’t really hot.”Hanna’s best tips for getting started with eating
outdoors are actually really easy.
“Just do it – make it part of your everyday life! The health benefits are better than if you put it all into one week each year. And it is also important from a climate
perspective, to realise that adventures don’t have to be thousands of miles away,” she says, and continues:
“Research shows that we want to look after nature more if we have a relationship with it. So we can’t only be outdoors when it’s summery and warm. I think we all need to change the way we think about being outdoors, so we can be out there all year round. So we have regular contact with nature and what it can give us.”
Text: Karin Wallén