We talk to Jennifer Irvine, founder of The Pure Package and author of new healthy-eating book, The Balance Diet.

Amongst the raft of diet books that have come out in 2014, The Balance Diet by Jennifer Irvine sticks out as one that makes a whole lot of sense. Building on the principles of variety, nutrition and balance that have made her gourmet diet food delivery service, The Pure Package, a favourite of London’s elite, Jennifer directs The Balance Diet at busy people, focusing on speedy, healthy recipes that can be 'upcycled' to provide two meals from one without sacrificing on flavour, health or satisfaction. We caught up with Jennifer Irvine to find out more.

I started The Pure Package because I love food… but I also like to look good so the idea of a chef preparing all my meals for me and making sure the nutritional and dietary elements were all taken care of was just heaven for me. I thought that if I want it, then there are sure to be others that want it too. At the time, there was nothing else like it in the UK, so we were the first.

I had no idea if it was going to work… I started it, literally, from my own kitchen. I never took a bank loan and I never got outside investment, so from that perspective it wasn’t half as scary as you would imagine.

The main principle behind The Pure Package is fulfillment… People want to enjoy their food and I think that’s why it has been so successful.

Our chefs have incredibly imaginations… We draw from so many different places and so many different cultures. Some of our team are ex-Nobu chefs and some are ex-Ottolenghi chefs and we’re always taking the best from different countries and translating that onto the plate for our clients.

I come from a small, self-sufficient farm in Ireland… We would milk our own cows and make our own butter and cheese and yoghurt, so I’ve always been a foodie. I used to develop restaurant concepts and spent many years working for Neil’s Yard Dairy, which makes fantastic cheese.

Our typical client is… very successful, very intelligent and very busy. They usually sign up to The Pure Package with a health goal. For a lot of them, it’s to lose weight, perhaps after they’ve had a baby or if they’re preparing for an awards ceremony.

The Pure Package offers a very intelligent way to lose weight… All the work is taken away and you don’t have to feel guilty on any level as it’s all ethically sourced.

Most clients stay with us for a few months… but some stay for literally years. They start out with a health goal and then they just stay for the convenience factor, so we’ve got clients who’ve been with us for eight years or so.

Some of my clients have their own private chefs as well… Sometimes I might have to go and meet a Saudi Prince – they’ll fly in on their private jet and you realise that our food bags are being delivered to their chef, who’s then re-arranging it on plates.

A typical menu at The Pure Package might consist of… rye bread with freshly made peanut butter and oranges for breakfast, a smoked salmon frittata for lunch, then a barley, quinoa and wild mushroom risotto for dinner. Clients don’t see the same food again in a six week rotation so it’s really varied.

Most of our food is sourced from the UK… For our Japanese menu, we’ve got some great guys on the coast of Ireland going out to collect different sea vegetables, such as sea spaghetti. Other fruit and vegetables tend to be sourced within New Covent Garden market, so within a couple of hundred metres of our kitchens.

Flavour is everything… If you use a really good quality cheddar like Montgomery’s, it’s got tons of flavour and you only have to use a tiny bit, which also means fewer calories than if you used loads of the cheap stuff. It’s like really good chocolate – you only need one square to feel totally satisfied.

My biggest challenge is… finding a work/life balance. There was a point when I had three kids under the age of three, so it’s all about having a really good team to work with.

After following one of our programmes… clients generally go on to do quite well by themselves. We find that people learn a lot by using The Pure Package: how to incorporate certain ingredients and also about portion control. We also do leaving packs and obviously I’ve written two books now, so that helps them to follow up and not slip back into bad habits.

The Balance Diet is all about speedy recipes and upcyling… People do not have time to cook properly three times a day so if you can manage to cook properly once a day, then it’s good to make the most of it. For example, you might have chicken and asparagus with coriander pesto for dinner and then use the leftovers as part of an amazing rye bread sandwich for lunch.

I’m a great believer in balance… I like to have variety in my diet, but that’s because I love food and taste and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a tasting menu at a good restaurant. I went to Marcus Wareing over Christmas and it was fantastic – ten courses later, happy days!

My favourite website isn’t strictly foodie, but… I have a friend who is laugh-out-loud funny who writes a blog called Relentless Laundry. She’s a mum and I probably shouldn’t like it so much because she’s vegetarian and I’m not, but her recipes are fantastic.

This year, my goals are… Survival. Balance. And to be happy. I have every chance in the world to be happy and count my blessings for how lucky I am, so if I have a goal for 2014, it’s to remember to be happy and that I have a very good life.

The Balance Diet by Jennifer Irvine
2013, Orion Publishing
Buy from Amazon

21 January 2014