The practice of healthy eating is something I’ve been struggling with for years. I know the basics; the fact that if you eat nothing but sausage rolls, you’ll feel ill and most probably suffer some hideous case of malnutrition. But the practice is much harder to implement than the theory is to learn.
So when Charlie, co-owner of The Five Bells at Clyst Hydon invited me along to their Autumn Healthy Eating evenings, I felt this might be a turning point – that I might suddenly realise the errors of my ways and that this would be the drive I would need to make some changes. It was an educational and informative evening accompanied by the delicious creations of Head Chef Charlotte Vincent and her team, which has left me with a lot to think about.
Head down the winding typical Devonian lanes from Clyst St Lawrence (the long way around), and this pub emerges like a glorious ship in a sea of hedgerows and fields. Clyst Hydon lies at the top of the Clyst Valley, meandering down the East side of Exeter, it is an area of great natural beauty including the sprawling Ashclyst Forest and nearby Killerton House.
The Five Bells Inn has been on my bucket list of places to visit for many years. It’s now been two years since the James and Charlie Garnham took the reigns of this exquisite village pub, in July 2019 (ex-Gidleigh Park, Royal Clarence) Charlotte was taken on as Head Chef, bringing her flair and talent to their country pub kitchen. The pub prides itself on it’s customer service as well as the quality of their food, which lends itself to a gastropub experience that is hard to match locally.
Carola Becker is a certified Nutritional Therapist and Nutrition Coach who has been guiding and helping people for many years, and the brains behind the nutritional science of the evening. Between her and Charlotte, they created a gorgeously healthy menu for us to try.
The first thing you notice was you walk into The Five Bells, is that they have a Stammtisch table. This is a table that is reserved for locals, in German it loosely translates into ‘regular’s table’ – this is a table for locals and reminds you that even though this pub has a wide ranging solid reputation for good food, it is still part of the local community.
It was great to meet Sarah and Geoff from Sea Arch too, Sarah who was my dining companion for the evening create the most amazing non-alcoholic Gin from botanicals, which is bursting in popularity and flavour!
When I go out to any restaurant that takes pride in their fish, it would be rude not to try it – and when I had a look at the menu beforehand I was drawn to this immediately.
Marinated Brixham Mackerel with Cucumber Pickle, Roasted Onion, Sea Herbs & Sea Buckthorn
As taste goes, you can’t beat Mackerel and the combination with the cucumber pickle worked well together. This is a plate that gives you a punch of protein through the fish.
Carola says “This gives you a big portion of Vitamin D (great in autumn and winter, because we don’t get much sunshine), B12 to support your energy levels, selenium for your heart and a lot of protein!”
I’ve tried to eat more fish since this event, and it is something we have to make sure we get into our diet. Naturally it goes without saying that if you are buying fish, make sure it is from a sustainable source.
Devon produces some of the finest meat and poultry in the UK. One producer in particular is Creedy Carver who are based near Crediton with their chicken and duck being something that I’ve always looked forward to when seeing it on any menu.
Creedy Carver Free Range Chicken Breast, Pressed Chicken Leg, Carrot Puree, Salt Baked Carrot, Chicken Jus and Apple Gel
As expected, the chicken was moist and the apple gel was a happy suprise with a strong flavour. The whole plate felt very traditional, but actually behind it’s traditional veil was a few nutritional suprises.
Carola said about this dish “Your chicken main course will provide chromium which helps balancing your blood sugar (good when you suffer from carbohydrate cravings), Vitamin A and of course a good portion of protein”
Chromium is something I’d not really heard about and upon further investigation, found it’s something that can be beneficial for those with diabetes as well. I felt that this might have not been the most exciting dish nutritionally compared to the others available, but then I couldn’t resist the temptation of some expertly prepared chicken and Vitamin A is very good for healthy vision, skin, bones and teeth.
Our final course was a beautiful celebration of autumnal flavours. Autumn seasonals are versatile and exciting, and the range of fruit available means you can really have fun with a dish like this.
A Celebration Of All Things Autumn: Poached Apple, BlackBerry Jelly And Pumpkin Pie (Vegan)
This dessert contained lots of Vitamin C, Magnesium and Fibre as well as a vegan Pumpkin Pie that was silky and pumpkinny, with no hint that this was something with no animal products contained whatsoever. Charlotte really did something special with this dessert, and to say I made this last as long as I could was an understatement!
We’re coming up to the new year and I feel that we all need to think about what we eat, much more carefully. We only have one body and that body responds to what we put into it, we have complete control over it including what we feed it.
So I encourage you to make a few new year’s resolutions.
- Visit Clyst Hydon and go for a meal at The Five Bells. The team there have created a lovely destination for foodies and with Chef Charlotte Vincent at the helm, you’ll see why it has the reputation it has.
- Healthy eating. New year’s resolutions are great in effect, but face it, how many of us really see them through? Think about the nutrition of the food you eat, and be mindful of your levels of activity too. Make this new year, the beginning of a new decade be your healthiest yet!
- Be greener. Collectively if we all make an effort to be considerate of our carbon footprint, we can help effect change on a wider scale. Be mindful of where your food is coming from and shop as local as you can.
Clyst Hydon, Cullompton EX15 2NT
The meal provided in this review was gratis. Views expressed are independent of the business and is not seen or approved before publication.