{Real} Life in Balance: The Foodologist

I’m so delighted to bring you our next Real Life in Balance interview with Hannah van Didden, founder of mindful eating business A Foodly Affair and self proclaimed ‘foodologist’! I first read about Hannah in the last edition of Spice Magazine, where she shared her recipe for Kale Salad which I LOVE (and apparently was a hit with her now husband, too!)

Hannah has always had a keen interest in food and cooking (reaching the top 50 of Masterchef as well as a stint in the kitchen with Rochelle Adonis cakes & confections) but a serious illness 4 years ago saw her change her lifestyle to embrace raw and whole foods almost exclusively. ‘Let food be thy medicine’ is something that Hannah has experienced first hand and now helps others to heal their relationship with food and discover their own personal food philosophy.

Although we’re not about to take up a raw regime anytime soon, i’m a huge fan of Hannah’s approach. Essentially, she believes that it’s important to understand where your food comes from, how it’s sourced/processed/prepared and the impact it has on your body, mind and environment. I love that she takes in to consideration factors other than just the nutrition of a particular food, but also the way in which it is prepared and eaten as being essential for good health and vitality – I guess you could call it the ‘mindful’ aspect of food.

I took part in one of Hannah’s regular workshops this past weekend and it was a real delight! I’m now armed with lots of lovely recipes and inspiration for including a little more ‘raw’ (and delicious) into our eating regime.

Thanks so much for giving us an insight into your world Hannah – I think your fridge contents alone make it a good read!

{All images courtesy of Hannah}

1. Favourite flavours? Before children, I was more of a savoury eater. Now my tastes have changed, and I am all about heat and sweet: cinnamon; vanilla; salted caramel; orange; grapefruit; dark chocolate; chilli; ginger; coriander; fennel; licorice. And I can not go past a real tomato (you know the ones).

2. Your approach to food and eating well? I believe that each person has a unique foodly philosophy, which you can learn by listening to your body and paying attention to how your food is treating you. I believe that it is important to eat food as whole, organic, unprocessed and sustainable as you can get it – and it is also important to give yourself a break. Be kind. Food should taste and look good as well as be good for you, and you get more nutritional value from your food if you can enjoy each part of the eating process – from planning, researching, sourcing, preparation and eating, all the way to cleaning up.

3. Cooking style? Eclectic. Experimental. Healthy. Eating from the garden. Shared meals. There are no special meals for kids/adults in our house; I prepare one meal at night for the whole family, which usually includes me, my husband, his 8-year old, my 4-year old and our 16-month old, and maybe a friend or two. Meals are more nourishing when they are shared.

4. Signature dish? There are too many! Maybe my green juice? Scrunchy kale salad? My husband fell in love with me because of my kale salad.

5. Your ‘saviour’ meal when there’s no time to cook? For this weather, it’s vegetable soup. I make it in huge batches so that we have ‘meals in advance’ waiting for us in the fridge/freezer. My favourite version is a clear broth (primarily veg stock, my ground spice blend and herbs from my garden) that can be poured over diced/shredded fresh herbs and vegetables (eg. carrot, celery, black kale, snow peas). The end result is a blanched vegetable soup that is bursting with flavour and goodness. It’s medicinal.

6. Pantry essentials? Cacao powder & butter, dried berries, nutritional yeast, various raw nuts, quinoa, shredded coconut, whole flours (khorasan, coconut, almond), tamari, apple cider vinegar, oils (macadamia, olive, coconut, sesame), Himalayan salt, lots & lots of different spices, maca powder, chia seeds, linseed, sea vegetables, panela, raw honey.

7. What’s in your fridge at the moment? A well-stocked fridge fills me with delight. Right now mine is brimming with (yes, this is a stocktake) a grapefruit, celery, black kale, half each of a cabbage and a butternut pumpkin, a zucchini, parsley, coriander, ginger, turmeric, garlic, a red onion, 1½ lemons, 5 green apples, 7 tomatoes, 4 carrots, bay leaves, seeded and Dijon mustards, basil pesto, butter, milk, yoghurt, sauerkraut, capers, olives, a facial cleanser, a foot mask, unsoap, homemade kasundi (eggplant & persimmon – really yum, but more like a jam than a pickle. I will blog the recipe when it’s perfected), leftovers from two meals, green juice pulp, bee pollen, hemp seeds, ‘nutty nog’ spices, my aunty’s homemade strawberry jam, eggs, a generous slice of raw cacao beetroot cake (recipe here).

8. Favourite cookbooks? My book 😉 But seriously, I have many great cookbooks in my shelves and my autographed books are my most treasured. My favourite book-of-the-moment is The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It’s not signed by the author and not a cookbook per se, but an awesome reference for fantastic flavour combinations.

9. Magazines and blogs that inspire you? Dumbo Feather and Smith Journal are my latest magazine loves. So much fabulousness in such small spaces. For a list of some of the inspiring blogs I follow, check out the sidebar on my blog (too many to name here).

10. Coffee or tea? Both! Organic, fair-trade coffee and herbal tisanes (my current favourite blend: licorice, lavender & peppermint).

11. What nourishes you (other than food)? I am nourished by: time with my husband; hugs and giggles with my little people; the times that I sit (yes, just sit) after our little people go to bed; catching up with friends; the beach; exploring new places and flavours; long baths; reading; singing my little heart out; writing creatively.

12. Exercise plan (if you have one)? While yoga will always be precious to me, my current exercise regime equals playtime with and running after my little people.

13. Your thoughts on body image and how you feel about yours... Accept your curves. Be free where you are. I feel good in my own skin. It helps to like yourself.

14. I’m craving… Caraway. These tasty little seeds are meant to help with digestion, so I am taking it as a signal from my body.

15. I’m looking forward to... Anything and everything. Tomorrow brings new and unexpected goodness.

16. Balance – Secret to success? Or myth? I don’t know that there is such a thing but I’m not saying it’s a myth. I think it’s called ‘life’.

17. Favourite Quote “If you want a kinder world, then behave with kindness; if you want a peaceful world, make peace within.” – Dan Millman

Thank you so much Hannah!

You can find out more about Hannah via her website and blog and being a keen wordsmith, she has recently published her first digital book called Love thy food: An intimate traverse into mindful eating.

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