Welcome to Not Enough Cinnamon's newest series: Interview With A Food Blogger. Twice a month, I want to publish an interview I did with a food blogger I love, along with my favorite recipes from her/his blog. They are blogs I read weekly and I'm sure you would love too. You never have too many blogs to follow, right? 😉
Please, meet Sonia. She's the incredibly talented cook, photographer and writer behind The Healthy Foodie. What I like the most about her blog? Her endless creativity. People, I'm telling you, this girl can create an extraordinary dish out of anything edible. Pretty much the friend I would like to hang with if we ended up on a desert island with limited food access (you never know, right?) Or the personal chef I would love to hire if I had enough money for that. Boring doesn't figure in her vocabulary. No matter what your diet restrictions are - no grains? no dairy? no sugar? - she'll find a way to make it delicious. No diet restrictions for you? YAY! You will love all of her recipes. Her pictures? Sonia definitively knows how to make food look dangerously yummy. And I love how you feel you've known her for years when you read her posts. Everything's to love about this girl! Go check out The Healthy Foodie and see for yourself!
I asked Sonia a few questions, and here's what she told me. In a hurry? Check out question 4, it's my favorite!
- A few months ago, you switched to the Paleo diet. Could you tell us more about this lifestyle? What is it all about?
To me, the Paleo diet can be pretty much summed up in 3 very simple words: EAT REAL FOOD.
I used to think that this diet was basically about eating meat, more meat and nothing but fatty meat. But after giving the Whole30® a try earlier this year, I realized that there is a heck of a lot more to that lifestyle than just stuffing yourself on meat and bacon. In fact, the diet also has you feeding on LOADS of fresh vegetables.
I think that what really got me hooked on this diet is the fact that I find it to be extremely clean and RESPECTFUL; respectful of the planet that we live on, respectful of the animals that we feed on and most of all, respectful of our own bodies.
The way I see it, Paleo is all about feeding on the highest possible quality of plants and animals that you can find or afford and filling your plate with food from sustainable sources, which has undergone as little processing as possible. Paleo friendly foods include meat, fish and seafood, eggs, tons of fresh vegetables as well as some fruit, nuts and seeds.
Let me tell you, it doesn’t get much cleaner than this!
(The Whole30® is a 30 day program that is pretty much based on the principles of a squeaky clean Paleo diet)
Do you indulge on cheat meals once in a while? How frequently and what does a typical cheat meal look like?
I’m not one to indulge all that often and tend to stick to a rather strict diet most of the time but I do have a real soft spot for Asian food… So I have to admit that, a few times a year, I will go all out and feast on it as if I didn’t know the first thing about health.
Also, I still have this crazy addiction to sugar and all things sweet, so yeah… from time to time, I will surrender to my sugar dragon and splurge in a decadent, non-paleo and absolutely non healthy treat, such as ice cream, or cheesecake…
Do you eat out often? When you do, what’s your strategy to make sure you’ll still be eating paleo/healthy?
I do eat out on a regular basis, i.e. at least once or twice a week, but I pretty much always visit the same place, which makes it a whole lot easier for me to make choices that are compliant with my lifestyle.
My strategy is quite simple: I stick with grilled meat or fish and always order fresh or grilled veggies for sides. I make sure to ask that no oil or butter be used when preparing my food and have them hold the vinaigrette when ordering salad of any kind. Also, if at all possible, I’ll have them add half an avocado and / or olives to my habitual house salad.
Let’s just say “substitution” becomes my middle name when eating out… but when you ask politely, most restaurants will gladly accommodate you.
What advice would you give to people willing to start a healthier lifestyle?
Let’s see… I just have so much to say here, I could probably write a book. But let me go back to when I first started. This is what initially worked for me, what allowed me to keep at it and get to where I am today.
BABY STEPS! That was my motto when I first started. The mountain that you are about to climb might be huge, but don’t look at the whole thing just yet. Just look right in front of you and keep moving forward. Whatever you do, don’t ever look behind, don’t ever turn around. You know exactly what’s back there and it’s not pretty… so why return?
Make small changes regularly and make each of them durable. You need to create new, permanent habits for yourself, so make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew or you might get discouraged. This could be things like having no alcohol whatsoever during the week, not snacking after dinner or eating dessert no more than twice a month, for instance. This will help transform your habits overtime.
Set realistic, tangible and ACHIEVABLE goals, all the time! What’s the point of shooting arrows if you have nothing to aim at? Set short term AS WELL as long term goals. What do you want to accomplish within the next 30 days? Do you want to be 5 pounds lighter, perhaps? Or maybe you’d like to able to run without stopping for 10 minutes? How about the next 3 months? Where do you want to be in a year? Set a date and write them down!
Reward yourself for achieving your goals, but NEVER WITH FOOD! Would a recovering alcoholic celebrate being sober for 3 months by downing a bottle of wine? I don’t think so. If you ever feel like having a treat, have it, but assume your decision fully and be prepared to deal with the consequences. Having “treat meals” is allowed and desirable from time to time and should not be seen as a reward. Make your rewards truly special and desirable. I used to treat myself to new training gear, fitness clothes, and even got tattooed. That’s what kept ME motivated.
Also, commit to being physically active at least 5 days out of the week, for at least half an hour each time. Consider your workouts as part of your daily routine and make them totally non-optional, just like eating, showering or brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t think of skipping any of these things on a regular basis, now would you? Well, same thing goes for working out. Make it obligatory! Make a schedule if you have to, and make sure you stick with it!
Oh, and I almost forgot. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Find support wherever you can, be it online, at work, at your local gym, or by joining a local group. And when all else fails, do like I did and start a blog to keep you accountable! 😉
And most of all, keep it fun and keep at it… one day at a time!
What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, a blog?
I do get a lot of inspiration and ideas from other blogs that I read, as well as magazines and cookbooks. If money was no object, I could very well dedicate an entire room in my house to storing nothing but cookbooks.
I rarely follow a recipe, however. I tend to look at the pictures, sometimes look at the list of ingredients, and get an idea in my mind as to how I’m going to adapt it.
Yeah… I really suck at following recipes. In fact, I can’t even follow my own!
What’s your biggest failure ever in the kitchen?
I tried to make Grilled Octopus at home once. That would be one of my favourite things to eat in restaurants, so I figured it was about time I tried making it myself. It didn’t go quite as well as I thought it would. While it wasn’t technically a failure, it ended up costing me way too much money and taking me WAY too much time to end up with a very meagre serving of “not-so incredibly-good-to-eat-or-nice-to-look-at” grilled octopus. I took pictures and everything, but never posted them. I figured it was not worth the trouble, so it wasn’t really worth sharing… I might give it another go sometime, though!
Hey, maybe I just didn’t have the right kind of octopus! Or maybe it wasn’t big enough. I think it’s worth giving it another shot. Someday…
What’s the one kitchen tool you couldn’t live without?
Without a moment of hesitation, my food processor! If you were to take all my kitchen toys away but one, this would be my one pick. I use it so often, I should almost give it a name! (yeah, I have a tendency to name my things, but let’s not go there…)
What ingredients would you bring on a desert island with you? You can only pick 3!
Assuming that I was lucky enough to land on a beautiful and luxuriant island where I would be able to find all sorts of real food to survive on, things such as fish, eggs, meat, coconuts, and possibly some roots, leafy greens and maybe even a few berries from time to time, I would have to say:
Avocados – I’d eat the fruits first then try and grow a few trees from the pits.
Coffee – Because there’s nothing quite like waking up to a good Cup of Joe…
Cacao Paste – Because let’s face it: chocolate does make everything better! Or wait… is that bacon?
You’re from Canada, Québec to be precise. How do you survive during winter?
HA! You said it, Marie. I SURVIVE! I hate winter with a passion, so I basically close my eyes real tight and dream of warmer days to come...
Really, I should’ve been born somewhere on a tropical island…
Next question please! 😉
What’s your favourite recipe from your blog?
Wow. Now that’s a toughie…
I have to choose one? You really mean, just one?
Ouch, that’s plain mean!
But I think I’m gonna have to say my Paleo Date Squares. Not that they are absolutely spectacular or a true masterpiece or anything. In fact, it’s a very simple recipe. Maybe that’s what I like so much about them: their sheer simplicity, coupled with the buttery richness and sweet intensity of their flavour. Oh, and their firm yet crumbly texture... I can’t even describe how much I like it.
Months after making them, I still dream about sinking my teeth into one.
In fact, I get the feeling that I will be revisiting that recipe fairly soon.
Let’s just hope I can follow it!
My favorite recipes from The Healthy Foodie
So. I decided I had to restrict myself and pick only three recipes. Out of hundreds. God, it was so difficult! But here they are, my three favorite recipes from The Healthy Foodie.
The recipe is by far my absolute favorite. I can't even remember how many times I made it. My boyfriend Solal raves about it and it ends up very often on our table. I even served it to a dinner party and everybody loved it. You need to try it. The spice mix she uses makes the meat taste amazing.
There's (another) thing Sonia is very good at and it's making things from scratch. Like these homemade flavored whey protein powder. Isn't it a brilliant idea? She also makes her own Whole Grain Mustard, coconut milk, pure vanilla extract, unsweetened dried cranberries, paleo mayo...and the list could go on and on. She makes things look so easy you'll wonder why you even bother buying them at the store.
You have a sweet tooth, want to indulge but don't want to eat 300 cal and 100g of carbs in one spoon? Sonia is here for you. These Paleo Sweet Potato Brownies is just one example. See how glossy and delicious they look?
Want more recipes? Head over to Sonia's recipe index or see her Pinterest board dedicated to The Healthy Foodie recipes!