Mindful Food

Eat this – not that – no, wait – more of this – less of that – hold on, new research suggestions none of that but definitely more of this – oh, quite frankly it’s enough to send your head spinning in the supermarket aisles. And Lord knows this is a weekly occurrence for me, so faddish is the influence over the nation’s eating habits. But influential, it most certainly is. Articles denouncing kale as the new superfood, and coconut oil as the only beverage you should be ingesting unless you want to look like a wrinkly leather tote bag by the age of 42 – enough is enough! The strength of the media clout surrounding the contents of our shopping basket is stifling and showing no signs of slowing down. It seems the fads and trends once an accepted norm in fashion have edged into the foods we eat. I’m not talking about the latest cuisine – the gourmet burger phenomenon, the sushi craze, the mexican street food epidemic, and a personal favourite – brunch mania. I’m talking about the foods themselves. Let’s take kale for instance – once the ugly sister of the cabbage family, gathering dust next to its more popular spinach or broccoli counterparts, it saw overnight success when a PR guru decided it needed an image haul and a smart comms strategy and ta-dah! It’s decided that all we will talk, read and eat is kale. So much so, that McDonalds are now considering adding a kale smoothie to their permanent menu. I shall say no more.
Even as we speak, Urban Outfitters have posted this image too their instagram account – “Doing Sunday morning right with chickpea flour and almond crepes, berries and Coyo”. I have two conundrums here that will paint me as the potential ignorant foodie that I am but what is Coyo? (And why on earth is it deserving of a capital letter? Is it a country!?), and how would one acquire chickpea flour? Okay that’s 3 things, but this only serves to surely highlight the food complex that is infiltrating my social feed every single day.
A complete and utter minefield, fuelled by whichever self-proclaimed lifestyle guru chooses to make fashionable waves pending their latest questionable research. “Ooh, you mean Gisele is a fan!? Then it must be for me – pass the quinoa”, (a word, I admit, I only learnt to say a mere 3 months ago after my sister enjoyed berating me in a cafe for consistently saying ‘kinwar’). The only rules I’ve come to comprehend of late are that whatever your eyes should chance upon, it must be nourishing, it must form the foundation of your meal and it must come in fancy packaging parading as un-fancy packaging suggesting some sort of sustainable proposition. Oh, and generally don’t go actively looking for those ‘2 of your 5 a day’ stickers – it’s not that simple. You should just KNOW these things, you should just KNOW your wheatgrass shot is the nutritional equivalent of a bacterial-fighting ninja doing karate chops in your gut and your ‘from concentrate’ OJ is meh.
This brings me to introducing my very dear friend Rachel Harvey – who I met whilst studying at University, and after moving to Melbourne, began to inspire me with her daily social media posts featuring the most saliva-inducing images of food I’d seen in a long time. Her passion for what has now come to be named ‘clean eating’ or ‘mindful food’ depending on which side of the ocean you’re on, has made me re-think my food pessimism. Even the fact it’s been given a veritable title suggests it’s another passing trend and a daily head fuck to put it bluntly but on the contrary, I’ve seen it go from a spark of interest, to a curious passion, right through to a choice of career for Rachel as she embarks with her business partner to start her own Nourishing Cookery workshops.
I quizzed Rachel to find out a bit more about de-mystifying the ‘trend’ which isn’t a trend…

1. What inspired you to take up ‘clean eating’ and what are your thoughts on even calling it this?
It was a gradual process really, I’ve always been relatively healthy in my food choices and trying to juggle long hours at work and still having the energy for workouts in the evening definitely requires a nutritious diet. I saw all these amazing looking vegan and gluten free cakes, smoothie bowls and superfood salads coming through on instagram and the level of inventiveness inspired me to check it out.

2. Do you see it as more of a fad or phase or do you think people have a heightened awareness of what they’re putting into their body and the effect this has?
I definitely think there are fad elements to it, the more extreme and strict diet plans for example. I like to take a more holistic approach, unless you have intolerances i don’t necessarily believe you should totally eliminate certain foods 100% A little treat or glass of wine here and there is fine by me!

3. How did you come to learn and educate your self about it?
Through instagram to start with, which then lead me to some fantastic blogs. There are people who have been doing this for a long time now and have become masters of using limited food groups and rediscovering forgotten grains and veggies. ‘My New Roots’ is a favourite, her recipes and photography are incredible and she delves into a different nutritional benefit in each article.


4. What are you favourite ingredients?
Ive also been a bit of a chocolate fiend so raw cacao is my saviour – there is so much you can do with with and the benefits are great. More antioxidants than green tea, a healthier natural stimulant than coffee, and packed full of magnesium for muscle recovery. And its delicious! Real chocolatey taste without the sugar and additives. Chia seeds, coconut oil, almonds, berries and any/all fresh veggies!


5. Do you have any cooking secrets?
Always buy fresh whole spices and toast them before use.
Make your own almond milk as a pose to shop bought.
Chop up and freeze ripe fruit or veggies before they go off for instant smoothies.
Buy seasonal produce.


6. If you could have one last meal what would it be?
Ooh thats a tough one. Its a toss up between fish tacos and a good old roast I think!

7. You live in Melbourne, do you think this has had an impact on your lifestyle?
Definitely. Its so inspiring to be in a place where everyone is so passionate about the food on their plates. The produce is fantastic here, and people aren’t afraid to try new things, resulting in an incredibly rich variety of foods from different cultures. Its actually tough to go out and have a bad meal.

8. If you could recommend someone to make one change to their lifestyle for the better what would it be?
Do something you enjoy. I don’t go to the gym because i find it boring and soulless, some people love it and thats great – i think its really important to find exercise / hobbies / work that you get fulfilment and enjoyment out of, because life too short!

9. What’s next for you?
Im currently studying to become a fully qualified chef, which has been fantastic so far. My business partner Steph and I are going to continue running the Nourishing Workshop series, and hopefully expand more into the healthy catering sector. Watch this space!

10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make a career change and inspire others to follow their foodie dreams?
Its scary and daunting – there’s no way of sugar coating that side of it. Every other day i have little niggling doubts as to whether I’ve made the right decision. But then i get back in the kitchen and instantly remember why – it makes me happy. I feel calm and at home there. To have happy moments every day for the rest of your life makes the sacrifices and hard work totally worth it. I’ve been lucky to have some incredibly supportive friends and family egging me on, so surround yourself with positive and caring people.


You can follow Rachel and her Nourishing Eats workshops as well as drop her an email for some wonderfully easy recipes direct to your inbox here:

insta: rach_double_h_eats
FB page: nourishedworkshopsmelbourne
Email: nourishingworkshops@gmail.com