The best-selling cookbook author and leading food personality talks to us about what a Life in Balance means to her
Author of 26 award-winning cookbooks, one of Australia’s leading food personalities and magazine editor-in-chief - when it comes to the world of wellness and food publishing, Donna Hay has discovered a winning recipe for success.
With a relatable yet authoritative style, her approach towards healthy eating has seen her appeal to fans the world over - a quality no better illustrated than in her new book: Life in Balance. With beautiful photography and an emphasis on the way food can make you feel, it provides plenty of food for thought for stepping out of your culinary comfort zone and trying something new.
How does Donna herself find balance in the kitchen, in her home and in her life? We caught up with her to find out.
GTG: What was the inspiration behind your new book, Life in Balance?
DH: I’ve always believed that you should maintain balance between the things you know are great for you, while also allowing yourself treats every now and again. Life in Balance is all about this approach to eating. It’s about making the most of the beautiful flavours whole foods and fresh foods have to offer and incorporating them into your daily meals, while still enjoying the little indulgences that life has to offer.
GTG: You mention in the book that you’re not a diet kind of girl, how so and what does healthy eating and wellness mean to you?
DH: For me, healthy eating and wellness always come back to that key word: balance. This means I don’t follow a strict diet, but every day I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and if a treat comes my way, I’ll definitely enjoy it, but I try not to overindulge. Exercise is also a really important part of my day. I love going for a run early in the morning – it clears my head and sets me up for whatever the day brings.
GTG: As a mother of two and with a food empire under your belt, how do you best try to achieve a work/life balance?
DH: I make a real effort to have boundaries and make my work hours count, which means no long lunches! My routine includes my morning run and green smoothie which I drink on the way into work, plus lots of healthy snacks to see me through the day.
I have a good radar for the genuine deal when it comes to superfoods and it’s important to remember that they don’t have to be new or expensive
GTG: You incorporate many superfoods into your lovely recipes. What in your experience has guided you to be able to separate fad from fact and make certain foods worthy of the title in your opinion?
DH: I’ve watched the popularity of superfoods (which for me are simply nutrient-rich foods) slowly grow over the last few years, and they fit beautifully with the way I’ve always loved to eat and cook. We’re so lucky here in Australia that we have an abundance of great fresh produce and ingredients. My work means that I have a good radar for the genuine deal when it comes to superfoods and it’s important to remember that they don’t have to be new or expensive – broccoli, spinach and almonds are all superfoods, and you can buy them at any supermarket. Plus, I really respect the science – we’re so lucky that reliable information is available that can help us to make decisions about healthy eating. Eating more healthily and eating superfoods and whole foods regularly is becoming a huge part of people’s everyday lifestyle. These days we are so much more aware of what we are putting into our bodies and how food can benefit our general wellbeing to make us look and feel great.
GTG: What 5 things would we always find in your kitchen and pantry and why are they essentials in your opinion?
DH: Baby spinach leaves for my green smoothie in the morning, fresh organic eggs and good-quality extra virgin olive oil so I can always whip up something easy and nutritious if I’m short on time, quinoa to add protein to my salads and sparkling water to keep me hydrated during the day.
GTG: What would be your advice to someone who wants to start eating healthily, but finds the whole thing quite overwhelming?
DH: Plan your meals and lunches ahead of time and have a well-stocked pantry and fridge – I always have lots of fresh food in the fridge so I have plenty of options to eat healthily. Also, start your day with something that makes you feel great and that will set you on a good track for the day. I always have fresh (or frozen) ingredients for my morning green smoothie that helps get my day off to a great start. Or, you could bake a batch of muffins made with a nutrient-rich flour like buckwheat or quinoa so they’re ready for the week ahead – perfect if you’re eating breakfast on the go.
GTG: What’s your favourite recipe from the book and why?
DH: For dinner, I really love the cauliflower pizzas with mozzarella, kale and lemon (p42) – they’re so easy to make and so tasty – even my pizza-loving boys request them!
GTG: How do you balance your work obligations across all of your different companies and ventures? Have you got any further exciting projects in the pipeline?
DH: Balancing everything at work can sometimes feel like spinning plates in the air! Everyday is different, but that’s actually one of the things I love most about my job. I genuinely love what I do and that’s what helps me stay focused. I get to be creative and work with a bunch of very talented people who support me and help keep everything running smoothly. Over the next few months there’s a lot in the pipeline. My next book will be launching in the UK, but what I’m really excited about right now is sailing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day!