What are your ‘non-negotiables’ when it comes to diet & lifestyle?
Avoiding additives and preservatives is my biggest non-negotiable. I’m an avid ingredient label reader so anything with preservatives and artificial ingredients gets the flick straight away. Since that’s the case for most processed packaged foods, my family’s diet is based on real whole foods that are best for our bodies as we all have slightly different needs – it’s quite different approach to that of many trendy diets and an important part of our lifestyles.
We always go for quality – choosing organic whenever we can and try to incorporate more plants in our diet, at every mealtime. Reducing the amount of sugar we consume as a family is also important to me, but with the 90/10 approach is a little more flexible and balanced. It’s all about eating well 90 percent of the time and indulging in the other 10. My husband prefers to go 80/20.
Spending some time outside every day, away from the workspace, is also one of my non-negotiables.
When & how did you first begin cooking?
I was born and raised in Poland and seasonal real food was a big part of my life ever since I can remember. In summer we’d forage for wild blueberries on the way from the beach and make blueberry dumplings in late afternoon. In fall we’d get up at the crack of dawn to go wild mushroom picking then spend the best part of the evening cleaning, drying, cooking and preserving the nautre’s bounty.
My mum has always been a creative whole food cook and I loved spending time in the kitchen with her, helping her cook from quite early on, too. She’s the one who has taught me to be an adventurous cook, inspiring me to try different foods and cuisines.
When did you realise how much you loved it?
I recall being around twelve years old when I first recognised my passion for cooking and the sort of joy it could bring to others and me. It’s around then that I learnt to make sauerkraut (in the fifth grade home economics class) and that’s when I realised that my ability and passion for cooking heavily outweighed any interest in sewing and crochet.
On weekends, I'd rummage through the fridge, pantry and freezer then write up a dinner menu for my parents to order from. Then I'd get cooking. Most of my fondest childhood memories revolve around food, family celebrations and meals enjoyed together.
What inspired you to start doing what you do? How has your brand developed and what have been some milestones for you?
I began the Wholesome Cook blog as a way of keeping recipes in one place and sharing them with friends and family. Initially, they were just simple recipes from my childhood or entries of things I had cooked for dinner. Since then the brand has morphed into the Wholesome Cook you see today.
Soon after starting the blog, I was being asked by many of my family members and readers to adapt those to the various intolerances many of them had been riddled with. It was around then that I started developing recipes for a handful of brands on the side.
My curiosity for all things whole food was further awaken and after completing my heath coach studies, I had decided that bioindividuality – eating the best food for your own body because no single diet fits everyone the same would be the way we nourished our family, and how I would present recipes to the readers. The approach is balanced a quite unique.
Soon, I was contacted by my publisher, Harlquin, who were interested in this idea and so The Wholesome Cook (book) was published in 2015. The cookbook and bioindividuality guide features 180 refined sugar-free whole food recipes that are adaptable for a number of dietary lifestyles including gluten-free, dairy-free while many are also vegetarian, vegan, paleo, nut- and egg-free.
I’ve also published three of my own eBooks, developed recipes for Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar For Life book, worked as a stylist and photographer on a number of projects for the IQS team, eBook authors and social media accounts. I’ve also been writing a regular column in Nourish Magazine.
Today, the Wholesome Cook blog, my social media presence and The Wholesome Cook book are places where I share recipes for healthy living that include options for various intolerances and dietary lifestyle. Most weeks I work on food styling and food photography projects for clients. I also present to various audiences on the topics of bioindividuality, wholefoods and real life real food balance.
What do you love about living in Sydney? Are there any restaurants, cafes, stores you visit for inspiration?
The climate and availability of beautiful produce. I think, in recent times, Aussies in general have come to the forefront of the whole food movement which is so fab to see. We are inventive, blessed with quality produce for all dietary lifestyles and really passionate about the big picture of food – supporting producers and sustainability wherever we can.
And so, you’ll often find me buying organic fruit and veg at the EQ Village Markets or Orange Grove on weekends. Harris Farm and About Life are two of my favourite stores – that’s where I fill my fruit and veg gaps during the week and shop for eco-friendly cleaning products, good eggs and grass-fed meat. I get my bulk dry goods from The Source Bulk foods.
In terms of restaurants and cafes, there are so many! I love spots with plant-based menus because I find they are most inventive when it comes to cooking and serving veggies: Proteini and Venus Wholefoods around the inner city are great vegan-inspired cafes. Nomad – one of my all-time favourites and Riley Street Garage are perfect for a more substantial meat-based but sustainable fare. I also love Thrive for a quick food-court meal that’s more paleo-inspired. Locally, Stain Café in Hunters Hill has fabulous treats and serves fresh almond milk coffee. Further afield, Egg of the Universe is a fab café for a bite after yoga, Bondi Wholefoods and Earth to Table for something closer to the beach. Otherwise, Sokyo and Sake are some of my favourite finer dining spots for an inventive Japanese feast.
Last but not least, I love shopping for food styling props. The Lost + Found Department in Artarmon is a treasure-trove of beautiful things and a must-visit for any aspiring food stylist.
When did you first become aware of Loving Earth?
I first came across Loving Earth a few years ago as I began exploring healthier food and treat alternatives to what was available in the mainstream market. Chocolate and Kale chips were my first Loving Earth finds, followed closely by Activated Buckinis and cacao products: butter and powder.
What's your favourite way to use our foods?
There are so many! I use Loving Earth’s vanilla powder as a flavouring in all my baking, chocolate and desserts. Since I grew up eating buckwheat quite regularly as part of our main meals, I use Loving Earth’s plain activated buckinis in both sweet and savoury dishes (as one would regular buckwheat). Buckwheat Garden Salad (recipe in the book) is one of my favourites. They also make a delicious Scandinavian base to Swedish Meatballs with Dill Gravy (also in the book), not to mention an added crunch to things like Caramelised Banana Choc Tops and Homemade Rocher Bites. Cacao Butter is perfect for making chocolate that stays set at room temperature, and for moisturising dry skin!