We’re delighted to feature celebrated South-African based cook, food writer and TV show host Sarah Graham as our first Luxe Lady for our launch edition.
Growing up on a small wildlife conservancy in Zimbabwe, this experience instilled in her a food philosophy that is built on sharing beautiful, simple, healthy food with family and friends. She started her food blog, A Foodie Lives Here, in May 2010 and later that year was the first South African food blogger to be awarded a cookbook contract by Penguin Random House. She has also gone on to film two cooking shows which have aired both in South Africa and internationally, including the United States. So what’s Sarah up to now?
“I have just submitted the manuscript for my next book and we’ve just done all the photos in Cape Town. The book is all about simple, healthy, wholesome food with 100 sugar, gluten and carb-conscious recipes and I am so excited about it’s release in February 2017. Also, we’ll be filming another season of Food Safari in November this year, traveling around the Kruger and parts of Mozambique, and we’ll be back on M-Net from January 2017 onwards.” – Sarah Graham
When did your passion for food start?
For as long as I remember food has excited me, starting with my Mum’s meringues, Sunday roasts, sweetcorn fritters and so much more. The cooking of it all came much later.
What is the process like gathering recipes for a book?
It’s a fairly long one, but I love it! I keep a list of ideas on my phone that sits at about 100 different ideas at any one time (a few things on there at the moment are Cinnamnon and Maple Roasted Pork Belly, Fig Tarte Tatin, Fig and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars (gluten and refined sugar free) (and yes, I have a thing for figs! and yes there’s lots of late night jotting down of ideas), and then based on the theme of the book I adapt the recipes to fit into the book and the various chapters. Then I start testing, making notes, re-testing, and I also have an amazing group of friends scattered around the world who help me with the testing process. Then it’s writing up the recipes and introduction as well as recipe introductions, editing, more testing and working with the design team on the look and feel of the book, the photos, etc.
What tips would you share to inspire more working women to cook at home?
You’ll automatically eat more healthily and mindfully if you cook more, you’ll save money, and you’ll feel better by putting goodness in and getting goodness out.
Start a revolution in your own kitchen and you’ll never regret it. And plan ahead, cook in bulk e.g I cook 1 cup quinoa at the start of the week and store it in the fridge, I then use it to make a trout and avocado salad, a beetroot and feta salad, and serve it with a curry.
Three meals from one cup of quinoa! Also, batch-make healthy snacks like simple protein balls to keep in the fridge to curb those afternoon cravings.
I also make healthy bircher muesli on Sunday nights and divide it between little glass jars, and top each one with yoghurt or coconut cream, and our speedy home made berry jam.
All of these recipes are on my blog and you can follow me on Instagram for lots of healthy eating tips too – @sarahgrahamfood
You made a seamless transition from writing to hosting a show on TV , what was the production like for the show?
Filming ‘Food Safari’ was a fairly epic undertaking. We were on the road for 7 weeks, shooting 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, and changing locations every 2 days. We also had our two sweet little daughters with us, Sophie was 4 at the time and Isla 18 months, so it was really full on for them too. But attitude is the difference between an ordeal and and adventure, right? And we had the most amazing family adventure. Also, the production team are incredible, there are 13 people in the crew and they are all legends, I love spending time with them on the road, their work ethic is off the charts, but they still know how to have fun and really appreciate the beauty of every place that we go to.
What inspired your journey for the project “ I Quit Sugar “ and has this changed your approach to your health and lifestyle?
A few years ago, I had a rare stomach issue called intussusception, which resulted in a fairly dramatic operation (14 cm of my intestines removed, a lot of internal titanium stitches, many more stitches to close me up, and a long road to recovery). After having to be on a liquid diet for more than 10 days after the operation, I came out of hospital having lost a lot of weight much too quickly, and with serious blood sugar issues.
On some days, several times a day, I would stand up and have to count to at least 10 before the black fog of dizziness would lift and I could see clearly again. This lasted for a good couple of months before I went to see a dietician to get me back on track and help regulate my blood sugar. The dietician created a healthy eating programme for me, and along with that and a lot of extra reading I learnt a massive amount about good and bad fats, carbohydrates and sugars.
The whole experience drastically changed the way that I cook and eat. Ever since, I’ve limited sugar, gluten and refined or processed carbohydrates without even thinking about it, but haven’t stuck to particularly hard and fast rules.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve revisited the whole conversation and have been more conscious again of what we’re putting into our bodies as a family. I think a large part of it has been due to having children and striving to feed them well, and in becoming more aware of how much rubbish is out there, and how much rubbish we knowingly or unknowingly put into them on a daily basis.
Unless we sit up, take note, educate ourselves and take action, we’ll remain in the quagmire of bad eating and, as a consequence, ill health. We’ll be cheated out of living our best lives and being our best selves. Why wouldn’t we want to swap out very mediocre ingredients for amazing, health-boosting ones? Basically, we need to eat like our grandparents did. You can read more about Sarah on her blog.