Donna Hay is a household name in Australia. There’s little doubt that she’s working her way into the kitchens — and hearts — of foodies around the world.
You’re known as Australia’s favourite and most trusted home cook. Tell us about the start of this incredible journey.
I started out in magazines — as a food editor and food stylist — when I was in my 20s. At the time, people used a lot of fussy props in food photography and there wasn’t much focus on the actual food. My aim was to make everything look clean, fresh and simple, and that’s the style I’ve carried throughout my career, in the recipes and photography in my books and magazines. It’s all about beautiful food made easy.
How does one incorporate your recipes into his/her life without it being considered a “diet?”
For me, healthy eating and wellness always comes back to that key word: balance! This means I don’t follow a strict diet, but every day I eat lots of 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. The great thing is, a few simple changes to the foods you eat every day can make a massive difference.
What 5 tips can you share on making the switch to cleaner, fresher eating a fun and easy one?
Plan your meals and lunches ahead, and always have a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator – if you get home after a busy day at work and there’s nothing to prepare for dinner or snack on in the fridge, you’re more likely to turn to something that’s not great for you. I usually bake or make batches of power snacks for my kids on the weekend and freeze them for all of us to take to school or work during the week (such as bliss balls or muffins made with buckwheat and quinoa). I also always ensure I have fresh (or frozen) ingredients for my morning green smoothie that helps get my day off to a great start. Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you’re generally healthy, and you eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh, nutritious ingredients, you’re allowed a little treat every now and again. Is that five tips?!
Your favourite recipe from “Life In Balance”…
It has to be the kale, pea and ricotta fritters (page 31) – they’re perfect for a nutritious midweek dinner or weekend breakfast, and they’re packed with great-for-you greens, chia seeds and eggs for protein. They’re so simple to make that my sons regularly help me whip them up – just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and cook in a pan for a few minutes. I love that healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult!
© Donna Hay, 2015. Reproduced with permission of HarperCollins.
What’s next on the horizon?
I have a couple of exciting book projects in the works, and my team is spending a lot of time developing the great content that’s on our website and daily blog. Even though we’re based in Australia, I love that our site and social media channels allow us to connect easily with our readers all over the world.
Your life’s mantra:
My mantra is actually adopted from my eldest son – whenever I feel a bit stressed or overwhelmed, he says (with the wisdom of a much older person): ‘Mum, if it was easy, everyone would do it!’. It makes me realise how lucky I am to have the job that I have.
Share a little-known secret about Australia.
A lot of Americans I speak to think Australia is really hot and sunny all year round, but it’s actually winter at the moment and Sydney is absolutely freezing! That doesn’t stop many of us (including me) from taking a dip in the ocean – but a wetsuit is definitely needed!
Donna and her team at HarperCollins have been gracious enough to share a recipe from “Life In Balance” with us, and you. Consider it a part of your new, better-balanced lifestyle. XO
1 cup pepitas or pumpkin seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tbsp tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flat parsley, chopped
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Sesame seeds, to serve
Vegetables or crackers of your choice, to serve
Preheat oven to 320F. Place pepitas on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes or until light golden in color. Place in a food processor and add oil, tahini, lemon juice, water, parsley, salt and pepper. Process for 1-2 minutes or until mixture resembles a thick paste. Refrigerate until chilled.
Drizzle with extra oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and extra pepitas and serve with vegetables or crackers.
+ Buy a copy of “Life In Balance” here!