Welcome to the latest edition of my Friday Foodie series, where each week I feature my favourite health and wellness stars. Each week, they share their tips for healthy living and their favourite recipe.
This week, I am featuring Jessica Donovan from Energetic Mama. Jessica is a Naturopath and a passionate foodie. Jessica has an amazing site and I love her views on being healthy whilst maintaining balance in your life. It is so important!! I hope you enjoy my interview with Jessica.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, what you do and what inspired you to lead a healthier lifestyle?
Hi I’m Jess, I live near the beach, south of Adelaide with my hubby and 2 children. I am a naturopath and my life is a constant juggling act of school runs, running my 2 businesses, cooking up a healthy storm in the kitchen, spending as much quality time as I can with my family and keeping myself fit. I love camping, travelling and spending time at the beach.
My interest in naturopathy stemmed from my own health issues and my frustrations in the lack of choices modern medicine offered. I had suffered with acne and irregular periods from the age of 15 and the only solution my GP offered was the pill. While I took the pill my symptoms disappeared but as soon as I stopped taking it my symptoms came back with a vengeance. To me this was crazy, I was taking a pill which I knew had a negative effect on my health and it wasn’t even fixing the problem. I started doing my own research and over time and lots of experimenting I saw the difference my diet made to my skin, hormone balance and energy levels. I decided to study Naturopathy myself and now enjoy helping my clients - both in my clinic and in my online programs improve their health using diet, nutrition, herbal medicine and lifestyle strategies.
What tips would you give to someone who has just commenced living a healthier lifestyle?
I think it is important not to be too hard on yourself or expect yourself to change everything right away. Focus on one thing at a time and make it a long term change. I recommend focusing on getting more of the good stuff in rather than depriving yourself of the things you enjoy. Make a commitment to have a smoothie packed with greens every morning or satisfy your afternoon sweet craving with a bliss ball and a cup of herbal tea. Eventually the good stuff will crowd out the junk.
Do you have any tips for eating well on a budget?
One of the best ways to eat well on a budget is to eat less meat. As a general rule a palm sized portion of protein at each meal is all that is needed and many of us are having much more that. I make a roast for my family most Sundays and a roast chicken or leg of lamb will last us (2 adults and 2 kids) for 2 dinners and 2 lunches. We will have roast meat and vegetables on Sunday, left over roast meat and salad in a wrap for Monday lunch and then I will make a quinoa or cous cous salad with roast meat and vegetables (with a homemade pesto) for dinner on Monday night and we will have the leftovers for Tuesday lunch.
How do you deal with food struggles from your children and/or family?
I have a lot to say on this as it is an area I cover in detail in my Natural Super Kids ecouse. I think the biggest mistake many mums make is preparing various different meals to make everyone in the family happy or offering kids something else if they don’t eat what is put in front of them.
My ‘this is what we are having for dinner’ approach is simple but life changing for lots of families. It makes meal times less hectic and exposes kids to more variation in their diet. It goes something like this
-You make 1 meal for everyone (even babies can have some version of what you are having). If you have a particularly fussy child put some thought into including at least 1 food that they like.
-You sit down at the dinner table, turn the T.V. off and eat dinner together (or at least with 1 parent) and make conversation about your day. We love to take it in turns to share the most enjoyable thing we did, the most important thing we did and one thing we are grateful for (my kids are often grateful for doing a poo or something silly like that!)
- There is no pressure for the kids to eat all of their dinner but they are encouraged to at least try it.
- There is nothing else served to the kids – no sandwiches or bowls or cereal to fill their tummies before bed. They might choose to go to bed without eating anything but usually within a few days they start to eat more of their dinner.
It sounds a little harsh but if kids know they are going to be offered something else if they don’t eat their dinner they will just become fussier and fussier.
What is your favourite food?
It really depends on the season but I would have to say Eggs are one of my favourites because they are super versatile, packed with nutrition and easy to whip up a healthy meal with. I often make frittatas and omelettes, love scrambled eggs and spinach on a piece of sourdough after a workout and snack on hard boiled eggs regularly.
Who is your favourite foodie and why?
I adore Bianca Slade from Wholefoods Simply, her recipes are always delicious and so easy to make with few ingredients. I love the way she blogs her recipes with a personal touch.
What is something that you enjoy doing when you have some ‘me’ time?
I am big on self-care and am always talking to the women I work with about the importance of spending time filling their own cup so they can be more present and calm with their families.
For me it is yoga and walks on the beach and being mindful while doing them. When I am walking on the beach (which I do a couple of times a week) I focus on my senses, really concentrating on what I can see, hear, smell, feel and taste. This is the easiest way for me to be in the present moment and not thinking about what I am going to cook for dinner or the washing that I need to bring in off the line!
What is your favourite recipe to cook?
Lamb and Eggplant patties with Carrot & Pistachio Salad
- 500g lamb mince
- 1 eggplant
- 100g feta
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Carrot and pistachio salad
- 6 carrots
- 1 handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, mint and/or basil
- 2 tablespoons of currants or sultanas
- 80g pistachios, shelled
- juice of 1 lemon
- Splash of olive oil
Cut the eggplant into small cubes and roast in the oven with a little olive oil for 10 -15 minutes on 180 degrees. Meanwhile mix together the lamb, crumbled feta, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the eggplant once cooked. Form into patties with your hands and grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
Lightly roast the pistachios in a moderate oven for 5 - 10 minutes. Once cool, chop them coarsely. Grate the carrots and finely chop the herbs. Mix all ingredients in a salad bowl, add the pistachios just before serving.
A little more about Jess and where you can find her.
Jessica Donovan is a woman’s holistic health expert who helps mums get their sparkle back and become a more energetic, calm and joyful version of themselves. She is a one stop shop for all things nutrition, stress and hormone related. Jessica combines her deep naturopathic knowledge with a realistic, empathetic, inspiring and down to earth approach to empower women to look after themselves and take charge of their own wellbeing.
Jessica created her free resource ’Top 10 Wholefood Pantry staples’ so mums can be well stocked to prepare healthy food quickly and easily. Grab your copy here http://energeticmama.com/pantry-staples
You can check out her website and programs here www.energeticmama.com