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 the lovely Joanne Wandel from Iron-ic Wellbeing. Joanne started her site to raise awareness about haemochromatosis and to help people live a happy and healthy life whilst managing the disease.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, what you do and what inspired you to lead a healthier lifestyle?
Firstly, thanks for the lovely welcome Ness. I’m such a big fan of your blog so it’s a privilege to be featured as this week’s Friday Foodie.
I’m Joanne and I blog about living with haemochromatosis, which is a genetic disorder one in every 200 Australians share. In short, haemochromatosis is an inherited disease that causes the body to absorb more iron from food than necessary, resulting in a build-up of iron stores in the body which can cause serious health conditions if not treated.
I started Iron-ic Wellbeing earlier this year to inspire others to take responsibility for their health and to live the best life they can whilst managing this disease – be it through cooking wholesome low iron meals or proactively managing their wellbeing. I also pride myself on creating recipes that the whole family will love, so no one in the family need feel they are missing out!
I was diagnosed with haemochromatosis some time ago now, however it has only been in the last little while that I’ve accepted the seriousness of my disease and taken responsibility for my health and wellbeing. I’m now on a journey to educate myself as to the treatments, dietary rules and best fitness regime for someone living with haemochromatosis – and I have never felt better – nutritionally, physically or spiritually. Creating Iron-ic Wellbeing has been a great vehicle through which to share all that I’m learning and I’m incredibly grateful for the passionate and nurturing community I’ve found through the blog.
What tips would you give to someone who has just commenced living a healthier lifestyle?
I would advise them to do the best they can and not be too hard on themselves – big changes start with small steps. Commencing any new journey can be overwhelming, so it’s important to:
- Educate yourself, be as informed as possible and follow social media groups in your area of interest to grow a community of like minded people
- Be organised and think about your food choices ahead of time
- Be mindful when eating – savour each and every mouthful and your brain will have time to register that you’re full
- Maintain a positive outlook and give yourself a big pat on the back for focusing on healthful behaviours
- Listen to your body – it is incredibly adept at telling you what it needs
- Give yourself a break when you fall off the wagon – we all do!
Do you have any tips for eating well on a budget?
I like to keep things fairly simple, so my main tips would be:
- Cook your own nutritious meals at home so you know what goes into them and you can oversee portion control
- Prepare a weekly meal plan, have a list when you go to the farmers market or supermarket and only shop for what you need
- Have a “cook-athon” on the weekend. I will often make batches of soups and curries on a lazy Sunday afternoon and freeze them so I know I have nutritious and delicious meals on hand when things don’t go to plan during the week.
How do you deal with food struggles from your family?
We have a very small family of two and thankfully there aren’t too many food struggles. My partner is interested in food and living a healthy lifestyle, so he likes to find new recipes for me to trial. I’m the primary chef in the family, however we do live by the golden rule that if I cook he does the dishes! So far so good.
What is your favourite food?
Whilst not an everyday occurrence, I cannot go past cheese and dark chocolate, and thankfully both are ok in moderation for people with haemochromatosis as they help to block iron absorption. We recently visited Gruyères in Switzerland where I did manage to indulge myself in my fair share of both!
Who is your favourite foodie and why?
Aside from my mum, who taught me to cook from my heart, I would have to say I’m a little obsessed with Tobie and Georgia Puttock at the moment. Their new cookbook “The Chef Gets Healthy” is full of tasty and nutritious recipes that contain simple and fresh ingredients and use lots of health promoting spices and herbs for flavour. In addition to being a cookbook, both Tobie and Georgia share their healthy living philosophies throughout. I also love the fact that they’ve created this cookbook out of love for each other and a desire to ensure they live a long and healthy life. Ahhhhh……
What is something that you enjoy doing when you have some ‘me’ time?
Cooking and sharing food! I know this sounds a little one dimensional, however cooking and creating new recipes is my therapy and I love nothing more than preparing a dinner party for family and friends, and then having them relish the fruits of my labour. There is something so rewarding about nurturing people I love with good, wholesome food. Writing about food would be a close second, and in particular sharing knowledge about low iron recipes on my blog is incredibly rewarding.
What is your favourite recipe to cook?
I adore Moroccan food and I love nothing more than whipping up a quick tagine on a Sunday afternoon. Spices not only excite our taste buds and generate internal warmth, but also provide a broad range of medicinal benefits. In particular ginger, cinnamon, chilli and turmeric provide substantial health benefits for people with haemochromatosis, including reducing the symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, infections and abdominal pain and swelling. They also contain tannins, oxalates, phenolic compounds and phytates, which bind iron and help to reduce its absorption from foods.
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 25g butter
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
- 3 stalks of rosemary, finely chopped
- 1/2 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 1–2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. ras el hanout
- 1 tin diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1kg chicken thigh fillets (around 8)
- 1 tbsp. manuka honey
- 1/4 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup pitted prunes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Small bunch of coriander
- Preserved lemon (if desired)
- Heat oil and butter in a large heavy based tagine or saucepan until the sizzling subsides.
- Add onion, ginger, chilli and rosemary, and sauté until the onion is soft.
- Add the cinnamon sticks and remaining spices, cooking until there is a wonderful aroma (2-3 minutes).
- Add the tinned tomatoes and water (enough to cover the base of the tagine).
- Partially submerge the chicken and add the honey, dried apricot and prunes.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover with a lid and cook for 35-40 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add preserved lemon if desired and sprinkle over fresh coriander.
A little more about Joanne and where you can find her
Joanne is a full time corporate leader, emerging yoga enthusiast, tea and coffee devotee, ardent book collector, lover of the written word, passionate home cook and lifetime nurturer. She started Iron-ic Wellbeing in 2015 as a vehicle for raising the profile of haemochromatosis – a genetic iron overload disease which affects one in every 200 Australians. Her weekly blog updates contain stories, recipes and tips on living your best life with haemochromatosis, all delivered from the perspective of a 40+ female adapting to this disorder.