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 Kate Johansson who is founder of KOJA. I first came across Kate on the show Shark Tank and was inspired by her health message and business idea. KOJA offers a range of real food products that you add to your meals. I hope you enjoy my interview with Kate.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, what you do and what inspired you to lead a healthier lifestyle?
I grew up in a family where healthy food was the norm so it wasn’t until I moved out of home at 18 that I realised the big wide world was full of unhealthy food! In my early 20s I experienced some of my own health issues and through overcoming these I learnt a lot about the health and nutrition industry. This gave me a strong passion for wholefoods and I now consider myself an advocate for natural health. I launched KOJA just over 2 years ago.. and it’s been a big part of who I am ever since.
The first 12 months were a whirlwind of setting up the business, everything from sourcing ingredients to creating a brand. My biggest focus with KOJA now is building a great team, and an amazing community of KOJA lovers. We’re launching new products in the coming months and bringing on new stores every week. KOJA wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of my friends and family, and in particular my husband, John. They’re a big part of who I am. I grew up with a big family and good food has always been an important part of getting together. At university I studied entrepreneurship because I’ve always wanted to solve the world’s problems!
I’m often inspired by the quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
What inspired you to start KOJA Health?
I’ve always had a passion for natural, holistic health and eating wholefoods is a big part of that. Before starting KOJA I was working with a professional sports club here in Melbourne to develop a range of sports supplements specific to elite athletes. During this experience I learnt a lot about the way synthetic supplements and vitamins are made. I think too many of us don’t realise that most supplements are highly processed, synthetic and packed full of additives that our bodies don’t need.I strongly believe all Australians will be healthier if we focus on eating better food, and getting all the nutrition we need from good food, instead of synthetic supplements.
I met so many Australians seeking a simple solution to better health, and wanted to create a real food alternative to supplements… so KOJA was born. I’m inspired every time I visit a supermarket and see aisles filled with food products that don’t represent what I consider to be food. Even the “health food” aisle is full of overly processed food products! I want to continue to create products that are made from wholefoods and are truly good for us. Our mission at KOJA is clear. To do whatever it takes to get Australians eating better food.
What exciting plans do you have coming up in 2016?
We’ve already kicked off 2016 with a bang launching a new ‘7 serves’ size of our Breakfast Toppers. This year there will be more products to add to the KOJA Health range (we can’t wait to tell you more about this soon!) as well as new team members to welcome to the family. We’re also working on growing our national stockists so keep an eye out in your local healthfood store!
What tips would you give to someone who is just starting to make changes to their health and wellness?
Get to know your body. Understanding that every body is different and getting to know yours is one of the best things you can do for your health. In the health industry (and many other industries!) we’re always bombarded with images of what healthy *should* look like. It’s often tanned, tall, toned and skinny, which can be an unrealistic representation of what most healthy bodies look like. For me, the best lesson to learn is that healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. As a size 12 I’ve had to learn the hard way that striving to be skinny isn’t a healthy option for me, and that accepting my shape and my body for what it is, is so much more important. Now I focus on how I feel, and loving my body for what it is: Healthy exactly as I am. That would be my advice to anyone who’s looking to find a healthier lifestyle.
Do you have any tips for eating well on a budget?
Eat loads of fruits and vegetables! They are affordable and the best thing you can do for your health. Get creative with salads, try out some new soup recipes or roast up a bunch of veggies to have on hand to make roast veg salad during the week. When I’m cooking I always try to make more than enough food so there’s always leftovers to keep for the next day, or to freeze for another day. You don’t need to complicate things, just eat real food!
What healthy dinner options would suggest to someone who is time poor?
I’m a big salad fan. They are super easy to throw together and a great way to get more veggies into your diet. It’s super easy to make a salad more exciting than just some lettuce! When I’m running low on time I’ll throw together some spinach, a boiled egg or two and avocado with an olive oil dressing topped with some KOJA Chilli Coconut & Pecan Salad Topper for extra crunch. (we’ve got a very similar recipe on our blog). It’s a protein packed, Iron rich dinner that takes about 5 minutes to throw together.
What is something that you enjoy doing when you have some ‘me’ time?
I love to get outside and move my body! A long walk and a swim, followed by brunch and a coffee would be my ideal day off.
What is your favourite recipe to cook?
I grew up hating broccoli but now I love it! It’s a nutritional powerhouse so I try to eat it every few days. One of my go to easy meals to whip up is poached chicken or salmon with a side of this broccoli salad. The salad is also delicious on it’s own and can be made vegan by serving it over some brown rice. Simple, nourishing and delicious!
Prep: 5 mins
Cooking: less than 10 mins
- 2 heads of organic broccoli
- 2 organic spring onions
- 6 tbs of KOJA Sesame & Almond Salad Topper (see below for your special discount code)
For the dressing
- 6 tbs of crunchy peanut butter
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tbs tamari
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Warm water
- Chop the broccoli and add to a steamer saucepan. Steam for about 5 minutes, until just cooked.
- In a small bowl or jug, mix the dressing ingredients with 1/2 tbs of warm water until combined.
- Roughly chop the spring onions. Leave the bottom 5-6cm (plant them in the garden and they'll regrow for next time).
- Once cooked, drain the broccoli, rinse under cold water (to stop them from over cooking).
- In your serving bowl, add the broccoli, sprinkle with spring onions, pour over the dressing and top with KOJA Sesame & Almond. (see below for your special discount code)
Allergy/ Eating preference alternatives:
For a vegan salad, swap honey for rice malt syrup.
If you want to add some protein:
Serve with baked salmon and brown rice with lemon zest.
Note: Use the code becomingness to get 15% off (offer ends 31/05/16)
A little more about Kate Johansson and KOJA
KOJA is an Australian made and owned range of wholefood breakfast and salad toppers which were created as a real food alternative to synthetic supplements. KOJA was founded in October 2013 by Melbourne native Kate Johansson whose mission is to “get real food back on the shelves for Australian consumers.” It was this passion for healthy, real food that lead to the creation of KOJA Health, a company on a mission to provide a wholefood solution to better health for all Australians. KOJA Toppers are a highly nutrient dense mix of nuts, seeds and superfoods which can easily be added to breakfast, salads and snacks. They are made in Australia and are 100% gluten free, dairy free, vegan, paleo, raw and sugar free with no added preservatives or chemicals.