I am definitely a foodie, I love tasty food, I love scrolling down the Internet looking at delicious recipes and gorgeous pictures of healthiness on a plate. But I think it's also fair to say that I'm a lazy foodie... I love eating but can't say as much about cooking.
One of the best healthy blog is the team behind "Independent Kitchen". Their recipes are always so easy, you won't need many ingredients and they are always so tasty! They post mainly vegetarian and vegan options, full of taste and colours. They use locally grown and fresh ingredients and their website makes you think you've finally reached food paradise. Finally, they can also cater for your parties... No need to thank me!
Read Below our interview with Danni!
Where does your inspiration come from?
When I went to university at 19 I had very little idea of how to cook for myself. I had been helping my mum out in the kitchen since I was little as I had always had an interest in food, but I didn’t know how to structure or cook fresh healthy meals. I remember cooking my first [vegetarian] Sunday roast at uni and everything came out of packets, from the frozen nut roast to the roast potatoes. I was so pleased with myself at the time, but looking back I have to laugh.
I had been vegetarian for a couple of years at home but was not very experimental with my recipes, usually just having a Quorn alternative to my mum’s meat dishes. At university I started to explore the internet for inspirational, healthy recipes. The blog I first started reading was FatFree Vegan Kitchen by Susan Voisin. I found her recipes healthy and fresh with wonderful photography. The two recipes I would make most often were her double mushroom miso soup and Thai coconut soup with tofu. After this I started exploring other blogs, and came across the blog that really inspired me to start blogging myself, Green Kitchen Stories. I loved the clean style, beautiful photography and healthy recipes.
In 2012 ventured into the world of blogging, and created DanniDelicious http://dannidelicious.blogspot.co.uk/, however my heart wasn’t really in it and I lost interest. However in 2013 I moved to a new city and felt a new drive to start blogging again. By this point I was becoming interested in shopping locally and avoiding large corporations such as Tesco and Asda, so after a little thought I came up with the new blog name of Independent Kitchen. I invested in a good dSLR camera (Canon 600d) and began building the blog. I still take inspiration from many blogs, as well as chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Madhur Jaffrey. The blog is constantly evolving and I hope that it will inspire others in the same way that blogs like Green Kitchen Stories have inspired me to cook and eat healthily.
How important do you think food is in a healthy lifestyle?
I have read from various sources that to maintain a healthy lifestyle, diet amounts to 75% and exercise is 25%. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/exercise-vs-diet-for-weight-loss_n_5207271.html. Before university I was very active, with a sporty job as a swimming instructor and lifeguard, going to the gym, running and yoga. I also ate healthy home cooked meals, so becoming a sedentary student who had little culinary skill meant I gained a little weight. When I started learning about nutrition and cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients, my energy levels rocketed and I felt more confident, which inspired me to get back into exercise. On the blog I try to focus on high protein snacks and meals which provide clean energy, hopefully inspiring readers to put their trainers on and use all that energy up! Fuel your body right and you’ll have enough energy to push yourself that little further in your sport.
Any advice for people (like me) who love eating tasty food but aren’t good cooks?
Using fresh herbs such as basil or coriander, or a squeeze of citrus really livens up any dish. People often forget about seasoning too, a pinch of salt or a grind of black pepper can really transform a dish. Some key spices which are constantly featured on the blog are cumin, smoked paprika, garlic and cinnamon. These little flavour additions can take meals to a new level. Also, think about colours and textures. Food isn’t just sustenance (or not for me anyway), if you use fresh, vibrantly coloured vegetables you are not only giving yourself a variety of nutrients you are also feeding your eyes!
What are easy, quick steps to make delicious and healthy food?
I recommend investing in a good blender, as it allows you to whip up smoothies, dips, sauces and soups in seconds. Although stick blenders are useful, a counter top blender with a large capacity allows you to create batches of smooth soups to freeze, so you always have a healthy lunch on hand. Creating lovely dips and sauces like homemade houmous or pesto are far easier in a good blender too.
Keeping some fruit such as berries or mango in the freezer is also a good tip for quick smoothies. If you see a big bunch of bananas reduced to 10p (as I did the other day), buy them all, cut them in half and freeze to use in smoothies or make your own banana icecream dessert (banana, coconut milk, vanilla essence).
Also, I love using vegetables in replacement to pasta or rice. Using a spiriliser or julienne peeler is a fast way to create spaghetti ribbons of vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato or courgette, or blitzing some cauliflower and using it instead of rice. Often these techniques are far quicker than cooking pasta or rice, and you get the added bonus of increasing your vegetable intake.
What do you enjoy the most about cooking?
I probably enjoy feeding friends and family the most, I get a little thrill out of seeing people enjoy my food. It is wonderful when I hear people say they have cooked my food from the blog as I am never too sure whether I’m just talking to an empty room when I post recipes. I find cooking very relaxing sop
I also really enjoy experimenting with new cuisines and flavours – ingredients I haven’t used before or
Tell us about where you’re sourcing your products from?
My housemate works at an organic supermarket in Bristol, Better Foods so we get locally sourced fresh produce from here most of the time. If you shop wisely then the cost difference is not that significant. I try to buy organic where possible, especially for eggs or dairy, and shop in the local independent shops wherever I can. My background is in geography and mapping, so I try to map independent shops which pride themselves on selling local produce on the blog in cities I have visited.
What are your next steps (catering etc)?
I have done some catering, including being a private chef, hosting a 6 course meal for 4-6 people at client’s homes, and have also catered for parties of up to 40. It is very tiring work and demands a huge amount of time. Although the reward is great when you hear good feedback, it is too bigger job for me to take on currently as I also have a full time job which has nothing to do with food.
The dream would be to write a cookbook as I would love to be published, however the blog has only been running for just over a year so I am probably quite far off that goal at the moment. It is all a learning curve, so I am currently concentrating on establishing my cooking/ writing/ photography style on the blog. It would be wonderful to be able to take up blogging as full time, developing recipes all day and playing with photography design, so fingers crossed I will one day be able to do so.
What is your favourite dish, the one you enjoy making the most and why?
I recently discovered you can make pancakes out of only banana, nut butter and egg. I cannot believe how much they look and cook like real pancakes, but contain no sugar, gluten and are high in protein. They are much lighter and fluffier than the traditional pancake, which I prefer because you don’t feel weighed down afterwards but they still feel like a treat. I make the recipe for friends and family for Saturday brunch because not only are they healthy, but they look and taste great too.