Meet four food bloggers who are on a mission to get us all eating healthily

Food bloggers are shaking up the industry with can-do attitudes and a resourceful approach to cooking.

Meet four food bloggers who are on a mission to get us all eating healthily

CALL them what you want: the green goddesses, the new foodies on the blog, the healthy eating revolutionaries.

Whatever you call them, they’re becoming a social media phenomenon that is impossible to ignore.

Ten years ago, nobody really knew what a food blogger was. Now there are upwards of 500 Irish people blogging about all aspects of food, from the blessings of the humble spud to misadventures with an artichoke.

If the blogs show anything, it is that there is a huge appetite for health. More and more people are logging on in the hope of clicking their way to radiant wellbeing.

And women are leading the way. We talk to four bloggers who are joining the legions of women who, from their kitchen tables, are creating a healthy food revolution.

ROSANNA DAVISON

www.rosannadavisonnutrition.com

USP: Insider tips from a model turned nutritionist

Food philosophy: I firmly believe that food must be used to help us reach our healthiest, strongest and most beautiful selves, and it should never harm us.

Favourite bloggers: Oh She Glows My New Roots

Ask former Miss World Rosanna Davison, 31, about the ‘spat’ she supposedly had with fellow model and food blogger Roz Purcell (www.naturalbornfeeder.com) last February and she’ll tell you that the friends laugh about it now.

The row — which played out in headlines like: ‘Rosanna sticks claws into Roz for lecturing on health food without a qualification’ — does however, get to the crux of an issue central to food blogging: Who is qualified to do it?

Well, the truth is, anyone who wants to can blog about food.

And, says Davison, more power to them — “there is a niche for everyone.”.

For her, however, her qualification in nutrition informs all of the recipes and the advice she gives on her website.

“People have never been more aware of the connection between how you feel and what you eat,” she says.

Her own interest in nutrition started as a teenager when she became a vegetarian and realised that the three servings of dairy she was advised to have every day was making her break out in acne.

Some years later, she discovered she was gluten-intolerant too. She has a special interest in non-coeliac gluten intolerance and has developed a range of gluten-free, sugar-free recipes to help those looking for alternatives.

Digestive health is a big concern, among women in particular who often complain of bloating, she says.

She feels strongly that people can improve the quality of their lives by making small changes. How you eat can affect so many things, she says.

It can give you glowing skin, glossy hair, a smoother complexion, a slimmer waist, improved sleep and boundless energy, she says.

Rosanna’s book, Eat Yourself Beautiful, will be published by Gill & Macmillan in September.

Summer Chickpea Bolognese

Serves 2

Light, summery, healthy and fresh with a hint of chilli and packed with protein and fibre. The perfect summer supper!

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time:15 min

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes 

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice 

1/2 tsp virgin coconut oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 red onion, finely sliced

164g (1 cup) cooked chickpeas*

125ml tomato passata

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Himalayan pink rock salt and ground black pepper, to taste

2 handfuls fresh basil leaves

Dash of tamari sauce

1/2 a ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes

Instructions

First, use a spiraliser or vegetable peeler to create the courgetti in a large bowl from the two courgettes.

Add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, toss it all together and leave aside.

In a saucepan over a medium heat, heat up the coconut oil and salute the garlic and onion until lightly browned.

Add in the chickpeas and stir for 1 minute, then add the tomato passata, nutritional yeast, coriander seeds, smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and seasoning.

Allow it to simmer gently for about ten minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove saucepan from the heat and add in the basil, stirring to allow it to gently wilt.

Serve topped with avocado cubes, a drizzle of tamari sauce and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Leftovers will keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Notes

*Before cooking dried chickpeas, the first thing you will have to do is soak them. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water.

Allow to soak overnight, for about 12 hours. Once chickpeas have soaked, drain and transfer to a large cooking pot.

Cover with water twice the amount of chickpeas and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for approximately one hour.

Do a taste test at this point to make sure they are tender enough for your liking.

Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

CAROLINE HENNESSY

Food philosophy: Everything in moderation, including moderation

USP: Award-winning blog combining amazing food and beautiful books.

Her favourite bloggers: Oh She Glows Stasy.com 101 Cookbooks Edible Ireland

In 2004, Caroline Hennessy took a year out from her job on RTÉ’s entertainment website and moved to New Zealand, where she was so blown away by the food on offer that she started blogging to tell the world about it.

Bibliocook.com, one of the first food blogs in Ireland, was such a success that she gave up the permanent, pensionable job and moved to a country cottage in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, where she keeps “hens, the occasional turkey, and two little girls” — Hannah, six, and Maya, three.

Her husband also works from Mitchelstown as the brewer at the award-winning Eight Degrees Brewing.

Back in 2005, though, nobody knew exactly what a food blogger was.

Five years later, there was such a boom in food blogging that Caroline, now 41, joined forced with Kristin Jensen to form the Irish Food Bloggers Association, a collection of about 500 Irish (or Irish-based people) with one thing in common — food.

“Everyone who starts a blog has a new and different engagement with food,” says Caroline.

It could be eating it, tasting it, writing about it, photographing it, tweeting about it. Whatever the method, it all adds up to a new awareness of food, which is a good thing.

“If you are aware of what you are eating, it’s very hard to keep putting the rubbish in.”

For her, though, nothing is off- limits. She loves to cook from scratch and sources meat and vegetables locally.

However, she’s a keen baker too, and loves to bake with butter and cream.

“I believe in a little bit of everything in moderation, including moderation,” she says.

Slow Cooked Beef with Irish Cider

For this recipe, choose one of the delicious dry or medium Irish craft ciders on the market.

Producers like Stonewell, Tempted, Longueville House, Highbank, The Apple Farm, MacIvors or Dan Kelly are all well worth seeking out.

Make sure you buy a few bottles so that you can try pairing the cider with your lunch.

Serves 8, with leftovers – belive me, you'll want leftovers – for making the best sandwiches.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.5kg round roast beef – or ask your butcher for something suitable for slow cooking

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 onions, sliced  

3 carrots, sliced lengthways

2 sticks celery, chopped

500mls cider

250mls water

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons apple sauce or unsweetened stewed apple

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

3 star anise

2 sprigs thyme

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 150C (130C fan oven).

Season beef well with salt and pepper. In a deep oven-proof casserole dish, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Remove.

Add vegetables and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the pan and cook for another 5-10 minutes until vegetables have browned – not burnt! – and are slightly caramelised.

Pour in the cider, water, tomato paste, apple sauce and Worcestershire sauce, stir well and bring to asimmer. Return the beef to the pan, along with any juices, and tuck in the bay leaves, star anise and thyme.

Place covered dish into the preheated oven for about four hours or until the meat is falling apart. Baste every hour or so with the juices in the pan, adding more water if necessary.

Remove from the oven and put the meat on a serving platter to rest, along with the slow roasted vegetables.

Skim any fat off the juices, taste and add some mustard, Worcestershire sauce or seasoning as necessary and pour into a warm gravy bowl.

Cut or pull the meat apart and serve with mashed potato or baked potato, horseradish sauce, quantities of roasted veggies and lemony lentils with feta and pomegranate.

MARY UÍ BHROING 

www.Nufo.ie

USP: Vegetarian-inspired blog with tips from a qualified nutritionist

Food philosophy: Getting back to basics by preparing and enjoying wholefoods that give the body what is needed to work optimally.

Favourite bloggers: Deliciously Ella Oh She Glows The Little Green Spoon Peachy Palate

After finishing a course at the Irish Institute of Nutrition and Health in Bray, Co Wicklow, Mary Uí Bhroin, 30, started to blog earlier this year to share her new-found knowledge.

What we eat is central to the way we feel and look, and everyone can make changes to their diet to boost their wellbeing, she says.

For her, plants are about the most nutritious food there is, and her blog Nufo is about helping people to add more of them to their daily diets.

Mary is not so much anti-meat as pro-veg, and she develops all of her recipes herself. “It’s a labour of love,” she says.

As a nutritionist and health coach — she also works with people with intellectual difficulties — Mary says that she would love to support people by helping them to source and cook food for optimal health.

She lives in Cork City and says there is inspiration everywhere. “There are so many farmers’ markets and good locally sourced food. I always advise people to look for local produce that is in season.”

She encourages people to know what they are eating and to go back to basics.

“Food is there to be enjoyed and I want to show you it is possible to prepare tasty yet nutritious food that leaves you satisfied and looking great.”

Hazelnut Cacao Spread 

This is one of my favourite treats, a healthy Nutella if you will! this is gorgeous stirred into porridge, lathered onto pancakes or piled high on rye bread.

This is a winner for kids as it satisfies a sweet tooth without the sugar.

Makes 1 medium jar

200g hazelnuts

1 tbsp cacao powder

1 tbsp coconut oil

5 dates (pitted) 

Make and do 

Roast the hazelnuts in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 180C - remove and set to the side to cool fully.

Pop the nuts into a clean tea towel and rub them around to remove the skin - put them into a food processor and blitz until they have broken down into a creamy hazelnut butter (takes about 5-7 minutes)

Add the cacao powder, coconut oil and dates and blitz until smooth - store in a clean jar for up to two weeks (an old jam jar will work just fine) - spoon, spread, enjoy.

FRANCES HAWORTH

www.Theblushingbeetroot.com

USP: A fresh outlook from a mother of two and recent vegetarian

Food philosophy: Foods are the building blocks of our cells, organs, systems, body and health. Give yourself the fuel you deserve.

Favourite blogger: Deliciously Ella

Frances Haworth, 38, has always been fascinated by food and started to blog when she became a full-time mother to Ciarán, three, and Charlotte 19 months.

“I wanted an outlet for my knowledge on nutrition — she’s a qualified nurse — and to keep me sane in a world full of toddlers and tantrums,” says the Wicklow-based mother.

Ever since she was a teenager, Haworth has been interested in food and nutrition and how it affects your looks, energy levels, and mood.

Over the years, she began to focus more on foods that give her more energy, but it’s only recently that she decided to become a vegetarian.

After watching a number of documentaries on factory farming, she decided to stop eating meat.

Has it improved her health?

“Without a doubt. The energy you get from eating a vast range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats with a few superfoods thrown in, is quite amazing.”

Her children eat a mixture of vegan, vegetarian and free range meat-based meals.

“I want them to be brought up educated about food and where it comes from, so that they can make informed decisions for themselves when the time comes.”

Meanwhile, she says her food choices are inspired by three things: “Nutrition. Simplicity. Taste.”

Raw Chocolate Energy Bites.

These balls not only taste delicious but are really good for you too.

They are perfect to satisfy a sugar or chocolate craving and because they are dense with raw superfoods, these tasty bites are an excellent bridge between meals if you’re feeling peckish.

You can use whatever nuts you like, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or a mixture. If you have time to spare you could activate your nuts.

This process of activating certain foods removes the phytic acid.

Nuts, grains and seeds produce this acid as a defence measure to protect themselves.

This acid reduces the absorption of some nutrients in the food, iron for example.

I’ll do a post on activation soon.

Portions 10 – 12 bites.

Prep – 10 mins.

Cooling – 1 hour.

Ingredients

• 1 cup nuts (200g approx)

• 1/4 cup goji berries (40g approx)

• 1 cup or 7 pitted medjool dates

• 2 tbsp desiccated coconut

• 3 tbsp coconut oil -melted

• 2 -3 heaped tbsp raw cacao (you can add more or less depending on how chocolatey you like them) 

Method 

Blend the nuts in a food processor until broken to a thick crumble like texture.

Add the goji berries and blend.

Next blend in the dates.

You can then add and blend the three remaining ingredients, desiccated coconut, raw cacao and coconut oil.

Using your hands roll the mixture into 10 or 12 balls.

Finally roll each ball in desiccated coconut and place in the fridge to harden for approximately 1 hour.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

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