You know a healthy food geek when you meet one. The signs are all there, you just need to know what to look out for.
That crazy look in their eyes as they describe the amazing gut healing properties of some weird herb. The way their hands come to life as they talk you through how to nail that delicious guilt free chocolate torte. How about when you step into their kitchen and realise every other food ingredient could also belong in a medicine cabinet?
This is the chef who has a sourdough starter named Bob (seriously). She was worried her husband might not have remembered to feed him (it’s a “him”, not an “it”, obviously).
She suffers from a serious herb obsession (queue in company name) and has a thing for making us guess the “secret” healthy ingredients that went into her mouthwatering recipes.
Sitting across her on a cosy sofa in between workouts, talking nutrient density, food myths and good fats I kept thinking of the least inappropriate way to get her to adopt me – so I could soak up all that passion, knowledge and skills. Target Fitness Retreats nailed it when they got her onboard to lead on all things yum – she made every meal a joy!
Over to Ellie for some healthy food talk and how you should never give up on your dreams!
1. Tell us about “real life” before food took over?
Hmm, real life was not for me, although I didn’t realise it at the time. I was working in an office 8-5 Monday-Friday and living entirely for the weekend. I was pretty much asleep and eating very uninspiring food that had no benefits to my health or mind.
2. When did you have your epiphany and decided to become a chef?
It was in Australia in 2004, a friend had contacted me a few months beforehand asking if I fancied travelling Australia for a year, I of course said YES but deep down inside I didn’t believe I could go through with it, I had my comfortable life and it was WAAAAY out of my comfort zone to travel to the other side of the world. But seeing as I have a VERY supportive and encouraging Mum within 3 months I was sat on a flight to Sydney.
While there I stayed with wonderful relatives in Cairns who worked for a dive company, they suggested I become a cook on one of the dive boats as I’d get all of my dive courses for free, I of course didn’t complete my dive courses as I became completely obsessed with cooking and spent the entire trip in the galley.
I progressed from dive boats to super yachts over the period of 8 years. In 2012 my mum told me that her closest friend Grace was in hospital and was recovering due to her leg being amputated due to complications with diabetes, we agreed that I would come home when my next leave was due to write some menus and recipes for her as I knew wholeheartedly that diet can improve diabetes and its symptoms.
Heartbreakingly I had a phone call 1 week later to say that she had died, I was devastated and knew I had to hand in my notice and return home.
I did that and 1 month later Sage & Honey was born! I may not be able to help Grace but if I can help just one person changes their diet to a healthier one then that will do me.
3. What are your favourite ingredients ever?
Ooh that’s a tough one, but I am pretty obsessed with all herbs (hence Sage & Honey) not just for the flavour but also the medicinal benefits. The first thing I did when I moved into my new house was to plant a herb garden!
4. How about your kryptonite food?
Refined sugar and processed food, if you can call it food!
5. What’s the worst food myth out there?
That all fat is bad for you.
6. How to best adapt my meals on the days I’m working out?
Increase protein by making a few switches i.e regular crackers for seeded protein crackers, cous cous for quiona. Make energy balls that you can pack protein into and that you can have a controlled portion rather than over doing it.
7. I know you love to cook for Target Fitness Retreats – what makes them special?
They have a big emphasis on healthy lifestyle as a whole rather than just focussing on fitness.
8. Share 3 things that make you happy!
My dog (Dougal), creating new healthy recipes and cooking for appreciative people.
9. What’s next for Sage & Honey?
We are opening a healthy coffee shop/deli in Market Bosworth, it’s very exciting and such a fabulous opportunity which I am so utterly grateful for. It will be great to share my food dream with a bigger audience and hopefully inspire a healthier way of eating to those who want to.
10. Best piece of advice you were ever given?
NEVER give up on your dreams!
It’s worth going to a Target Fitness Retreat just to eat her food, darlings! Secret: there’s (healthy!) pudding every day… Check out their website for any available spaces on the next “Get Fit Fast” Target Fitness Retreat in beautiful Herefordshire (start dates are 26th of June or 7th of July). Curious? Read my Before and After story here!
Dreaming of those retreat meals right now…