It’s no secret around here that I love food. I love cooking it, I love eating it, I love going to the markets and buying pretty much everything in anticipation of all the delicious things that can be made from that basket.
So it’s not really surprising one day I paused mid-scroll through Instagram, captured by a beautiful image of a chia pudding adorned with purple flowers. I began stalking (as you do) and immediately fell in love with Sarah Bell‘s food, photography and approach to healthy living.
Nutritionist and wholefood recipe developer, mum to three gorgeous kids and – I’ll put it out there – a bit of a superwoman as far as I’m concerned, Sarah regularly uploads drool-worthy food shots to her Instagram page, and fuss-free yet delicious recipes and lifestyle articles onto her blog. Plus anyone who heralds healthy chocolate and doughnuts options is someone I can get behind.
I’m so excited to introduce you to Sarah:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a modern day hippy I suppose. I don’t have dreads or wear hemp clothing but I do live sustainably, eat healthy and nourishing foods, love crystals and essential oils and am passionate about holistic health and healing. Growing up I was very creative, spending much of my time drawing and making art. I had many careers that I dreamt of, like being a photographer, a pastry chef, a fashion designer and an artist. Now I get to combine all of my passions and it makes me so happy. I love being a mum, as busy and stressful as it can be. Having a baby fall asleep in your arms, have my toddler tell me she’s so proud of me or my son hug me and tell me he loves me are the best feelings in the world.
You’re a nutritionist and recipe developer. Where did this passion for food come from?
I’ve always been interested in health, fitness and cooking from a young age. From the age of six I was independently making pancakes and baking choc-chip cookies. I’ve never been very good at following a recipe and have always been passionate about experimenting in the kitchen. Becoming a recipe developer/blogger/food creative was a natural next step for me.
What’s your favourite food to cook and/or eat?
I love to bake so much but I don’t really eat many baked foods anymore. I absolutely love making raw treats now as you can get so creative with the flavours and colours. One of my favourite things, however, is going to the markets and buying a bunch of ingredients that I can create something delicious from.
Having freedom and fun in the kitchen is my jam.
You’re also mum to three kids. How has life (and your approach to food and nutrition) changed due to motherhood?
My approach to food, in one word – simplified. Well at least, I’m constantly striving to simplify. Life is so busy with kids and working, trying to make foods that are delicious but simple and easy to prep is key. Life is so different with kids. They are my priority for the most part but the trick is finding the balance in doing enough for myself and for my kids. Self-love is something we take for granted when we don’t have kids and something we can so crave when we do have them. Finding time to show myself some love (whether that be in the form of taking some pretty photos, getting creative in the kitchen or just having a 10-minute shower all by myself) is so important for me to be a happier mum.
Your website is a dreamy mix of photography and delicious recipes. Where do you draw your inspiration from? When did you decide to first start blogging?
Oh you’re so lovely! There are certainly some amazing bloggers out there that I love to follow and draw inspiration from for my photography (Local Milk is one of them). It’s taken me a long time to land on my personal style (and honestly, I’m still not quite there yet) but I think this is something that comes with a lot of practice and working out what is me.
I decided to start blogging when I was on a holiday in Bali with my oldest friend nearly two years ago. She comes from a family of jet-setters with a zest for living life the way they want to live it. I’ve always aspired to be more like them. At the time of our holiday I was strung out, not coping and living with anxiety as a result of being a full time working mum. I needed an out. No, not just an out but an outlet. I needed to get out of what was my current situation and I needed something to get me through it while working out how. My blog was both of those things. A way for me to escape from the chaos that was my life at the time while also (very slowly) building a business out of it.
I don’t know why or how, but Bali inspired me to take a leap. The final clinch was remembering the words of a very kind lady who I met on the flight. She was working on her laptop and when we landed we got chatting. She mentioned that she flies in and out of Bali for work as she has a shop in Bali and exports product to Australia. I said that sounded amazing and she replied with “It’s a lifestyle choice”. I had never in my life thought to create my career around what lifestyle I wanted until that moment.
What does a typical day look like for you – or is there even such a thing?
I feel like my days are generally an organised mess, which basically sums up me. I wake up at around 6am, get lunches packed, kids dressed/fed/ready and then we head off to school and kindy. I try to squeeze some gym in after the school drop off at least a couple of times a week. On non-kindy days I like to do something fun with my girls like going to the park. When we get home it’s lunch time and then rest time for Evie and Frankie and work time for me. On kindy days I try to spend most of the day working on my blog, creating in the kitchen and spending some time in my studio. Frankie is the master of my days, however, and if she chooses to have a “no-sleep” day then I just have to roll with that. I also have to be careful not to over-do it. Rest time is just as important for me as it is for my babes.
As a parent it’s pretty easy to put yourself last. What are some of your daily non-negotiables when it comes to self care (including nutrition)? How important do you think it is for other parents to work these elements into their days?
Oh gosh, it is so easy to go without as a parent but it really does impact you in the long-term if you do. My number one non-negotiable is exercise. If I can’t exercise in a day, then I can feel really anxious. It is the number one most important thing for my mental health. Double points if I can exercise alone! My exercise usually consists of gym, yoga or walking.
Nutrition will always be a priority for me. When my first (and even my second) child was a baby, there were so many times that I would get through the day having eaten barely anything. This time around I make sure to never do that. No matter how busy I am I always make time to eat a descent lunch with plenty of vegetables. I usually have bliss balls made up so I have a nutritious, easy to eat, one handed snack at the ready.
Eating right and maintaining an active lifestyle are so, so important for not just parents but everyone. As a parent there is little time to be sick and there is much that we can stress about. Eating well and staying active helps to promote a strong immune system and healthy nervous system so that we can stay on top of our stress levels and fight off all of those bugs that our little germ factories bring home.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new mum/parent, what would it be?
Don’t let go of who you are. Be a kick-ass, devoted, amazing mother or father but never let go of what makes you, you. Whatever it is that makes you happy and gives you passion, stick with it. Make time for yourself to be you and you will be a better parent.
What’s one food myth you wish you could bust once and for all?
That fat is bad. Major palms to the face when I write this. There is still so much misinformation out there. Trans fats are terrible (fried, packaged, processed foods) so avoid these like the plague. BUT polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats AND a lot of saturated fats are GOOD. Fat is necessary for a healthy mind, body and digestive system. The brain is made up of around 60% fat. If we are not getting enough from our diets it will affect our mental health and overall brain health. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on your dinner, eat plenty of nuts and seeds and buy full fat everything. Finally, cholesterol is actually NECESSARY for our health. Say whaaaat? That’s right, it’s imperative for hormone health and cell health. If you have been told you have high cholesterol and recommended medication, get a second opinion (by someone who is trained in nutrition and medicine ideally).
If you could eat a meal anywhere, where and what would it be?
My lifelong dream has been to go to Italy. I am wheat and dairy intolerant but if I were to go to Italy I would eat pizza, pasta, gnocchi, gelato – everything! Because when in Rome right?
Finally, what’s up next for you?
I have been slowly picking up some recipe development and photography work, which has been such a great way of easing back into the workplace after having Frankie. What I am really excited about though is a program that I am currently creating. It is a program to help busy families to get organised so that they can have healthy weeks without the stress.
The program aims to teach the importance of whole foods to families while giving them practical steps, meal plans and recipes to become healthier and more organised in the kitchen. If you join my community at www.sarahbellnutrition.com you will be the first to know when the program is available (as well as free recipes, latest blog posts, wholefood how-to’s and a monthly newsletter).
All imagery is Sarah’s own (I told you she was one talented lady!)