#gamechangers // Clara Jane, Baking-Ginger
Today I’d like to introduce you all to this month’s #gamechanger Clara Jane Bjorkman, the baker, blogger, and (in her own words) dishwasher behind Baking-Ginger. If you haven’t come across her website or Instagram feed before then you’re definitely missing out - her recipes are just delicious, and her photography and food styling skills are something that I envy. In this Q&A session, she has shared some insight into how she got into the work that she does today, her favourite go-to meal, and a few great tips for staying healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a bonus, she has allowed me to share one of her more recent recipes - a delicious Honey Carrot Coconut Loaf - with you all to try. I’ve included the links to her website and Instagram feed at the end of this post, so make sure to head on over and show them some love!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Clara Jane Bjorkman, also known as Baking-Ginger. I am a fiery ginger from beautiful Stellenbosch with a love for everything food, design and photography. I spend most days either covered in frosting or behind my camera creating content for food and lifestyle brands.
How have you got to where you are today in your career?
When you work in a somewhat made-up field your path tends to be a little crooked. I studied Psychology/Criminology and while completing my studies I had a little baking stall at a couple of local markets to make a little spending money. I quickly discovered that food was actually the industry I wanted to be in, but I also knew I never wanted to be a chef or own my own restaurant. So after completely my studies I did a short course in photography, taught myself how to build a website and started sharing all my creations that I was making. And now I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to do the same thing for myself and a few amazing local food brands.
How has your approach to food, movement, and your body changed over the years?
Food is such a big part of my life. But growing up it was never something I had to think about, I ate exactly what I felt like whether that was kale or an entire slab of chocolate. And somehow that worked for my body and I never struggled with my weight. As I hit my mid twenties I suddenly became a whole lot more aware of what I was eating and started controlling it a little more. This was one massive downward spiral and resulted in my gaining weight and becoming obsessed with what I was and wasn’t eating. So eventually I decided that I needed to get out of this spiral and now I try to eat incredibly balanced (and yes that means a little something sweet everyday). I don’t try to restrict from anything or reprimand myself for eating something I “shouldn’t” have. And although the weight doesn’t come off quickly, it does still come off. And the obsessive thoughts disappear after a while which is so freeing. Honestly, I think you need to just tune into your body, don’t feel like you need to hit to gym with cardio 6 days a week. As cheesy as it sounds, do what you love and what you feel like on the day otherwise everything just becomes torture and you’ll end up giving up.
What were some of the struggles you faced when figuring out what to do with your life?
The biggest struggle was to find a way to listen to my own voice. We get so much in put from others and society that you forget to figure out what would actually work for YOU. I had to let go of the idea that I NEEDED to make millions or become something that others thought I was and just do exactly what I wanted to. At the end of the day, I am the one who has to live with me for the rest of my life.
What are some of the things that you have enjoyed most about your career thus far?
I get to play with food all day. What’s not to love? :)
What are three of your top tips for staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally?
Eat something from each food group at every meal to avoid feelings of deprivation.
Move your body every day in a way that suits that day, sometimes its a hectic sesh at the gym, other times it’s a 5 min walk around the block. Don’t force it.
Make friends and family a priority even when you really think you don’t have the time for it.
What is your favourite go-to meal to make after a busy day?
Stir fry, always stir fry! With a tahini and ginger sauce. YUM!
What is your favourite recreational activity?
I live in beautiful Stellenbosch so I am slightly obsessed with the mountains. But if I’m not outdoors, you’ll definitely find me in a hot yoga class or maybe out wine tasting ;)
Any last words of advice for girls (and guys) who want to live healthier, happier lives?
Don’t compare your journey to any one else. Whether that is career or health orientated. You’ll never be another person no matter how hard you try, so you might as well just figure out what works for you from the get go.
Clara Jane has been kind enough to allow me to feature this recipe for all of you to try. This Honey Carrot Coconut Loaf is amazing, made with coconut milk, fresh carrots and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. The best part is that it’s super easy to make, and pretty much only requires one bowl to prepare (always a win when it comes to baking - simple beats complicated recipes that require all of the dishes in your kitchen any day haha). I hope you all enjoy it!
Makes: 1 loaf
For the loaf:
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp all-spice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 3 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- Honey, to drizzle
For the frosting:
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/325ºF and spray your loaf tin with non-stick spray
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients until properly combined.
- Add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (do not over mix).
- Fold in the grated carrots and pour the batter into your loaf tin.
- Bake for 65 minutes or until a fork inserted comes out clean.
- Using an electric beater, beat the cream cheese until it is a little softer.
- Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing.
- Use a spatula to top the cooled loaf with the frosting then add the coconut flakes and a drizzle of honey.
For the frosting: