Although I have been following her Instagram page since about January this year, Ankie from Wooden Spoon Kitchen and I first met in person in July when she decided to attend my gut health workshop (read more about that here). Since then it has been great to get to know her a bit better and learn more about her 'third child', Wooden Spoon Kitchen, which aims to inspire others through enjoying real food and healthy cooking. Her blog is filled with beautiful food photography and some mouthwatering recipes that anyone can master. One of my favourites is this recipe for this Pear and Rosemary French Toast, the perfect breakfast recipe for a slow Sunday morning :) I am so excited to feature her here in this #gamechangers post, and for each of you to get to know her a bit better.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do.
I am a wife and mother of two (three) if you count Wooden Spoon Kitchen as one of my babies. I love cooking, sharing food knowledge and cooking skills. I am a creative soul and love the creative side of my business being a cooking teacher but also to play with food, props and designs gives me immense satisfaction.
What is your favourite thing about teaching others to cook?
I get to inspire and transfer life skills. It really is amazing to see how people grow in confidence once they realise it is not that hard to cook.
When and why did you start your Instagram page and blog?
I knew my social media was not great two years ago and had great aspirations for my business so I attended the Pink party workshop by Anzel van Biljon. It was all about branding and social media and gave me a great kick-start to get my branding sorted. I started my Instagram account last year March and my Facebook account in 2014. Social media is your greatest tool to network and get your name out there. It is hard work and I don’t always get it right but it has connected me to so many interesting people and companies. It is a source of inspiration for me every day.
What is Wooden Spoon kitchen all about?
Wooden Spoon Kitchen is firstly a cooking school for young and old where we cook with real food. Here we learn to make every day healthy food and the occasional special recipes. It is for people who love to cook but also for the ones who can’t and won’t cook. I am a keen food stylist and recipe developer and find it very useful for my blog and social media. I also offer real food parties for children and I am very excited about my first supper club running in October where we will be cooking and eating together and introducing some special food brands every month. But overall I just really love to cook and share my passion for food.
What started you on your personal journey with food, health, and nutrition?
I have always known that food is important to keep you healthy I just did not realise how important. I struggle with a very rare disease called Achalasia, basically the muscle of my lower oesophageal sphincter prevents relaxation and peristalsis. I had an operation 10 years ago but it is not something that can really ever be healed. I also recently learned that it is an auto-immune disease and you can easily develop more than one auto-immune disease. So I am trying my best to take care of my health through nutrition and good healthy habits.
It is very ironic that the person, who loves to cook and eat, can’t always eat because my food gets stuck. When I used to be a Home Economics teacher I realised that there is a great need amongst children to learn cooking skills and develop healthy eating habits and I love being able to share my knowledge.
What resources have been valuable as you have learned more about cooking, and healthy eating and nutrition?
I have a good understanding of nutrition from my studies, but a lot more research has been done since then. I attended a twelve-week nutrition course hosted by Ian Graig from The Nutritional Institute (http://www.thenutritionalinstitute.com/) that has given me a much better understanding of nutrition and our relationship with food. I also get a lot of recipe ideas from social media and the internet. I just love Pinterest and my favourite bloggers and food personalities include the Hemsley and Hemsley sisters, Deliciously Ella and Jamie Oliver.
What are some of your favourite Proudly South African food products and companies?
Munching mongoose, Faithful to nature, Yuppiechef and Wazoogles. The list really is endless.
What are your top tips for staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally?
I try to sleep at least 7-8 hours every night, otherwise I get really cranky and emotional. I also try to exercise at least three times per week. I don’t go to the gym but rather go for a run or do some interval training at home. It really makes such a difference to my emotional state if I exercise regularly. I also love to spend time with friends and family and feeding everyone that makes me really happy. I also drink a lot of water and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables every day. But I try not to be too hard on myself because every day is different and we have so many demands so not every day is a perfect ‘healthy’ day.
What is your favourite go-to meal after a busy day?
Avo-toast with egg and chilli flakes is always a good meal.
What is your all-time favourite special treat?
I love croissants from a good baker.
I hope that you all enjoyed that Q&A. I absolutely love learning a bit more about #gamechangers like Ankie, who really have such an amazing role to play in encouraging others to cook food from scratch, learn to love wholesome ingredients, and inspire us through beautiful photography and innovative recipes. Ankie has been kind enough to share this delicious recipe for her very own nutty bars with us. I hope that you enjoy them! But before I share, be sure to follow her:
Yields: 20 bars
- 2 cups of mixed nuts (pecan, almond, cashews, macadamia)
- 1/2 cup flaxseeds
- 1 cup dessicated coconut
- 150g dates (+ water to boil)
- 2 tbs raw Honey
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 Tbsp any nut butter
- Place nuts, seeds and coconut in a baking tin and roast for 10 minutes at 180˚C. Check the nuts and turn them often until they are golden brown.
- Place dates in a small pot with 500 ml water and boil for 5 minutes until soft.
- Pulse the nuts and seeds in a food processor into smaller chunks. Make sure all nuts are broken into smaller pieces, but are not completely broken down.
- Drain water from dates and blend in food processor until a smooth paste forms.
- Add cinnamon, vanilla, honey and nut butter. Process again.
- Add the sticky date mixture to the nuts, coconut and seeds. Stir and then mix with your hands until you have a sticky, cohesive mixture.
- Press into a 29cm x 19cm tin. The tin size will depend on how thick you want bars.
- Place in fridge for at least 3-4 hours. When ready, cut in bars or squares. Store in fridge