Interview | Chatting today with Wholesome Cook, author, blogger, Martyna Angell

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Martyna in her kitchen creative space. Gorgeous pic by www.ironchefshellie.com, Michele Froidevaux.

Feeling excited and oh-so lucky today as I share my interview with the lovely and generous food blogger and author, Martyna Angell.

With a gorgeously recipe-packed blog, a huge social media following and a newly released book, voted by Better Reading 2015 as “one of the top 10 Cookbooks for Christmas”, I am thrilled newbie me has been blessed with the chance to shed a little more light on this gifted individual.

Here we go! 🙂

Martyna is a cookbook author & photographer, health coach, food writer, recipe developer and blogger. Her book, “The Wholesome Cook : Refined sugar-free wholefood recipes for how we eat now”  was published by Harlequin MIRA in October 2015 and immediately caused a buzz with its sensible, achievable yet creatively tasty approach to wholefood, good eating and healthy living.

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Beautiful photography courtesy of Martyna Angell.

As well as her show-stopper book and blog, Martyna’s writing regularly appears in Nourish magazine and she has written recipes for several cookbooks, including Sarah Wilson’s bestselling “I Quit Sugar for Life”.

She has featured in such publications as Prevention Australia, Women’s Fitness, Practical Parenting and the Sunday Telegraph; and on various websites including The Huffington Post, taste.com.au and thecarousel.com .

Though Martyna gives thanks to her Polish upbringing for her wholefood heart and her mother for inspirational recipes, it is her cook-eat-dream passion for food that combines to deliver this health-conscious, common-sense, real food cookbook to our kitchens.

Congratulations on your book, Martyna. It’s both beautifully shot and an absolute joy to cook from. What did you love most about the process of publishing The Wholesome Cook book? What did you find most challenging?

Thank you for your kind words. The Wholesome Cook book was the first book I’ve worked on that was entirely mine – I loved the fact that the writing, research, recipes, styling and photography could be quite personal and mine. I loved sharing stories from our daily lives in many recipe head notes, for instance, and the opportunity to talk about my philosophy for healthy living. It was also the first book where I saw the process from start to finish with all of its publishing quirks like overlapping deadlines. Interestingly, when I was writing the book I was so immersed in the process I often found it a challenge to find time to cook! Luckily our freezer is stocked well and I have quite a wide repertoire of quick meals like the Miso Soup with Meatballs and Soba Noodles (page 130) to save the day.  

With 170 recipes and masses of great content, this is a real “enjoy with cuppa” book, as well as a cook book. For me your 90/10 rule and de-guilting deciphering of cravings are real stand-outs. Can you recount how/why you arrived at these philosophies? (if you prefer we can just focus on one of these but I loved them both so couldn’t decide which to cut!) 🙂

The 90/10 rule – eating well 90 percent of the time and indulging in the other 10, is basically my idea of quantifying moderation, which in itself is such a broad and ambiguous term. At one point, in my early twenties I put on a lot of weight in a short space of time because my idea of moderation kept shifting and over time became completely unbalanced. Going back to the basics of eating real food, reducing refined and added sugars and listening to my body has made the difference. Having said that, the 90/10 is not rigid and I do allow flexibility within it as well. My husband calls his the 70/30 for instance, still doing better than most, and to be honest, quite often when we are away on holidays I’m more of an 80/20.  
 
Deciphering cravings was another philosophy I’ve been reading about a lot in connection with our bodies letting us know about their needs through cravings. I started noticing the connection in my own body with chocolate around a specific time of the month and it made so much sense. Others mentioned in the chapter are suggestions of healthier alternatives. 

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More stunning images courtesy of Martyna Angell.

I read that you love finding inspiration for recipes at quality restaurants. Can you share one recipe from the book you developed in this way & who/where supplied the creative juices?

That’s true. We try to eat out regularly in order to introduce the kids to a variety of foods and cuisines. The Torched Salmon Skewers (page 245) are inspired by my love of aburi maki available from most sushi places and the Caramelised Pork Belly Salad (page 149) is a dish inspired by a similar salad at Chophouse in Sydney. 

You recently appeared in Thermie Living magazine with a featured recipe .. can we expect more recipes converted to TMX anywhere in your future?

That’s a good question! I enjoy using the Thermomix for certain tasks in the kitchen, so converting recipes is something I’ve thought about doing for The Wholesome Cook book. I’m still trying to figure out what format I could do this in, and I’d probably need some help from a proficient Thermie user or two to get this tested and done properly.

Your writing career has moved far beyond the friends & family origins you describe on your blog. Can you remember one thing that helped you move from amateur to professional blogger?

I’ve never believed in paid advertising on the blog so when I was first approached by a New Zealand jam and relish brand Anathoth to do some recipe development for them I got really excited. More paid work followed on from there, including recipe development For Aussie brand Brookfarm, Sarah Wilson and the I Quit Sugar team, book publishers, and many styling and photography assignments for various clients. 

As well as the impressive CV above, you are a wife & mother of two .. what is the structure of your typical day? How do you divide your time?

With two school-aged kids I really try to balance work and family life, so most days the biggest chunks of any recipe development and styling work I do happens between the hours of 9-2:30pm. The mornings are dedicated to getting everyone ready and some basic prep. The afternoons are about  homework, clean up after the day’s cooking and dinner prep. I tend to do computer work after the kids have gone to bed and it goes without saying that my phone gets a work out when it comes to attending to emails on the go during those days. 

And, for a sneaky look into your life, what does your workspace look like?

There are three spaces at home that I use for work (in addition to my iPhone’s notepad and my laptop which makes my office portable). Most days you’ll find me in the kitchen testing recipes, shooting for clients in my studio or attending to emails, documents and editing in the office space next to the studio. 

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Martyna in her photographic creative space. Another gorgeous pic by www.ironchefshellie.com, Michele Froidevaux.

Your food photography & styling, both in The Wholesome Cook and on your blog, truly do convey your aim of showing food as a sensory experience .. how did you learn these skills? Do you have one secret top tip to share?

I’ve always been a creative type and so the aspect of food styling at dinnertimes appealed to me from early on. At first, I didn’t pay as much attention to magazine-like images on the blog – I just wanted to share the recipes. But, as the blog grew I wanted to show my creative side in the process of cooking and presenting food so both food styling and food photography became a big part of what I do. It’s been a process of constant learning and development. My tip for anyone interested in improving their styling and photography skills would be to observe and learn from the best. On Instagram, in magazines such as delicious, Gourmet Traveller, Donna Hay and cookbooks.  Continue to find inspiration,  styling techniques in those images and get a good camera – a DSLR or mirrorless and one or two lenses that work well for food. 

Martyna! 🙂 Thank you so, so much for squeezing hhh into your super-packed scheduleI just loved getting a peak behind the scenes of your book/blog/life and I know our readers will too.  Wishing you a bright shining future filled with delicious food, good health and happiness.  xx Shelley 

PS If you could possibly need anymore convincing as to why you should be checking out The Wholesome Cook you only need a peak at these OMG-gluten-free-madeleines .. can’t wait for my next batch of procrastibaking to begin ..

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Recipe, photography and divine inspiration for procrastibaking ASAP .. Martian Angell. Thank you!!

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