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Bites & Sights With Meera Vadgama

Bites & Sights With Meera Vadgama

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Report by: Ravneet Sehmi

With an escalating and dedicated 44,000 followers on Instagram, creative food blogger cum recipe developer – Meera Vadgama has mastered the art of breakfast making, inspired by flavour profiles, colour, textures and scores of exotic ingredients alongside hale and hearty produce.

#Thefitfabfoodie reiterates the importance of having breakfast like a King or if you will, a queen. A quick look at her page will have your eyes fixated and mouth watering, but we think the proof is in the pudding – so over to Meera.

 

Meera, tell us about yourself.

I am a nutritionist, a wife and a mum of two, not necessarily in that order. I have a degree in social policy from the University of Cardiff, but decided to follow my passion and pursued nutrition. I love that it is something I can practice daily and also feed my family healthy and nourishing meals.

 

When, how and why did you start your social media handle ‘TheFitFabFoodie’?

I started TheFitFabFoodie in mid-2013. At the time, I was on a mission to lose my baby weight and started
exercising and eating super clean. This was when my Instagram and blog were born. It has been such a fun journey over the years, discovering food and developing a healthy relationship with it. Practicing the paleo way of eating for two years and recently going plant based (I wouldn’t call myself vegan just yet, but I am getting there), the journey has been transformative.

 

Your core focus is bringing about creative yet healthy breakfasts options for your followers. Do you focus on both sweet and savoury breakfast palates?

My breakfasts, especially those I share on my Instagram account, are mainly sweet-based. But this is not to say they contain sugar. We actually eat no refined sugar in our house. I prefer to sweeten our food with fruit, maple syrup, dates and coconut nectar. I do love my savoury breakfasts too. Often, I would switch it up with the now famous avocado toast – which is simply avocado on sour dough or wholemeal bread topped with sea salt and hemp seeds.

 

Meera, scientists from the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, California recently discovered ‘that people who ate breakfast experienced a relative decrease in their BMI compared with ‘breakfast-skippers.” Why is breakfast touted as the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast translates to breaking the fast. After having had close to 12 hours of no food, your body’s blood sugar levels are starting to dip. In order to maintain that level, you need to eat. Starting your day with slow-releasing carbohydrates like oatmeal, chia pudding, whole grain toast and fruits like berries helps set you up for the day. You are then less likely to binge-eat at 11.00 am, reaching for that mandazi. Starting the day with breakfast helps maintain your weight, mood and insulin levels.

 

Two years ago, one of the local dailies ran with the story, ‘Why are Kenyans skipping breakfast?’
attributing it to high cost of living. As it remains a key meal in one’s daily diet, can you propose some easy-to-make or cheap alternatives for breakfast?

Breakfast does not have to be difficult or expensive. Even a banana and pot of yoghurt are a great way to start the day. We are lucky to live in a country where fruit is readily available, seasonal and affordable. If you cannot prepare anything, grab a fruit on your way out of the door. Alternatively, you could prepare your oats the night before.

 

Kenya’s breakfast scene is looking to break away from the traditional dishes, with Nyama Mama one of the eateries providing quirky and exciting twists to the meal. Is this too daring a step or is the country ready for it?

I think Kenyans are totally ready for a healthy take on breakfast. This is such a modern, cosmopolitan country and we have so much international influence that introducing foods like chia pudding, overnight oats and avocado toast on menus in local restaurants will no longer be considered out of the ordinary in years to come.

 

After going through your posts, it is evident you use ingredients that aren’t that common, compelling people to explore unusual ingredients such as psyllium husks, pink pitaya powder, buckwheat, maca powder, medjool dates and butterfly pea powder among others. Are these readily available and affordable here in Kenya?

(Laughs) I know some of my ingredients will have you saying, ‘Uh, pitaya what?’ Not everything I use is
available in Kenya. My husband stopped surprising me with flowers and now surprises me with gorgeous food props and exotic ingredients instead! Having said that, there are great places here to find healthy alternatives such as Healthy U or Chandarana.

 

You have been known to come up with some quirky mouth-watering recipes, where do you get your inspiration from?

I get a lot of my inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest. And everything else is from middle-of-the-night brainwaves which make me want to leave my warm cozy bed and run down to my kitchen to start creating

immediately.

 

For those who do not have enough time to whip up delectable breakfasts like yours, can you share three tips for them to still keep it healthy and
delicious?

PREP! I make breakfast the night before most evenings – be it preparing a box full of smoothie ingredients to whip up in the morning, making a jar full of chia pudding or chopping up some fruit I could then serve with batch homemade granola. Also, make a shopping list and buying everything for the week in advance; you have a clear idea on what delicious goodies you have to look forward to.

 

You seem to strike a balance between a healthy breakfast and eye-pleasing meals. Your photos are very alluring, filled with colour and exceptional presentation. Do you take your own photos? If so, share with us one critical tip for your followers on what makes an appealing photo composition.

Thank you so much for that wonderful compliment. You flatter me! I do indeed take my own photos. I use a DSLR camera, but I think a smart phone can take beautiful photos too. My tip would be good lighting. I prefer natural daylight and clean, uncluttered backgrounds.

 

You’ve been blogging just over four years and have in the process amassed an impressive 42,700 Instagram followers. What is the recipe (pun intended) to attaining such a following?

I did not start my Instagram with the intent of gaining followers. It was just a way of documenting my food journey and meeting like-minded individuals. But interaction, engagement and being genuine are some of the ways of having people follow you – all that and being consistent. If you can, post daily and around the same time of the day too. Social media is changing a lot. It has become a lot about adverts and bought followers and likes. This can be really frustrating for the genuine bloggers out there, but it is just
something we have to accept.

 

What is the best part of being an influencer food blogger?

The best part of being an
influencer (I love that word, but it kind of scares me too!) is motivating people to make a change – to become healthier and fitter. I just love it when someone tags me saying that they created a healthy meal from a recipe I shared.

 

How about the challenges?

Blogging and social media can often become overwhelming. It can sometimes take up way too much time. And it is very easy to get caught up in the comparison trap and become demotivated. But I always say, ‘you do you.’

 

What do you feel are some of the food trends that are taking Kenya by storm?

I love the rise of small cafes and eateries that are serving healthy tasty dishes, catering for allergies and different diets. It is fun to have the option to eat clean even when you are out and not be looked at strangely when asking for an almond milk macchiato.

 

What’s your take on calorie counting, as countries like US and UK mention the calorie count of a meal, snack or drink in the menu. Do you feel as a health-promoting food blogger this is the way forward for us?

Life is too short to count the calories on each meal you consume. Also, it sort of takes the pleasure out of eating and makes you have negative associations with food. I much rather practice the 80/20 rule where you eat 80% clean (think fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, white meat anf eggs) and eat 20% not-so-clean. When you give your body what it craves, you are less likely to binge the rest of the time.

 

Where do you feel food blogging will be five years down the line?

In Kenya, it is changing and evolving ever so fast. Over the coming years, I can see it becoming a major way of exploring food trends, advertising new products, reviewing new eateries and sharing recipes across social media platforms.

 

Chia Pudding Nicecream Parfait

– To make the chia pudding (serves two)

– Four tablespoons of chia seeds

– 400ml of coconut milk or almond milk

– One tablespoon of maple syrup

– One teaspoon of vanilla extract

 

Combine everything together in a large container. Whisk well, wait five minutes and whisk again. After doing so, refrigerate overnight.

 

To make the nice cream:

– Two frozen bananas (peeled and chopped

and frozen overnight)

– Half a cup of frozen strawberries

– Two tablespoons of

cashew milk

 

Blend everything together until it is smooth and creamy. You need a high-speed blender with a tamper. Alternatively, you could use a food processor.

 

In the morning assemble your parfait

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