An Interview with Sarah Bond from Live Eat Learn
Live Eat Learn is one of our favourite food blogs that we have discovered on the internet. The beautiful vegetarian recipes that can be found on the blog will truly inspire all who enjoy the versatility of food.
The brains behind the blog is Sarah Bond, a Alaskan-born, self-confessed travel addict with an appetite for wanderlust; helping to inspire her many dishes that stretch across the free-from food spectrum. From the cutting edge vegetarian dishes to the health boosting smoothies, Sarah leads the way in the contemporary food blog.
In this blog, we speak with Sarah on the success of Live Eat Learn and ask her for some top tips on cooking, nutrition and travel!
For those who haven’t checked out your blog yet, what can they expect to discover on Live Eat Learn?
Live Eat Learn is largely about the Eats! I draw from my background in nutrition and love for traveling to create simple vegetarian recipes, with the hopes of pulling home cooks from their everyday, inspirationless cooking norms.
You recently created amazing recipes using some products from Healthy Foods Online such as the Strawberry Avocado Grilled Cheese and the 3 Cheese Roasted Grape Pizza, where do you get your inspiration from to create such unique dishes?
To keep us learning and fresh, every other week I pick a “Featured Ingredient” to cook into the blog’s recipes. And because the internet is already overflowing with tried-and-true classic recipes, I usually try to go the direction opposite of what you would expect from that ingredient, the direction that makes me feel a tinge uncomfortable. So for grapes, I threw them on a pizza, and for strawberries, I melted them into a savory grilled cheese!
But I’m definitely a Type A kind of person, so I’m not usually one to stab in the dark when it comes to recipe creation. One of my favorite resources for learning about what flavors pair well together is The Flavor Bible. I always refer to is when I’m looking for recipe inspiration. I also get inspiration from my love for creating healthy versions of classic recipes, from my many hours each week spent watching Jamie Oliver, and from my inherent laziness when it comes to spending hours in the kitchen.
You spent four years studying Nutrition at university, what are the 5 best things that you discovered about nutrition from your course that could help us lead a healthier lifestyle?
1- Diets don’t work. It’s been said over and over, but it’s just so true. The sooner you stop hopping from diet to diet and commit to a healthy lifestyle (which can include chocolate and cake in moderation), the more happy, healthy, and content you’ll be.
2 - The more plants you’re eating, the better off you’ll be. A large percentage of the nutrition students at my university were vegetarian, and I think there’s something to be said for that. Vegetarians have a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, the list goes on. We get so much nutrition from fruits and vegetables, so even if you’re not sticking to a strictly vegetarian diet, upping the amount of plants you’re eating everyday can make such a difference to your health (and can also make you happier!)
3 - Doctors don’t actually know all that much about nutrition. Where a doctor may prescribe blood pressure lowering medication, a dietitian will suggest reducing salt, eating more plants, and exercising. And guess which of these is the long term solution? Food is a powerful medicine!
4 - Calories in vs. calories out isn’t always the healthy solution. For one, everyone’s body is different, so a 100-calorie pack of crisps will be stored/used differently in your body compared to your friend’s body. And secondly, calories are just the shell of nutrition. If the choice is between a 100-calorie pack of crisps and a 300-calorie green smoothie, which do you think will actually benefit you in the long term? The green smoothie will keep you satisfied longer and will flood your body with healthy nutrients, while the crisps will benefit you for about as long as you’re chewing them.
5 - Nutrition still has unknowns. In my last year at university, I had a class where the professor proclaimed, “what I am going to teach you here is the most anyone knows about nutrition”, the outer bounds of the field, so to speak. What does this mean? There is no definitive answer when it comes to nutrition, so try to avoid media hype when it comes to new diets, draw your conclusions from randomized controlled research, and do what works for you.
For those who are about to embark on a free-from journey, whether they are vegetarian, lactose intolerant, coeliac or simply looking to try something new; being a free-fromer means they have to cut out certain foods altogether.
What are the best foods that they can introduce to their diet to maintain healthy levels of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that they may lack when eliminating foods and drinks such as meat and dairy products?
Vegetarian - With vegetarians and vegans, vitamin B12 (found only in animals and animal products) and iron should be nutrients of focus. I use nutritional yeast, spirulina, and fermented soy to take care of the B12 dilemma, and am sure to include a lot of beans and dark, leafy greens for iron.
Gluten Free - Grains are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, like folate, iron, and B vitamins, so those on a gluten-free diet may miss out on some of these nutrients. I’d recommend eating as wide of a variety of fruits and vegetables as possible to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need (or throw a bunch of fruits and veggies in a blender each morning for a nutrient dense smoothie!)
Lactose Free - Calcium is the big mineral you’ll want to get here, but that’s super doable with a balanced diet. Collard greens, broccoli, and kale are all high in protein, or you could go for calcium-fortified soy or almond milks.
How has your experience with travel influenced your love of food?
Eating is one of my most favorite things to do when I travel! I think food says so much about a culture and place. In Italy, you can feel the love and comfort of the chef in the pasta, and in Bangkok, you feel the hectic intensity of the atmosphere in a plate of noodles. Around the world, food expresses so many different things, and traveling has definitely given me an appreciation of that, and a hope that I can bring some of those feelings back home in my cooking.
You say that travel has made you thrifty, what are your top tips for getting the most out of your food shop?
- Before I shop, I always come up with a grocery list, planning for the next week or so. I try to plan recipes and meals that use similar ingredients so I don’t have to buy a ton of different things.
- I buy dry goods (like flours, oats, nuts) from the bulk bins and store them in jars. It’s often cheaper, and I can buy exactly as much as I need!
- Practice portion control. Cooking and serving over-sized portions that you may or may not be able to finish is the fastest way to not only waste food/money, but also to eat way more than you actually need. Try to be conscious of how much you’re making and if you’ll have time to eat the leftovers.
- I usually dub 1 or 2 days each week as leftover nights. I don’t have to cook and I can ensure we don’t waste food, win win!
You’re somewhat of a “Smoothie Specialist”, why are smoothies so great and how often should we drink them?
I love smoothies! I started blending up smoothies after moving in with my boyfriend and was appalled to find that he didn’t eat breakfast. Smoothies have quickly become the solution to making sure we each get a few servings of fruits and vegetables in the morning, with just about 3 minutes of actual work.
I usually keep a container of chopped and frozen fruit in the freezer as well as a bag of frozen spinach. In the morning I’ll throw a handful or fruit, spinach, Greek yogurt, and milk in the blender (along with whatever else my sleep self comes across, to include oats, protein powder, carrots, you name it). And even if you don’t fit in another decent portion of vegetables until dinner time, you’ll have filled yourself up on healthy, energizing nutrients to fuel your day!
Quick 5 questions!
What is the most versatile ingredient?
Plain Greek yogurt! I buy a big jug of this at the start of every week and use it in everything: as a substitute for heavy cream in pastas and soups, as a substitute for sour cream, as a protein boost in smoothies, on toast or eggs with a sprinkle of salt. Really, I use this stuff for everything.
What food becomes the staple of a vegetarian/vegan diet?
Chickpeas! They’re high in protein, iron, calcium, and they’re ultra-filling. I use them in gyros and they’re heavenly.
While I don’t think any one food is super all by itself, chia seeds are pretty awesome. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats), fiber, protein, and calcium. I keep a bag of them in the fridge and throw a spoonful into smoothie, oats, breakfast cereals, or make pudding with them.
What is your best ‘feel good’ dish?
Sometimes it’s okay to not be entirely healthy, and those times call for cinnamon rolls (which may very well be my favorite food).
What is your most favourite adventure that you have been on and how has it inspired one of your recipes?
I’ve always had this thing for Greece. Maybe it’s the clean white architecture, or maybe the fresh Mediterranean food, or maybe I was just too easily influenced by The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Regardless, my days spent exploring Athens and hiking around Santorini inspired one of the most popular recipes on the blog, Roasted Chickpea Gyros with homemade tzatziki. Eating these always make me feel like I’m having a bite at a street food stand in some winding Santorini alley.