She's a student nutritionist, (lawyer), recipe developer, part-time manager of Xtend Barre London and creator of Nourish Everyday - an online haven for health nuts, clean eaters and wholesome cooks that preaches the ethos of a healthy lifestyle through minimally processed, simple and nutritious foods! Through Nourish Everyday, Monique Cormack shares recipes, articles and stories on how to create a eating regime that is revolved around whole, natural and real foods. She doesn't believe in a particular 'diet' but rather optimal nutrition in it's optimal form. She's an absolute legend of a person, she's a fellow Australian and she's got a world of wisdom to share!
1. Similar to our Mama as a lawyer turned health nut, tell us a bit about how your health journey started?
I didn’t jump straight into the health & wellness space as a young girl. In fact, I was quite the opposite; just your typical high school/university student who enjoyed a few drinks and ate what I guess what a pretty average diet. And I wasn’t a great cook when I first moved out of home at 17 either!
My interest in health, and particularly nutrition, grew in my early 20s. At first it came from a negative, controlling place; I got really into a very restrictive eating pattern and was over-exercising. But after a dark period I turned this around and started a journey of properly educating myself about nutrition. Now I’m completing a Bachelor of Health Science so I can qualify as an accredited nutritionist (part time, while I still work as a lawyer!), and I’m also blogging and (mostly!) enjoying this sometimes crazy life-changing time.
Monique's spinach, banana and matcha smoothie.
Get the recipe here.
2. What are the three most important health lessons you've learned on your journey?
- Everyone is different; our physiology, metabolisms, gut bacteria...everything is unique. What works for you isn’t going to be exactly the same as what works for someone else. So comparing what you’re eating or how you’re exercising to someone else is not a helpful measure! It’s about listening to your own body.
- We are nourished by more than food; and food is more than just “fuel”. Doing things we love and spending time with people we love also nourish us. And it’s totally okay to eat food for pleasure and enjoyment, it doesn’t have to be all “clean” and “perfect”; humans use food to celebrate, as a way to connect, to show love.
- Calorie-counting is a very tiresome habit and for the vast majority of people doesn’t help them achieve their goals. It’s a bit cliched now, but you do really need to count nutrients, not calories. Your body is a clever little thing and if you don’t get your essential nutrients in, it’s gunna scream for more calories until you do!
3. What is the biggest health myth you've discovered on your journey?
That eating fat will make you fat. In the past, I would do anything I could to avoid full-fat products, told everyone I hated avocado (YES really) and thought eating more than 15 almonds would see me checking into an obesity clinic. Good quality fats, including superstars like the monounsaturated fatty acids in extra virgin olive oil, plus some saturated fat from organic butter and coconut oil - these fats help you glow and feel amazing. And they’re so satiating, you’re not going to overeat them. There’s no need to fear them.
4. Your beautiful blog is full of amazing nourishing recipes - what are 3 staple ingredients you always have in the pantry/fridge (other than matcha obviously)?
Broccoli, quality free range eggs and sweet potatoes. I eat these three items just about every day in some way, shape or form. Oh and they happen to work really well together too!
5. And what's your favourite way to enjoy matcha? Why?
I actually just love to have matcha straight up with hot water. If you get a good quality matcha powder (like Matcha Maiden!) it’s just such a refreshing, aromatic and energising drink.
Another matcha drink I’m obsessed with at the moment is the “Matcha Bright Eyes” smoothie we serve at Xtend Barre London (I manage the studio part-time, working there one day a week in between everything else!). It’s a blend of Matcha Maiden, banana, spinach, chia seeds, coconut oil and coconut milk. SO delicious!!
6. If you ever fall off the healthy bandwagon for a moment (like we all do), what's your one vice? And how do you recover from a binge?
I kind of have a thing for froyo or gelato topped with all sorts of random stuff; crushed nuts, granola, chocolate flakes, crumbled cookies...oh yeah. It has to have crunch. Also I love a chocolate cake! And as for savoury - I love a good burger (as long as they have a gluten-free bun!)
I used to get all hung up about eating foods that are not particularly nutritious; now I kind of just embrace those meals as a (tasty) indulgence and carry on! If I go out for a big dinner and feel really full the next morning, I like to have my Green Vegetable Smoothie Bowl for brekky the next day as a nice light and refreshing way to start the day. A long walk in the morning really helps too, it gets your blood and digestion moving without putting too much pressure on your body.
7. What's your exercise regime like? Favourite sweat session?
Hands down my favourite workout is Xtend Barre. Yes I’m biased, but honestly I do the classes every week, at least 2 or 3 times without fail. I truly enjoy doing my barre classes; they make me happy and they can really make you sweat, too. Other than barre I’m pretty relaxed; yoga and long walks and that’s me done. Those activities, and that level of intensity, works for my body.
Ginger chilli chicken rice bowls. Nom!
8. Favourite way to de-stress?
An Epsom salt bath, a hot tea and just laying on my lounge room floor watching telly and looking at cookbooks and playing on Pinterest.
9. As an Aussie based in London, what are your 5 must-visit health havens in London for anyone coming to visit?
Xtend Barre London! Not only do we have ace classes, but I designed a smoothie menu for our studio smoothie bar, so you can come and get a super nutritious - and delicious - smoothie crafted by me. We make them fresh to order!
And four more places:
- I love to wander around Borough Market and pick up lots of fresh produce;
- If I’m out shopping around Oxford St and Soho, grabbing a big salad plate from The Detox Kitchen is always a wonderful treat;
- Planet Organic is my go-to when I want to try some new healthy snacks or grab a kombucha on the go;
- And finally, the way to my heart is dinner at Ottolenghi - those platters of colourful salads just get me every time. And they’ve often got a gluten-free cake option for an indulgent dessert!
10. Any places back home you crave (and that we should visit)?
Oh lord. There are so many places in Sydney! Close to my house I really miss Bread & Circus cafe and the Campos coffee just next to it. Eveleigh Farmer’s Market on the weekends was always so wonderful too. And Fratelli Fresh for a campari and a gorgeous fresh casual dinner. Oh and I miss going to Sprout Wholefoods on the north shore just near my in-laws’ place for their tasty brekkies and salad bowls. But I haven’t been back to Sydney in almost two years so I bet there are an absolute ton of new places I’m yet to fall in love with...
11. And for those long haul flights back and forth, any healthy travel tips?
- Drink all of the water! Buy a huge bottle and take it on the plane with you so you don’t have to wait for people to come around with those teeny little cups of it (that drives me insane).
- Pack some herbal tea bags (I like blends with camomile, lavender and passionflower to help me relax and sleep a little. Fennel tea is a really nice carminative which eases digestion so that’s a good option too).
- A big container of crunchy veggie sticks and something light and crispy like popcorn make nice plane snacks because they take a while to eat and they’re great to chew on while you’re wasting some time with an in-flight movie.
- Get up and walk around when you can. A tiny jar of coconut oil is always in my carry on; you can use it as moisturiser, for your hair, as lip balm, for cracked dry hands...and it just smells wonderful which is really nice when you’re stuck in that cabin. You can just stick your nose in the jar!
- Wear activewear! Hello comfort.
12. And lastly, your blog is growing in leaps and bounds.
What are your top tips for anyone starting their own health and wellness blog? Take some time to journal and map out what you want your message to be. It’s really easy to get caught up in a bit of a comparison trap and feel like everyone else around you is doing so much; which makes you question if you’re doing the “right” thing. But if you have a personal passion and work out the message you want to share, I think you’ll enjoy blogging so much more. Once you have an idea of what you want to communicate… stick to that core message! Remind yourself of it often. My most popular blog posts and recipes are always the ones that I really do rely on the most in everyday life, even if I think the content is kind of obscure. On the more practical front, take advantage of social media and develop your own little process for how you’re going to schedule and share your content. For Pinterest and Facebook, there are great scheduling tools that can help automate this process a bit. I find them really helpful because I get so busy during the day with my jobs that I can’t access social media platforms and things like that as often as I’d like, which makes blog promotion quite tricky.
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