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Featured Foodies

Featured Foodie - The Fit Foodie, Sally O'Neil

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What is your food philosophy?

I don’t really have rules around food, but my general approach is a lot of fresh, whole foods. Most days I eat a lot of lean protein and veggies, and plenty of healthy fats. I think I devour at least 5 avocados a week! For something extra yummy I love protein balls, dark chocolate or banana ice-cream.

When and how did you first begin cooking?

I had a relatively normal childhood in the UK. Neither of my parents were educated around nutrition, and packeted food was the norm. Boil-in-a-bag fish was a regular at the dinner table with frozen chips and peas. Other nights it would be a ‘fresh’ pizza from the local supermarket, or pasta with canned sauce. Learning to cook was never really on my radar until it was forced upon me! Emigrating to Australia left me with few packaged food options (honestly, there’s a LOT less here than the UK!) and I knew I had to learn to cook from scratch. I’ve always been creative, so food became another outlet to play and explore. That’s given me just 5 years of cooking experience, but I’ve loved every meal time…particularly dessert.

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What inspired you to start The Fit Foodie?

I never intended to have a blog. When I arrived in Australia 5 years ago, I had no idea how to cook. I had survived my university years on cereal and biscuits. When I landed in Australia with my partner, I knew I needed to grow up and eat real food - it was the perfect clean slate. I rang my mum to ask for some basic recipes, like how to boil an egg (seriously!) and how to cook a chicken breast. Over the course of the next 6 months, I started recreating the recipes I used to have at home, but was amazed at some of the unhealthy ingredients that were hiding in there. Lots of butter, white flour, sugar, cream and more. I began swapping out some of the ingredients for healthier things like Greek yoghurt and experimenting with new foods like nutritional yeast. The successful recipes were emailed home to my mum for her to try - a kind of recipe exchange. Another few months on, and my mountains of emails began to get out of hand. My partner suggested I use some sort of electronic documentation system so both my mum and I could refer to the recipes online. He set me up on Wordpress, and the rest they say, is history!

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How has your brand / website / social channels developed over time and what have been some milestones for you?

My social media feed is unrecognisable from when I first started. I had no idea how to take photos or present food. It’s taken me almost three years to get to where I am now with my feed, which I’m still super judgemental of. There’s always room to improve, but thats exactly what I love about it - it documents my journey and growth. My most recent milestone has been signing my very first book deal. I’ve always dreamt of having my very own book to share recipes, tips and inspiration with the world. I’ve taken one huge step closer and am on countdown to launch at the end of the year. I have decided to do my own styling and photography rather than having a professional do it on my behalf - I want the book to be completely ‘me’. While it may not be as beautifully appealing as a Donna Hay book, it will be true to my own style in every way.

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What are your top 3 food photography tips?

While I’m not a professional food photographer, my photos have improved with practice (lots and lots of it). Here are the best tips and tricks I can offer about food photography and equipment:

1. Take photos in natural light. Do not use your built-in flash. Ever! It’s so hard to show natural food looking it’s best in unnatural conditions. Don’t forget to move around to find the best light source - I’m often known to shift tables in cafes or wander around my apartment holding a bowl of something to get a better shot. Don’t feel confined to taking photos in your kitchen. It’s okay to be that crazy Instagram girl.

2. Build a ‘style’. If you’re not sure what your photography style is yet, look to your wardrobe, décor and Pinterest boards for clues. Are you drawn to bright and colourful patterns, or clean lines and muted tones? Try to incorporate that into your posts consistently, and you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

3. Use props and old plates to make photos look more interesting. While that top-down smoothie shot looks great, it’s kinda been done a million times. Get creative! Vintage handkerchiefs can make fun napkins and well-worn baking sheets can make an interesting background. Salvo’s stores have yielded some of my favourite crockery. Check out your local thrift stores, antique shops, and flea markets for hidden treasures that don’t cost the earth. These are genuinely old and somewhat one of a kind.

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What do you love about living in Sydney? Are there any restaurants, cafes, stores you visit for inspiration?

There’s so many things that I love about Sydney. The weather, the harbour, the parks, the skyline, yoga studios, farmers markets and the community - it really is my little slice of heaven. My favourite weekend activity is the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk - the perfect way to blow off the cobwebs and enjoy beautiful scenery with friends. Stretching across 6km of gorgeous coastline, you can take in the ocean views and escape the city bustle. One of my favourite places for inspiration is About Life (5 locations) - my local whole foods market and health food store carrying everything from organic frozen berries (by the scoop) to house-made caramel slices (also available in party-size slabs), kale pesto, and everything else that makes you drool. Their fresh food bar has fresh daily salads catering for every dietary requirement known to man. For my favourite cafe I head to Egg of the Universe, in Rozelle. The menu is so inspiring and the Perfect Circle Salad is too good for words. They also make their own Brazil Nut Mylk which pairs perfectly in a matcha latte.

When did you first become aware of Loving Earth and what's your favourite way to use our foods?

My first introduction to Loving Earth was when I lived in Melbourne for a few months before moving to Sydney. I had a square every day in the countdown to my first Aussie Christmas, instead of my usual Cadbury’s advent calendar! I love melting Loving Earth Dark Chocolate with a little of the coconut oil and dipping in fresh fruit and Cookie Dough Fit Mixes. The perfect healthy fondue. I’m so 80’s!

For more foodie inspiration check out Sally's Instagram and website.

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