This dynamic duo graced New Zealand TV screens late last year as contestants on My Kitchen Rules and now have their own healthy lifestyle website www.jayandsarahnz.com featuring all things hip and happening in the world of food, fashion and family. With 3 young children themselves, Jay and Sarah are on a mission to inspire other young families to eat healthier and to stop relying so much on quick and convenient processed foods. They understand the importance of fresh, wholefood ingredients, especially for young growing children and are constantly providing healthy recipe inspo over on their Website and Instagram pages.
We caught up with both Jay and Sarah to discuss their time on the show, what their food philosophy is and how they maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Q. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourselves and where your interest in food began?
We grew up in the Mighty Waikato and met through playing representative sports for Waikato. We’re high school sweethearts - we actually started going out on Jay’s 16th birthday. 10 years later we have three beautiful kiddies who take up most of our time.
Our interest in food started from a young age.
Jay – My mum bakes the most beautiful sweets – on a weekly basis she would make caramel slice, pav, cookies and her special banana cake. I was always on hand to lick the bowl – from there I always watched her bake and helped out where I could. Now I have the ultimate sweet tooth and its all mums fault. Good thing I know how to make sweet treat recipes that use nutrient rich ingredients or I would be doomed.
Sarah – My mum and nana both made beautiful big feasts all the time especially for family occasions, their roast dinners have always been my fave and I couldn’t help but learn from them.
Having children has made us really conscious about what is in our food and products that we consume as a family. That gave us the push to start focusing on only eating nutrient rich whole foods and cutting out any packaged and processed foods. Its been an exciting journey for us, not only because its better for our health and wellbeing but also because its fun to discover and experiment with new healthy alternatives to everyday foods. You have a whole new appreciation for food when you know its good for you.
Q. If you could sum up your time on My Kitchen Rules in 3 words what would they be?
Cool, crazy, challenging.
Q. Can you please tell us about your food philosophy?
Our food philosophy is to eat foods that nourish your mind and body naturally. Stripping our diets of any processed or packaged ingredients, and going back to simple, fresh foods like seasonal fruit and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, natural fats such as avocado, coconut cream and natural oils and including good quality proteins such as fresh fish and meat.
Q.What are your top 3 tips for improving your health and vitality through what you eat?
1. Mind set - People need to change their frame of mind from just eating because your hungry to eating to fuel your body to get the best results for whatever it is you are wanting to achieve.
2. Fresh is best – Always stick to eating local, fresh, seasonal produce that’s in its most natural form. This is when foods are at their best and contain all of their beneficial nutrients.
3. Hydration - Always drink lots of water. Your body is made up of 60% of water so you need to ensure your refueling your body with fresh water daily.
Q. What do you and your family typically eat for breakfast?
Paleo banana pancakes w blueberries and coconut cream. They're both gluten and refined sugar free but still taste like we're having a yummy treat every day. The kiddies love them and the best thing is we know they're good for us.
Q. If you had to pick, what are your favourite super foods?
Cacao - We love chocolate and anything with chocolate flavour. Cacao is chocolate in its most natural form and it's real simple to use. Its flavour is great in a variety of meals and drinks such as smoothies, chocolate brownies, icings, chocolate and cakes.
Chia seeds - We add them to juices, smoothies, breakfast foods and salads. They’re a great source of fibre that help keep you full.
Coconut oil - This is our go to source of natural fat, its great for cooking sweet and savoury, tastes beautiful and is also great for your skin and hair. Coconut oil has so many amazing benefits and qualities for your health.
Q. Do you have any tips on how to maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle?
There are so many pressures out there today with what you should be eating and what diet or exercise you should be doing – don’t get caught up in that, it will drive you nuts! Just make sure that you have balance with what you eat and what you do to keep active. As long as you are fueling and nourishing your body with fresh unprocessed ingredients most of the time, then it’s fine to indulge once in a while.
The main thing is to take baby steps – and keep things simple.
Also be prepared - prepping your food and knowing what you’ll be eating for the week saves time, money and also stops yourself from picking at something packaged that’s not very good for you. If you know you crave a certain thing or have a sweet tooth – then prepare a wholefood cheese cake or raw slice that you can snack on during the week - at least you get your sweet fix but it’s still good for you.
If you're after some healthy baking inspiration you can find some of Jay and Sarah's delicious and healthy recipes here.