Those of you with children may be familiar with the gorgeous online store Little and Loved. Owned and operated by a ‘stay at home Mum’ passionate about living sustainably, Little and Loved offers a huge range of products kind to your health and the environment. Zoe Salmen started her online store less than a year ago, but already it has become a firm favourite with many Kiwi parents looking for natural alternatives for their little people. You can also find Zoe sharing parenting tips, her favourite healthy products and tasty whole food recipes on her blog – Peanut Butter and Carob cookies are a current favourite in our office.
We asked Zoe to share the inspiration behind her earth friendly business; some tips for feeding little people and of course one of her wholesome recipes.
Q. Can you please tell us a little about yourself? What led you to start your business Little and Loved?
I'm a full time Mama to two little guys Max (4 1/2) and Finn (1 1/2). I have a background in sales and marketing and while I loved my business woman's life, I have loved letting my hair down and growing my own family. I started Little & Loved, an online boutique that stocks a range of Earth friendly products for little people and their families a year ago this May. It has been an incredible year; I've made some amazing contacts and had overwhelming support from my lovely customers. In January I re-launched the blog, a place where I share my wholesome kitchen creations and a chance for me to enjoy writing and photographing, all of which I love and find incredibly relaxing.
Q. Why did you become interested in health and nutrition?
I grew up eating beautiful and healthy food, often home grown and always homemade, so have always been this way inclined. However, I'm sure the fire burns a little brighter now that I'm rearing my own brood!
Q. Can you please tell us about your food philosophy?
While I love and agree with the good ol' 'everything in moderation' philosophy, I aim to keep our food free of preservatives and artificial additives, keeping foods as close to their raw state as possible and consuming vast amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. I have an undiagnosed skin problem which I've sadly passed onto both of the boys - we're all far better off when we don't eat refined sugar or gluten so I tend to keep it out of the house.
Q. What does a day in the plate of your family look like?
Mornings generally start fairly early with both of the boys up shortly after their Dad at 6am. They climb into bed with me and we all start the day with a banana, it’s always been this way and I love the ritual. Between smoothies, baking and snacks we consume at least a bunch of bananas every day! I often have a homemade granola on hand loaded with activated seeds, buckwheat and dried fruits which I'll have with fresh sliced fruit and homemade yoghurt or almond milk. The boys will eat anything from a soft boiled egg with gluten free soldiers, organic baked beans, chia seed coconut pudding or a fresh fruit salad, in the cooler months we'll have oats, cooked with chia and seeds alongside poached fruit. I try and have a filling breakfast as the next few hours are pretty full on...
For lunch I love tossing a quick salad together, loaded with kale or baby spinach and topping with avocado and any fresh vegetables I can get my hands on, finishing off with a generous sprinkling of lightly toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and tart apple cider vinegar based dressing.
For the most part I like to keep dinners fairly simple, my partner, who is a builder, often comes home late, tired and hungry. Organic free farmed meats, root vegetables tossed in paprika, garlic and olive oil, falafel and salad, vegetable curry on cauliflower rice and quinoa sushi are some of my favourite quick meals. However, I've been blessed with chalk and cheese children and while I feel little people should be encouraged to try new foods my boys, like most children do have their preferences so I tend to make meals that can be pulled apart to suit their needs.
Throughout the day we enjoy wholesome snacks, like my almond and orange macaroons or buckwheat and parmesan crackers and the boys love my raspberry and coconut fruit leathers which I make without a dehydrator.
Q. What are your top tips to improve the health and vitality of your family?
It is all very basic. Plenty of raw foods with a good range of colours, in both fruits and vegetables. Adequate water. Cleanse and nourish your skin. Get plenty of fresh air. Enough sleep.
In the chronic cold and flu months we also take a homeopathic honey and herb supplement that boosts the family immunes and helps fight off bugs.
Q. If you had to pick, what are your favourite super foods?
Without a doubt, I'd pick chia. Not only for its amazing health benefits but for the versatility, I eat chia daily, whether it is in the form of baking, breads, puddings, sprinkled over a fresh salad and I've even taken it as far as a vegan caviar to have with quinoa sushi!
I also love cacao, especially the crunchy, buttery nibs, blueberries and quinoa.
Q. What is your approach to balance and moderation in your diet and lifestyle?
Lifestyle balance is something I struggle with, I'm reading a book at the moment that talks about work life balance and how it shouldn't be something we obsess over. Do what makes you happy and change what doesn't. I think my approach to food is based on my upbringing, I'd actually rather eat a salad than I would deep fried chips. It's just in my blood. This is not to say that I don't ever indulge, I do. I recently bought a dollar bag of liquorice all sorts and ate the entire bag before I'd made it home. But I felt fine because I hadn't done it in a long time and I know I won't do it again anytime soon.
I guess what I'm saying and perhaps what others who are only just beginning their journey towards a healthier approach to food might take from this. You have to enjoy what you a doing in order to be successful. There are plenty of approaches to eating healthy and endless amazing ingredients to create beautiful food. What works for someone else, may not work for you to achieve your goals.
Q. Can you please share a recipe with us?
Here is my wonderfully rich and decadent brownie recipe. It has the most delightful texture with soft tart raspberries and crunchy, buttery cacao.
It is free of gluten, grain, refined sugar and dairy - making it a fabulous afternoon tea pick me up or served warm for dessert with a dollop of your favourite cream or yogurt.