With over 10 years’ experience in property styling and interior styling, Catherine Heraghty is the owner and Creative Director of The Stables. She creates spaces that have a sense of light and warmth, and places importance on lasting interiors that will become part of her client’s story at home. Recently she completed a project where she completely built 2 semi detatched houses to form a duplex in 12 weeks, so she certainly loves a challenge…. We thought we’d pick her brain about that and what else she’s been up to.

TBG: I’ve heard you classify yourself as an interior stylist. For those that don’t know, how does that compare with an interior designer?

CH: Yes I tend to place myself in the Interior Stylist category even though I am technically a qualified Interior Designer. I prefer the styling aspect rather than the design side of things and hope that clients come to me for this kind of work rather than design work! Ha ha…it’s a subtle hint to clients but to be honest I end up doing equal amounts of both types of work – one often leads to the other and the lines often become blurred!

I tend to think of Interior Design as the more serious side to Interiors, it covers the finish selection, joinery design, it can include bathroom and kitchen design, lighting design – its all of those big costly decisions that need to be made that form the basis of an interior. The decisions you make are permanent and define how an interior will appear for years to come!

Interior Styling can be thought of as all the things you do to a space once the Interior Design work is completed – it’s the furniture planning and selection, artwork, accessories and soft furnishings. It’s a lot light-hearted in nature and while both require loads of experience and skills to get it right – I would say that Interior Styling covers the less permanent areas so can be taken a little more lightly!

TBG: Your style is beautifully simple. Why do you think that can be so hard to achieve for most people?

CH: I naturally approach interiors with a less is more thought process, I tend to choose pieces that are beautiful in their own right so they can stand alone. I believe if you choose individual pieces that are so beautiful in their design, you don’t need a lot of them! I find that clients tend to struggle with this concept and keep adding to an interior to see whether the next piece will solve their problems! I always tell my clients that they are better off slowing down and doing the process with care and consideration, give each piece thought and think about how it will feel in a space before committing to it. Don’t add for the sake of adding, only purchase an item if you truly think it is going to enhance how the space feels. This is probably a tricky thing for many people as they find it difficult to visualise how something can look in a space, not everyone can visualise so that is why they come to someone like me to do the visualising for them!

TBG: At TBG we have been following the 2 in 12 project with great interest. The finished photos look amazing – how was the process?

CH: To be honest – the process was incredibly stressful. The results were beyond anything we had ever anticipated and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do what we did but the actual concept was crazy! We had to build two completely different homes in twelve weeks. Building one home in twelve weeks is normally unheard of, but two homes with two completely different sets of finishes that are furnished completely differently by the end of that process was a huge feat that I am so proud of. I ran my business the entire way through, I was onsite filming each week and I was onsite answering questions and making sure things were installed the way I wanted. To top it off we lived with my in-laws and I had a busy three year old! It was CRAZY! There were countless late nights where my husband and I dragged ourselves to bed well after midnight, I don’t think anyone understands the amount of decisions that need to be made during a build until you are doing it for yourself. It felt endless. But there was a light at the tunnel and we are thoroughly enjoying our home now and so is our new neighbour, it was so worth every second of stress and I would do it again in a heartbeat as I now know what to expect!

TBG: You are an Instagram phenomenon. Why do you think you have been so successful?

CH: Gosh there are so many people out there doing amazing things and they have a huge following too so thank you for your kind words! I have always felt that I started at the right time, Instagram is a hard game to get into these days due to the introduction of the algorithm. Its difficult to grow a large base of followers! I started at a time when there was no algorithm and organic growth was a lot easier. Having said that I also attribute my success on Instagram to a few key points. Firstly, having my own unique style that I consistently showcase on my page. People who follow me like my style and come to me for that, they know what they are going to get when they follow me so I give them more of it.

I also think I come across as a genuine person who is real and someone that my followers can engage with, engagement is massive with Instagram so I always try and answer my DM’s and reply to comments on my posts. People are taking the time to comment on my photos so I think it’s the least I can do to reply to them.

The last thing I try and do is just put my head down and do my own thing, I never copy other pages or designers – I am certainly inspired by them but I never copy. Followers are smart and they can pick up on that kind of thing quickly, so I just put my head down and concentrate on what I love to do with my interiors and if people want to follow me for the ride then great and if they don’t I don’t let myself worry about it!

TBG: The Stables is based in the southern part of Sydney. What’s your favourite part of the area?

CH: Without a doubt the beaches. I grew up on the South Coast of NSW and during summer it was not uncommon for us to head down to the beach two or three times a day for a swim. Being close to the beach feels so natural to me and I honestly could not imagine living far from it. It’s definitely a lot harder these days to get there with a busy family life but we try and just knowing it’s there is comforting.

TBG: What pots in the TBG range are the ones you find suit your style?

CH: This is an easy one, it is definitely the Willow Range. I love the clean lines and the monochromatic colours of the Willow range. I have been mixing and matching this range for years now for all my outdoor areas, only last week we used them in a project in Bondi indoors and they look fantastic! I love the versatility and timelessness of this range, it suits my style perfectly!

TBG: In our experience, budgets seemed to get tight at the end of a construction project. What percentage of a budget/time do you feel should be allocated to finishing/styling on a project?

CH: Yes that can certainly be true for some clients. I tend to work on the styling side of things before the build has even started as I think it is essential to plan for this stage. It can be costly to style and furnish a home and it should never be an afterthought. Many people underestimate how much it costs to furnish and style a home and they can be disappointed that have put all this time and money into a build and then end up with an empty home. Not everyone can afford it and that is perfectly fine – everyone has budgets. So if the budget is there, I say try and allow and plan for it before the build begins as it is sometimes possible to build the cost into the finance at the beginning. For others if budget does not allow, I suggest to clients to get a good understanding of what they want and plan for it in the months and years following the build completion. A great way to do it is to finish one room off at a time, this gives people a great sense of satisfaction and motivation to keep on going!

TBG: What’s the best thing about your job?

CH: It sounds cheesy but there are a lot! I love the variation I have from day to day, I would be hard pressed to repeat the same thing twice so if you are not keen on routine – this job it for you! I also love my clients, I have so many beautiful clients that have become my friends over the years. I feel very lucky to create beautiful interiors for beautiful people. Being an interiors lover, naturally I love being immersed in the latest furniture, finishes and interiors that come to the market. I love that I made this my job, I set out to do it about twelve years ago and I have never looked back. I now run a successful business which I am immensely proud of but its important to know, it was not an overnight success. It was years and years in the making so to all of those who are looking to make the leap, I say go for it and never look back. Put in the hard yards, follow your dreams and stay true to your style and you can’t go wrong!

TBG: What do you think is the next trend in interiors?

CH: This is such a tricky question! I think the interest in unique joinery design will become more of a focus in peoples homes – there are designers out there making absolutely stunning things and I think this will water down and enter peoples homes. Gone are the days of the plain white kitchen, I think people in general are becoming more adventurous in their homes with the advent of social media. People can see an example of what they want and they want it in their own home. No longer is exciting joinery design for the high-end builds, or commercial work but I think it is definitely going to become a much bigger thing in the every day home.

TBG: And finally, what’s next for The Stables?

CH: Our next big project is Baby No. 2! Due in April of next year that is consuming so much energy! Other than that, business will be as usual, we will be expanding our team early next year to help me with the extra load of a new baby. My husband and I are anticipating another build project in the year or so after we have this next baby – we are the kind of people who cant sit still for long so I would say once I have recovered from the sleepless nights we will be looking for something else to sink our teeth into!

 

The Stables

I N S T A G R A M

http://www.thestablesco.com.au/

 

 

 

The Perfect Pot Cluster

What makes the perfect pot cluster?  What pots go together, what plants suit which pot and what colour palettes compliment one another. Paul Takchi from Exotic Nurseries, sees a lot of plant and pot combinations. We Ask Paul to share some advice.     What are some rules when planting up a cluster? (do you…

We love Instagram, and like most of us we probably spend way too much time on there. But, when you start to think about it, insta is a great place to learn and be inspired.  An account we have long admired is that of Phil Darwen (@adesignersmind).

Phil is an architect who, like most of us, joined Instagram one day and started sharing some things he liked. Unlike most of us, he quickly became a phenomenon on the platform and has to date 1.3M followers.  Here is what he had to say….

 

TBG: Who is Phil Darwen?

Phil: I enjoy the beach and the great outdoors. I’m a voracious reader. I enjoy the simpler things in life…good food, good music, good friends…the work/life balance is important to me not just from the family perspective, but because I’ve seen too many people miss out on life because they were too busy working for what they perceived as happiness.

 

TBG: What do you do when you’re not A Designers Mind?

Phil: I’m a building/interior/landscape designer. A jack of all trades when it comes to design, as I like to present the complete lifestyle package to clients.

 

TBG: What initially inspired you to create A Designers Mind?

Phil: It kind of happened by accident. I started off with Instagram much like everyone else…a few personal pics and images of projects I had done. I then started posting images of architecture and interiors that I admired and gained inspiration from. It has just organically grown from there into the following I have now.

 

TBG: Can you tell us about some of the design projects you’re personally currently working on?

Phil: I’ve just finished a display home for a local builder up here on the coast. It’s been amazing to work on as I got to design the house, the landscaping and the interiors. I’m also working on a row of seven terrace homes which are kind of a new fad for the Coast. It’s that narrow-lot concept that makes the design of the interiors so important from a lifestyle point of view.

 

TBG: What’s the most played song on your playlist over the last 3 months?

Phil: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N by Noah & The Whale. The whole album is pretty good but this song stands out for me.

 

TBG: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

Phil: I’d say I’m a gatherer. I like to surround myself with family, good friends, good times and good design. If you don’t do that then really, what’s the point 😉

 

 

Phil’s Tips For Instagram:

TBG: You were one of the first big architecture/design Instagram accounts. How has the way you use Instagram changed over the last 5 years?

Phil: It’s been interesting to watch the way Instagram has matured over the years. It has taken on a lot more of the social interactions aspects of other apps like Snap Chat to give you things like Live Video Feeds, Stories, etc. In it’s infancy, ‘A Designer’s Mind’ went through a few different types of posting formats.  I started off with staging the posts at various times of the day to gauge follower interaction. I also went through a period of posting a series of three images one after the other, but with a common theme (themes such as glass bridges, home libraries, kitchen storage ideas). I started becoming more used to using hashtags to promote images to those that might be searching for particular imagery or inspiration.

 

TBG: What are 2 tips for using Instagram you’d give to designers/architects?

Phil: I think the best tips though would be to edit your feed to keep the images of high quality so that it really showcases who you are and what your design aesthetic is, and the second tip would be to use relevant hashtags to make sure your feed is searchable.

 

 

All imagery courtesy of @adesignersmind.

Check out Phil’s instagram account here.

 

 

  
Laura Steele has had a passion for creating beautiful spaces for as long as she can remember. So it is natural she started a business that does just that. Branche Designs specialises in both new and refurbished residential projects, and in it Laura has crafted a brand with the basic principles of listening to her clients’ needs and requirements. This month we sat down with Laura to learn more about the business.

Who is Branche Designs?
Branche Designs is a Sydney based Interior and Exterior design studio specialising in both new and refurbished residential projects.

How did you get into Interior Design?
I have always been passionate about designing and decorating interiors and exteriors. I come from a family of creative people. So, it started at a very young age – I would be moving furniture around and redecorating my bedroom regularly. Lucky for me my dad is a painter, so I would often take advantage of the fact that I could change a feature wall when I was bored of it. It wasn’t until I was heavily involved in my first renovation at 21 that I decided to take my passion a little more seriously and turn it into a career.

I read on your website you studied in Milan. That must have been an amazing experience; can you tell us more about that?

Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world to visit. It is also where my family’s heritage originates. My grandfather was an artist in Italy and was often commissioned to paint and restore the interiors of churches and cathedrals. So naturally when I was presented the opportunity to study in Milan – the worlds capital of fashion and design, it was a defining moment for me both personally and professionally. During my time there I attended lectures by some of Italy’s best Architects and Designers while temporarily living the Milanese lifestyle with my husband. And upon leaving Italy, finding out I was pregnant with our first daughter was also a highlight!

Describe your working style, are you a sole operator or do you like to work in a team?

I definitely prefer working in a team! Team work makes the dream work, and this is a fundamental principal that our business is built upon.

A part of your business is property refurbishment for sale. Is it as easy as it looks on the block?

I always say that renovating an old property is often like opening up Pandora’s box. When you start knocking walls out, or excavating outside for example, you may start to uncover past owners “hidden” or “patched” mistakes.

On a recent project, it was when we began excavating the front yard to begin laying the foundation for a new driveway, that we discovered there was tonnes of asbestos packed down underneath the existing concrete driveway – This is obviously a huge expense to dispose of properly due to safety regulations. I think that what The Block doesn’t honestly display to its viewers is how a budget can easily blow out when renovating older homes, and how important it is to allocate at least 20% of your budget to these kinds of mishaps.

From your experience in your projects, can you give us any tips on what buyers are looking for? What are some renovation things to avoid?

I think these days buyers are looking for a home to have more of a lifestyle feel to it. With how busy people are with their careers and families, when it comes time to be social they would rather entertain friends at home rather than going out all the time. This means that people are looking for a home with great entertaining spaces; such as a large deck out the back or an outdoor kitchen / BBQ area etc.

My tip on what to avoid during a renovation would be trying to fit too much into your home. Make a list of the areas you and your family spend the most time in – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom & living room – and focus on maximizing those spaces. For example, in an average size home, rather than having a formal lounge room, casual lounge room and even a cinema room, think about where you spend the most time, and cut down to only one or two areas that are used most by the family. Allocate more space and more of your budget to making those areas superb.

Tell us about a recent stand out project you have recently completed?
A standout project for me was a pool & landscape design that we recently completed in which we incorporated a stunning combination of natural stone finishes. We used a white Himalayan sandstone paver around the pool and a light grey freeform quartz stone on a feature wall that runs the entire length of the pool. Both the pool & this stunning stone feature wall has become the center piece of this “U” shaped property as it can be seen from various different aspects within the home.

You design and renovate both interiors and exteriors. Do you have a favourite?

I don’t have a favorite, I love both equally! I have a very holistic approach to design. I believe the interior & exterior must complement one another to complete the whole picture.

What are your tips for linking an exterior space with the interiors of a home?
Using a combination of the same colours, textures and finishes that you used internally and applying them externally and vice versa. You can do this with furnishings, such as using an outdoor rug or some cushions and throws that are of similar patterns or colour to your interior. Or even introducing pots and greenery into your interiors also helps to unify the two spaces.

Whose work inspires you?

I am inspired daily by so many amazing designers and architects both in Australia and abroad. However, at the moment I am particularly loving the work of Perth designer, Mon Palmer.

 

What is your favorite pot from our collection and why?
I love the entire range, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the large muffin top. I like to use a combination of different shaped pots close by one another to create interest within a space, and I think the muffin top introduces a unique rounded shape into the mix.

What do you get up to in your spare time?
There isn’t a lot of spare time when you have a 2 ½ year old haha – But I would say when I do find some spare time, I love to get out amongst nature and have a picnic, or when summer rolls around spend lazy days by the pool with a good book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Branche Designs – Laura Steele

E  mail@branchedesigns.com.au

www.branchedesigns.com.au/

 

 

 

Fig Landscapes is a Sydney based landscape design and construction company, specialising in garden and furniture design, and outdoor construction. Fig Landscapes is led by Grant Boyle, who started his career working for some of Sydney’s leading landscape outfits such as Secret Gardens of Sydney.As Fig Landscapes, he designs and builds unique gardens that react to their surrounds and their clients. We have admired Grant’s work for a while and thought we would let everyone in on the secret!

What’s your favourite project of your own so far?
Our Coledale project for sure. It was the first project I designed as Fig Landscapes so its definitely pretty memorable. The clients were great and have actually become good friends! I love the way the garden gets better with age and there is minimal maintenance required.

 

Whose other work always impresses you in our industry?
I love the work of Fiona Brockhoff in Victoria and Bernard Trainor in California. Both have a wonderful grasp on built form and natural elements. I love their considered use of materials and planting and the natural aesthetic that their gardens invoke. There are so many incredible designers in Australia at the moment, it’s a really exciting industry to be a part of.

 

 

 

 

What trends do you see in the industry that please you? The use of recycled materials is a big one. Recycled bricks and timber are super popular. It’s a great way to reuse something that would otherwise go to landfill and they can look great in the garden. I’m also seeing a lot of vegetable and herb gardens which is also great! Food security will play a big part in our lives in the future so it’s wonderful to see people connecting to where their food comes from.

 

What is something you get requested to include in your designs that you rather not?
Astro turf. I’ve only ever used it once in one of my projects. It was a super shady site and the client was adamant he wanted turf. We tried the real thing for 18months, but it just wouldn’t work as he had 3 dogs as well. We pulled out the turf and installed Astro. It actually doesn’t look that bad and he gets a lot of use out of it, so I guess it has served its purpose.

 

Your projects show a great eye for detail and an appreciation of plants, where did you learn your craft?

I studied landscape horticulture at Ryde Tafe then later went back to study at night to complete my Design diploma. I also obtained my Bricklaying trade and Cert 4 in building. Although, nature is my biggest teacher. I’m forever seeing plants in the landscape and researching what they are. Plants are what excite me the most about landscaping. Any landscaper will tell you that the day the plants arrive on site is when the project really takes shape. Everyone gets excited when the plants arrive!

 

Describe your design process. Is it client led, or do you endeavour to include your own style?
I always focus on what the client wants and how they want to feel in their space and then work from there. I have materials that I’m definitely drawn to naturally, so I guess they show up in a lot of my projects by default. I’m always trying to push myself and stay on top of my game and it’s such a great feeling when you try out a new idea and it works.

What materials always end up on your projects?

Corten edging for sure. And recycled bricks and hardwood sleepers. I definitely like rustic materials. And I always try and throw in a few pots from the Balcony Garden to add the finishing touches.

 

What’s your favourite season? Why?
It’s a tough one but I would have to say Spring. Cherry blossoms and warm sun – you can’t beat it!

 

Where would we find Grant Boyle on his day off?

When I get one! Being a small business owner means I don’t get a lot of time off but when I do it’s straight to the beach with my wife. Camp Cove in Watsons Bay is a favourite as well as Gordons Bay at Coogee. Having a few beers watching the sun go down at Kutti beach or enjoying a breakfast at Shuk in North Bondi.

 

 

What’s your own garden like?
A mess usually! It’s a wild mix of succulents and Mediterranean herbs. I’ve got a large vegetable garden and few chickens as well. I prefer to spend my time relaxing in the garden or tending to my patch than doing a lot of maintenance, so it works well for me. I’ve collected a lot of plants from clients over the years so there is not real structure to it- it’s anything goes! Oh, and there is a fire pit of course!

 

Describe your dream client?

I guess someone that trusts me and the process. And a passion and excitement for gardening always helps too. Each client is vastly different, and I really do enjoy finding out what makes them tick and understanding them as a person. I love going back to see clients after 12 months or so and they are really happy to see you because they love their garden so much. It’s a great feeling.

 

Living in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, you are the guy to ask – what do you do in a traffic jam?

Play reggae really loud! Unfortunately, you get used to it and there is no point getting stressed about it. Also avoid being on the road at school pick up and drop off times and you should be fine!


As a designer and a builder – are you thinking about construction as you design?

Yes always. It helps to know straight away how to build something and if your ideas are at all possible. It can save a lot of time throughout the process.

 

Tips on using pots in the landscape?

Go big. I like to use a big statement piece. A cluster of 3 can also work really when and allow you to mix it up with plant textures and contrasts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig Landscapes – Grant Boyle

 254 Old South Head Rd, Vaucluse NSW 2030

www.figlandscapes.com.au/

 0488 443 458

 

 

 

Melbourne Landscape designer Renata Fairhall is a graduate of design and horticulture who has been designing gardens since 1999. As the director and a landscape designer at Renata Fairhall Garden Designs, she composes her gardens with the principles of sustainability and minimising water consumption. We chatted to Renata to find out more about her love for creating gardens and all things related to nature.

 

Renata is passionate about creating beautiful outdoor spaces that connect with her clients. The ability to connect people to nature is a huge reason why Renata is so enthusiastic about garden designs. This was made even more evident when I asked Renata why she decided to become a landscape designer. “To be able to draw people outside where they can see, hear, smell and feel the natural world is rewarding and worthwhile. And that outdoor experience need only be a balcony. Once outside ones senses come alive to different elements. You notice the smell of the air, the feel of the sun or the wind, the sound of birds, the movement of a bee foraging in flowers. It’s beautiful. My work also satisfies the artist in me. I see every window of a house as a canvas. I get to ‘paint’ that window for my clients with a landscape of plants.” Wow- what a picture Renata paints.

 

The attention to detail in creating such meaningful gardens is highlighted in the collaborative and consultative approach Renata takes in her design process. “Early in the design process I like to understand my client’s taste in gardens. I’m a big believer in designing towards their taste to ensure they have a garden that resonates with them. Concurrently, I can find myself designing a ‘New-Perennial’ style of garden full of abundant flowers and ornamental grasses, while at the same time designing a pared back minimalist garden with only two or three plant species. Once I understand my client’s style, I work up a concept with proposed plants and materials that I present in person. Changes are made if required prior to drawing up final plans.”

 

The ‘New Perennial’ style garden Renata is currently working on features one of her favourite current garden trends ornamental grasses mixed with flowers. “I’ve loved this look for years but 10-15 years ago few people were open to this style of garden. I’m so pleased to see it get wider appeal and it now forms the bulk of my design work. Personally, I find long flowering perennials and ornamental grasses some of the most satisfying plants to grow. They’re forever changing through the seasons and they grow so fast that only a few months after planting a garden can be transformed. I’m keen to experiment more with perennials and grasses in pots. “

 

 

 

When it comes to picking pots for the garden Renata can not go past our ‘Straight Up’ with its combination of a curved base and straight sides. The straight sides allow her to push them close together in clusters and it’s an efficient shape for maximising root growth. This is an important consideration when choosing pots. We asked Renata the biggest mistake people make when choosing pots for their gardens. “They choose a pot that’s too small. I rarely choose a pot smaller than 40cm in diameter. The most common combination I work with is a cluster of 60cm, 50cm and 40cm in diameter. A small pot not only looks pokey in the landscape, it rarely gives a plant enough root room for a prolonged stay in the pot. Go large every time.” We could not agree more!

 

 

How does Renata relax after a hard day’s work? “Exercise. If the exercise is land-based, always to music. I can’t get enough of good guitar. If the exercise is water based (my favourite) the sound of the ocean is always enough. Renata is a keen wind surfer and is currently trying to master surfing as well. The past year I’ve fallen in love with surfing. I find winter surfing cold (that’s an understatement) but if I wear every item of neoprene you can buy, winter wetsuit, booties, gloves and a hood, I can manage.” Now that is dedication!

 

 

 

 

When it comes to travelling Renata is not one to laze around by a pool and read. A holiday combining travel and sport is a winner in her books. “Windsurfing in Maui, or skiing in Verbier. The island of Maui in Hawaii is a place everyone should visit – especially if you love plants. It’s a land of huge contrasts. On the east end of the island, copious amounts of water are dumped daily, and you can see Monsteras and Philodendrons winding themselves up tall trees so thickly that that the trunk is completely covered. The centre of the island is a rain shadow from the volcano and the vegetation is one of cactuses, tough grasses and acacias and not what most people expect on a tropical island. The soil is so new and nutrient rich compared to Australia’s, just look at the current volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island where over a kilometre of new island has been created in the last few months, that the concept of enriching soil with manure and compost would be unheard of there!”

 

We ended by asking Renata what about the best advice she ever received and sums Renata up perfectly. “Life is not about the pursuit of happiness but the happiness of pursuit.” I’m always at my happiest when pursing new activities. It’s another reason I love my work. Every job presents a new challenge and something to learn.”

 

Renata Fairhall Garden Designs

203 Page St, Middle Park VIC 3206

www.renatafairhall.com.au

0403 818 044

 

 

Good friend to The Balcony Garden, Jessica Auswild, started her website “Whole Start” to offer families inspiration, practical advice and tips on approaching food in a wholistic but realistic way.

 

 “Whole Start” was inspired by Jessica’s two children; while she had always embraced a healthy lifestyle having children she became even “more mindful about what we consume as a family and what my children’s growing bodies need to be resilient, strong, happy and healthy.” That mindfulness leads her to cook and creating recipes for the family with the principle of ‘whole foods’ which Jessica describes as “being able to name every ingredient in your meal and its origin! If you can do this it’s unlikely you are consuming highly processed, additive and preservative-laden foods.”

 

 

There are also two ingredients that she avoids using in her recipes even if they would normally call for it. The first is a gluten, as she has a gluten sensitivity, when a recipe calls for soy, flour or pasta she will instead substitute for “whole grain gluten-free options such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat and amaranth.” The next ingredient is refined sugar as “they are stripped of goodness and therefore offer no nutritional value. There are so many alternatives available, our go-to’s are honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar.”

 

We also could not resist asking Jessica to provide us with some tips for those struggling to get their children to have a more healthy and diverse diet: “Firstly, eating as a family! I cannot emphasise enough how important this is. It fosters togetherness, communication and models healthy eating habits. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or weekend meals, the aim is to reduce the number of meals you eat separately. It’s so important for young children to see their parents eating and enjoying a healthy and diverse diet.

Secondly exposure, this starts with the purchasing of food, take your children along to your local grocery or farmers market and get them to look, touch and smell the produce. At home get them involved in meal preparation whether it be washing fruit or vegetables, spinning the lettuce, stirring ingredients, cutting a carrot or taking scraps to bin/compost. No matter the task you are getting them to engage and become more familiar with different foods, instead of it just turning up on their plate.”

 

We were curious to find out what the best piece of advice Jessica had received when it came to cooking. With her family being such a big influence, it was no shock to find out that advice had come from her own mother. “Keep it simple and adapt! Obviously, some of us feel more confident in the kitchen but meal times don’t have to be complicated, use simple ingredients and recipes. People often feel they need to adhere strictly to recipes but don’t be afraid of substituting, use what you have on hand, what’s in season and what your family enjoys.”

Now, time for one of Jess’ recipes!

 

Lamb Kofta Lettuce Wraps

I love shared dishes as they bring people together and highlight the importance of eating as a family. This is a no fuss meal, which is suitable for all ages. I like to include spices in my cooking as it exposes children to different flavours, the cinnamon adds a lovely sweetness. As with any recipe adjust to taste, if you prefer beef mince or a different spice, change it up to suit your family.

600g organic lamb mince
1 egg
1 small carrot, finely grated
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp sweet paprika
2-3 Gem Lettuces
1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Greek Yoghurt or Tzatziki
Cucumber
Pomegranate (optional)

1. Place mince, egg, carrot, onion, garlic and herbs/spices in a bowl and combine. If you’re children are sensitive to texture, you could blitz the carrot, onion and garlic in a processor until smooth before combining with the rest of the ingredients.
2. Shape your mixture into mini kofta’s. Makes approx 25.
3. Heat oil in a pan and cook kofta’s in batches. Around 3 mins each side, or until cooked through.
4. Arrange lettuce cups and kofta’s on a large platter. Scatter with cucumber and pomegranates. Serve with good quality greek yoghurt or tzatziki.

 

Website: www.wholestart.com.au
Instagram: @whole_start

 

 

 

 

 

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