New Zealander chef, mom and food blogger Emma Galloway was raised on the values of local and seasonal food by a family that grew much of its own vegetables with organic permaculture methods. Discovering that her children had food allergies prompted her to become creative in developing and sharing gluten-free vegetarian recipes, which was the kernel for her site “My Darling Lemon Thyme”. Parvati Magazine interviews her about her unique perspective on healthy eating.
Parvati Magazine: How did growing up vegetarian and eating from your own garden influence your relationship with food?
Emma Galloway: As vegetarians, we paid a lot of attention to what we ate, ensuring the right combinations of foods were eaten together to maximise the nutritional benefits. Eating seasonally was a way of life, especially as so much of what we ate came from my parents’ organic garden. Dried kelp and nutritional yeast were sprinkled on everything, we ate peanut butter and alfalfa sprouts on wholemeal bread at school, and banana cake was always made using wholemeal flour and topped off with icing flavoured with carob. My childhood shaped so much of who I am as a person, but nothing more so than the food I cook and eat now. Making food from scratch, with love, is something that I learned watching my mother in the kitchen all those years ago, where she’d spend hours preparing the most beautiful meals from our homegrown produce, cooked in our wood-fired coal-range. The simple beauty of my childhood, without modern “necessities” such as the microwave oven (something my parents, siblings and I have never owned), gave special meaning to the food that we prepared. And it’s this love for real food that I’m doing my best to pass on to my children.
PMAG: What are the benefits of incorporating organic gardening in your diet and lifestyle?
EG: Taking ownership of what you place into your body is the most powerful choice we have as humans. By growing vegetables organically we know exactly what’s going into our bodies, limiting the amount of chemicals we ingest while also protecting the environment from unnecessary synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.
The current popularity of growing your own vegetables and eating mindfully is a definite sign that we’re all keen to take the power back. For far too long us humans have put our health in the hands of big corporations whose sole aim is to make as much money as possible, but slowly things are changing.
PMAG: What would you say is the biggest misconception around a gluten-free diet?
EG: That gluten-free food is expensive and not as delicious as gluten-filled foods. It can be pricey if you buy everything pre-prepared. I encourage people to instead start making their food from scratch as much as possible. Not only will their bodies be happier, but their wallets too. As far as gluten-free food not being as delicious as wheat-based, we’ve come so far in the gluten-free world these past ten years that I don’t believe this to be true one bit anymore. Often gluten-free baked goods are even more delicious! I know tons of people who swear by my gluten-free pizza base recipe who don’t even need to eat gluten-free, simply because it tastes better!
PMAG: What is the biggest challenge(s) you’ve found with maintaining a gluten-free diet for both you and your children?
EG: We’ve eaten gluten-free since my kids were tiny, over ten years now. At the start I found it totally overwhelming, as gluten finds its way into everything in our modern diet, from toothpastes to ice cream. But once I’d got my head around it all (which admittedly took about two years!) and had developed a bunch of dependable go-to recipes, it all became much easier. Now that my kids are older it’s not something I have to worry about quite so much, but when they were little I’d never leave the house without safe nutritious snacks. It’s not always easy to find gluten-free options when out or when visiting friends/family, so being prepared took the stress out of things.
PMAG: As a chef and food photographer, what tips can you give us on cooking wholesome, healthy recipes that look as good as they taste?
EG: Base your dishes around in-season fruits and vegetables, Mother Nature is the best at creating beautiful colourful foods which taste as good as they look.
Emma Galloway is a New Zealander and trained chef with a strong background of vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine. Growing up vegetarian, she learned early on the benefits of eating in-season, wholesome and organically grown food.