I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with food blogger, cookbook author and TV personality, Sarah Graham. We baked her delicious gluten and refined sugar free banana bread together and we chatted about why healthy cooking is important to her as a food blogger and a mother. Also, how easy it is to start cooking healthy delicious meals for your family too.

Banana loaf1

Wardah Hartley: Why have you made the choice to have a healthier slant?
Sarah Graham: “People see eating healthy as this terrible deprivation; you’re denying yourself delicious treats. I think that so much of healthy food is just as delicious and it’s good for you, so why wouldn’t you want to eat like that?”

WH: You recently had a health scare, how did that change your approach to food?
SG: “Due to my health scare, I was under a nutritionist for a while and I learnt a lot about sugar and refined carbohydrates and what that does to your blood sugar. I realised that it’s just so cruel to put anything but goodness into your body. And the results that you get by being kind to your body with good wholesome food are amazing. It’s just such a happy place to be.”

WH: You’ve also started doing your own research subsequently about what is really in our food and what have you found out?
SG: “Unless you go on a mission to educate yourself, you’re not going to find out what’s actually happening with your food and where it’s coming from and what’s in it, like the fact that over 90% of soy and wheat in South Africa is genetically modified and that’s in everything including our supermarket bread.”

WH: You’re also realising more and more the pitfalls of the real enemy – sugar.
SG: “I’ve spent a lot of time understanding more about sugar and researching more about it. The less sugar you eat, the less you want to eat it. When you do have a treat like this banana bread, it’s a treat and it’s delicious and satisfying and filling and there are no cravings, I don’t feel deprived at all, in fact, you get to a point when you can’t imagine putting nastiness into your body.”

Banana Loaf2

WH: Comparing to how we grew up, kids today don’t grow up eating home cooked meals as often as we did – what do you say to that as a mom yourself, a cook and food blogger?
SG: “I think that’s also one of the reasons it’s become so important to me lately, is having young children, and realising I only want to put goodness into them. And so it’s vital that we’re cooking at home and teaching them the importance of nutrition and teaching them where their food comes from.”

WH: People would then ask you why cook at home when you can buy fast foods, what would you say to these people?
SG: “Cooking – it saves you money. It doesn’t have to be this time consuming drama that people are so worried about and also we’re so obsessed with time, we don’t want to give it to the thing that is possibly one of the most important things that we could spend our time doing. How much time do we waste scrolling through Facebook in a day that could cook a meal.”

WH: So having all that said how have you modified your own cookbooks to incorporate all you have learnt?
SG: “The thing with my book I am trying to add an educational slant to it where people realise the value of cooking good simple wholesome food, because then once you get people’s buy-in then it’s easy. If you get to really understand why it’s so essential then I hope people will be more inclined to follow through.”

WH: What should people have in their pantry if they want to whip up something either sweet or savoury that is also healthy for their family to enjoy?
SG: So I think the sweet things, the basics I use a lot are coconut flour, almond flour, I use quite a lot of nut butters, I use cacao and for my sugar alternatives I use honey or maple syrup or rice malt syrup which is fructose free or stevia – so it does require a trip to the health shop but a little goes a long way with these ingredients as well.

With savoury, having a really good spice cupboard and having good quality condiments like fish sauce and sesame oil and just having those on hand, means that you can create amazing flavours in your own kitchen in just a few minutes, also lemons, limes, ginger, garlic just really simple stuff like soy sauce or tamari. In terms of protein, it always comes back to chicken, make sure it’s good quality chicken, that’s not been pumped with growth hormones or antibiotics and stuff, especially when you have kids, because those hormones can really mess with their systems.”

Sarah is currently working on her next book which is filled with lots more easy, healthy and delicious recipes for you to try. Until then, her latest book is “Home – Food from my kitchen”.
Her book is available at all Exclusives Book stores.


Here is Sarah’s delicious Banana Bread (Refined sugar and Gluten Free) recipe …

Beautiful Banana Bread
Makes 1 Small Loaf


3 very ripe bananas, broken into chunks
3 eggs
1/2 cup pecan nuts (or any nuts of your choice; roughly chopped if you are not using a food processor)
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid (or vegetable oil or even olive oil)
1/4 cup honey (or healthy natural sweetener of your choice)
1/4 cup yoghurt
1 level cup almond flour
1 level cup coconut flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
You will also need 1 small loaf tin


1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Grease and line your loaf tin.

2. For speediest results, add all the ingredients to a food processor and mix until combined, 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, mix with hand mixer, stand mixer or a wooden spoon and mixing bowl.

3. Pour the mixture into a loaf tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden (and smelling delicious) and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Photography: Robyn Solomons

Image of book: www.afoodieliveshere.co.za


Happy Healthy Fabulous