Recently I was interviewed by Global Blue, which was really exciting as I always pick up a copy of their magazine when I fly so I thought I’d share it here!
Natalie Salmon, aka the Latina Cook, is revolutionising the healthy eating scene with her Brazilian and Latin recipes. Celebrated for her exciting take on clean eating, the Latina Cook champions hearty, healthy South American dishes which are easy to make yet don’t compromise on flavour and nutrition. We ask Natalie Salmon 10 questions about South American cuisine, her inspirations and her favourite restaurants in London…
10 Questions with The Latina Cook
With the Olympics round the corner and Rio fever sweeping London, we exclusively interview Natalie Salmon, aka the Latina Cook, to get her insight into South American recipes, and beauty and lifestyle tips. The Latina Cook’s medley of healthy Brazilian and Latin food is fast making a mark on the healthy eating scene, with its focus on South American superfoods such as chia seeds, açaí, lúcama, cacao and maca. Natalie Salmon’s hearty, healthy recipes sparkle with Brazilian flair that reflect her Brazilian background, and her collaborators include CoYo and Groovy Foods Company as well as a hugely successful supper club at Cocobananas. The Latina Cook offers a spirited, wholly Brazilian take on the clean-eating scene without compromising on flavour and passion. Here we exclusively interview Natalie Salmon.
What inspired you to start The Latina Cook?
I’ve always loved cooking, one of my first jobs was behind the scenes at Great British Bake Off!…. But it was when I was making a typical brazilian snack of fried bananas (in coconut oil) for my two housemates, who are health blogger aficionados, that I noticed all the food I loved making from Brazil and South America was super healthy and nutritious…. and that most of my friends hadn’t even tried it before! So I set myself a challenge of blogging about South American food to see if people would be interested in it. Luckily they were!
Why did you decide to write about Latin food?
I’m half-Brazilian on my mother’s side and grew up in Venezuela, so I feel very connected to the food I grew up eating. My mother is an amazing cook. I realised that even though loads of the world’s healthiest foods come from South America like Chia Seeds, Açaí Lúcuma, Maca, Cacao, Quinoa, Avocados, Sweet Potatoes etc…. it’s something no one was talking about which seemed crazy to me! My mum has been feeding my sister and I Chia Seed puddings since we were babies!
What is the basis of a South American diet and how can it be used as part of a healthy lifestyle?
A traditional South American diet means eating lots of plants and fruits and high protein fish and meats. South Americans are not just carnivores, although a lot of the basis of their diet is high protein and low carb. I do believe that South-American food caters to vegetarians and vegans because of the amount of salads and unusual fruits we use that you may have never heard of such as Chuchu. The Amazon forest is extremely biodiverse and is where so much of the delicious super-food in South-America comes from, such as Açaí berries. It spreads across Brazil, (with 60% of the rainforest), Peru, Colombia and it also spreads as far as Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana!
Actually a lot of my recipes are vegetarian or vegan! On top of that the South-American diet is very well suited to anyone who requires a Gluten-Free diet. That is because normal flour is not traditionally used in our recipes. The most common flour used is ‘cornflour’ and ‘tapioca flour’, you will notice these two flours feature on my website a lot!
What do you think of the fitness and healthy-eating revolutions that are taking place? How do South American foods play a part in this?
I think South-American foods play a huge part in this, the best thing about the health movement is that it’s now so much easier to get South-American super foods than it was before, I can get Quinoa in Sainbury’s now, instead of needing to order it online! The same has happened with cacao nibs, chia seeds and Açaí, which is fantastic!
I think it’s generally the health revolution is a good thing, Brazilians in particular are obsessed with nature, good food and feeling and looking good! I like eating my meat, fish and veg as healthily as possible and working out…. however, you need to be able to have a big fat glass of wine (or passion fruit cocktail.. my poison) at a friends birthday and not feel guilty about it!
Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes? Who inspires you?
Most of the recipes I make are traditional South-American and Brazilian recipes which I recreate at home with what I can find here in London but I actually get lots of inspiration from the health blogger community as well… it’s cool to see what they are doing with South American food like making Brownies with Quinoa or Cheesecake with Avocado! I’d say my biggest foodie idol at the moment is Madeline Shaw but I grew up watching Nigella who I also really admire. In Brazil I love what Alex Atala is doing at the moment.
Your recipes range from healthy Lúcuma smoothies to black bean stew and lime and polenta drizzle cake. What is your favourite dish to make?
That’s so hard to choose! I think my tropical pavlova is a good one as it looks so impressive and incorporates coconut whipped cream which can convert even the most cynical of coconut haters. My housemates LOVE my tropical crumble which is very easy on the waistline and it’s super easy to make so I suppose I ought to give that a mention… but I do love my recipe for ceviche with pomegranate seeds because it’s so tasty and super low-cal so I don’t feel guilty about eating lots of it. Very easy to make and such a crowd pleaser… it goes very quickly though!
Which Brazilian restaurants in London do you recommend?
I love all the amazing Nikkei fusion places which have been popping up recently and you can’t go wrong with dinner at Sushi Samba…. I sorely miss Sushinho on the Kings Road. I’m also a big fan of other Latin establishments such Senor Ceviche, Peyote, Chotto Matte and Lima. You should also check out CocoBananas, it’s a Brazilian nightclub in Battersea which I love!
Where are your favourite shops to buy ingredients and South American health foods?
The Planet Organic near me in Wandsworth and Daylesford in Cotswolds are my favourites to visit, Daylesford grow lots of exotic South-American veggies over here on their farm in the UK which makes me feel alot better about my carbon footprint! It’s hard to find produce such as plantains in supermarkets so I find myself scouring Borough Market and Asian and African food stores for what I need.
What are your favourite Brazilian beauty treatments?
Omg so many! I love Brazilian Beauty treatments so much… ask my friends they will say I’m such a wannabe beauty guru! Brazilian women love looking good and are always trying out something new, it’s perfectly normal to go for an annual check up at the dermatologist so they can access what your skin and scalp needs! (I’m not joking my mother has taken me to her dermatologist every year.) Coffee scrubs are great… babbasu oil is our equivalent to Moroccan oil, it’s amazing for skin and hair, I really recommend it. My mum recently introduced me to Aloe-Vera hair masks which make your hair feel like silk, but there are loads of other ones that need to be tried! Bliss Spa in London do an amazing Braziliam Bum facial which will sort you out pre-beach holiday, and if you are brave try velaterapia at Richard Ward’s salon! (Using actual fire to get rid of split ends!)
What’s next for The Latina Cook?
I’m doing a show for Tastemade on Snapchat and will be doing a series of Live Shows with Wild Dish to coincide with the Olympics which is supercool! I’ll also be holding a SupperClub at CocoBananas on the 5th and 21 August to celebrate the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies which you can read more about and buy tickets for here: http://thelatinacook.com/2016/06/20/cocobananas-supper-club/
Original article here: http://www.globalblue.com/destinations/uk/london/the-latina-cook-interview/#slide-1