It’s time for the next instalment of the Inspired By Nature series. I am so happy to have this wonderful mama on the blog today. She is a cook inspiring others to nourish themselves and their loved ones through real, plant-based nurturing foods and activities. The food she makes and bakes is beautiful to look at, and instantly makes my mouth water. She manages to get so much colour into her food, and her Instagram feed has me drooling over my phone. I would sure like an invite to dinner.
Please welcome Jo Balfe from Nurturing Kitchen…
How are you inspired by nature?
I find so much inspiration in nature, from the colours to the smells and the way they make us feel. It is my main inspiration in my work in the kitchen as I cook by the seasons as much as possible, using produce which is grown as locally as possible and making healthier versions of traditional offerings. Vibrant colours are really important to me in cooking, so I am always looking to nature to give us the bright range of colours to make up our meals.
Do you have a favourite season? If yes, what particularly inspires you about that season?
Spring and Autumn equally hold my heart for different reasons. There is something about the equinoxes which brings me a sense of balance and focus which I find I miss in the highs and lows of summer and winter. Spring for its hope, vitality and freshness which we have all been craving after the winter, the flowers, smells and the way it makes me want to spring clean in house, body and life! Autumn for it’s golden colours, warm shades, rustling leaves and the way it makes me want to bake sweet spiced things every day. I love the cosiness it brings after the business of summer. It defiantly makes me want to slow down but I always feel very focused at this time of year. It’s like all of my wild ideas can start to be brought down to earth and manifested.
How does nature impact the way you choose to live with your family?
We are great believers in getting out in nature as often as possible and spend our weekends together in the woods around our home, hiking, kayaking, cycling and observing natures beauty and gifts. I find that I am a better person for spending time in nature and our girls thrive when out doors. We respect the environment as a family by buying local and organic foods, growing our own as much as possible, being members of community agriculture and always remembering to reduce, re-use and re-cycle.
I believe that nature knows best… Do you have any examples of when you feel that nature has taught you something about yourself, or your self care?
Absolutely. I was not particularly interested in the healing powers of nature or plant-based nutrition until I developed a bunch of health issues in my late teens. I had angry skin and crazy hormonal issues which led to very low self esteem, and after taking every drug my doctor could prescribe I was forced to see the other side of healing, the holistic way which led me to where I am now. I took myself off all my medication and looked into herbalism, plant based diets and yoga. After following a seasonal, plant based diet for a short time my skin completely healed itself and I regained my confidence and a new love for holistic healing. I began gardening to fulfil my love of organic produce and I became a carer of the earth, a passionate grower and plant-geek. I’d say that the pivotal moment for me came from a place of sheer frustration that I was not being healed by the medication I was being told to take, and seeing the pure potential of plants, simple living and meditative practices such as yoga.
What are your thoughts on whether nature helps us slow down and supports a slow living lifestyle. Do you think nature helps you live in a more mindful and wholehearted way?
I absolutely believe so. When I am feeling stressed or anxious, it is never when I am out in nature. Being at a desk for too long or worrying about things which are fairly irrelevant can make me feel out of harmony with nature, and stepping outside, grounding with the earth can fix almost all feelings of stress or unease. When I am making plenty of time for us all to be outdoors and working with nature, whether it be in the kitchen, garden or in our play time I feel a great sense of oneness which can be lost when I spend time away from mother nature. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort in our busy lifestyles to stop and slow down, but it is always worth it and building my work around nature makes it vital that I honour it as a daily act.
I’ll be back with Jo and the Inspired by Nature series next week to share one of her favourite seasonal recipes. In the meantime hop over to the Nurturing Kitchen website to find out more.
All photos courtesy of Jo Balfe.