Interview: Madeleine Shaw

madeleine shaw

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Interview: Madeleine Shaw 

This week’s blog post is all about my time at the Madeleine Shaw book signing which took place at the Waterstones Deansgate store. The store is absolutely beautiful and it is every book lover’s dream! The store is packed full of inspiration and it has its very own café!

Whilst I was there, I had the exciting opportunity of interviewing Madeleine Shaw – health coach, yoga teacher, bestselling author and an app creator. Madeleine radiates so much positive energy and I left her feeling uplifted, overwhelmed and motivated. It was an honour to chat with her about her newly released book ‘Ready Steady Glow’. I discovered that she is down to earth, absolutely beautiful and definitely has the glow.

My first impressions of the book were 100% positive! I loved the concept of her ‘fast weeks’ and ‘slow weekend’ dishes. The book is full of a variety of recipes, which will suit everyone’s taste buds! The book is rich in nutrients, knowledge, colour, happiness and excitement; all these components work great alongside each other. When I purchase a book I want it to offer the ‘full package’ with this being said, this book also makes the bookshelf look beautiful and adds a pop of colour to any room. However, I am sure its real home will be in the kitchen!

I hope you enjoy this weeks post and after reading this I hope you make a connection with Madeleine. She is a wonderful person and I feel blessed to have met such a beautiful human being.

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 Where did your health and fitness journey begin?

I moved to Australia when I was 18 and I attended the Sydney University. When I was travelling I discovered that I had bad digestive problems, from this point onwards I went to see lots of different doctors to find out what was wrong with my digestion.

I also went to see a Naturopath and she recognised that I was eating all of the wrong things: low-fat yoghurt, rice cakes, diet coke. From this, she explained that I wasn’t eating a nutrient balanced diet. The Naturopath recommended that I went to this one particular café in Australia and experience the food there. I ended up eating there that much that they gave me a job! I started cooking there for a few years and I loved it! I loved learning about food, health and how flavours are combined together. *This was my light bulb moment! *

I didn’t know how to do it but I knew I wanted to work in wellness and health. I started posting pictures of my food on Facebook and one of my girlfriends told me to start a food blog. I had no idea at the time on how to do this and it was completely new to me. I didn’t know anything about food blogs! I have now had my website for three and a half years and I have been trying to grow online readership since then. I have been holding supper clubs every month, doing talks and events, all in hope to get people excited about healthy food. I want to debunk the myth that healthy eating is boring and tasteless and get people excited about food.

What is your food philosophy?

My food philosophy is all about enlivening the hottest, happiest and healthiest you. It is about eating whole foods and nothing processed or refined. I am not vegan or paleo. I try and focus on crowding in rather than cutting out. So instead of saying ‘you can’t have this!’ I just think about all the different grains, the different types of vegetables and all the different types of foods I can have and focus more on that. I believe this is more sustainable and a more enjoyable way of eating.

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 The book combines the busy lifestyle with moments of unwinding. You seem to have ‘balance’, how did you achieve balance?

Yes definitely, the book is about ‘fast weeks’ and ‘slow weekends’ so the ‘fast week’ meals can be made in less than 30 minutes because of our long days at work or university. We all work extremely hard and we don’t have that much time to cook. So that was the emphasis from a book point of view.

I find balance by ‘switching off’ – turning your phone off at the end of the day and not working on weekends (although that doesn’t always happen!) I have to be strict with not working all the time. You have to work hard in order to get a business off the ground, as it takes a lot of love and effort. But sometimes, we need to take time off. Time off – emails, phone and your laptop. I recommend putting more of an emphasis on the outside of work. Although fitness is a lovely way to unwind it is still ‘work’ to me because it is part of the circle of work I do. So I like to go to the pub and hang out with my friends. That’s my unwinding time!

What would be the 3 things people would gain from your book?

Excitement for healthy cooking, a deeper understanding of what is ‘healthy’ and inspiration to get into the kitchen and start making some of the recipes!

Where did your inspiration come from for this book?

It was from my readers. Everyone wanted to know how to eat healthy, but the biggest factor was time. My recipes are quicker than making pasta or even ordering a takeaway! So don’t complain about the time and go for it! It is habitual because we often get caught up in making the same things all the time. That was my main inspiration; hearing from people that didn’t have enough time. I created recipes that are quick, easy and nutritious.

Has anywhere abroad particularly inspired one of these dishes in your book?

There is a fish stew in the book, which was inspired by my time in Sicily with my family, as it was the sorts of flavours we were eating. A lot of the dishes are inspired by my time in Australia as they have a fresh approach to food and they maximise flavour using lots of herbs and spices and good fresh produce. But Sicilian stew is the one!

Who helps you produce all of this? – Book, recipes, photographs.

I have a huge team for the book! I create all the recipes myself but for the book shoot I have a prop stylist and a food stylist, there is also a photographer, assistant and lighting people. A team of 10 usually!

Why are you proud of this book?

The response has been fantastic! I think people have really enjoyed making the recipes because they have found them quick and simple but of course tasty and something that they would make again. I am proud of it because I can see every day from social media, people re-creating my recipes in their homes and that is the BEST part of what I do. When you see what you do impacts on someone else’s life, it feels real.

Your food combinations are delicious! How do you think of the food combinations?

I collect menus from every restaurant I visit and I see how other people have combined flavours together. Healthier versions ‘of’ something are usually what I try to re-create or I create recipes using the fruit and vegetables that are in season at the time, it really is a mixture of things. If I have ‘time off’ this is the time I usually get inspired, so it is crucial to have ‘time out’ as this allows space for creativity.

Who are your food inspirations?

Diana Henry as she is great with flavour combinations! I adore everything she makes! Thomasina Miers is a great cook. I also love Tieghan Gerard a food blogger using her blog name – Half Baked Harvest! She is an incredible chef and I love her photography. Of course, I also love Yotam Ottolenghi. These are my go-to favourites.

What is your favourite restaurant and why? 

The boathouse in Sydney, which is situated on the water. The food from there is out of this the world! It has an incredible atmosphere and it is stunning. It’s a happy place for me.

Do you drink coffee or tea?

What is your favourite way to hydrate?

Coffee and tea no, but this is not from a health perspective. My parents are from New Zealand so we were never brought up on tea. In fact, we would have 5 normal tea bags in the house. If my mum said ‘do you want a tea’ it would be herbal tea!

I am now dating a Northerner so I know the importance of a good cup of tea in the morning! And coffees, no, I have never drunk milk and I don’t like black coffee. However, I love water, herbal tea and coconut water. Hydration is so important especially if you are doing exercise, two litres a day I aim for!

What is your favourite pre-workout snack or post-workout snack from your book?

Pre-workout – you want something that is easy to digest, so perhaps the mango balls (p. 104). They’re super sweet and they contain simple sugars which will give you an instant burst of energy and they won’t leave you feeling bloated!

Post-workout – you need to have some form of protein; the mackerel salad is one of my favourites (p. 145) or something quicker like the butterbean and almond dip with crudités (p. 102). If you are lifting weights you definitely need something that contains protein and carbs! So perhaps accompany these dishes with some sweet potato wedges (p. 189).

What is your favourite recipe in the book and why?

The chocolate brownies! (p. 232) they hit the spot for everyone. They are a combination of raspberries and pistachios. You get the softness from the raspberries and the crunch of the pistachio and the gooeyness of the chocolate brownie! They’re a winner!

If you were trapped on a desert island, what three foods would you take with you?

Mangoes, because it would be hot and I want something fresh! Coconuts because you can use the water, the flesh and the oil and some salmon!

For the none meat eaters, can the recipes be adapted accordingly?

Yes definitely! The meat in the curries could be changed to lentils or chickpeas as an alternative.

How do you banish sweet cravings?

I think you need to go cold turkey at first; you need to cut as much out as you can. Don’t just look at the sugars in cakes/sweets; find the hidden sugars in other things, soups, condiments and sauce mixes. Identify the sugars you do eat. Perhaps you eat too much dried fruit or too much fresh fruit. Although these are natural sugars perhaps you’re eating too much of them and this is leading to more cravings.

What is your guilty pleasure food? Or a recipe in the book that has been made healthier?

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My guilty pleasure is croissants, however, I just don’t think they can be made healthier! As they are just pastry and butter and they taste delicious just the way they are. I am not perfect and I certainly don’t eat clean all of the time. The brownies have got to be a healthier version of a good guilty pleasure (p. 232). But all of my desserts are healthier versions ‘of’ something. My parents use to make ‘ginger crunch’, if you’re a kiwi (New Zealanders) there is one book in New Zealand called the ‘Edmonds’ cookbook which features a ‘ginger crunch’ recipe so I made a raw version featured in my book! (p. 239)

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What is your favourite breakfast option?

Something eggy! Scrambled egg, avocado, rye bread and tomatoes. Super easy and for me, that shouts HEAVEN – (p.60).

 You have struggled with painful IBS and you embed the need for looking after your body in the book. For someone stuck in the rut – what are your top tips for a healthy and happy gut?

  • Start by chewing your food. People are always in a rush and on the move, so they swallow their food without chewing it. This means that digestion needs to start in your mouth and if this doesn’t happen properly it can’t digest in your stomach, this means that the food goes down in lumps and rots inside which causes gas and constipation.
  • Soups – eat easily digestible foods, as this is sometimes better than raw food. Although raw salads are good for you, raw salads aren’t good for people who have bad digestion because your body isn’t strong enough to break it down.
  • Take probiotics – these are good for beneficial gut bacteria; they help break down the food you are eating. Chicken stock is also incredibly healing!

What are your top 5 pantry essentials in an ideal world? 

Quinoa – it is easy to cook, goes with everything and you can make it sweet with porridge or savoury with salads. Cooking oil – coconut oil is my go-to for raw desserts and for cooking food in. Eggs – for baking as well as breakfast! Courgette – you can spiralize them into courgetti, or put them on the barbeque or roast them in a pan. Chickpeas– whiz them up to make houmous or add them to curries for a vegetarian option.

 You seem to be very confident (in a good way!) and you inspire a lot of women. How did you learn to love yourself?

My mum said I was born smiling so I have been blessed to be happy since I was a little girl. I haven’t always been confident, in my teenage years I never use to express myself to people, I would always be very calm and wouldn’t speak about things that bothered me. Moving away from home, finding new friends and being out of my shell was important.

I now admit when I am down and I admit when something is going wrong, this is refreshing for yourself because you aren’t holding a weight on your shoulders. Setting up my own business has also helped me become a lot more confident because I have to speak about my brand and what I am doing. Sometimes I have to get up and talk in front of an audience! I think for me, I want people to feel good about themselves, so if you do that for yourself you can make other people feel good too.

Yoga is life! What is your past with yoga and why did you feel the need to include it within the book?

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I started doing yoga at school and when I moved to Australia I did it more regularly. I really enjoyed it! I have never been a sporty person and I am not competitive… Yoga is perfect for me. As I did yoga more regularly I was encouraged as I got better and this was nice to see.

I included it in the book because I did my yoga teaching training a year and a bit ago and I wanted to give people a little snippet into what I do and what yoga is through a series of pictures. I also wanted to make the book feel more lifestyle based. I don’t think it is just about what you eat; it is about your mind and how you move (p. 254).

How do you stay motivated towards fitness and being healthy?

Get up and do it early! I fit it in wherever I can. However, after a full day of work you’re a bit more tired. My advice is get up and do it early!

Who inspires your fitness?

A lot of different people do. Social media is a great way of getting inspiration. I love watching people getting up early and heading for a run, as this is really inspiring. Even walking down the road and seeing somebody running can be uplifting too!

How do you get the glow?

Food is an important part. However you can eat all the kale in the world and still be stressed out and this can impact on you. It is all about the move, munch and meditate goal – being calm and relaxing when you can. You need a balance of those three factors for the ultimate glow!

The book ends on a peaceful and self-loving note. What are your top tips for self-love?

You need to watch your inner dialogue. We often play tapes in our mind, whether that’s a victim tape or a self-loathing tape. So I think that is important. Positive affirmations are really important! – ‘I am good enough, I am beautiful’. I am all about manifestation so I say things over and over again that I want to happen with my business or in my life. I think that’s why things sometimes come true because I am usually very focused on them.

Telling yourself that the cake that you just ate is going to make you fat is actually going to do more harm than if you just enjoyed it, smiled and was happy about it. Negativity towards yourself is bad and can be addictive. I think we are addicted to pain as much as we are self-pleasure and some people like to self-pity. Happiness is a choice and I know some people have medical conditions, but I do think that we can see the brightness in every situation.

We have to be positive about things. Everyone has bad things that happen to them but if you always focus on what you are grateful for and what’s important, your mindset will change. Create a gratitude list or think about the things that are really good in your life. It is a good way of switching your mindset, a combination of positive affirmations, gratitude and creating different habits with yourself are all great ways of being positive.

Skin loving foods and skin loving ingredients?

Zinc rich foods – pumpkin seeds or if you want to be more extravagant; oysters! They are great for blemishes. Good essential fatty acids – salmon, chia seeds, almonds are good for plumping the skin up! Vitamin C rich foods – red peppers, kiwi fruits are all full of antioxidants, which help against sun damage and pollution. If you are eating lots of different vegetables and lots of fresh fish and healthy fats then they are the key things for getting the glow.

What is an alternative to protein powder? 

You can get protein from nuts and seeds but I think there are a lot of good quality protein powders on the market. Pea protein, hemp protein, whey or vegan alternatives are all now available. Although, you could add nut butter and seeds for an alternative. I like adding protein powder to my smoothies because it makes me feel fuller for longer and adds a yummy texture!

Future plans from now?

I will definitely be writing another book over the summer! (This is so exciting!) But I want to expand my company and I would love to create some products. However, I don’t have a clear goal in mind. I need to take some time out to figure out what I want to do and progress from there. I am a self-motivated person and I just want to go for it and see what happens.

I want to thank Madeleine and her team for allowing me to interview her and the fabulous team at Waterstones Deansgate (especially Kim)! A true dream come true. Stay up to date with Madeleine and her adventures using the following links:

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / YouTube / Website

I hope you all have a great week full of positivity, good vibes ONLY & happiness.

Jessica, xx

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