Donna Hay: Enjoy the lighter side of creative cuisine

By Colleen Thorpe

Donna Hay's food is for every cook, every food lover, every day and every occasion. Her latest cookbook is the answer for those seeking the perfect life balance. Colleen Thorpe talks to Donna about food and finding that balance.

What was the inspiration behind your new book Fresh and Light?

It's how I like to eat myself. I'm not one to deny myself little treats here and there, so I balance those times of indulgence with a lighter approach to meals during the week.

What is the secret to a perfect life balance?

I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it's about a healthy balance of family, work and a social life. When it comes to food, it's all about enjoying what you cook and not denying yourself the things you really love.

What are your three favourite 'power foods'?

I know quinoa is the power food du jour right now, but I really do love it.

As well as wholegrains and kale.

What is your first memory of food?

I have very fond memories of helping my grandmother bake in her kitchen. I still use some of her favourite recipes today.

Who is your biggest fan?

My sons are pretty impressed with my cooking, so I'm going to make the most of that while it lasts.

Who was the major influence in your love of cooking?

My grandmother for introducing me to baking, but I also credit my parents for letting me loose in the kitchen as a child.

What is your favourite dish?

Choosing a favourite dish is like choosing a favourite child - I can't. Plus, it changes regularly. But I always enjoy vibrant Asian flavours made with the freshest seasonal produce.

In the cooking world who do you most admire?

I have a lot of respect for the passion, enthusiasm and conviction that Jamie Oliver brings to his food. I think his work to empower people with better food choices is incredibly valuable.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Chicken is one of the most versatile ingredients and it's always a crowd-pleaser.

What dish do you most love to cook?

I love cooking any meal I know others will enjoy eating. My friends and family know I love being told what people like to eat so there's no guess work.

What celebrity would you most like to cook for?

Being a huge fan of her work and as an incredible woman, I would love to have shared a meal with Coco Chanel.

Have you a guilty pleasure?

I don't believe in guilt, but I definitely believe life is to be enjoyed. And it's no secret I absolutely love icecream.

What would be your desert island dish?

Hopefully, it'd be a tropical island and I'd be able to whip up fresh pineapple and coconut granita.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a hairdresser as a child. I still love having my hair done.

If you were on Mastermind what would your topic be?

Any topic to do with icecream would be one I'd happily tackle.

What three New Zealand foods are top of your list?

Well, it's not quite food, but sampling some of the excellent wines is high on the list.

Tell us three things about yourself people might not know or might be surprised to learn

I'm not a fan of seeing myself on camera. I've just taken up paddle-boarding, which I love, and I've been known to eat icecream for dinner.

Fresh and Light by Donna Hay

Harper Collins, $49.99

- Hamilton News

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