14 Sep Maxine Ali
Maxine is a London-based student and writer with a flair for creating delicious, innovative food from simple, nourishing ingredients. Through her website, maxineali.com, and popular city-wide events, Maxine seeks to banish all notions of restriction surrounding healthy living and encourage people to discover indulgence in every aspect of their lifestyle.
Q&A with Coconut Merchant
Q. How did you get started in cooking and food blogging?
A. Before I created my blog, I was the most hopeless cook ever! I actually managed to set fire to toast on multiple occasions growing up, can you believe it?! However, I decided to live a little healthier just before starting university and so taught myself to cook two things: porridge and roasted vegetables, which I practically lived on. After about a year of this though, I realised I needed to be a bit more creative if I wanted to continue enjoying what I was eating and also convince my ‘anti-healthy food’ flatmates that eating well doesn’t have to be boring. So, I started cooking a greater variety of dishes and, shortly afterwards, created my blog to document it all.
Q. What’s your favourite dish to make?
A. Right now, my sweet potato and lentil shepherd’s pie. It’s my favourite dinner, especially as we head into colder months because it’s so hearty and comforting. My family absolutely love it too and nothing makes me happier than sharing delicious food with people I love so it’s the perfect dish for me.
Q. What’s your favourite part of food blogging?
A. The people! I love that I get to meet and work with such a diverse group of people who are doing some seriously awesome things for the health scene. It’s such an exciting and inspirational environment to work in.
Q. Are there any words of advice or lessons you would share with an aspiring food blogger?
A. Be authentic and find your own style. There are so many food bloggers around these days that it’s so important to make sure that what you’re doing is unique and a true reflection of yourself. I see so many new bloggers trying to replicate the styles of others, I myself have been guilty of this in the past too, but while it’s great to draw inspiration from those you admire, if there isn’t a new and different dimension which holds some element of your own personality within it, then people won’t be able to engage with what you share and, most importantly, you’ll never be completely happy with your own content when having that constant comparison in your mind.
Q. How do you fit cooking and healthy living around your studies?
A. Batch cooking, planning ahead and super simple meals. If I know I have a busy few weeks coming up, I’ll take an hour out one weekend to cook up a batch of simple one-pot wonder meals like curries, chillis, stews and soups which I’ll just portion out and store in the freezer for emergencies. That way, even when I have no time, I never need to compromise on my health.
Q. What ingredient could you not live without?
A. Sweet potatoes – they’re great in both sweet and savoury dishes, so nutritious and they taste amazing! What’s not to love?!