#healthspotalk number 3 is featuring Marie Ferarri, the woman behind Smoothies Addict. I first met Marie while absolving my internship with Fit 'n' Tasty, the Swiss-based organic and cold-pressed detox company that I'm sure you have all seen me bombarding Instagram with. We were on the lookout for health bloggers in the Swiss scene and at this point Marie was just kicking off her own little business. A big advocate of green smoothies and superfoods, she decided to sell superfoods online (you might be surprised to known how hard it is to find superfoods in Switzerland) and launch her own blog on which she shares her knowledge and passion on healthy living. She also hosts weekly "Smoothie Workshops" in Geneva, which I have had the pleasure of attending. Here some shots (and click here for more information about the dates and location):
I remember admiring Marie for her hard-working attitude (she has a full-time job on the side) and her commitment to help other people in the quest of a healthier lifestyle. She never studied anything nutrition or health related, but has a fountain of knowledge on these topics through personal experience and educating herself. I recall that when we met I was still debating wether I should launch my own blog or not. I kept thinking: "There are already so many health bloggers out there. What can I add? Plus, I don't even have any education on nutrition or fitness." Marie showed me that you don't need to have a nutrition certificate to have a voice and help other people live a healthier life. If you are passionate about this lifestyle, you are already halfway there. I guess what I'm trying to say is: Thank you Marie for giving me the last push I needed to launch Wholesome Stef!
Oh my, I swifted off a bit, didn't I? Let's begin!
What was the catalyst that turned you into a healthy foodie?
Two years ago I was very sick and had incredibly low iron levels. I was always tired and constantly felt sluggish. I ran from doctor to doctor and tried everything; from taking pills to getting infusions. Nothing seemed to work...I was always exhausted, even after a 12 hour sleep I could barely get out of bed in the morning. But I had to power through since I have a job and I'm also a mom, so my "little" problem didn't have any place in my life and I couldn't give it the attention it deserved.
After another one of my many doctor appointments, I had a moment of realisation. I thought: enough is enough. Deep down I knew that the issue lied within my lifestyle, especially the way I was currently eating. I decided to drastically change my diet and to start nourishing my body with wholesome plant-based food. Spinach was my new go-to food. I eventually "discovered" smoothies for myself and today I cannot live without them. I'm actually quite lazy in the kitchen, so smoothies are the perfect fast food when things need to go quickly. My favourite combo is spinach with coconut water, some fruits and of course superfoods such as spirulina, maca and many other. In the beginning I didn't even know what superfoods were, but now they are a staple in my kitchen.
About your iron deficiency…. How long did it take for the levels to stabilise after changing your diet?
It took about one month to longer be anaemic, but another three months for my ferritin to rise [Word from myself: Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. In humans, it acts as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload.] I continue to do a "spirulina treatment" once a month for 5 days, where I will incorporate a big tablespoon of spirulina into my morning smoothie, but I no longer need more than that. Since Vitamin C consumption increases the absorption of and assimilation of iron, I make sure to get a heap load of it from Baobab, Camu Camu or Lucuma powder.
Why do you eat the way you eat?
Because I just feel and look so much better now. My skin, hair and nails are stronger and my iron levels are finally in a healthy range. Once you start noticing the positive effects healthy eating can have on mind, body and soul, there's no going back!
Describe your day on a plate.
Every morning I drink a smoothie, generally a green smoothie with lots of superfoods. If I need some snacks for on the go, I'll pack some goji berries, mulberries or almonds. For lunch I usually order a veggie plate at my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Geneva, le Vert Attitude. It's like my second home! My absolute favourite dish is their lemongrass tofu sauté. I try to keep dinner as light as possible. Lately I have been eating a lot of pumpkin soups with coconut milk and Thai curry. My 4 year old boy loves it!
One of my non-negotiatables is to drink a lot of water, coconut water and green tea throughout the day. We have a tea maker machine in the office, so I have at least four cups of tea a day.
I wouldn't consider myself a vegetarian, rather a “flexitarian” but I barely eat any meat. I think it's all about the balance and eating without guilt. If I feel like it, I will have a glass of wine, chocolate or even a burger. I make sure to do this without putting pressure on myself and to always eat in a way that makes me happy.
What are the 5 things we will always find in your pantry?
Quinoa: I could eat quinoa salad every day!
Avocados: I eat it raw as a snack or as a banana substitute in my smoothies (as it gives a nice creamy consistency). I even make my own skin masks with it.
Bananas: I eat one or two bananas a day in my smoothie and my son is crazy about banana as well, we're like a monkey family!
Tofu: It's super easy and quick to cook and can be thrown into any salad or wok-style dish.
Coconut chips: This is not the most healthy thing but I am completely addicted to it. I buy kilos whenever I go to Thailand and my father sends some to me twice a year (perks of having your dad live in Thailand!). It's just pieces of fried coconut with sugar cane and its so delish.
Could you give us some more healthy eating tips for Geneva?
Switzerland is still far behind with the health trends, and Geneva is certainly not the city where you can easily find vegetarian or vegan restaurants. Some exceptions are le Vert Attitude (vegetarian buffet) or En Faim (soup and a fresh juices bar).
For all the purchase of superfoods in Geneva, it's simple, just order on Smoothies Addict :) [A word from myself: I Feel Bio is also a great alternative!]
What’s the biggest nutrition misconception you are always having to clear up for people?
I am always surprised at how many people think it's OK to skip breakfast. I believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that it sets the tone for the day and is essential for an optimal metabolism. Studies show that, if you eat a breakfast of sugary cereal, refined pastry or white toast with jam, your blood sugar will skyrocket, generating a compensatory burst of insulin. Within a couple of hours, your blood sugar will crash, and you'll be famished. So eat a healthy breakfast.
Another big no-no is to eat "light products"!
Tell us about your workout routine.
I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I usually go during my lunch break because I do not have time in the evening with my son and I love having a quick break in the middle of my day. I normally do 20 minutes of cardio on a elliptique bike called CrossOver, which really targets the glutes. Then I continue with 30 minutes of weight training on different machines. Once a week, I go to an abs workout class, it's short but tuff. I try to go to the sauna after working out as a reward, plus it gets me super relaxed and releases any built up toxins. Pure bliss! Before embarking on this health journey, I hated sports, but now it has become a part of me and I couldn't live without it.
What does living a wholesome lifestyle mean to you?
Striving to be the best version of myself, to take more time for myself and the people that I love. It's not just about food, but also the thoughts that surround food and eating. Living a wholesome lifestyle extends to so much more than nutrition, it includes how you think, act and enjoy life. Like you, I used to work out just to loose weight but now I take pleasure in doing sports because it nourishes my body and soul. Having a healthier life has open-end my mind, has helped me to understand others better but mostly understand myself better.
A recipe from Marie - Superfood Green Smoothie
Marie's Superfood Green Smoothie (Serves 2)
1 cup of Almond Milk
1 cup of Spinach
½ cup of kale
½ cup of frozen pineapple
½ cup of frozen mango
1 teaspoon of camu camu
1 spoon of maca
1 teaspoon of chlorella
1 spoon of chia seeds
Mix everything in a high-speed blender and you're ready to go.
Thank you Marie for sharing your story with us! You can also follower on her Instagram account here.