A backpacking trip to India at the age of 21 was the first of Sarah Nicole Edward’s many visits to India. Months volunteering at a community project in Kerala were her first toe-dips into this country’s incredible culture, cuisine and landscape, and 10 years after that first visit she decided to make the big shift. She currently works in the education not-for-profit space but in her free time cherishes cooking fresh, colourful, nourishing food.
Armed with a Masters in International Development that opened her up to India’s economy and politics, she’s a Londoner invested deeply in cooking that reflects the melting pot that London is—different regional flavours coming together in unusual and complementary food pairings. “Well-being is more than just the food on our plates, it includes our mindset, emotional wellbeing and lifestyle,” she said of the overarching philosophy that surrounds her wellness venture Copper and Cloves, an online repository of all things homemade, natural and oh so good-for-you. “I think most people know what they need to do to be healthy, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to actually follow through with the changes. My approach is to support people to take small steps towards more healthful living, from whatever starting point, meeting them where they are,” she says.
Why Copper and Cloves?
When I moved to India, I started exploring all of the fantastic ingredients here—new fruits, vegetables, different millets and red rice. I started cooking for friends here in India and found they liked my food; they felt it was something different and new to them. So I set up Copper and Cloves to share my food with more people, on a mission to show that there is no reason why healthy food should be bland and boring. In addition to the cooking side of things, I am training to be a Health Coach. I have a degree in Psychology—my interest lies in behaviour change and how to support people to adopt healthier behaviours. I wanted the name of my venture to be contemporary and not too twee. I wanted to include a spice to represent India and the journey my cooking had been on. Visually, I find copper very appealing. So the name somehow fell into place.
Tell us about your recipe-making process.
I get inspired by the produce that is available. I really do believe in eating local- I had a steep learning curve when I moved to India, learning how to cook all the amazing produce available here. Learning how to make dosa was a challenge, but I loved it. I’ve learnt a lot about spices as well. It is all still incredibly exciting to me. My aim is to use locally available produce and ingredients and incorporate those into my style of cooking which tends to be plant based, happy and nourishing- think warming oats, colourful salads and grain bowls. I bring in Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and Asian flavours. I like creating different textures and contrasting flavours. For example I’ll roast some vegetables to get some caramelisation, whilst lightly steaming others to keep a crunch, and mix these with some warming, comforting lentils and quinoa. A fresh dressing brings tangy sweetness whilst crunchy nuts and seeds roasted with salt and spices bring texture and contrast. The combinations are endless.
Talk to us about your daily routine.
I really try to start my morning with a morning routine as it sets me up for a day. I start by practicing mindfulness while I am getting dressed and making the bed (awareness of my walking, awareness of brushing my teeth). I fit in some exercise in the morning- but I try and mix it up, sometimes I run with a friend, sometimes I do a resistance workout at home, sometimes I do yoga at home or attend a class. I try and meditate every day- I use the 10% Happier app but I am still learning, I try to do at least 10 minutes but sometimes it is less. While I have my breakfast (usually some form of avocado, greens and eggs or oats with elaborate toppings of nut butters and fruit) I write in my gratitude journal- at least three things that I am grateful for. After a shower I start my day- I work from home and my days look quite different- sometimes I am working on my computer either writing for Copper and Cloves, organising collaborative events or working on a proposal for the NGO that I work for. Other times I am in the kitchen or taking photos of food! I think it is really important to acknowledge that everyday is not like that. Sometimes I hit snooze and don’t feel like exercising. Sometimes I procrastinate and find myself unable to focus on work and waste time. I still find meditation really hard and give up halfway through. The reason I am saying this is because I think it is too easy to paint a picture of being some sort of wellness person who glides through this cliché routine with ease. I often feel inadequate when I read about other people’s routines. I do think all of those activities are valuable to my health and wellbeing that is why I try to fit them in but I often don’t and that’s ok too- daily routines should not be about perfection. And reading about people’s routines should not create unrealistic standards!
Cooking with Copper + Cloves
Sarah gave us three recipes—overnight oats that kickstart the day with an energising breakfast, a healthy grain bowl recipe that’ll sit in for lunch and a handy recipe for pistachio and lemon energy balls (best served on a tapas plate or a chic cheese board) to beat any midday craving.
Turmeric ‘Overnight Oats’
75g rolled oats
200 ml of almond milk
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of ginger powder
½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of honey
Pinch of black pepper powder
Squeeze of lemon
1 ripe chikoo, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon of chopped almonds
1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
Mix all the oats ingredients together, stir a couple of times and pop in a jar or a bowl and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. In the morning, take the bowl or jar out of the fridge and arrange the sliced chikoo over the oats. Mix the remainder of the toppings together and scatter over the top.
Mindfully enjoy contrast of flavours and textures, eating slowly and consciously.
Pistachio & lemon energy balls
(makes 10 balls)
70g fresh coconut
Zest of ½ lemon
A squeeze of lemon juice
First take 20g of pistachios and grind into a fine green powder and set aside on a plate. Take the almonds, cashews and the remaining pistachios and grind them to a powder in a high speed blender. Set the nuts aside and grind the coconut in the blender. Remove the pit out of the dates and put these into the blender with the mixed nuts; add a squeeze of lemon and the lemon zest. Grind until mixed well. Roll the date and nut mixture into equally sized balls, roll each one in the ground pistachios so they are evenly coated. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
A really delicious grain bowl
½ cup of cooked millet
½ cup of pumpkin, diced into small cubes
1 cup mushrooms
½ cup tofu or one chicken breast, diced
1 handful fresh coriander
1 handful fresh mint
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tsp ginger finely chopped
1 tsp garlic finely chopped
Pinch of salt
Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Take the tofu or chicken and cover with 2 tablespoons of marinade. Allow to marinate for an hour. Sauté the tofu/chicken in a pan until caramelised and cooked through. Steam the butternut squash (pumpkin) and then roast in some oil for 20 minutes. Sauté the mushrooms with some salt and pepper. Arrange the grain in a bowl and mix the chopped herbs through the grain. Put the cooked vegetables and chicken/tofu into the bowl and toss through the grain. Pour over the remainder of the marinade and mix it all up. Finish with some more herbs and toasted cashews sprinkled over the top.