Interview with Heidi Apples

You know when you feel like you know someone even though you have never met face to face? You admire their authenticity and approach to food, nutrition, motherhood….! No, it’s not the plot from that creepy Netflix show, “YOU”. However, I’m not ashamed to say, that I did fan girl a little bit about Heidi Sze from @heidiapples! Heidi is a Dietitian, food writer, recipe developer and the author behind the beautifully designed blog, Apples Under My Bed. I have been reading Heidi’s blog for many years now. Taking inspiration from her wholesome recipes, parenting approach, Wednesday Breakfast Club and her honest blog posts. It was a delight to interview her and share more of her story.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Heidi Sze. I live with my family – my husband, Ben, my three year old daughter, Joan and my three-month-old son, Walt – on the Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria, Australia. I am a dietitian working with women in the pre and postnatal season of life.

Tell us about your business “Gather and Grow” and what led you to focus on pre and postnatal nutrition?

I intended on returning to my private practice after maternity leave, seeing clients face-to-face for a variety of nutrition-related issues. Then Joan was born and I realized she wouldn’t simply sleep when I needed her to. Ha! It also felt entirely overwhelming to go back to a more general practice (baby brain and all), so I chose to specialize in pre and postnatal nutrition, which was where my head was at and is my passion area.

Cooking with Joan

Congratulations on your newest addition, Walt! How are you finding the juggle between mumlife, business and self care?

Thank you! Honestly, Walt has slipped into our lives so well. I still manage to make time for self-care – that’s a non-negotiable for me. Every day I stretch, have a shower and make nourishing meals. Basic stuff. I now just have to be really efficient! Thankfully I have family support, which allows me to work form home. My mum comes every Tuesday to be with my toddler. That’s when I get the bulk of my work done. My mother-in-law and father also come throughout the week, giving me more time to work while Walt sleeps on me in the baby carrier. Anything else I can do on the weekend when my husband is home. I just have to pray that Walt has a long nap and doesn’t take ages to fall asleep, as that really cuts in to my work time.

Chilling outside with her two little ones.

You have such an inspiring collection of recipes on your blog “Apples Under My Bed”, what is your go to recipe for a lazy weekend dinner?

We tend to make more of an effort on the weekends than weekdays, as my husband is home to help with the prep. So lazy weekday dinners would be pesto pasta or scrambled eggs. Mostly, though, I grab a meal from the freezer – something I’ve made during a meal prep session, like a casserole or some falafel. If we really can’t be bothered cooking on the weekend, we’ll get takeout. There aren’t a lot of options near us, but we do have a great Middle Eastern place, with tagine, dips and rice. It’s expensive, though, so we don’t do it often.

Who inspires you and why?

My mother. She’s the most generous person I know – giving so much of her time and love to us. She’s naturally very positive, as am I, so we feed off each other. And she’s the most amazing cook.

What are 3 things you can’t live without?

Quiet moments alone in nature, writing that fills me and moves me, and my family.

Pottering around in the magical morning light

The photography on your blog and instagram page is breath taking! Food photos always catch my breath! Any tips on capturing that instaworthy image?

Natural lighting. Get by a window!

When is your favourite hour of the day and why?

The first hours of the morning when the sun comes up. I am a morning person through and through. Ideally I’ll have had a good nights sleep but even if I haven’t, there’s coffee and that magical morning light.  

Photography always works best by the window!

Any tips for someone starting out in the food and nutrition industry?

Connect with people who have a job that appeals to you and find out what their day-to-day is like.

Thanks to Heidi for this opportunity to hear more about her home life, dietetics and balancing her career as a mother of two. Head over to her blog for recipes, daily life insights and more about her motherhood journey. www.applesundermybed.com 

You can also find Heidi on Instagram at @heidiapples

For Nutrition and Dietetics support during the pre and post natal seasons of life, you can see more about Heidi’s private practice at www.gatherandgrownutrition.com

Heidi is not currently taking on board new clients.

How to make the perfect Grazing Platter

We have just made it through one of the busiest times of the year – end of year parties, Christmas, New Year’s Eve… but Summer kicks on in Australia for a bit longer! And with Summer comes with many opportunities for socialising and enjoying the brighter days! Grazing platters are a great way to feed a large group of people or for an intimate dinner party with your closest friends.

Grazing platters have been taking over the hospitality industry and I can see why! The visual impact of a colourful buffet of delicious food intertwined with the option to pick and choose what you like – I can’t think of a better way to feed a group who may have diverse food preferences!

My beautiful friend, Libby, and I have had the delight of arranging grazing tables for a few special occasions and events. Through these experiences, we have refined our skill in creating maximum impact, on a clear budget with plenty of delicious treats for all the guests.

A Vegetarian grazing platter we created for a warm family reunion.

Here are the tips to creating a grazing platter of your very own!

THE PLATTER

We have used different serving ware to showcase our grazing platters. My absolute favourite is a 1 meter long timber board which has been oiled and seasoned to hold an array of delights. Alternatively, there are options around the kitchen which can be used. For example, wooden chopping boards, glass platters, baskets, wooden boxes, ceramic plates, cake stands or even a large table covered with a table cloth. Using a few different options can make the food area interesting and unique.

COLOUR

You want to make your guests feel like they are at a royal banquet! Maximum visual impact will be achieved with the mixture of cascading colours from fresh seasonal fruit, crunchy vegetables, antipasto, bread, cheeses, small goods, dips and dippers. Choose items which are of varying colours because you ‘eat with your eyes!’

HEIGHT

Varying heights help with the visual appearance of the platter. Using similar coloured jars, glasses, dishes, little bowls and serving ware can help with a cohesive finish. If you are going for a more eclectic look, using an assortment of ceramics or glass ware can turn your classy platter into a bohemian feast. Arrange these serving dishes on the platter before putting out your food so you can vary the heights and design of your platter.

TEXTURE

This is one of my favourite parts of constructing an eye catching platter! Using a variety of textures from the glistening olives, to crunchy bread sticks, the oozy soft cheeses to the grainy crackers and always, always, some decadent dark chocolate snapped and scattered throughout the gaps on the board. Ensure you have a blend of different textures to encourage people to dig in and not get “taste fatigue”.

Candles and fairy lights to add some ambiance to this platter.

AMBIANCE

Setting the mood for your event is everything. You want your guests to feel free and comfortable to attack the grazing platter! But in a polite way of course…! Providing bowls or plates near the platter to encourage people to load up their plates and then move on is helpful. This allows others to come forward to investigate the hard work you have gone to constructing a platter. Using foliage, flowers and candles around the platter can elevate the ambiance of the event and provide a stylish setting for your guests.

EATABILITY

Make sure all the beautiful items on the platter are easy to pick up and eat with minimal intervention! Pre spreading pieces of crusty bread with dips and spreads can help minimise mess and time spent hovering around the platter. Providing cheese knives, dip and fruit paste spreaders close by to their items makes a pleasant experience for the guests.

FILLER

So we gotta be real. We have budgets to meet and you want your guests to feel full after enjoying the platter. Filler items are a necessity to help ensure that there’s something to soak up the cocktails and to dip into all the luscious condiments you have prepared. Great fillers include nuts, dried fruits, breads, biscuits and crackers.

Texture. Height. Colour. Just a few things to make your platter pop!

CONSTRUCTION

So this is where you can get creative! And even if you aren’t too confident with visual arts or cooking, you will be able to create an incredible platter following these easy steps.

  1. Choose your base for the grazing platter.
  2. Lay out the serving ware along the platter. A symetrical distribution can make things easier.
  3. Fill each of these dishes with an assortment of colourful items. Using tall jars for grissini or lavosh sticks and small dishes for antipasto.
  4. Place the feature cheeses along the board. Keep them apart so that there’s plenty of space around them to decorate with other items.
  5. Use biscuits to curve around the cheeses, fanning out in semi circles.
  6. Use dried fruit to scatter over the cheeses in a cascading line.
  7. Roll up shaved small goods and layer in small sections or beside little dishes.
  8. Scatter the rest of your dry items, dried fruits, nuts and keep fresh fruits last to distribute the colour evenly. Try to place colourful items throughout the more neutral areas to make the platter appetising.
  9. Break up any chocolate you have into rustic pieces and wedge in small groups around the platter.
  10. Stand back and admire your work! Check if there are any gaps or areas which need more vibrancy and add what you need to. There’s no right or wrong!
  11. Lay out the candles at either end and foliage on the edges of the platters.
  12. Enjoy your grazing experience!
A classic grazing platter for a beautiful wedding.

A few textures and varying flavours you can add to your platter shopping list

  • Creamy/Oozy/Matte – soft cheeses, hard cheeses, goats cheeses, dips, hummus (see my homemade hummus recipe here: https://natashawilton.com/2019/01/12/recipe-homemade-hummus-crispy-pita-chips/
  • Grainy/Crunchy/Hard – rice crackers, plain crackers, ancient grain biscuits, water crackers, flavoured biscuits, lavosh bread, bread sticks, bread, grissini sticks, nuts, seeds, raw vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh – seasonal fruit cut into easy to eat portions (seasonal fruit is budget friendly), crunchy vegetables
  • Zesty/Acidic – citrus fruits cut into rounds, dill pickles cut into chunks, sundried tomatoes, antipasto – olives, capsicums, eggplant, artichokes
  • Flavoursome/Spiced – small goods such as salami, proscuitto, smoked hams and thinly shaved cured meats
  • Sweet/Lush/Decadent – dark chocolate, dried fruits including cranberries, apple, apricots, fruit pastes, freeze dried fruits such as strawberries or raspberries for a pop of colour.

The fun part is investigating all the hidden treasures throughout the platter!

Recipe: Homemade Hummus & Crispy Pita Chips

This recipe is a favourite of mine. It is part of my cooking classes and nutrition demonstrations around the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne.

A quick, easy and healthy option when you need a delicious starter or snack. This dip is rich in protein and unsaturated fats which helps with feeling full, nourished and energised. This is a great one for those 3pm tummy rumbles or for the kids when they come home famished from school.

It doesn’t take long to make and most of the ingredients last in the fridge/pantry for ages!

Photo by Hari on Unsplash

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of whole chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini paste (sesame paste)
  • 1 fresh garlic clove or 1 teaspoon (or more!) of minced garlic
  • Wholemeal pita bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 fresh lemon or bottled lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Spray oil

Method for the Hummus

  1. Drain liquid from canned chickpeas.
  2. Place chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper in a small food processer.
  3. Blend until smooth. Add more pepper or lemon to taste.

Method for Pita Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Rip pita bread into small pieces. Place on baking tray.
  3. Spray with olive oil
  4. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until browned.
  5. Serve with Hummus and an assortment of fresh carrot sticks, celery, cucumber and your toasty warm pita chips!

Next Level Hummus

Want to get a bit adventurous?

Add a can of drained beetroot or 1 avocado to mix in the food processor and revamp your standard Hummus dip.

Sprinkle with some ground coriander, cumin, smoked paprika or black sesame seeds to enhance the flavour profile.

You can also drizzle the top with olive oil to keep the dip lush and golden!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com