Olli Ella Folk | Magdalena Roze
Magdalena Roze is a lover of all things post-natal health. She’s a wizard when it comes to creating recipes that nurture both Mama and baby from birth and beyond. We sat down with Mags and her two little ones at the New Brighton Farmers Market in Northern Rivers to enjoy a fresh market breakfast and learn a little about her passion for food, family and motherhood.
Please introduce yourself and your family to our fellow Olli Ella folk:
I’m a mum of two living in Byron Bay with my chef partner Darren Robertson. After a decade long career as a TV presenter in Sydney hosting the news and weather, my chef partner Darren Robertson and I followed our hearts (and tummies!) to open a restaurant on a farm and we’ve never looked back! At the time, it seemed pretty crazy giving up my busy life in the city and I really did love my job, especially the thrill of hosting at big events like the Olympics or interviewing interposing people on The Project, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Our sea change gave me the chance to pursue my others passion for food and lifestyle, start a family and embark on a diverse media career that’s included writing a whole foods cookbook and starting my food podcast The Pass. I’m so inspired by the abundance of amazing food and producers here, as well as the slower and more connected way of life, and I love being able to share this with others.
These farmers markets look amazing, tell us more about this little slice of paradise:
These markets are my happy place, my favourite part of the week. They’re a small market so I know all the producers, and few things make me feel happier than putting together a beautiful, nourishing meal and knowing the face behind every ingredient on my plate. There’s live music, craft for the kids, coffee (a necessity!) and one of the best breakfasts you can get from The Nomadic Kitchen. You can get everything at these markets including dairy, meat, eggs, bread and fish so this is my main weekly grocery shop now and while it’s a fairly simple thing to do it’s had a very gradual but really important effect on me. Of course it’s great that it’s ethical, local and supports the community, but it has also made me a lot more connected to food and cooking which has informed much of my recipes and food philosophy, which is eating seasonally, locally and intuitively. Plus, it’s a such a nice place for catching up with friends.
Go-to stalls at the markets:
Definitely The Nomadic Kitchen for breakfast which changes every week; Picone Exotics for some of the most delicious and interesting exotic fruits. John and Lyndall manage to grow things in the climate like vanilla and cocoa that are pretty much impossible here. They pick everything at just the right time so it tastes amazing and always introduce me to new fruits like Brazilian cherries every time I see them. I’ve never tasted better figs or pineapples than John's! Church Farm for the best local made soaps, sauces, curry pastes and Passata which is the best for a quick and easy dinner.
How do the WARES dresses make you feel?
I’m obsessed with my Wares dresses, I live in them! They’re perfect every day dresses because they’re easy, super soft and comfortable and so feminine so I feel good no matter what kind of day I’m having. I’m still breast feeding my baby, Charlie, so the buttons are great for that but I also enjoy wearing them the other way around when I go out and know that I won’t have any children hanging off me! I recently discovered that they’re actually very durable because I wore my much-loved mustard dress to Blues fest (a music festival here) and then again a few days later (see, I told you, on high rotation) and no one told me that I had huge red wine stains all over the back! I was so worried that I had ruined it because the stains were pretty much black by that stage and on that beautiful vibrant golden fabric, but I threw it in the wash hoping for the best and it’s as good as new. If it can survive that, it really is the perfect Mama dress.
We know you are a food lover and amazing cook, can you share your ideal day on a plate?
I love starting my day with a latte followed by breakfast either from The Nomadic Kitchen at the farmers markets or sometimes I’ll make a pancake batter at home and then we’ll load the kids in the car and make pancakes on the beach at Wategos with yoghurt and berries and go for a swim. At the moment I’m making lunch for myself, a toddler and a baby and because I don’t like to cook three separate meals so I try and make something we can all eat like a a chicken rice congee. Archie and I often bake cookies or cake which doubles as an activity and the added bonus of a sweet treat in the afternoon which I’m really craving while breastfeeding. An apple cake with cream hits the spot with a cup of tea. As it’s getting cooler now, nothing beats an old fashioned roast chicken for dinner or slow cooked lamb ragu with pappardelle and fresh garden rocket salad. With a glass of red wine, of course.
And your favourite family food traditions?
My background is Polish/Russian so I grew up eating a lot of fermented foods like sauerkraut and gherkins and when my dad comes to visit he always brings a car boot full of them as my kids love them too, including baby Charlie. Some of my fondest memories are around preparing food for things like Easter and Christmas, like the production line of the whole family chopping up vegetables for my mums Polish potato salad or painting eggs for Easter which I now rope Chloe’s family into too. But the best tradition is picking mushrooms in Autumn and then cooking them up on the gas stove with butter and garlic in the middle of the forest. I thought that was normal at the time and now realise how special it is!
Five things a new Mum needs in her pantry and fridge:
The key to nourishing a new mum is eating foods that are warming, soft, oily and easily digestible. My top five would be bone broth, ghee, oats, eggs and rice because they’re very simple foods but such a great foundation for a wholesome meal. Bone broth is one of the most restorative and replenishing foods she can have and it can be sipped on like a tea or added to stews, soups and congee. I also swear by good fats and my favourite is ghee as it makes everything taste delicious (think a caramelised butter or fudgy flavour) and adding a spoon of it to a meal also helps in the absorption of other nutrients. I literally add it to everything and it’s easier to digest than butter. Oats make a yummy porridge and can be jazzed up with everything including honey, cream, yoghurt, ghee, figs, berries, nuts and nut butter, plus they're believed to help with milk supply. Eggs make a great, quick, very nutrient dense meal. And rice is the key ingredient for “Kheer” or an Indian rice pudding which when cooked with milk, ghee, molasses and spices like turmeric, ginger, cardamom and saffron, is incredibly nourishing for a new mum especially in the first few days after birth when she needs to replenish her stores and her digestive system.
Your fave quick toddler dinner meals:
Chicken rice is great. Just saute some onion, garlic and a pinch of whatever spices your child will tolerate like turmeric or sweet paprika for a little flavour. Add diced chicken until it browns and then a cup of rice with double the amount of water or broth. Let it all cook until the liquid is absorbed. This is just a base and simple enough for the fussiest child, so make it your own and season with a little tamari or add extra vegetables and herbs. A good quality passata makes a quick pasta. Even though I love cooking, I totally get the struggle of trying to get dinner on the table some nights so my advice is not to be too hard on yourself. Scrambled eggs or cheese on toast are fine on those days too!
Three quick tips you'd tell a new Mum trying to get her baby on solids:
Try and source ingredients that are in season as they will always be fresher and therefore have greater nutritional value and taste better. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy certain foods straight away. It can take many attempts for a baby to embrace a new food and it’s often not because they don’t like it, it’s simply because they don’t know it. Once they get to know it, they usually like it! I remember the first few times I gave baby Charlie plain natural yoghurt and he shuddered but now he loves and there’s no need to sweeten it, though I often do with banana, melon, figs or apple. Good fats like egg yolk and ghee are a really important (and delicious) foundation of first foods. Adding a good fat like ghee or coconut oil to any vegetable puree totally transforms it from good to great in terms of flavour and also gives the baby a great dose of nourishment. Baby food doesn’t need to and shouldn’t be bland. I believe that introducing baby to delicious new flavours and enjoying fresh wholesome food with them, sets them up with really positive habits and a positive relationship with food in the future.
Magdalena shares her delicious Breast Feeding Brownie Recipe with us from her book, Happy and Whole, which are available here for Australia customers and here internationally.