After hosting my talented friend Marie from 8thAndLake on the site, I am excited to introduce you to another incredible food blogger: the lovely Marisa, aka Miss Marzipan, founder in 2011 of www.missmarzipan.com that today talks to us about clean eating, parenting and much more.
Since I discovered Marisa’s IG account over a year ago, I fell in love with her artsy and minimalistic style. Her food photos are so unique that I could recognize one of her creations amongst hundreds!
And on top of her photography skills, Marisa is also a wonderful person! Art director, mother of 3, recipe creator and eclectic talent as you can see from the generous answers she gave in this great interview!
Enjoy the read and stay tuned for one of Marisa’s best recipes next week!!
A: Marisa, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get to Stockholm?
M: I was born in London but my family relocated to Australia when I was 6 years old. As I was raised mostly in Australia and have an affinity with my father’s country (he is Aussie by birth), an Australian accent and a penchant for Vegemite, I consider myself to be very much Australian. In 2004, after graduating from university, my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I traveled overland across China, Mongolia, Russia and Finland by train. Somewhere along the way, whilst staying in a ger camp with a nomadic Mongolian family, I found myself on the top of a hill overlooking the desert being proposed to. I accepted. And a couple of months later, I found myself in Stockholm, my fiancé’s home town. I have been in Europe now (and mostly in Stockholm) for 11 years.
A: Where does your nickname “Miss Marzipan” come from?
M: In primary school when I was around 10 years of age, I had a friend who liked the idea of us having funny nicknames. She referred to herself as Julie Jellybean and to me as Marisa Mars Bar. Later, as a teenager, the nickname was resurrected and has stuck in some variation for all this time. When I started blogging in 2011, I intended to do so 100% anonymously. I told neither friends nor family about my blog and I used the name Miss Marzipan in lieu of my real name. As a bit of a sweet tooth and a lover of baking I also thought it was fitting
A: When I started following your Instagram, I was amazed by your enormous creativity. You even launched a #foodofthrones2016 challenge to get people to create dishes inspired to the tv show “Game of Thrones”. Where do you get your inspiration for cooking?
M: I get my inspiration for cooking from many different places. I received a cheese board the other day, for example, and thought “How can I design my perfect cheese board with a twist?”. So I set about creating healthy, plant-based recipes around that “challenge”, including 2 types of cheese and a pâté. I work as an art director and I am used to creating to a brief. This might sound incredibly boring to some people, but I kind of give myself briefs when it comes to recipe development and image making. I love creative challenges!
A: Why do you eat the way you eat? What brought you to your current dietary lifestyle?
M: Much of what I create is low sugar, plant-based and has a healthier leaning, but I don’t adhere strictly to any particular food philosophy or dietary approach. I am not a hard-line health fanatic, I don’t lecture people on how they “should” eat and I find dieting in a restrictive sense completely unappealing. My personal current cooking/eating preferences are born of varied and (extremely) humble beginnings. When I left home as a teenager, opening a can of baked beans was vegetarian cooking to me. I didn’t eat nearly enough, had no idea how to balance meals and was extremely unhealthy for a time both physically and emotionally. After a stint as an omnivorous binge detoxer (a Red Bull-drinking occasional juice faster), I finally started to explore home cooking.
During my first pregnancy I developed a chronic meat aversion. We discovered my second baby had an infant dairy protein intolerance not long before my meatball-loving husband suddenly went vegan overnight. The combination of all of these factors led me to eat a largely plant-based diet (but healthier this time around!). Hypothyroidism, being focused on fertility health and needing to boost my energy as a busy mum led me to cut back on sugar and adopt a mostly “real food” philosophy.
Discovering a passion for cooking, for food and for living well has been a true joy. My first tentative and somewhat shaky cooking experiences led me to become determined to know more, to eat better… and to eat more! A catalyst in my wellness journey was TTC (or ‘trying to conceive’ as it’s known in non-TTC circles!). The road to motherhood was a long and bumpy one for me. Somewhere in amongst landing my “dream job”, TTC, miscarriage and trying to improve my health, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (a condition that is thankfully stable these days). We can’t choose all the things life hands us, but if we are fortunate we can choose what we consume. I choose to eat organic where possible and mostly homemade food. And I don’t think there’s a rational person out there who would argue that eating wholesome, home cooked food is detrimental to health. Personally, I have found a way to eat that works for me on many levels; one that feels health-affirming, exciting and genuinely enjoyable.
A: What are your tips for someone who wants to eat a healthier diet, but still keep it fun and tasty?
M: Experiment. A good place to start is to create healthier versions of your favorite dishes. I am a sucker for comfort food (creamy pasta, veggie burgers, chocolate chip cookies, etc.), and discovered that all of these things can be made simply, deliciously and healthily in my very own kitchen. If you go to a restaurant and try a dish that’s amazing, set yourself the challenge of creating a healthy version of it at home. Have fun with food! Oh, and allow the produce of the seasons to provide inspiration too.
A: You are the Mom of 3 kids. How do you manage to create magic in the kitchen, be a successful food blogger and take care of your little trio at the same time?
M: I create when I have time and I accept help when it is offered. Both my parents and my husband’s parents are very dedicated grandparents to our kids and love spending time with them when they can. In fact my parents spend around 6 months in Sweden per year, despite still having a home in Australia. My husband is an extremely involved co-parent, and helps tremendously in all aspects of the children’s lives. He has a career too, so it’s a balancing act for both of us to be engaged in the things we love/need to do for ourselves and the children, but we manage pretty well as a team. I have to accept that there are always going to be things on my daily to-do list that remain undone. I can stress myself out over ticking every box, or I can prioritise and be kind to myself. I try not to carry around unrealistic expectations. I do what I can to the best of my ability outside of my mothering duties, but my children do come first. Being on maternity leave, the creative energy that I would normally channel into my AD work projects can be reserved for my “foodie stuff”, so when time permits, it is a true joy to be creating, cooking and shooting food.
A: How is the healthy food scene in Sweden? Can you name some of your favorite healthy food spots in Stockholm?
M: I think Sweden, but particularly Stockholm, will jump quite readily upon trend bandwagons but I don’t think it’s quite as ahead of the game as people outside of Scandinavia might think. For example, when I made my first chia puddings, circa 2012, I had to order chia seeds online. Now they are common place in every major supermarket. I actually think that the U.S. and Australia are a little ahead of the game, but Sweden is a fairly early adapter when it comes to health and food trends.
For grocery shopping with delicious healthy dining options, I recommend Paradis et and Food Village, which are similar in some ways to Wholefoods but are not part of a large chain. The seasonal veggie brunch at Food Village is my new favourite.
For eating out I recommend Sally Voltaire &Systrar, which boasts a large selection of healthy, fresh meals and constantly changing daily lunch specials. The Vegan Salad (featuring dips, pea shoots, avocado, radishes, toasted hazelnuts) is my go-to. Urban Deli is another fave, both for dining and food browsing. The portobello burger is awesome and the service is great.
For quick, healthy meals on-the-go in the CBD, Blueberry Lifestyle and Strå are good options.
For the best organic vegan fast food in town, it has to be The Plant at Skanstull (Södermalm). The veggie burgers are so good, there aren’t words to describe them!
For organic, locally produced healthy fast food with a Nordic twist, I recommend Kalf & Hansen; really yummy food and good service!
For the most famous vegetarian food in town, Hermans is still the place to be. The buffet is extensive. No one leaves hungry!
A: What are you future plans with MissMarzipan.com? Can you share some of your upcoming foodie projects!
M: I need to revamp my blog for sure. It has pretty much been the same for 5 years… and, as an art director, it does bug me a bit (lot!) that I haven’t customized it more in an aesthetic sense, let alone optimized the navigation/functionality, etc. But when I started it I had never intended it to be a big project, rather more a casual personal online journal of domestic pursuits! I have recently registered a company in Sweden to enable me to freelance in the areas of design, styling, recipe development, etc., and have started to collaborate with some food brands on projects. I am also working on a couple of exciting things with a qualified dietician and “food expert” here in Sweden, which I hope will result in a really cool project down the road a bit. Stay tuned!