Hello lovelies! I am so happy to share another interview with a beautiful and inspiring woman – Antonia. I have been a fan of Antonia’s delicious plant-based products for as long as they’ve been available in Cape Town. Her coconut butter is a staple in my pantry. I always have at least one of her nut or seed butters on hand and don’t get me started on her onion bread and vegan fudge brownies. Too freakin’ good! I haven’t had a chance to get to Leafy Greens Cafe up in Jo’burg yet, but I am told by everyone who has been that it is the most delicious, abundant spread of plant based goodness. I might have to book a flight to Jozi very soon just to meet Antonia, eat at Leafy Greens and take a bath! (#CTdraught) I hope you enjoy our interview!
I am a chef, author, foodie and entrepreneur. My food journey started at a young age growing up in a passionate Italian family on our organic farm in South Africa. My parents provided the base for what I was to do with my life.
Whilst studying for my MBA in Australia, I made the conscious decision to adopt a holistic, healthy lifestyle. My life experiences resonate with those around me and have enabled me to help others adopt healthier eating and lifestyle habits.
I have travelled extensively exploring different cuisines from around the globe, allowing me to mould my creative flair for food into signature plant-based dishes. In 2010 I opened a wholly plant-based establishment, Leafy Greens Cafe, on my family farm. The restaurant has become a popular gastro destination and has won numerous food awards serving hundreds of patrons each week.
When not in the kitchen I love to share my passion and knowledge of food and health through talks, seminars and workshops which has enabled me to engage with people from all walks of life.
Tell us about your eating philosophy.
My philosophy on food has shifted many times in my 32 years on this planet. At age 12 my parents transitioned to a vegetarian diet. It wasn’t a big shift for me at all as we always ate from our garden and I loved vegetables. I went through the normal ups and downs that any young adult does. I ate fish for periods, then went completely vegan for 6 years when I opened my café Leafy Greens. Now, the more I learn, the more I think its important to be gentle with ourselves, to eat as cleanly as possible (organic, raw, natural) and to eat lots of greens, sprouts and healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds. I am currently pregnant and really get in tune with my body and my cravings, so I have included eggs and some organic dairy. But I most definitely am a huge supporter of a plant based, cruelty free lifestyle.
How do you like to move your body?
I am completely into exercise and fitness. I have a trainer, Jono Cloete from Urban Fitness Outdoor, who comes to my farm twice a week and we do weight training, running, own body exercises, etc. I also love yoga, I practice 1 – 2 times per week. I also have a Virgin Active membership so I swim at the gym, do the odd spinning class and I love the stepper. I walk a lot too with my mom on our farm, its great bonding and good to get the blood flowing.
Do you have a meditation practice? If so, what does it look like?
I must admit that I’m not very good at siting still for long periods of time in meditation but I prefer to incorporate it into my daily life, like in the bath: I’ll do a breathing exercise, light candles and burners with essential oil and try to “go inside and slow the mind down”. I also love walking in the bush, its my husbands love, so we find lots of sanctitude and peace in nature. Its our place that we go to renew ourselves.
What is your morning routine? What do you do when you wake up?
I normally get up at 6am. I cuddle my husband – get some oxytocin and happy vibes going for the day. I then get up and take my supplements, eat a spoon of nut butter and go workout. Then I have a shower, get dressed and go to work. My prayers and quiet time happen more at night.
What makes you feel most alive and vibrant?
Walking barefoot on the farm in the garden after heavy rains. It makes me feel so grounded and happy. I often train barefoot on the farm.
What do you do to relax and unwind?
I really have a true love for cooking and baking – my husband loves biscuits so I do these a lot. I love cooking dinner, its helps me unwind and relax. I also love watching Masterchef Australia and other cooking shows at night.
Have you ever had to deal with any health (mental or physical) ailments and what helped you overcome it/them?
Yes, I have had gut issues in the past and low iron. I’ve been on natural iron supplements since 2012. And I’m still on them, my healthy diet helps me to feel well everyday but my body does not store iron very well. So I really need to have my daily juices with kale and beetroot, etc to keep putting iron into my tank. For my gut issues, I saw a nutritionist Taryn Coghlan who helped me with a range of Metagenics supplements and new recipes. After a month I felt absolutely fabulous. I think most of us have gut issues in some form, but we aren’t aware of them. So a gut profile test is really a good idea. Things like candida and H Pylori can wreck havoc in the body if not managed.
What wellness trend would you like to see more of?
I just love that there is such a movement towards health and wellness in the world in general. It’s “sexy” to be healthy and Instagram your smoothies etc. I love it! I do it! I think its great. We all need positive encouragement and reminders.
What wellness trend are you sick of?
I’m sick of “dieting”, it needs to end once and for all. No diet ever works long term. We need to cleanse and detox our systems at times, but dieting is so old fashioned!!
What’s your go-to healing meal or drink? A smoothie in summer and a soup in winter. I can add any of the superfoods that I need to into these dishes: hemp seeds for omegas, maca for strength and endurance, avo for nourishment, etc.
Any supplements that you swear by?
Yes, astaxanthin (literally the best anti-inflammatory on the planet, I love it), and probiotics and digestive enzymes. Those are my 3 go-to supplements.
Any healers, trainers, health care professionals that you’d highly recommend?
Clara Woodburn – best yoga teacher in South Africa in my opinion. She offers yoga teacher training.
Jono Cloete – my trainer of 8 years now. I just never get bored of his workouts and he is so reliable and fun to train with.
What does your skincare routine look like? What products are you using?
I get treated with lots of wonderful samples by stockists from my shop at Leafy Greens Café – so truthfully my products change all the time. As long as they are natural. But I do really love the BeauCaire range, Esse and Dr Hauschka.
Your favourite quote, words of wisdom that you live by?
Be the light! That would have to be it. If anything in this lifetime, I want people to feel my love for them, my care and I want to leave the world a better place.
What does your night time routine look like?
I love having a candle lit bath at night, put my pjs on with my fluffy slippers. Cook dinner for my family. I limit tv time to one hour – a Netflix show or cooking show. Then I get into bed at latest 9pm, then journal, read and pray and always get to sleep before 10pm.
If you could give one tip/piece of advice for a healthier, happier life …
Live in the moment, be happy, take one thing at a time and be gentle with yourself. And love beyond everything! xx
Leafy Greens Cafe is at Rocky Ridge Road, Muldersdrift, Johannesburg, 1739
Antonia’s products are available at Wellness Warehouse, most good health shops and even some of the good Spar supermarkets.
Antonia’s books are available on Amazon and at Exclusive Books.
Thank you Antonia for your wonderful responses and good luck for the rest of your pregnancy!