#MyBlogLife: Victoria Antoniades From The Flavour Diaries Talks Clean Eating On The Cheap
Where I’m from: Meath (via Greece!) and living in Dublin
Blog: The Flavour Diaries
Growing up on a Greek island, it’s no surprise that Victoria Antoniades’ early childhood revolved around food. But even after moving to Ireland, her interest in tasty, healthy dishes never wavered. Happily for us all, Victoria shares many of her recipes on her blog, The Flavour Diaries.
We spoke to Victoria about her Irish-Greek heritage, her healthy eating ethos, and how she fits in blogging and cooking around a full-time job.
Have you always had an interest in food? When did you start trying recipes and cooking for yourself?
Since I can remember I’ve been obsessed – and I don’t use that word lightly – with food. It was the main way I was bribed as a child and the only thing to make me happy. I spent my early years living on a small Greek island, and that’s where my love affair with food started.
But my real passion for cooking kicked off when I got my first recipe book at age 11. I spent that whole summer trying out new dishes and watching cooking shows on TV.
When did you get started with The Flavour Diaries?
I started my blog in 2015 after a lot of encouragement from my friends and family who – let’s be honest – probably just wanted me to continue to cook for them! My main aim was to show that eating healthily and on a budget doesn’t have to be boring.
I love making all types of food but particularly enjoy the challenge of making healthy versions of my favourite meals. Knowing where my food comes from and what’s in it is crucial to me and I love experimenting with new recipes.
Does your Greek heritage feed into your recipes?
100 per cent! My passion for cooking and eating definitely comes from my Mediterranean upbringing. My earliest memories include sitting for hours at tables full of fresh fish, vegetables and slow cooked meats, all shared over a couple of hours of chat followed by a siesta. What’s not to love about that? And that was only lunch, you got to do that all again for dinner!
My food philosophy concentrates on natural and enjoyable feasts of nourishment. I like to use fresh produce to make simple yet tasty dishes by seasoning and cooking ingredients correctly, something which is paramount to Greek cooking.
What kind of foods do you enjoy cooking most?
Slow cooked meats are definitely my number one choice. Slow cooking and marinating meats develops and concentrates flavours like nothing else, meaning you can save money by using cheaper cuts of meat. Food in a slow cooker generally doesn’t need a lot of attention once in the oven, so it tastes impressive but is hard to mess up.
Plus, having a slow cooker full of tender, flavoursome meat on the go makes your kitchen smell divine!
Where do you take recipe inspiration from?
I spend most of my commute trawling through recipes on Pinterest. Additionally, I love reading food threads on platforms such as Reddit to get tried and tested tips to improve my cooking skills. But my main source of inspiration has definitely been my travels – as well as Greece, I lived and worked in Chicago in 2013 and 2014. I love trying different cuisines and experiencing new flavours.
What’s your quick go to meal when you’re stuck for time?
I always have a tin of tomatoes or passata in the cupboard so my go-to dish would have to be tuna, roasted onion and garlic pasta in a tomato sauce…. with a generous helping of grated Parmesan! Pasta dishes definitely make up at least two of my working week dinners, as they’re convenient and so tasty. To stay healthy I normally choose brown rice pasta which is a great substitute.
There’s a perception that healthy food can be boring or tasteless. What would you say to that?
My whole food ethos is that eating healthily doesn’t have to be dull, complicated or expensive. I believe in using simple ingredients – fresh and local where possible – to get the most nutritional benefit. As long as you keep tasting a dish while you’re cooking it, you can easily gauge what seasoning or additional ingredients are required to bring out the best flavours.
Any pro tips for someone trying to eat clean on a budget?
1. Buy in season and where possible go for local produce that hasn’t travelled far. It’s normally cheaper, and more nutritious too.
2. Instead of meat, fill up dishes with hearty veggies like mushrooms, aubergine or butternut squash.
3. I always pick up a few tins of organic tuna and pink salmon when I’m grocery shopping. They’re a cost-efficient way of getting more omega 3 and protein into your diet.
Your Instagram photos are always gorgeous! Do they take time to perfect?
I should lie and say it comes naturally but dear God, yes I have to work hard at it! I don’t have any questionable selfies in my phone – just reams and reams of pictures of my food taken from every angle you can imagine. Normally my poor housemates have to eat their dinner lukewarm (at best) because I take so many photos before I’m happy with just one that I like.
I think colour and natural lighting are some of the most crucial components of good food pictures. I’m always conscious to add contrasting and complementary colour to a dish. That’s a win-win, as nine times out of ten the more colourful the plate, the more flavoursome the dish.
What’s your favourite local restaurant when you’re treating yourself?
Hard to choose!
–Terra Madre is a cosy basement Italian restaurant on Bachelors Walk in Dublin which I’ve discovered recently. Excellent, authentic food with no fuss.
-If you’re into sandwiches you have to try Oxmantown on Mary’s Abbey Street, near the Four Courts Luas stop. It’s not a restaurant per se but their sandwiches are so delicious, I never want them to end.
–Mamma Mia is another excellent Italian restaurant just off Mount St in Dublin with wafer-thin pizzas and barely coated pasta just like the way grandmothers in Italy make it.
Do you find it tough to fit in time for cooking and blogging with a full time job?
Honestly, after a long day at work or over a lazy weekend, I love nothing better than unwinding and cooking for friends and family. I find it very relaxing and rewarding, experimenting with new recipes and dishes. It is my absolute passion and if I’m not in the kitchen, you’ll find me in front of the TV watching cooking shows with or my head stuck in a recipe book.
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