We take a closer look at the interview with our favorite nutritionist, Maroussia Sampsidis of Sisterhood Nutrition, who sheds light on a healthy and spicy lifestyle to adopt all year long!
(click on the pictures to know more about the recipes)
Can you tell us a little bit about your job?
"I’m a certified holistic nutrition and health coach specializing in women's health, fertility and hormones. I help women live in alignment with their cycles, and support their hormones through movement, diet and lifestyle changes. My job is to guide and support clients in developing sustainable eating and lifestyle habits with simple changes that best suit their needs. I aim to educate and empower women by giving them all the information they need to make the best choices for their health and to live their most vibrant life. I run a coaching clinic where I work 1:1 with clients, and I also create and develop nutritious recipes."
How did you fall in love with Nutrition?
"I have bathed in Nutrition my whole life as my father worked in the field. We were raised on the "food is medicine" principle, so it was always in me. I fell in love with food first, as cooking and sharing meals was such a big part of my life. I come from a multicultural background (French, Georgian, Russian, American) where everything revolves around the dinner table. But to be honest I never cared so much about nutrition per se, until all my "minor" health problems really started bothering me. At 16 I started developing severe anxiety and forgetfulness after a bad concussion.
I was also suffering from many allergies, migraines, insomnia, brain fog, terrible PMS, and had a constant congested nose. At one point I got tired of feeling all these symptoms, and knew there was another way to live my life to the fullest. No doctor or specialist ever had an answer for me, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and revert to the principles I was raised with. I signed up to a Nutrition course, and changed my diet and lifestyle. I am not afraid to say that this was life changing. The effect it had on me was mind-blowing, that’s where Nutrition became a true passion. Now all I want to do is help others and spread the word."
What is your approach towards eating?
"It’s actually quite simple. Nutrition can be such a confusing space, with a lot of contradictory facts and ideas. For me it’s about stripping it down to the basics: eating real whole foods. I do not believe in a one size fits all approach, restrictive diets, or calorie counting. I believe in a personalized nutrition approach, focused on adding more nutrient dense foods to our plates. People are often surprised at how much I eat. When you add more real whole foods to your diet, you can easily crowd out the bad stuff, and start feeling better. It’s all about having fun and enjoying cooking with whole foods. I truly believe in the power of food to make us feel our best selves. Blood sugar balance is another big principle of mine, as imbalances really affect so many processes such as our hormones, moods, hunger, aging and overall health. Understanding how blood sugar balance affects us and what / how to eat for it is key. This involves a lot of good quality healthy fats, protein and fiber, and starting your day with a protein rich meal."
How did you discover spices? / And how do you use spices in your cooking?
"My mother is Georgian. I grew up eating Georgian food where spices are the essence of the cuisine. For me, a dish is not fully complete without spices and fresh herbs. They have the ability to tell a story, arise memories and engage your senses. Also, knowing that they have so many health benefits was surely a plus to get them on my radar. I use them constantly in cooking: when roasting vegetables, in stews, soups, curries, marinating proteins, and even in my smoothies… They enhance the flavor and enjoyment of foods. Spices have the power to elevate the simplest dish into a very special one. People often think healthy eating is bland and boring, but they probably haven't dipped their finger in the spice jar. It's such a simple way to make your food more exciting!"
Do you believe spices are key to a wellness routine?
"One hundred percent! Using spices is such an easy way to add nutrients to your plate. They’re one of the easiest things you can do to boost your nutrition. I always talk about "adding more" with my clients, and this is a great way to do that. Weight for weight, spices contain very high levels of antioxidants compared to most foods. With just a teaspoon you can do so much for your health. Some spices can also boost nutrient absorption in certain foods and compounds. Spices have so many incredible medicinal properties, and have always been used by ancient civilizations for that very purpose. We have lost touch with what nature can offer us. So before heading to the medicine cabinet, I always resort to spices first."
What kind of benefits are you looking for in spices?
"When it comes to spices, quality really matters. Commercial spices contain varying levels of toxins, pesticide residues, and heavy metals. These can have prolonged negative effects on our health and be a huge burden on our liver and detoxification process. It’s important to look out for high quality organic and sustainably farmed spices. I love that your company is so transparent and can really guarantee that quality.
Now in terms of benefits, I personally use spices to improve brain function, memory, blood sugar control, fight free radical damage and inflammation, support digestion and detoxification, and boost my immunity. My top everyday spices are turmeric and ginger for their anti-inflammatory properties, and cinnamon for its antibacterial and blood sugar balancing effects. And of course, black pepper, but that goes without saying."
For what kind of foods would you recommend spices for?
"I would recommend them for any type of food. There are no rules. For example, cinnamon is not just a sweet dessert spice... I love adding it to vegetables or meats. It adds so much warmth and depth to them. You need to experiment with combinations and once you’ve got that sorted you can make any dish exceptional. But of course, some incredibly tasty vegetables don’t need anything more than a good seasoning of salt and pepper."
Do you adapt your spice to the season?
"I have a few basics that I use all year round such as black pepper, chili, turmericand ginger. Then I definitely use more of the warmer spices during the winter, likecinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cumin, and cooler spices in the warmer months, such as fennel seeds, mint and coriander. I feel that we are naturally inclined to do that, but I love spices so much that I use them all year round."
What is your favourite spicy breakfast?
"For breakfast I’ll often have a smoothie with cinnamon or ginger, or homemade granola with lots of cinnamon and a bit of cardamom. No matter what I eat in the morning, I always add cinnamon to balance my blood sugar levels. Lately I've been making a lot of grain free porridge with your chai mix. It’s so cozy and perfect for rainy days."
"For lunch I like to throw together quick meals. I often have "brunchy" type lunches with avocado, smoked salmon, leafy greens and eggs drowned in turmeric, black pepper and ghee. I also love canned sardines to which I add many spices, lemon and herbs."
"My go to dinners in the winter are stews and curries. I’m a big freestyler in the kitchen, so I just throw together anything I find in the fridge into a pot and combine it with lots of spices and some bone broth. If I’m not developing a recipe, I’ll usually go for a simple sheet pan dinner where I roast vegetables with a piece of protein, all covered with extra virgin olive oil, spices and herbs. But if I’m feeling extra, I love a taco night, with shredded marinated chicken or fish and a good spicy sauce."
"I usually don’t snack, but if I do, I’ll have my spicy crispy chickpeas or a cup of bone broth with your fresh salted kampot pepper that is incredible! It's basically spice candy."
"Not to be cliché but I am a sucker for a good golden milk and chai tea. I also drink lots of infusions in the afternoon to feel serene and relaxed."
Do you use spices in any other ways, in your beauty routine?
"They are part of my beauty routine because I truly believe that beauty comes from the inside. Your skin reflects what you eat, your health and lifestyle. There is no point in spending fortunes on skincare if your diet is based on processed foods and sugars. With their antioxidant properties, spices can prevent premature aging. They also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects that are very important for skin health, and can help give you that glow. I still haven’t tried using them topically but I’m definitely into that idea."
Thank you so much Maroussia Sampsidis, aka Sisterhood Nutrition for giving us such an insight on how to use spices to feel good all year long. You can follow her instagram account and herwebsite.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with her for her 1:1 nutrition and health coaching services. She offers a free introductory call.