Sarah Holloway is the Melbourne-born and based foodie behind Matcha Maiden, the cool-girl matcha brand taking over Australia. Just under a year ago, she opened Australia's first matcha cafe and an eatery based on Blue Zone longevity principles. Here, she shares a few healthy eating secrets from the golden land down under.
1. Breakfast salad is a thing, and it's delicious.
Breakfast is my all-time favorite meal and I could (and do sometimes) eat breakfast food all through the day. My favorite way to start the day is with a green breakfast salad—I usually enjoy a big bowl of kale, spinach, avocado, roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, pepitas, pomegranate seeds, and two poached eggs. I break that up on some days with a bowl breakfast and have some natural yogurt (or porridge in winter) with fruit and nut butter drizzled on top. If I'm doing a workout in the morning or am not particularly hungry, I'll have a green smoothie (with matcha, of course) and then eat a bigger lunch. But I'm certainly not one of those people who could ever intermittent fast or skip breakfast. It just starts me off the right way!
2. Food here is quite multicultural.
Being so multicultural, we've all been exposed to different traditions of friend's parents or families (or our own). I grew up in quite a Jewish area, so when I'm sick, chicken soup has always been my go-to (some call it "Jewish penicillin"). Just about everything is available here—t's an exciting place to be a foodie.
3. We're all about food experiences.
The rise of our adventurousness too might surprise some, leading to products like edible insects and cricket flour hitting shelves (although I wouldn't say it's widespread!) People might just be surprised at the level of eating out that goes on here—we're all about food experiences (and I take full advantage of that fact!).
4. Health food is everywhere.
Kale smoothies are no longer frowned upon nor as scarce as they once were. Most cafes, even conventional ones, have healthy, allergy-friendly options and some, like ours, are wholly dedicated to it. It's a bit of a contrast but, like I said, you can get anything and everything on the Australian food scene! Quinoa, nut butter, and superfoods like cacao are definitely still health-food staples in the Australian market but, as I mentioned, we're becoming increasingly adventurous. Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha are becoming more popular as people start to focus on gut health rather than just superficial health. Superfoods are always taking up headlines with matcha, turmeric, cacao, spirulina, and the like still growing steadily. At home, easy-to-prepare, DIY mixes are also becoming popular with the push for convenience strengthening. You blink and there's something new; it's hard to keep up!
5. Everyone really is obsessed with Vegemite (and it has some surprising health benefits).
It's just an Australian institution—we adore it! Our favorite breakfast menu item, smashed avocado, often comes with Vegemite added and a few bakery chains even have "Cheesy-mite" scrolls. So good! think it's that bitterly salty flavor that attracts us all. It's such a strong part of most of our childhoods. Incidentally, it does also have a lot of health benefits—it's full of B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. It has also high levels of folate, calcium, magnesium, and other goodies. What's not to love?
6. Concern about the environment plays a huge role in people's lives (including how they eat).
Global warming is a huge concern here, and it does influence a lot of people's behaviors and attitudes toward the environment. Australians are increasingly conscious of clean and more efficient energy options, recycling, and locally sourcing foods and produce. People's awareness and concern for environmental sustainability isn't, however, purely focused on global warming but more generally on the longevity of the human race on the planet. Lots of our friends have their own veggie gardens, solar panels, worm farms, and other lifestyle factors that help reduce their impact on the environment. It's wonderful to see!
7. It's getting easier to eat healthy, even when you're busy AF.
Takeout is very popular in Australia, which obviously can include fast food and frozen foods. However, much like England, we are increasingly geared for convenience but that doesn't necessarily mean you sacrifice nutritional value or quality. A lot of Australians like to shop locally at farmers markets or organic health food stores and cook their own meals at home. Even supermarkets are also reflecting a higher demand for convenient but still healthy foods like pre-cut vegetables and ready-to-go meals. One trend that has been interesting (and very convenient for us) is the rise of delivery services that deliver ready-to-cook meals or ready-made meals that are "fast" but healthy, clean, and nutritious. Either the ingredients come already measured out (like Tucker Street) with an easy-to-follow recipe or the meals come pre-made but freshly put together following health-conscious, nutritional guidelines to cater for the wellness nuts (like Nourish, YouFoodz, and the like). UberEats and Deliveroo are also adding more and more health- and wellness-focused restaurants to their listings so you can access healthy food at all times of day.
8. They look to the United States for workout trends (with a good dose of hiking thrown in).
Australia follows the United States quite closely when it comes to fitness, so we have most options that are available in the United States. People work out in gyms a lot but also love yoga, Pilates, spin, and the like. F45 has taken the country by storm with a functional fitness model that draws the masses. There are more wacky studios popping up like anti-gravity yoga, disco spin classes, float tanks, and salt rooms too. Plus there is so much nature and scenery that walks, hikes, and treks are very popular too.
9. They're really into superfoods.
Superfoods are also becoming incredibly popular and more mainstream particularly when the weather turns cold and illness levels increase—matcha, much to our delight, has been one of the leaders for its antioxidant and thermogenic properties along with turmeric for its anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. Mushroom powders are also growing quite popular and we serve them at Matcha Mylkbar—they're surprisingly delicious! The latest superstar for us has been live blue algae, which is incredibly high in antioxidants.
10. Exotic fruits are a part of their normal lives.
With our proximity to Asia and tropical islands, exotic fruits like mangosteen and durian are easy to find, and jackfruit is fairly common as well. We use them in Asian desserts and the tropical fruits have started to pop up in smoothies bowls. I love to use pink pitaya in mine, as the bright pink color is show-stopping (and it's a great source of antioxidants!).
11. They put beet in all of their burgers.
I hear Americans don't usually add beetroot to their burgers either, while that happens EVERYWHERE in Australia. Australians love to add a piece of sliced beetroot to their burger filling, as it fits so well. We sometimes will use shredded beetroot too. Beetroot adds a bright color and a bit of kapow to the flavor as well.