Posted on February 03 2016
This week's Wednesday Woman is the inspiring Julie Montagu, Founder of The Flexi Foodie ~ a nutrition and lifestyle business. Julie is also a yoga teacher, author of the successful SuperFoods and the forthcoming Eat Real Food: Simple Rules For Health, Happiness and Unstoppable Energy book, and stars in the Bravo TV series Ladies of London. Read Julie's journey to success here:
Bardega: Can you tell us about yourself; what were you like growing up?
Julie Montagu: I grew up in a very small town in Illinois called Sugar Grove. I even went to the same high school that my parents went to, and had some of the same teachers! I grew up in the middle of corn fields and had what I like to say - a typical American upbringing - just like what you see in the movies!
Bardega: What first sparked your passion for health and wellness and how did you turn that passion into a reality?
Montagu: After my fourth child was born, I was exhausted both mentally and physically and I knew I needed to do something and fast! So, I went to my first Bikram yoga class and in one day became obsessed with it!
From Bikram, I started to then explore other types of yoga and fell madly in love with vinyasa flow yoga. And really, once I started on the yoga path, the healthy eating lifestyle soon followed. I became obsessed (again) with foods that could and would give me energy, boost my mood and just overall make me feel better. And if I’m honest, it all happened very organically.
While I was teaching yoga one evening, I started talking about foods that can affect the mood and the mind, and after that class, someone asked me if I had a recipe that included those foods. So, the very next class, I handed out a healthy, mood-enhancing recipe and that was the beginning really. Every class after that, I had recipe handout for everyone at the end of the class which zoomed in on a particular food and its health benefits. And from there, it just started to grow.
Bardega: You are a successful business woman, what was the best advice your received when you first started and what advice would you give other women looking to start their own business?
Montagu: The best advice I have ever received is this - JUST BE YOU! Be your authentic self - don’t try to copy what anyone else is doing or BE anyone else.
And the advice I’d give to others is this: I think step one is to take a step back. Create some space for you and work on what I like to call, your vision board. Ask yourself, What are you passionate about? How do you want to feel every day? What have you always wanted to do? What are you hobbies? What are your interests? What is your ideal lifestyle and then go deeper with these questions and with small steps, start to make the answers to these questions your reality.
Bardega: As well as running your business, writing books you also featuring in Ladies of London - how do you manage a healthy work / life balance?
Monatgu: Life has become a bit easier this year as my youngest was old enough to take the school bus so not having to do the school run for the first time in nearly fourteen years was sort of shocking!!! (But I’m not complaining!)
Once I get all four kids out of the house around 7:45am - my day begins! Emails, cycling to teach yoga, followed by meetings usually, a quick and healthy lunch at one of my favourite spots in London ~ some days I’ll be blogging and recipe creating in the afternoons, other days it’s writing my next two books and then it’s always back home by 5pm when all four return from school.
Supper is made, homework is done and on three nights of the week, I head out to teach an evening yoga class. So my days are jam-packed but I love being busy doing what I love.
Bardega: if you had to choose a favourite recipe from your books, what would it be and why?
Montagu: I have an entire chapter in there called: Portable Lunches (because I’m always bringing my lunch on-the-go!) and I love them all! But my favourite is the Beet, Black Rice and Pear wraps. It’s just SOOOOO colourful, good for you and most importantly…..Yummy!!! (SEE END OF INTERVIEW FOR RECIPE.)
Bardega: You are such an inspiration for many women but what /who inspires you?
Montagu: Debbie Ford – one of THE most inspirational women. She unfortunately passed away but you can still download many of her most inspirational and touching talks. Truly, truly amazing. She's all about personal transformation and totally motivational. I could listen to her podcasts all day.
Bardega: Finally, what advice, if any, would you give a younger Julie?
Montagu: Stop trying to be someone you’re not because that’s what you think people want. Be yourself, be authentic, be your unique, amazing self. That’s what people want.
Huge thanks to Hannah Bryce for helping to coordinate this interview.
Julie's Beetroot, Black Rice And Pear Wrap Recipe
I especially love this recipe because not only is it tasty in every way possible, but also it’s a big hit
with my children. It’s incredibly easy to ‘hide’ really amazing foods that your children might not normally eat – and here’s how!
4 wholewheat tortillas
2 large romaine lettuce leaves,
torn in half
1 large pear, grated
For the beetroot paste
2 cooked beetroots, roughly
1 garlic clove, crushed
Small handful of fresh
Small handful of fresh flat-leaf
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons apple cider
For the black rice
100g black rice
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
Finely grated zest and juice
of ½ lime
35g flaked almonds, toasted
To make the beetroot paste, throw everything into a food processor, add a pinch of sea salt to taste, and blitz until a lovely paste has formed. Transfer to a bowl for later.
To make the black rice, put the 240ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the rice, caraway seeds and a pinch of sea salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover and leave to simmer for 20–25 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed, then leave to cool. Once cooled, transfer the rice to a bowl and add the lime zest and juice, sultanas and almonds. Stir well.
Place 2 tablespoons of the beetroot paste in the middle of each tortilla and cover with one of the lettuce leaf halves. Top with a couple of heaped spoonfuls of the black rice filling. Sprinkle with the grated pear and fold or roll the tortillas to create a wrap.
** Brown rice is good for you, but black rice is even better. It may take longer to cook, but if you have the time then go for it. The bran hull (outermost layer of the grain) in black rice contains significantly higher amounts of vitamin E, which helps to protect the cells from those free radicals **