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Fashion Designer Rose Keys talks fashion and designing for Lania The Label.



Where did your journey into fashion begin?
From a young age I was fascinated by fabrics and textures, and I was encouraged to follow what I loved. I often remind myself that I do love the business, as fashion involves many emotions and hard work.

How did Lania The Label come about?
After 15 years designing the Verge brand, I took time out before starting my own clothes brand – Fray The Label, which was recently bought by Longbeach and rebranded to Lania The Label.

What do you love about designing?
Starting a new seasonal range; travelling to new destinations and experiencing different environments; listening to feedback from customers and hard-working retailers to provide garments that women love to wear.

Is there a Lania look?
Lania is all about natural fibres and comfort; garments that provide both fashion and function, whether you’re working, travelling, or spending time with friends.

Do you favour any particular colour scheme?
I love khakis, inks, blues and berries, and a touch of soft floral… creating femininity with an edge!

Any favourite fabrics?
Lania loves quality natural fibres and textures. I love working with denim; hand feel and fit are important to me; there’s always a new take on denim.

An unforgettable Rose Keys design would be of…?
Heavy silk in rich colours, beautiful clean lines and draping to create a vision of simplicity. or on Facebook @laniathelabel

Turning up the heat

Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival is New Zealand’s largest outdoor festival and one of the hottest highlights of the summer events calendar.




This summer’s selection is even hotter than ever before, with a miraculous mash up of international street theatre, music, cabaret, comedy, circus and genre-bending performance art.

From 23 January to 16 February 2020, Bread & Circus are turning up the heat with some of the best talent from across the world and it all starts with world-acclaimed circus-cabaret act, Blanc De Blanc. Metropol caught up with Blanc De Blanc Director Scott Maidment about what the show has in store for us.




Christchurch is looking forward to seeing you guys hit the city! How much are you all looking forward to coming here?
We can’t wait to spend the summer of 2020 in Christchurch! What better way to spend a summer evening than in a champagne-soaked alternate universe inside the magnificent Spiegeltent?!

What can Christchurch look forward to from the Blanc de Blanc show?
If you loved LIMBO in last years’ Bread & Circus festival, you’re going to go absolutely nuts for Blanc de Blanc. The show is the epitome of hedonistic, glamorous escapism, but the rich aesthetic is backed up by the world’s very best circus and cabaret talent. Blanc de Blanc really has style and substance.

Blanc de Blanc has been all over – from Sydney Opera house to London’s West End, and it’s currently in Las Vegas! The cast and show are so well-oiled now, but every time we come to a new city, the show takes on a slightly different energy. Having the show inside the Spiegeltent and as part of a larger festival is what will make Blanc’s Christchurch run really unique.




What’s the story behind the name?
The show derives its inspiration and aesthetic from champagne both literally and figuratively. Just like the drink, Blanc de Blanc is effervescent, glamourous and intoxicating. This show is guaranteed to pop your cork – it’s a production that pops, fizzes and bangs.

What are you looking forward to about your trip to Christchurch?
Because Blanc de Blanc is being presented by Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival, we of course can’t wait to check out the street buskers themselves, as well as the other huge international acts that are coming to Christchurch for the festival. It’s going to be an absolute party.



A fairytale romance: Q&A with Erin Simpson

When beloved television presenter Erin Simpson met former Bachelor contestant Zac Franich, it was love at first sight. So not surprisingly, their wedding day on 25 October was a fairytale come true. We catch up with Erin about the big day.



You must be one of the busiest people in New Zealand right now! Can you tell us about your new series, Adventure All Stars, that starts screening next year?
Adventure All Stars is exactly that, an Adventure with a bunch of All Stars! Each episode (six in total) we take a group of amazing people away who have been working tirelessly over the past 12 months raising over $10,000 each for the chosen charity. We take them away on holiday, treat them like VIPs, show them around the country and cram in as many New Zealand activities as we can! We are very excited for you to see it, it’s going to be such a fun show to watch with all your friends and family.

You were filming right up to the night before your wedding, something I’m sure no bride could fathom! How did the wedding go and was it everything you’d ever dreamed of?
Yeah it wasn’t by choice haha. We had planned the wedding date before the role for Adventure All Stars came up. I nearly didn’t get the role because I needed the wedding day off so I was very grateful in the end to be able to do both. The week of your wedding doesn’t have to be a pampering, relaxed week, it is what you make it but I’m very lucky I had amazing friends and family who could bring my wedding dresses, shoes and all the things I needed and meet them there on the day!

The Auckland Convention Centre fire nearly derailed everything, with your wedding at the next door Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph. How stressful was that period, not knowing how everything was going to pan out?
I wouldn’t say it was stressful; I think the word ‘stress’ is a very overrated word. The SkyCity Convention Centre was on fire yes! The church was blocked off yes and very smoky yes! I was in the rural Rotorua bush with no cellphone reception, but at the end of the day, both these places are big enough to have back up plans and when things go wrong it’s just a matter of waiting to be told what to do. It wasn’t stressful, it was emotional! ‘New emotions’ is what I like to experience rather than stress.

Can you tell us about the amazing story behind how you met?
Haha yeah we met on the red carpet of the NZVMAs a few years back. I was reporting for TVNZ on a show called Red Carpet NZ and Zac was a guest on the carpet. He got to me at the end of the line and it was like we both just stood there and had conversations with ourselves. I was thinking, ‘OMG he looks so good, OMG he’s single now! OMG, do I look good? OMG say something Erin, you’re working!’ But it was like he was having those conversations with himself at the exact same time! What proceeded to happen was one of my worst celebrity interviews to date! I can’t even remember what I said, oh no wait, I can, it’s all caught on camera! As soon as Zac passed, my camera man (who I work with all the time) put down his camera and said ‘what the heck was that?’ I couldn’t do anything but just stand there and giggle! Obviously the interview was too crap to ever make the big screen but he sent the footage to me the next day and so I posted it on my Instagram page (@erinsimpson13) for everyone to see the magical disaster that was the time we met haha.

You went from What Now? and Sticky TV to fronting The Erin Simpson Show. What attracted you to kids’ shows and performing?
I guess children and teenagers have an energy and a beautiful outlook on life that a lot of adults lose as they get older. I myself have not lost any of that so I find I can be myself around them more and I wouldn’t call it performing, I’m not putting on an act, I’m just there as me. Then again, it’s not actually even about me; I’m simply there to move traffic and ask the questions on behalf of everyone watching at home. I’m there to make others shine, not perform.

You made your home down here in Christchurch for much of your career. What do you love the most about our little southern spot?
Christchurch is like the London of New Zealand. From Christchurch you can get in your car and drive anywhere you like and within a few hours be somewhere amazing that the rest of the world has to travel for days to simply come and see.

What’s next for you after Adventure All Stars?
I guess that’s the beauty of this industry, you just don’t know. I would hope we get a second season and I would hope more opportunities come up so I can showcase New Zealand and the beautiful people who live here. Otherwise, I will continue enjoying every day with my amazing new husband who I fell in love the very day I met him.

What’s on your bucket list?
Everything! I was telling Zac the other day, I never feel content. He went on to say ‘No, you’re like a meerkat; always up and looking for that next thing to do.’ So hopefully I never lose the will to see and do everything I can.




Celebrating a loved one’s life: John Rhind Funeral Directors

We live in a world where our individuality matters and our end of life celebrations have followed suit. Funerals have evolved from formulaic, one-size-fits-all farewells, to an authentic celebration of a loved one’s life – their passions and hobbies, treasured pets and favourite places, sense of style, musical tastes and sense of humour included.



We talked to Tony Garing, Manager of John Rhind Funeral Directors, about how modern funerals are bespoke to the life of the person being farewelled.


Tony, what is the biggest change you have seen take place in funeral services?
We find overall that there is less formality in the service. Traditional rituals are less likely to be followed although, of course, there is always a place for formality and ritual. More usually now we celebrate the life lived in a family-centred and personalised way. This can mean funerals are a little longer, incorporating music, video clips and tributes of all kinds.

Where does the team find itself conducting modern funeral services?
Generally, funerals have rather moved away from church services but then, many families still have a close association with a church. It is, of course, completely a family choice. We offer our chapel and award-winning gardens, as well as our Harewood and Canterbury Crematorium Chapels and beautiful gardens, and we are very happy to travel to other outdoor and indoor venues at the request of the family.



A casket and transport are still essentials, how do you meet the style and taste of the departed and their family?
There is a wonderful array of coffin and casket styles available now. We can offer some beautiful woollen and wicker caskets, eco-friendly options without nails or screws, solid timber and beautiful veneers, painted and themed. The sheer range available means that anyone interested in planning their funeral would probably like to have a look. The same goes for our range of hearses; you can choose from modern imported hearses, New Zealand-built vehicles and even our brand new Jaguar hearses. People can discuss all options with our team at any time and we will help them put together something beautiful and bespoke.



Q&A: Jason Kerrison’s Kiwi Tour

We caught up with multi-platinum, multi-award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, planetarian, carpenter and hemp farmer Jason Kerrison during his New Zealand tour about having croissants and champagne in Akaroa and writing his latest single.




How is the tour going?
It’s been really fun getting out in front of a public audience again. Nelson was the first show at The Boatshed – what a great venue and staff. The audience was lovely and really engaged; much like the Akaroa crowd they quite like jumping up on the stage and becoming part of the show. Some sang, played my guitar while I sang, danced, stage dived. It was very entertaining for me! We are booking more shows as demanded!

You were down our way for Frenchfest recently. How does it feel to get back to your hometown of Christchurch when you can?
I forgot just how much of a jewel Akaroa is as it’d been quite some time since I’d ventured into the depths of Banks Peninsula. The French-styled Airbnb was crazy cool and delightful, complete with complementary buttery croissants and champagne! The gig was off the hook and I met some good old friends for brekky the day after with dad, so it became a really special weekend. It was also really reassuring and heart-warming seeing the wairua make its way back into the central city of Christchurch. Beautiful buildings are one thing but they are nothing without the people.

What is the most fulfilling part of what you get to do?
The most fulfilling thing is seeing and hearing people enjoy themselves, whether that be clapping in or out of time, dancing to slow previously undanced-to tunes, or singing full out in the chorus or instrumental parts of a song. Seeing people entertained is the juice, especially if they’re feeling free enough to let loose and get involved in the abandonment for a little bit.

How did you get your first break?
Depends how you see it really; I jumped on stage for kapa haka at the Newfield Tavern in Invercargill when I was about nine. But played my first tunes on stage with the St Bedes rock band called VIVID at the Woolston Working Men’s Club for three songs, we were about 14. We felt like rockstars!

Your music has gone platinum nine times, you’ve won nine New Zealand Music Awards, an APRA Silver Scroll Award for Song of the Year and were made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for Services to Music in 2011. What do you consider to be some of your career-defining moments?
Those ones are pretty cool, but I think the most enduring difference I feel I got to make with music was when I helped lead a great team of people to create an earthquake relief concert called ‘Band Together for Canterbury’ on 23 October just six weeks after the first earthquake in 2010. We managed to convince 30+ iconic NZ acts to perform, TV3 to simulcast the event, and a reported 100,000 people attended. Cantabrians had been through massive disruptions and stress. Seeing people lose themselves in the music for the day was very rewarding and it was truly an honour to be of service in that way and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who made the day work.

Since Opshop’s hiatus in 2013, you’ve been paving your own way. How does a day in the life of Jason Kerrison look these days?
Well, I would walk you through my day today but it’s been particularly uneventful. I broke the little toe on my left foot two evenings ago, finally had x-rays this morning (which confirmed a nasty break) and have subsequently been ordered to stay still all day on the couch. I’m getting better at practising stillness, like Eckhart Tolle stillness, but I’m not great at keeping still for long. The day prior to the break I spent the afternoon on the hemp farm liming the paddocks in preparation for planting and in the morning at my NorthTech carpentry course. I sat down to prepare some music for my upcoming shows and stubbed my toe on the stupid couch with the toe poking 90 degrees the wrong way.

That being, said I’ve got a single out at the moment called I Will If You Will. I wrote the song in my studio in the far north of New Zealand. It’s been quite some time since I wrote a deliberately electronic-sounding piece weaved with the foundation of a good old song. I Will If You Will is about daring the best of each other as people, especially in a relationship. I also wanted to write an uplifting fun track for big speakers. It’s intended to be fun, a little tongue-in-cheek too. It’s on all streaming platforms now and a lyric video is due early November.




A collaborative collection

What does popular New Zealand fashion designer Karen Walker have in common with an Australian denim production house? A whole lot, it seems. Karen Walker has just revealed her latest project; a collaboration with Outland Denim.


Based in Queensland, Australia, Outland Denim is a B-Corp company and one of the world’s hottest right now, because not only does this brand employ vulnerable women in Cambodia and provide them with a full skillset and personal development opportunities, sustainability is also close to its heart, making jeans with a lower environmental impact a core focus.

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle has also caught the Outland Denim bug and the addition of Outland Denim to her wardrobe enabled the company to employ a further 46 seamstresses in their Cambodia-based production house.

We caught up with Karen Walker about the inspiration behind the collaboration and why it is so important to her.


The Karen Walker brand has long been committed to prioritising transparency, sustainability and ethical practices over profits. How important are these areas to you?
How you make your product is at the top of the agenda for any leading brand and will continue to be so.

What do you think are the most important areas businesses should be looking at when it comes to ethical business practice?
I think the most important thing is to ask yourself whether people really need the thing you’re making or the service you’re providing. Really consider every product you’re making before you make it and be sure it has a purpose and there’s a need for it.

For us, with this collaboration, we took the idea of utility denim pieces down to their very essence. What does the core of a utility workwear wardrobe look like and it turns out it’s one jacket, two jeans, a skirt, a t-shirt and a tote bag.

At the other end of the spectrum, our Atelier service makes a product only when people actually need it so it’s sparse in the extreme. And then, in the middle, with our ready-to-wear, we’re making about a third of the styles we were five years ago and bringing the collections down to their very core. We believe less truly is better.

Have you noticed change happening in this space?
Yes, I think people understand the urgency now more than they did five or 10 years ago.

How did the Outland capsule collaboration come about?
Mutual admiration and a shared desire to make beautiful, well-considered and needed things.

How did the design process behind this collaboration work, and what did Outland and Karen Walker each bring to the table?
We brought our unique design and Outland Denim brought their unique way of producing.

Why is this collaboration so important to you?
Collaborations are a way for brands to learn from one another. In this particular case Outland Denim’s Cambodian production team have learnt new skills required for the specific elements in our designs and we’ve learnt about new ways to approach the production of denim. Manufacturing of denim clothing has been very problematic for some time and Outland are on a journey to reinvent it and solve those issues that have been so intrinsic.

What was the inspiration behind the collection?
We wanted to create a family of garments that felt engineered and focused on structure and functionality.




10 years of Loobie’s Story

For 10 years now, Loobie’s Story has been adding the bohemian beauty to our wardrobes. Metropol catches up with founder Laurinda Sutcliffe about the brand’s exotic evolution.


Laurinda Sutcliffe



You’re celebrating an amazing 10-year milestone in business… How did Loobie’s Story come to be?
Loobie’s Story started when I found myself suddenly let go of my job as a creative director in fashion, a job that I had lived and loved for 20 years. Sitting at my dining room table with my husband Brent (about the same time he sold his menswear business), I decided it was time to venture into womenswear and create my own path, and so Loobie’s Story was born. I wanted to create a brand that was bohemian, light and fun – inspired by exotic locations and my love of travel. I feel so lucky to have been able to grow Loobie’s Story to what it is now over the past 10 years, with much more still to come!

What’s the story behind the name?
In a nod to my new business partner (my husband Brent), we named the brand after the nickname he affectionately made up for me when we first met, Loobie. Inspired by a blonde, blue-eyed little girl in an advert for washing powder – someone he thought I might have looked like when I was little. Now all of my nearest and dearest call me Loobie.

You’re now stocked in an impressive 140 stores! Why do you think New Zealand women have connected so strongly with the brand?
We started Loobie’s Story in a time when nearly everyone else was doing black and I think New Zealand women loved the bohemian spirit and colour in what we were doing. We continue to create each collection for a woman who is not afraid to buck the trends or stand out in a crowd whilst ensuring that every piece is still incredibly wearable. We’re inspired by far-flung exotic locales, to create pieces that can be loved as everyday wear or occasion wear for women across New Zealand and Australia. I think these core pillars of our brand are some of the reasons that New Zealand women love Loobie’s and we’ve amassed such an amazing network of retailers across New Zealand and Australia over the past decade.



Sustainability is something you’re increasingly passionate about. What are some of the sustainability measures you have in place?
Sustainability is a growing focus for our business and something we’re committed to. Each season our team mindfully designs collectible pieces; styles made to live comfortably in wardrobes for years to come. At the same time, our technical team work hard with suppliers to ensure the quality of our fabrics and garments will also withstand the test of time and a life well-lived. We recently released a roadmap to our sourcing and manufacture processes online, a source of information for customers that covers the areas of ethical design, responsible sourcing, the environment, people and a garment care guide which will be added to regularly in the coming months and years.

How would you describe the Loobie’s Story design philosophy?
The design philosophy for Loobie’s Story is all about understated glamour, beautiful prints, joyful colour and natural fabrics like easy-care viscose, silk, and perhaps the ultimate combination of opulence and practicality – silk with a little stretch. We focus on bringing a little bit of luxury to the everyday whether that be an outfit for your 9-to-5 or something for special occasions. The more elevated pieces are complemented with the everyday styles that underpin any hardworking capsule wardrobe and are made in the same shades found in the prints across the range. The idea was to make it easy for women to combine and layer our garments with complementary colour palettes that merge across seasons so they can confidently pull their own look together, whatever the occasion.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
We will continue to ensure that we keep delivering what the market wants from both our brands, Loobie’s Story and Madly Sweetly, with collections that inspire our customers and fulfil their needs. Of course as a design team we are focused on integrating as many sustainable fabrics and yarns into our collections as possible to ensure that we are playing our part in protecting the environment. There are a few other exciting plans in the pipeline too… watch this space!




A talent for theatre

Roy Snow is about to take to the stage as Mervyn, the palagi boyfriend of Elizabeth in The Court Theatre’s milestone Pasifika play Fresh off the Boat which is showing at The Court Theatre until 9 November. We caught up with Roy about the role and what we can look forward to.


Roy Snow


You’ll always be Shortland Street’s Nurse Matt McAllister to me! But you’ve done a huge number of shows and films since – including Go Girls, Much Ado About Nothing and Outrageous Fortune! What attracted you to acting?
Many, many things, all impossible to quantify. That’s what we call, in the business, evading the question. But it’s not that far off the mark. Lots of little things make what I do incredible; playing, pretending, the hum of an audience, amazing creative people, camaraderie and the joy of doing something I’m super passionate about. I’ve stood in the dark wings in that moment before a show kicks off and thought, ‘Wow, not bad Snow, not bad’. All these things are probably a result of, rather than an initial attraction, so I’m going to say, ‘I loved to pretend’.

Can you tell us about your latest, Fresh off the Boat, and what you’ve enjoyed about this play?
Now this is a play! Ground-breaking when it premiered in the ‘90s, it exploded across New Zealand, the Pacific and then the world. What a journey it must have been for Pacific Underground and its vastly talented crew. No history lesson from me, I’m not qualified. But I can speak to the absolute joy this production has been to work on. So much passion, love and history in the room. You have uber talented daughters playing roles their mum, our director, and aunty played in the original production. We’re visited often by members of the Samoan community and laughter and music go hand in hand with the hard work being put in on the ‘boards’. It’s been a privilege just to be in the room.

Why should audiences get in to see this show?
Because so much of this play resonates 25 years after its Christchurch debut. Its themes are timeless: family, dislocation, culture clashes, discovering your freedom, growing up and dealing with everything that entails. Wrap that up in humour, aroha, music and a fair amount of ‘90s pop culture and you’ve got one heck of a play. See it. And… I’m in it.

How much of a different beast is live theatre to a soap opera?
It’s a different beast but mostly due to the technicality of each medium… boring! As an actor you notice the immediacy of theatre. You know or can feel when you’re in the zone on stage whereas screen has a few more ‘filters’ before it reaches your audience. Both are challenging, both are rewarding and once you’re over the initial nerves, a lot of fun.

What have been some of your most memorable roles over the years?
Oliver Twist. I was ten, it was my first musical. My mum played Nancy and was the star. Here I experienced my first moment of theatre magic. Mum had just sung As Long As He Needs Me and was in the throes of being murdered by the villainous Bill Sykes. I stood in the wings, I couldn’t see anything only hear the screams and pitiful pleas as the life was strangled out of my mum. Then nothing, a silence that, in my young brain, went on forever. In the Balclutha Community Hall, 400 people sat in complete silence for, what seemed to me, an eternity. It stuck with me ever since.

What’s the best part about what you get to do?
That I get to do it at all. I’ve been very fortunate and many wonderful people have contributed to the success I’ve had, none more so than my beautiful wife and whānau. I love what I do; that’s the best part.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
That would be telling… That’s actor code for ‘no idea’. Not exactly true – I have a few irons in the fire that may include a musical and a touring show up north in 2020, but such is the nature of this ‘bizz’ that nothing is confirmed until I’ve signed on the dotted line. Straight after Fresh off the Boat I’m into A Christmas Carol at The Forge at The Court Theatre, which will take me right up to Christmas. Then, perhaps, a bit of ‘reno’ on my house in Geraldine if my wife has her way… and she will.


Read more about this milestone Pasifika play HERE.




The gut/brain connection

Did you know that up to 95 percent of serotonin and 50 percent of dopamine – vital brain chemicals which impact our happiness, wellbeing, reward and motivation – is made in the gut?



Leading Clinical Nutritionist Ben Warren is touring the country this month, helping Kiwis understand the strong link between what they eat and how they feel. We caught up with Ben about the latest research into our interlinked gut-brain connection and how nourishing your gut can create a more calm, joyful and peaceful mind.

Can you tell us a bit about the connection between gut health and mental health?
We’ve probably all experienced a gut feeling, tummy in knots, or butterflies. And the research is starting to show that this is more than ‘just a feeling’. In fact, it turns out that the gut might actually be our ‘second brain’ after all, and its health can impact our emotions and mental wellbeing.

Not only is the brain talking to the gut and the rest of the body, but it goes the other way too. The gut is talking to the brain which impacts how we think and feel on a daily level.

This feedback loop is known as the gut brain axis – a two-way communication pathway. The gut talks to the brain in a number of ways – through the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, through neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine and via the immune system.

At the core of this is the microbiota, the trillions of bacteria and organisms that live synergistically with us. Research is looking heavily at these mind-altering microorganisms and the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour, specifically looking at emotions and the mechanisms of things such as probiotics and fermented foods and their ability to control and change how we think and feel; which makes supporting your gut an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating mental wellness.

Kombucha is being touted as the hottest thing for gut health at the moment, how effective is kombucha and other fermented foods at restoring gut health?
While it’s early days for the research on these traditional foods, the research is currently pointing towards having a broader, wider, deeper, more diverse microbiome (primarily the organisms living in our gut – although we have them elsewhere too) – as being associated with better gut health and also our whole body health too. Traditionally fermented foods can help contribute to this broader, wider, more diverse microbiome.

In an article published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology titled, ‘Fermented foods, microbiota and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry’ (2014), they answered this exact question. The take home message? Yes, fermented foods are beneficial, not only to our physical health but also to our mental health due to their ability to mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress. In another study looking at neuroticism and social anxiety, a higher frequency of fermented food consumption was associated with fewer symptoms of social anxiety, suggesting that fermented foods containing probiotics may serve as a low-risk intervention for reducing social anxiety.

When it comes to kombucha, I haven’t seen any specific research. However, if made traditionally as a fermented tea, it should contain strains of friendly bacteria as well as the beneficial metabolic byproducts of bacteria fermentation. I do have concerns with the commercialisation of kombucha, particularly how they are making it. They are sometimes using a lot of sugar and not letting it naturally ferment or carbonate, instead carbonating artificially like a regular fizzy drink. I would stick to trusted brands – the ones I go for are New Leaf, Organic Mechanic and Good Buzz.

What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, and how critical are these to our gut health?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that have been shown to have a known benefit to human health, whereas prebiotics are the food that the beneficial bacteria need to survive. Like us, bacteria need food to live!

Our body is home to trillions of bacteria, and it is these bacteria that digest key aspects of our food to synthesise neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and their precursors. In fact, up to 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut by the microbiome. Adding in probiotics (as a supplement or naturally through fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha or coconut yoghurt) is a great way to nourish your gut health back into balance by adding in a diverse range of beneficial bacteria.

We can support our bacteria by eating prebiotic-rich foods such as beans, legumes, bananas, raw onion or raw garlic. Eating a variety of vegetables will support diversity as different foods feed different types of bacteria.

How are antibiotics and their overuse contributing to poor gut health?
There is good research indicating that overuse of antibiotics is contributing to poor gut health. However, I’m not suggesting that you don’t take antibiotics, as they can be lifesaving in certain situations! Rather, I’d recommend taking a high-quality probiotic alongside the antibiotics and consuming fermented foods to minimise the impact on the microbiome.

Are supplements all they’ve cracked up to be and what should we be supplementing?
Absolutely, the increase in research on the benefits of probiotics for human health has been exponential over the last 20 years. Researchers are now isolating specific strains that impact mood, for example in one study looking at Bacillus coagulans(MTCC5856) on major depression with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the improvement in depression and IBS symptoms was statistically significant and clinically meaningful. In another study looking at Lactobacillus helviticus and Bifido bactaterium longum taken for 30 days they found it decreased global scores of anxiety and depression. It’s very early days in the research currently and there’s a long way to go, but there’s definitely enough research to justify their use.

What are some of your key tips for fueling our modern day lives to get best gut – and brain – health outcomes?
• Eat a wholefood diet focusing on a variety of vegetables
• Take a high-quality probiotic with a wide variety of proven strains
• Minimise sugars and artificial sweeteners
• Consume fermented foods as part of your daily food intake
• Consume chicken and bone broths to support gut healing
• Daily movement or exercise can help to modulate the biome by 20 percent!





Nadia Lim gets vegeful

She is proudly an omnivore but Nadia Lim isn’t afraid to make veges the star of the show. We catch up with the culinary mastermind about how good old veges have given her a hit of inspiration in the kitchen.




You’ve just launched My Plant-based Bag, a limited-edition meal delivery kit packed with the best of New Zealand produce and plant-based proteins. What encouraged you to start a plant-based food bag and how has it been received?
It’s been amazingly received, and we’ve all been blown away by how popular it’s been so far. It’s totally a reflection of what more and more people want these days. People used to think vegan food was rabbit food, but now so many omnivores are impressed (and often surprised) by just how delicious vegan/vegetarian food can be.

Your latest cookbook Vegful has also just hit the shelves. How difficult is it creating recipes where veges play the starring role?
Not difficult at all! I absolutely loved writing my latest book, Vegful! Whenever I pick a beautiful glossy, plump, vibrant purple eggplant or a hoard of cheerful cherry tomatoes from the garden, I can’t help but be inspired. I love my veggies so much and have so much respect and awe for what nature creates – they deserve to be the stars of more meals on Kiwi dinner tables. And the delicious meals they turn into for my family just inspire me to create more and more.

What are some of your favourite veges and favourite plant-based meals?
Too many to choose from! I love my spuds, kumara, eggplant (often underrated), and pumpkin, and since I’ve just been to Italy and Greece, tomatoes (they are so full of flavour there!). As for favourite plant-based meals, hmmm…. well, I could eat my vegan tacos (with walnut almond chilli and guacamole), masala dosa, and burrito bowls any day, any time.

After turning your talented hand to vegetarian and even vegan meals, how surprised have you been at what you’re able to create without dairy, meat and eggs?
I did a one-week vegan challenge several years ago and I surprised myself (and my fourth-generation sheep farmer husband) with how easy and delicious being vegan was. Since then, I’ve always known that vegan food isn’t ‘lacking’ in any way (including flavour, satiety and ease). We’re both still omnivores, but we genuinely love delicious vegan meals done well.

How much more adventurous has this encouraged you to get in the kitchen?
Creating vegetarian and vegan recipes has actually given me an inspiration boost in the kitchen. I’d almost go as far as saying it has been liberating; once you start with vegetables as the star of your meal, it opens up a whole world of new varieties, flavours and techniques. So many delicious cuisines, like Middle Eastern and Indian, typically have loads of amazing vegetarian dishes so it’s encouraged more experimentation, like my masala dosa and Middle Eastern pita salad.

What are your go-to veges for spring?
Well, asparagus of course. Because it only makes a fleeting visit, so I go a bit crazy with it while it’s here. Lots of leafy greens (of all sorts) as you’re starting to crave lighter meals, and new spuds. Because, spuds… mmmm!

Families are increasingly making separate meals for the adults and the children. As a busy mum, what are your go-to family meals?
I love a good old spag bol, and it’s always a guaranteed winner with the kids. We also love the creamy tomato, mushroom & black bean shepherd’s pies and kumara, chickpea and mushroom burgers from Vegful.

What are some of your favourite ways to get veges into fussy toddlers?
Haha, ummm…. bribe them with ice-cream? I’m not going to lie, that’s what we often resort to. I don’t have any magic tips, sorry. Toddlers are fussy little food critics. I do hide veggies a lot in our meals, like in sauces (the Autumn Harvest sauce in Vegful is great for that). My veggie pops (also in Vegful), contain pineapple, cucumber and spinach, but my two young boys think they’re a treat for eating their veggies. Little do they know the joke is on them, ha!

What are some of your most versatile vegetables to work with?
I’ve just been ‘living’ in Italy for seven weeks, so eggplant, courgettes, capsicum and tomatoes are at the top of my mind. Also, green beans. All of them are super versatile vegetables. That was just about all the vegetables that were in the veggie garden (and there was no supermarket) so I had to get creative with them. But boy you can do a lot of different things with veggies – we would grill, BBQ, slow-roast, roast and blend, have in soup, stuff, steam and stir-fry them. I’d say they cook well anyway except for boiling.

How involved do you let Bodhi get in the vege garden and does this make him more engaged with the cooking and consuming of the food?
Yes, he is definitely more likely to eat or try something if it’s straight from the garden. Like green beans… he wouldn’t touch them if they’re on his plate but let him pick some young ones straight off the vine and he won’t share any with you.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
Probably lots more cooking and looking after kids. I’m also moving to Central Otago!


We have a Nadia Lim plant-based bag delivery and a copy of Nadia’s new book Vegful to give away to two very lucky readers! Just head to the Metropol Facebook page to enter.