Meet Hanna Dale, Dietitian and the Writer Behind "Happy Food Stories"

We had a chat with Hanna Dale, an inspiring 26-year-old who lives in Bergen, Norway!

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Can you share with us who you are and what you are doing these days? 

I´m a 26-year-old girl with a great passion for creating and eating good, colorful, smart and nutritious food. My aim is to inspire others to do the same, by sharing recipes on food that are kind both to the planet and to our bodies. I´m educated as a registered dietitian, and currently I´m doing a PhD in nutritional research. In addition to my work as a dietitian and my PhD-research, I´m co-owner of Lunsjkollektivet (www.lunsjkollektivet.no / @lunsjkollektivet), a newly founded company delivering heathy, colorful, environmentally friendly and really good and smart lunch to companies and work-places in Bergen and Trondheim (and soon Oslo!). 

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You’re the writer behind «Happy Food Stories», what is it and how did you come up with the idea? 

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Happy Food Stories is a digital platform where I´m sharing recipes on colorful, nutritious food, aiming to inspire people to eat more vegetables and all things that are good for our bodies and for our health. I hope that after reading/visiting Happy Food Stories, people feel eager and inspired to try out new combinations and experimenting with ways of cooking by including more greens in their diet. My wish is to highlight all the good things we can eat more of, rather than focusing on what we should exclude or avoid. I´m a strong believer of not being too strict in any nutritional direction, and I wish to communicate a food philosophy focusing on eating a varied diet with a bit of everything, preferably most of the stuff we know are good both for us and the planet. Personally, I´ve chosen to not eat meat, due to environmentally and animal issues. However, I don’t think it´s expedient nor possible that everyone cut meat completely from their diet. If everyone just cut down a little on their meat consumption and add a little more plant-based food to their diet, things would look a whole lot better for our planet. 

Happy Food Stories started as a personal project, aiming simply to collect all my favorite recipes for my own use. In addition, I really enjoy the creative aspect of taking pictures and creating a nice, digital space. When I first started Happy Food Stories back in 2013, I´d never imagined someone else than friends and family reading and using it. The fact that it actually expanded was never intentional, but off course it makes me really happy (and inspired) that people find the things I do, make and share, inspiring and useful. When I got the opportunity to publish my own cook-book based on the recipes on Happy Food Stories back in 2016, it was a dream-come-true experience that would never imagined happening that soon. 

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What’s your all-time favorite food? 

I cannot live without my oatmeal porridge for breakfast. As for dinner, roasted vegetables in all different seasonal combinations, served with a fresh salad and either hummus or cheese, is an all-time favorite. Roasted vegetables is definitively the thing I eat most regularly for dinner. 

What is it about nutrition and food that you are so fascinated about? 

I love learning more about how the food we eat affect our health in different directions, both physically and psychologically. I find it highly meaningful to work within a field that can influence people’s health by increasing the knowledge on the effect of what we eat. The field of nutrition is constantly expanding with new research, knowledge and trends, and the fact that everyone has their own opinion regarding food, diets and health makes it a really interesting field to be able to immerse myself in. I find my profession really inspiring and meaningful, due to the fact that it gives me the opportunity to help people eating the best way possible according to their needs, as well as being able to contribute to increased knowledge on nutrition and nutritional science on a more general basis in the society.

For those who find it hard to eat healthy and balanced, can you share your best tips? 

Think of what you can add to your diet, rather than what you should remove or avoid! Start by simply adding a vegetable to your lunch and dinner, that being a raw carrot on the go or a fresh side salad – it does not matter in the beginning! It feels better to add things and increase the variety than to make strict rules on what not to eat. If you decide on avoiding something completely (like sugar/candy/chocolate etc,) you just end up missing it and most likely really craving it after a short time. By focusing on increasing the intake of different greens you will most likely have less space for all those cravings after a time. A shift towards focusing on adding good stuff to the diet, rather than excluding or avoiding things, can most likely be a positive and, hopefully, useful tool for many. Remember - a little bit of everything is totally okay. 

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When you are not studying food, writing about food or eating food - what do you like to do? 

I need running, ashtanga yoga and cold winter-baths outside all year around to be happy. Thus, all those things are important parts of my everyday life and routine. And off course, time with my friends, family and boyfriend. My boyfriend and I share the love of good and smart food, and when I´m tired of my own recipes and cooking I feel really lucky that he always inspires me and serve me the best food. I love being inspired by others, and I´m easily inspired by everything nice. I really appreciate the aesthetics in my surroundings, including food, fashion, books, music, great people and friends, art and architecture. Also, I love animals and use to spend a lot of time in the stable riding dressage when I was younger. I dream of catching up with that!

Can you share with us a simple, yummy and healthy recipe you love to make & eat this Desember? 

My go-to favorite meal during the winter moths is definitely a good, crunchy salad with all those nice textures and winter tastes mixed together. A spicy dressing with honey and mustard makes all the difference. This is a simple salad base that I make in endless combinations these days, which is perfect served as a side during all Christmas meals or as a simple dish on its own.


Winter cabbage salad with mustard dressing

4 persons

1 small red or white cabbage, finely shredded

1 apple

a good handful of roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts and/or pecans)

2 table spoons apple cider vinegar

1 table spoon coarse mustard

1 table spoon olive olive-oil

1 small spoon of honey

pepper

Feel free to add:

pomegranate

brussel sprouts

orange or clementine

Slice the apples and roast the nuts in a dry pan. Mix together all the dressing ingredients and add the dressing to the shredded cabbage and apple. Feel free to add more ingredients as listed below. Top with nuts and enjoy a crispy and nutritious salad. 

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Can you share your morning routine with us? 

I am definitely a morning person, and I prefer to get up quite early. I like working out in the morning, so often I go for a run or practice ashtanga yoga before breakfast. It is important to me to have enough time to sit down and really enjoy my breakfast and not have to rush out the door. I don´t spend much time in the bathroom, as I have no make-up routines what so ever and normally just use a face cream. Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I do never ever get tired of my oatmeal porridge with all those amazing toppings. Also, a cup of good coffee is obligatory, preferably brewed on my V60 dripper with freshly grinded beans from Africa, if I get to choose. I used to work as a barista for several years, and really appreciate to use money on good quality coffee. When breakfast is eaten I´m ready to meet the day, and these days I often take my bike to work, which unfortunately makes it necessary to dress up in top-to-to rain-outfit, since I´m currently living in Bergen, which is the most rainy town in Norway..

What’s your all-time favorite breakfast? 

Oatmeal porridge, always! I do never get tired of it, and always look forward to breakfast. At the moment my favorite porridge is made with oats cooked in almond- and oat milk, topped with banana, chia seeds, a huge spoon of cottage cheese, cinnamon, roasted nuts, grapes and blueberries. My porridge topping preferences normally change after season, but this combination has been a favorite for a long time.

Can you share a quick and healthy dinner you recommend for students who don’t have a lot of time or money during the exam period? 

Tomato soup with roasted pepper and carrots is my absolutely favorite cheap, easy and healthy go-to meal during the cold months. I have made this soup every week the last months. Perfect to make in big batches and easy to vary according to topping. Also, feel free to add red lentils to the broth before mixing if you want to add more cheap and smart proteins to the soup base. I always add a lot of protein in the topping. You find my recipe here.

Even though food is your specialty, you have amazing taste in style as well. Can you share the clothe-essentials you love? 

(Thank you!) Style and clothing have always been a great interest for me, and I find so much inspiration in people with great and unique style. My mother work as a clothing designer and she has always been a great inspiration to me. She is my number one style icon. These days I really aim for a good basis wardrobe with products of long-lasting quality, however I admit it´s challenging to have an environmentally friendly wardrobe and cut down on those unnecessary cheap buys. I am constantly aiming to get better. I by a lot vintage and second hand, and also inherit a lot from my mother. I have a hang-up on nice silk scarfs, and always by scarfs vintage when I am travelling. I find them really great as they easily make a simple jeans-and-shirt outfit more unique. Also, I cannot live without my chunky, wool turtle-neck sweaters. They definitely make up my basis wardrobe, as I am always freezing.  

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Where are your go-to places when dining out? Your favorite café? 

I have been living in Bergen the last six years, but now I really look forward to moving to Oslo in the near future, to explore a bigger selection of nice places to eat. In Bergen, my go-to favorite places to eat out is Colonialen Litteraturhuset or Kranen. Landmark and Nobel Bopel serve good lunch, and both Bien Centro and Hoggorm has really nice pizza. For good coffee you should definitely visit my previous work-place Kaffemisjonen – the best café in Bergen in my opinion.  

Do you have any exciting plans or new year resolutions for 2019? 

I am travelling to Sri Lanka with my boyfriend right after Christmas, a trip I really look forward to. I am not a winter person and can never get enough sunshine, thus the thought of sunshine in January makes me so happy. Also, I have been told the food there is amazing! 

As for the new year resolutions, I am constantly aiming to take more environmentally friendly choices in my everyday life (thus, the trip to Sri Lanka is a bit contradictory, and most likely the last of its kind in a long time..). Besides that, I am not a big fan of heavy goals for January, I rather just try being the best version of myself all year around.

For more inspiration, see Hanna’s Instagram: @hannadale

All photos are Hanna’s own and published with her permission.

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