Maya Duncan’s recipes regularly have us drooling on our phone screens.
Her content is so professional, and her knowledge of healthy eating so vast, that you’ll be stunned to learn she has just sat her Junior Cert! Recovering from a serious spine surgery (as a result of scoliosis) gave her a great appreciation of eating to benefit your body. She shares her wisdom and wonderful recipes in the hope they will inspire other teenagers to improve their lifestyl and in the peak of an obesity crisis, we think that’s an important niche to fill!
We caught up with her (between exams!) to chat about her food philopsophy, how she became so passionate about food so young and what advice she has for anyone who wants to eat healthier.
This is not my most insta worthy bowl in the world but I could resist posting it because look how adorable coco (my gorgeous doggy) is 😍😍. We have two amazing dogs in our household and I love them to pieces! I know it may be strange to say this but they are some of my best friends and they are always there for you. Through any hard times they are there to sit with and they listen to you (well at least I think they do!!) So if your reading this and you have a dog at home, go and give them a quick hug to show them that you love them 💕💕! This was an epic dessert bowl that I had the other night: almond milk yoghurt mixed with salted caramel chocolate @formnutrition protein, some homemade granola, fresh strawberries berries, two of my lemon energy balls (recipe on blog), a @livias_kitchen biccy bomb and some @lindtuk 85% dark choccie 🤤🤤🤤 #dancingfoody
How would you describe your blog to someone who isn’t familiar with?
My blog, Dancing Foody is a platform of health knowledge for your teenage years and beyond. With delicious plant-based recipes, healthy living tips and tricks, natural beauty product reviews for young skin and blogs all about fitness from yoga to HIIT workouts.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY! Here’s to supporting all the amazing and inspiring women in our lives! I am gonna tag some of my fave and most inspiring people to follow on insta to share the love 💕 @betterbeingsteph @rozannapurcell @zannavandijk @earthlingsasha @young.and.vegan @deliciouslyella @thefoodmedic @katiejanegoldin 🙌🏽❤ #dancingfoody
When did you start blogging and what inspired you?
I started blogging in mid-2017. I had gone through a period of struggling to nourish my body correctly and was desperate to turn things around. I was housebound for a few months after having major back surgery for scoliosis and decided to make use of that time and to do some research about eating healthier. I saw a gap in the market for teens like myself and decided to make a blog and platform as a little project of mine. I wanted to show people that you can fuel yourself from your teenage years all the way through life, without missing out on anything. I also wanted to share how eating healthily doesn’t have to be boring, it can be delicious, exciting and fun.
What’s your food philosophy?
I believe that food is there for our pleasure but also to help fuel our bodies correctly. Everyone should try to eat healthily to make them feel their best but that doesn’t mean you can never have your fave foods ever again, life is all about balance.
Once you know what your body needs, simple and deliciously tasting meals to keep you happy and in your best health will be what you really enjoy having.
Most people struggle with healthy eating for decades, how did you get such a good grasp of it so young?
I am lucky to have grown up eating quite a healthy diet. My mum studied dietetics at university so she always made sure we were eating good food. Also, as I mentioned before, I have experienced what it is like to not fuel myself properly and I don’t want to have to go through that again. I now know how I feel eating healthy food and it feels pretty damn good.
This day one year ago I did the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I went in for 9 hour back surgery. Surgery that could have left me paralyzed or made my back really messed up if it went wrong. But it didn’t and I am so incredibly grateful to be standing here today being able to do everything I can. I had severe scoliosis and was in constant pain before the surgery, it was agony to sit up straight for 1 minute let alone sit down for hour periods in school. I knew I needed to fix it. It was to late for a brace or anything else so I did. My back went from a 59* curve (on the right) to a 9* curve (left) with 2 large rods and 22 screws inserted into my back. The time going into hospital was the most scared I have ever felt, I was completely sick to the stomach. But I made it through, I had to basically learn to walk again and I made it through. You can do anything. You can get through any battle if you put your mind to it. You are stronger than anything that may come your way and even if it may take you alone time to realize it. YOU ARE! #dancingfoody
What advice would you give to people who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle?
My biggest advice would be to start slowly, don’t launch into being a green eating goddess overnight. Try to incorporate more fruit and veggies into your diet in delicious ways (hello smoothie bowls) and don’t stress about having treats, we all need them.
Try to recreate some of your favourite meals in a healthier way – by maybe baking healthy snacks so there is always something on hand when you are hungry so you don’t need to reach for the cakes and biscuits etc.
This said, don’t deprive yourself- food and eating shouldn’t be about guilt and deprivation. Food is there to be enjoyed.
Your content always looks so professional, what equipment and apps/software do you use? Or do you have other top tips for food photography?
Thank you! Soon after I started blogging, I realised that photography was a key part of telling my story so I saved up to buy an iPhone 8 + and now use that for all my photos.
To edit, I use the Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop software or when time is tight VSCO on my phone.
I have lots of tips, most of these learned through experience. My biggest tip would be to, when possible, always use natural light. Food always looks its best in natural light so shooting near a window is best.
What’s the best thing that has happened so far as a result of posting your recipes?
Seeing people re-creating and enjoying my recipes always makes me feel good and makes this all worthwhile. It is so incredibly cool and rewarding to see people posting their creations of my recipes and messaging me to tell me they loved them.
Meeting like-minded people – I have made some great friends and hopefully will continue to.
Who are your favourite food bloggers?
There are so many food bloggers who always inspire me but my faves include Roz Purcell, Zanna Van Dijk, Steph McDonald (@betterbeingsteph) and Indy Power (@thelittlegreenspoon).
SO AMAZING to meet my FAVE blogger @rozannapurcell this morning! She is such a lovely and genuine person! I am so happy to have met her properly and look forward too the future! Not too mention he amazing food I had @thefatfoxcamden supporting @childlineispcc – the overnight oats and the BEST @naturalbornfeeder cookie! #dancingfoody
Would you like to turn your blogging into your career?
I am still young, so I am not 100% sure what I want to do in the future but I love blogging and hope that I will always be able to do it. It is my passion and even if I don’t do it as my main gig, I can definitely see myself having Dancing Foody for a long time.
If you had to eat the same three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) every day for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Ahh! This is such a tough question, I just love so many different meals. My favourite brekkie would have to be nice cream/smoothie bowls. I love how you can change around the flavours and get creative with the toppings. And, a bonus, they are so tasty. My top combo is blueberry nice cream topped with fresh fruit, granola and crumbled energy balls… bliss.
For lunch, I would say avocado toast made with rye sourdough, mashed avocado with lime juice, creamy hummus and some fresh cherry tomatoes.
Dinner would have to be loaded sweet potato nachos with beans, guac and cashew cream. And a side of homemade veggie burgers, steamed veggies and baked miso aubergine…. I’m a hungry gal!
It’s only brekkie time but I can’t stop thinking about this Buddha bowl from last night! Roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli and roasted kidney beans with carrot twirls, corn and spinach under everything! Oh and I also smashed on some avo post photo 🤤🤤🤤🤤…… now onto brekkie 😆😂 #dancingfoody • • This is another entry to the #eattherainbowparty by @theflourishingpantry @thewrightfoodie @thehealthytart 🌈🌈
Where can people find you? (Usernames on social media platforms)
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