Ashleigh Sharman meets self-professed blendaholic and culinary creative, Tess Masters to discover the importance of bio-individuality.
I meet Tess over green juice, coconut water and ginger turmeric lattes at an inner-city eatery famed for its organic produce and ability to cater for every dietary requirement you can think of – such is modern life.
With glowing skin, boundless energy and a smile that suggests she knows the true secret to health and happiness, Tess (aka The Blender Girl) is a ‘blendaholic’ who tests recipes on teenagers (she’s soon to do a college campus tour in the US), can make a smoothie in 60 seconds and wants you to embrace green milk – seriously, but more of that later.
Part of a family that travelled the world, Tess attributes her love of food and culinary creativity to a mother who insisted her children ‘try everything’.
Returning home, Mum would try to recreate the incredible dishes we’d tried and so the kitchen was a place of experimental cooking and creativity alongside the traditional meat and three veg (and McDonald’s once a year),’ Tess explains.
However it was her Epstein – Barr virus diagnosis as a teenager that put her on the blender pathway, after a naturopath recommended diet and lifestyle changes.
“The diagnosis opened my world and I became obsessed with natural, healthy eating and nutrition,” Tess says. “It wasn’t just a diet; it was a part of my life.”
“I went macrobiotic at 19, and have been everything from paleo to vegan to raw. Finally Dad sat me down and said, ‘Are you having any fun?’
“It was true. It was exhausting and this marked a real turning point with food for me. I realised I didn’t have to dogmatically follow any one approach; I can cherry pick and choose this and that.
“Once I embraced this concept of `bio-individuality’ my entire world opened up,” says Tess. ‘Pillars of holistic health can change and morph with age, stress, hormones, activity and temperature levels: the blender became a metaphor for life.
“You take bits and pieces that resonate with you – whether it’s religion, culture, experiences, loving relationships, work – to create your perfect blend for health and happiness.
“And now I use blending as a method of food prep from vegetables to smoothies, skincare to compost and even cleaning products. This concept became even more interesting to me after launching my blog and the subsequent media explosion.
“When I meet people I ask ‘what’s your perfect blend?’. I want to really encourage a non-dogmatic approach to food.
“There is so much conflicting information, and too much self-diagnosis. Not everyone will thrive on the same diet but there are fundamental truisms: vegetables are a boon to health, particularly leafy greens, and you cannot be active from a place of depletion.”
Tess now works with blender manufacturers from Vitamix to NutriBullet as a consultant and tester (apparently we’re in for a real treat with the technology that is coming) for this multi-billion dollar global industry.
Whether you can’t cook, are battling chronic illness or are looking to supercharge your diet and nourish your client, the blender doesn’t discriminate – in fact, Tess never leaves home without it.
“A lot of health food tastes like cardboard and there is no flavour journey,” she says. “Blending and juicing, however, allow you to combine foods with reckless abandon. That’s a very exciting way to cook!”
And when it comes to glowing skin, Tess can’t go past hydration and healthy fats. From green water infused with celery, spinach and cucumber, to avocado, hemp, flax and coconut oils, her shopping list includes MCT oil, powdered vitamin C, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tomatoes, low-sugar berries, algae, cultured foods, papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, cayenne pepper, Celtic sea salt and herbs and spices.
So let’s go back to the curious green milk; a blend of home made almond milk and green juice (spinach, cucumber, celery, strained) in a 50/50 ratio.
It sounds disgusting, like something out of Dr Seuss story, but Tess assures me this pastel-green concoction is delicious and perfect for spa clientele, along with her popular recipes Papaya Pleasure, Antioxidant Avenger, Pineapple Salsa and Raspberry Melonade.
“If you do nothing else for your wellbeing,” Tess concludes, “make a green drink every day and don’t forget water – lots of water!”