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Q&A with Iida van der Byl-Knoefel, author of A Kitchen Fairytale

A Kitchen Fairytale

We talked to inflammatory arthritis sufferer Iida van der Byl Knoefel about her new cookbook, A Kitchen Fairytale. Iida beat the symptoms of her crippling condition through cooking. Her book explains how switching to a plant-based diet left her free of inflammation. Her food is not only a boost for arthritis sufferers but can also help those with autoimmune conditions. Her book, A Kitchen Fairytale, is out on November 1. 

What was the inspiration behind your book? 

My greatest inspiration and motivation was to let others know that the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis can indeed be reversed through a change of diet; and to show what a delicious and enjoyable option it is!  I have always loved cooking but knew nothing about being plant-based when I first joined the Paddison Program, so when I discovered how lovely these very humble recipes were, I started writing them all down to be able to go back and make them again.  My friends and family who tried the food often asked for ideas so I kept collecting the recipes, so I could easily share them, and soon I realised I had a cookbook on my hands!

Tell us how a plant-based diet has helped you manage your arthritis? 

In very simple terms, it has helped heal my gut and restore it to good order, which keeps any symptoms away.  For me, getting this far was no walk in the park though and it required a lot of focus and determination.  I rigorously followed the steps on the Paddison Program because simply going plant-based wouldn’t have cut it; neither would I have known why I got sick in the first place!

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?  

Getting the measurements right!  To achieve the same result every time I had to learn to measure all the spices, get the exact right amount of fruit and veg etc. which was very different from my usual way of cooking, where I just experiment my way through a dish!

A Kitchen Fairytale

What has been the most satisfying part of the writing process? 

Getting feedback on the dishes from those who have kindly test-run recipes for me.  Having someone take a photo and send it over with a happy review is the most amazing feeling!

Did anything surprise you while writing A Kitchen Fairytale?  

The process of writing A Kitchen Fairytale has more or less taken three years, ever since I joined the Paddison Program.  During that time, I have found that the attitude towards eating plant-based foods has changed profoundly here in the UK. People have become really interested in trying plant-based foods and lots of people have even converted completely to this way of eating.  When I initially started out, it was very hard to find a vegan option on restaurant menus and I would often bring my own food when we went out to eat, or when we visited friends.  These days, it is very easy to find delicious vegan food out, and my friends have become more confident in cooking things that I am also able to have.  This has motivated me further in getting the book ready, because I know that many people want to get started but haven’t quite found the right inspiration. Hopefully A Kitchen Fairytale will help them on the way!

A Kitchen Fairytale
Breakfast of ryebread with avocado and lettuce, and porridge with persimmon and nuts

What sort of people would benefit most by reading your book? 

I would like to say that it would be most beneficial for a certain group of people, but if we follow the advice from plant-based health professionals around the world, we will find that eating this way has enormous health benefits for people all over.  These types of recipes can in fact reverse or prevent many common illnesses – illnesses that we currently may think are part of getting older, but that don’t necessarily have to be.  This is what makes this book suitable for everyone!  However, since I wrote the book while recovering from inflammatory arthritis, there is a fair bit of focus on my story, so people who have also been on the Paddison Program may recognise their own journey in the book, so it is very much suited for someone who is/has been on the program.

What’s your favourite recipe in the book? 

That changes all the time!  An all-time favourite is the ‘Sunshiny pancakes’ which I often make at the weekend and serve with fresh fruit, berries and coconut yoghurt.  Now, with the proper autumn chill setting in, I have found myself making the ‘Sweet and easy yellow split-pea stew’ for supper a fair few times – it is just so incredibly delicious and comforting, so it is definitely a favourite!

A Kitchen Fairytale

We are giving away a copy of Iida’s fabulous new book, A Kitchen Fairytale, on our Instagram account! To win a copy of her book, just do the following: 1) Follow @HHealthBooks and @akitchenfairytale on Instagram . 2) Like this post. 3) Tag a friend in a comment. Tag as many pals as you want to get more entries. Good luck! Winner picked on Monday 22 October. UK only. 

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