An Interview with Fearne Cotton

Having been a fan since her Top of the Pop’s days, it’s amazing to see that she also now loves to cook and of course bake, in a healthier way! It’s rare to find someone who likes sweet treats and baking quite as much as I do but I feel I may have met my match in Fearne! Whilst her book is bursting full of lots of delicious food, from roast chicken to courgette, beetroot, pesto and avocado salad, it was of course the sweet section that caught my eye! Fearne has kindly shared with us the recipe for her Raw Cherry Tarts from her brand new cookbook and I can vouch for how delicious these are! – So much so that I have no photographic evidence!

Have you always enjoyed cooking?

I’ve always enjoyed baking but cooking I discovered later in life. Baking has always been an escape for me. I love the whole process and get completely lost in the creative process. I used to bake jam tarts with my nan when I was small and that sparked something in me. When I moved in to my first little house it had an Aga so I would whittle away whole weekends baking cakes, tarts and biscuits. I started getting more into cooking as I hit my late twenties. My lifestyle had changed, I was at home a lot more and had step kids in my life. Cooking was a way to get everyone to congregate to either cook together or eat as a family, which I love. Having my own kids has cemented this notion greatly.

Did getting married and having children change the way you cook, eat and approach food?

Hugely. In my early and mid-twenties I was out every night at gigs or working late so I had little time for cooking or sit down meals. Lunch would be on the run as I dashed from studio to studio and after a long day the last thing I could be bothered with was cooking myself a meal. I ate out a lot and gave it little thought. After having my son I decided to quit sugar as I was feeling sluggish after putting on pregnancy weight and breast feeding for 6 months. By just making that one small change I felt so much better and my energy levels soared. I’ve not eaten refined sugar since. I think about everything that goes into my body as I want to feel as fit and healthy as I can for my own benefit but mostly for my kids. Being a working mum means I need a consistent level of energy where possible. I’ve said goodbye to processed foods completely and make nearly everything I eat from scratch. It’s important for my kids to grow up learning about food and how it affects us too, so I love to bake and cook with them.

We saw on your Instagram that Rex and your stepchildren love to bake, are there any family favourites in the book?

My kids love to bake. Rex has usually asked if we can bake by about 7:15 most mornings. My Death by Chocolate Cake goes down a treat and is so fun to make and decorate. My step daughter is an amazing baker. She can bake cakes without any help from me and has the most vivid imagination when it comes to shape and decoration. She’ll be on Bake Off one day I’m sure!

What are your store cupboard essentials?

I always have Tahini in the cupboard as I’d be lost without it. I use it in power balls, dressing, patties and flapjacks. It’s one of my favourite ingredients ever. I also always have dates, goji berries, cashews, coconut oil, porridge oats and plenty of veg. I love having little Tupperware boxes of snacks to take to work with me so I can snack sensibly.

London is full of delicious restaurants, do you have any favourites?

YES! Santos Mexican on Portobello Road is the dream. I love Mexican food so it’s a go-to for me. Also Tanya’s raw food restaurant as it’s so creative and tasty. There’s also a wonderful Sardinian restaurant in Richmond called Luna Di Luca. The fish and smoked cheese is sensational.

With such a busy work and family life, what sort of snacks to you reach for to keep you going?

I make a lot of energy balls and healthy sweet treats to take to work with me. I keep them in the fridge and dive in when I feel that in-between meals energy drop. Also brown rice cakes with humus or mushed avocado as they’re quick to assemble and a great source of energy and good fat.

What would your perfect three course meal consist of?

To start it would be a beetroot and halloumi salad with mint leaves and balsamic. For my main I would have sweet salmon cooked in honey, tamari and coconut oil served with delicious crunchy greens. For desert it would have to be either the Fruit Whip or Death by Chocolate Cake from my book!

Fearne Cotton’s first cookbook, Cook Happy, Cook Healthy is out now (hardback, RRP £20, Orion)