Karen Mclean

Founder of Secretsquirrelfood.com

Karen McLean, an Australian native of Chinese-Vietnamese origin, is the creative mind, photographer and chef behind the food blog Secret Squirrel Food. She moved to Dubai just six months ago and works as an analyst for a Japanese pharmaceuticals company. Karen loves spending her weekends baking and cooking in her kitchen from her Downtown Dubai apartment, meeting new people, learning about cultures, travelling and dancing. Her main passion and vision is to promote healthy eating in the Middle East.

About the blog

Secretsquirrelfood.com was launched in late 2013 and is a collection of recipes that celebrates the pleasures of eating simple, natural and wholesome food. All recipes are sugar-, gluten- and dairy-free and mostly raw and devoid of refined products. I love to experiment in the kitchen and explore healthy alternatives to not-so-healthy food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring – if you think it is, take a look at the blog and find out how to make healthy food appetising and fun!

Full of nostalgia

My favourite memory is of me celebrating Chinese New Year with my parents. Every year, they put out an extravagant Chinese New Year’s dinner, which often includes my favourite homemade spring rolls, dumplings, steamed fish, Vietnamese pancakes, rice paper rolls and fresh vermicelli salad.

Snack attack

My homemade salted caramel crunch bars – the perfect guilt-free afternoon snack!

Culinary icons

Matthew Kenney, a raw food chef and cookbook author who is passionate about sustainable eating and living.

My healthy grocery list

Chia seeds: They are packed with essential Omega 3 fatty acids and taste great over muesli or in a pudding for breakfast.

Cinnamon: I love sprinkling this powder over fruits and yoghurt for breakfast.

Peppermint tea: I indulge in a big cup of this tea to aid digestion after meals.

Dates: The flavour and texture of the different date varities available in the Middle East are great!

Coconut oil: A healthy alternative to butter or vegetable oil.

My ten-minute meal

Green tea soba noodles with orange soy dressing and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds – quick and very tasty!

Top cooking tips

*Soak cashew nuts overnight and blend into a paste with a little coconut milk to get a delicious substitute for cream.

*Goji berries are rich in antioxidants and make an energising detox tea. Make it by adding a handful of goji berries to boiling water.

*Prepare a nutritious chocolate dip by mixing 60ml melted coconut oil with 1 tbsp raw agave syrup and 120g raw cacao powder. To make your own chocolate bars, pour it on a lined tray, sprinkle chopped fruit and nut pieces and freeze for 30 mins.

In 2014, I’ll be eating more…

Kale! This leafy green vegetable is super nutritious and tastes great as chips or in a green smoothie.

Simply super!

I get my energy from my superfood sprinkles. It is basically a homemade mixture of chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, goji berries and bee pollen mixed together.