Sarah Nicole Edwards is the founder of Copper + Cloves, a healthy living resource that aims to excite people about plant-based diets and using local, sustainable ingredients. Sarah grew up in London, UK, and worked in the development sector for 10 years before switching gears. Much of the message behind Copper + Cloves is inspired by Sarah’s own life. From the inactive, processed food-centric lifestyle she had as a student, she has experimented and grown until she has found a way to put health first without chasing after diet fads. This is what she does with Copper + Cloves too, whether that be through catering events, being an open resource for healthy recipes, or through her Bangalore cafe Copper + Cloves @ The Organic World.
Sarah finally had the chance to move from the UK to India in 2016, when she received a position at Teach for India. This coincided with her realisation that she wanted to take forward her passion for cooking for others. Sarah’s mother’s healthy vein had rubbed off on her (her mum is from Sri Lanka!) and she found herself experimenting with more plant-based, healthy options. But taking that leap from her stable career in development to an opportunity in cooking wasn’t easy.
As someone who had grown up as an academic, graduating from the London School of Economics and successfully working in the development sector for many years, harnessing the creative part of her identity didn’t come naturally. She always knew that her professional path would be one that helped those around her, but it seemed as if her personal interests followed the same thread of thought. From the age of 12, she found herself cooking savoury meals for her family and she was always the one to cook for others instead of ordering takeout pizza. More importantly, she was passionate about passing on nutritional value and gradually made the transition from non-vegetarian to a plant-based eater about four years ago.
Sarah loved being in Mumbai for her Teach for India job and she had known that she would settle down in India years before. It was finally Bangalore that she made home. She went part-time and took up a year-long course in nutrition. Health coaching seemed like a natural calling to her — a way to combine her professional and personal interests. She started by selling her homemade granola at flea markets and launched her own event called ‘The Yoga Brunch’ — which led to being called on for catering and cooking workshops. She built her brand, Copper + Cloves around this concept. Though her passion lies in supplementing events with healthy food, her cafe brings what she preaches to the table.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah and chat about her thought process behind a few of the Copper + Cloves menu items. From promoting gut health to mindfully sourcing from local businesses, Sarah, and thus Copper + Cloves, truly covers healthy living in all its forms.
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“These were our first ever product — literally how we started. At the very beginning, I served them at events. People asked if they could buy them so we started making them in my kitchen and sending them out. They are different from laddoos although the familiar shape appeals to people- because they don’t have flour, ghee or jaggery. They’re sweetened with dates — so like a healthy ladoo! Desserts made from whole foods in their whole food form will not result in that crash we feel after having something processed and sugary.”
If small bites of happiness had a form, it would be these energy balls. They taste like they’re absolutely packed with sugar, so the fact that they are as healthy of an alternative as possible makes them taste doubly good. They really remind me of Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia, who wants to befriend the evil queen because of how good the treats she offers him are. I’d possibly be alright with being held hostage if these came with every meal!
Miso-caramel smoothie bowl
“Honestly, I love smoothie bowls and we always have a couple of specials. This one is us experimenting with a few more flavours. The miso is fermented and gives that salty contrast to the sweetness of the banana — and it means the smoothie bowl has some probiotic goodness! The granola is another signature C+C product that I’ve made since the beginning. We make it every week as a topping for our smoothie bowls. We call it chai-spiced granola because it is full of spices.”
I used to start every morning with a granola bowl. Yoghurt, honey, granola and fruits made the recipe for my breakfast. I’m a little ashamed to admit it but I’ve all but stopped eating breakfast because nothing got me going like a bowl of sweet and healthy goodness. Maybe my mornings will be restored to their former glory? The simple answer is yes, and the adjective-filled one starts with ‘delicious’. I’d honestly forgotten about the joy crispy flakes of almonds can bring. Salted caramel is one of my favourite flavours, so it was miso-caramel is an unexpected twist that worked just as well. Because of the blended bananas, I can see why it’s called a smoothie bowl!
Oat milk Cold Brew
“I love everything about coffee. But when I go outside have black unsweetened decoction and I’m just miserable. When I moved to India, I discovered Indian- sourced coffee beans and I realised that they can be absolutely world-class as a new generation of coffee estate owners and roasters drive forward the third wave of coffee in India. The coffee beans we use at the cafe are sourced from an estate called Kerehaklu in Chikmagalur, and they are roasted just for us. As with all our ingredients, we wanted to keep it local. I’ve known the owner Pranoy from the beginning of my C+C journey and sometimes he delivers the produce himself, and helps us with tasting notes! We love having personal relationships with our small-scale suppliers.
For cold brew, we do a larger grind size with the beans and, we infuse for 18-hours before we bottle it. Oat milk is just the dream plant-based milk for coffee. I found a brand, Oat Mlk, that sells it in glass bottles and is really creamy oat milk that’s great in coffee. The oat milk, coffee and a little bit of jaggery are all locally sourced.”
I am a self-proclaimed coffee-oholic. Unfortunately, my lactose-intolerant gut doesn’t agree with my food choices. Switching from foamy milk filter coffee to essentially drinking just the decoction was like taking out a part of my already precarious morning routine. I don’t like soy milk and I find that almond milk dilutes the coffee flavour, so an oat milk cold brew is the fix to my coffee-fix. Particularly, this one. The oat milk is fresh and frothy and the coffee flavour is strong (courtesy of them being freshly roasted). It’s essentially elevated filter coffee that my gut can digest and I’m here for it!
“We only get avocados when they’re in season from the estate in Chikmagalur. We top it with sauerkraut as a tangy contrast but also for probiotics. We are very passionate about helping our customers replenish their gut health. We can’t just eat maida and white sugar and then take probiotics and hope that it heals depleted gut health. Actually, every meal is designed with the intention that both prebiotics and probiotics are present in the food to help you build up your gut microbiome. We have gluten-free bread options for our gluten-free customers. Some gluten-free bread is simply normal atta with the gluten removed — with no whole grains. But we source ours from a wonderful bakery called Loafer & Co. This is a super seedy bread so you’re getting a lot of protein and nutrients too.”
As if I didn’t have enough dietary restrictions already, your girl is also gluten-sensitive. And it’s not self-diagnosed either! I had to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy done to confirm it and trust me, I don’t recommend it to my worst enemies (not that I have any). The real problem is that I love bread. I dream of it and I’d use it as a pillow if I didn’t drool, but bread doesn’t like me back. Combining my lactose intolerance with my gluten sensitivity makes a cheese sandwich is my worst nightmare. But creamy avocado on gluten-free bread rocked my world. I’m that person who loves a hint of sourness. I add the vinegar that jalapenos are stored into pretty much all food. So the sauerkraut was the tangy addition that not only my tongue appreciated — the probiotics are much appreciated, and I’m sure my gut bacteria are not happier than ever! This take on the avo toast was truly a combination of all textures and flavours. The crunch of the seeds in the bread and the tangy sweetness of the sundried tomatoes (one of my favourite ingredients btw), was simply amazing.
Asian Buddha Bowl
“The whole idea of our bowls is that they are a nutritionally balanced meal-in-one- with lots of veggies, a protein source and a carb source in nourishing proportions.
We only serve whole grains in the cafe. We have brown rice, red rice and black rice, millets, quinoa and barley and different bowls have different types. Where people go wrong with carbs is that they eat only processed sources (white rice or bread) and then either overeat them with 70% of their plate being carbs, or they cut them out completely! Whole sources in balance are best.
The broccoli in our Asian Bowl has been steamed and covered in our Miso ginger dressing. We add our in-house fermented cabbage, carrot and lemongrass kimchi. We source Indian made tofu and marinate it. We also add locally-grown kale massaged with the same signature dressing and garnish with microgreens on top. ‘Variety of plants’ is our motto and it is so important.”
Ever since I started paying attention to the way my body reacts to food, I’ve felt like I’ve had to give up more than I can try. I’ve felt like pieces of my life have been drifting away and have never been replaced. I’m lucky that I’ve always loved vegetables and am quite content with being a goat for the day, but it would be nice to eat something with the intention that it’s delicious, instead of because I went through the ingredients list first. So to summarise, I love veggies, I adore brown rice (come on, it tastes SO much better), and I’m willing to give tofu a shot. This bowl is what I have been waiting for. The tofu was simply soaked in their homemade dressing, which made it juicier than paneer could ever be. That miso ginger dressing was reminiscent of the ginger pieces you get on the side of sushi. The broccoli pieces and kale were equally marinated but that’s not what got me the most excited. Often when you have a bowl of anything at a restaurant, there will be a couple of measly broccoli pieces doused in rice. I could really see the healthy intention behind C+C through this dish — everything was in equal and perfect proportions!
“I feel like something sweet to end the meal is like a ritual, it’s completing the experience! Full disclosure, I am a horrible baker. But I love experimenting with healthy desserts that aren’t baked. Like this frozen tart. We use dates and nuts to make a paste and we press that in the tart base. We soak cashews and blend them with strawberries, jaggery and beetroot powder (for colour). We add a pinch of black pepper and lemon, adjust for flavour, and we add a little bit of coconut oil so that when you pour it into the tart base, the coconut oil helps it to solidify it so that it gives it shape. We cut it into pieces and we serve it within 5 minutes of taking from the chiller so it keeps its shape.”
I have the biggest sweet tooth, which doesn’t often bode well for my body. If you’ve ever had a hangover, multiply it by a couple hundred to get a sense of what dairy does to me. I’ve tried it all, dairy-free chocolate, sweet potato brownies and even considered munching on cocoa powder but my one true dessert is a good tart. This tart put all the tarts I’ve ever tried to shame. While I’m not one to use hyperbole frivolously, this tart deserved to be everything-est. Tastiest, healthiest, and possibly even perfect-est. As I’ve said, I’m a lover of tang so the fresh strawberry with lemon really satisfied that craving. And the base, don’t get me started on the base. I hate pies and tarts that have cracker-thin bases that break and melt. While being absolutely delicious (a lot of bases tend to be bland or too sweet), this tart base really stood its ground. It was chewy yet crunchy and I couldn’t have been happier — my eyes were closed the entire time!
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To order from Copper + Cloves, simply click on this link here. To learn more about the recipes behind these dishes click here. To follow Sarah’s journey and Instagram, click here. If you’d like to be featured in an article of your own, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.