Chef Sara Borda publishes, every week, recipe videos of easy lunches to take to work in her cooking program “La Coca”, in El Tiempo, the most widely read newspaper in Colombia. 

Her personal story can make you feel identified. The long days in the kitchen and the changing schedules at lunchtime caused her chronic gastritis. This condition led her to investigate healthy cooking and motivated her to continue her current specialization.

Now, she has the mission of teaching people to eat healthy and feels that we have to take away the stigma that eating healthy is not tasty. In “Inside me nutrition”, she teaches cooking classes for all types of audiences: children, teenagers, office workers, housewives.

Chef Sara’s cooking is simple to prepare, very close to ordinary people, and that closeness to her work makes her cooking special while it encourages to follow her philosophy.

By Fabiola Gálvez



I was seeing that you have published recipe videos like that chicken and rice with nuts that looks delicious. How are recipes made for a newspaper? That is not YouTube

These recipes are recorded in my kitchen. We do them on a day of recording and the idea is to plan the recipes and that they are circulating through the media, both the newspaper and in social networks, to be able to interact with people, that they prepare the recipes, and send us photos.


And why the program is called “Coca”?, I’m curious

In Colombia, the container where you bring lunch is called “coca”, so you always talk about “coca for lunch”.


How does this project start?

This project starts because the newspaper contacts me to make a pilot of videos of easy things to take to lunch, and from which we start, it stayed because people like it that it is practical, fast, and above all, healthy.


And how do you choose the recipes you publish so that they are replicable to the public?

I have different criteria, based on my experience, both in the school of gastronomy and in my daily life. I also try to do things thinking that people are going to take that container to work, they will have to heat, perhaps, in a microwave. The recipes are very thought that they will not be damaged along the way, that they are practical. And we also focus on local ingredients, where people can easily get them, and cheap because, on a daily basis, people in their lunch do not invest much money, because they try to save and have a balance.

Normally, the person who takes lunch in the office, always carries the same, with this program what we are looking for is that they have variety.




How did you start with healthy cooking?

I studied at the Mariano Moreno School of Gastronomy in Colombia, the degree of chef and pastry chef, but I focused more on the topic of healthy cooking, precisely because of a medical condition, I had chronic gastritis and I had to change my diet. Let’s say that, as a cook, you know? we eat everything, maybe a lot of fats or a lot of condiments. At that time, my diet was not well and I began to investigate, to replace food and apply it to my life, and in the period of one year, I had nothing, so I think that seeing that change in my life, motivated me to continue investigating and to be able to contribute and teach people what I lived through.



How would you define healthy cooking?

In my kitchen, I want to break the stigma a little «to be healthy I have to eat only vegetables or maybe I have to eliminate many foods from my diet». Clearly, each body is different and each person has their diet with their nutritionist, but what I do in my cooking is to try to show people that not necessarily eating healthy is boring or expensive. Try to cook with the ingredients as natural as possible, that is, do not use many sauces, artificial ingredients; In my kitchen you will see many vegetables and fruits, the condiments are natural such as oregano, basil, curry, paprika, things that we can easily get, which provide a lot of flavor.


And maybe healthy cooking can also be confused with diet?

Yes, maybe people think that eating healthy is having restrictions, and there are many types of diet on the market, but what I always tell them is, if you have any medical condition, you better go to your nutritionist. If you want to start eating healthy, within the normal things that one can prepare at home, is to eliminate soda, the ‘packages’ [fries, things that are high in fat, sodium], which are not contributing nothing good, increases the consumption of fruits and vegetables, drinks a lot of water, lowers the consumption of sweet.


And what trends do you find in healthy cooking?

At this time, the nutritional values ​​of foods that we may not have seen before are being rescued, a lot is being used: grain flours such as chickpea, lentil, quinoa flour; food substitution is being made, then the wheat flour is lowered and the flour of some grain or legume is used.

Also sweetened with fruits, in the pastry instead of sugar they put banana, desserts with vegetables, juices, green smoothies are also in trend, which is a different way of adding vegetables or vitamins to your breakfast.

Red meat consumption is decreasing a bit, yes it is like emphasizing more quickly on eating vegetables or white meat, and right now in the market you find many products such as baked snacks, a lot of variety, so as not to leave from your normal diet and don’t be so hard.


 And what do we do if we don’t like vegetables?

There are many alternatives, I always advise you: first attempt to try it in shakes, in juices, in pastries. Also, that is right now, you find spinach and carrot pancakes and the taste doesn’t feel so much if you don’t like it, try that when you make a salad it looks colourful, when you see that green, you don’t like it, you can have colors like yellow in your salad, red, green, orange, purple, there are many vegetables that can give you variety and that might be tastier for you, and when you see it you will be more happy to eat.


The first impression is the most important?



In your Instagram, what drew my attention was how you taught to make healthy buying choices on the market. How do you do it?

Some tips that I recommend: when you enter the store or the place where you buy, try to avoid going through the corridors where it is full of sweets, things that may be temptation for you, always start where you find cereals, fruits and vegetables.

I teach them how to choose an avocado, tomatoes, green leaves, and how to prevent it goes off. In Colombia, people do grocery shopping every day. Today you buy the grocery for lunch, and tomorrow, again and so, let’s say that I learned everything when I studied gastronomy. Also, I teach them how to portion their meat, how to properly store food, that I can wash it, separate it, so that those kinds of things make it easier for you to cook and eat healthy. If you already have the lettuce washed, celery cut, that will help you not to buy food outside.


When we have no choice and we have to eat out, how would we choose a dish?

When you don’t have time, bring whole fruits, nuts. When you go to lunch outside, always try to find options that have a lunch with protein and vegetables, if you need a lot of energy, carbohydrate or fat, and try to avoid fried foods, sauces.

In Colombia, there are ordinary lunch restaurants, it is where people who go to the office buy lunch every day when they do not have time to cook. Normally, those lunches are a bit full of flour or carbohydrates. For example: if they give you rice, potato, you can say: “Instead of the potato, give me more salad”, with that kind of thing one can start playing.

Something that I always say to my students, if you did not eat vegetables at lunch, or at breakfast, always try to include them in a meal so you don’t miss a day without eating vegetables.


The day we don’t eat fruits and vegetables, what are we not taking advantage of?

Each fruit or vegetable brings something different, you can be missing vitamin C, high water content, fibre, which is so important for digestion.



Some anecdote behind the camera when you make your video recipes, that you can tell us? 

For me as a chef, it is sometimes difficult to speak to a camera, so the process has been learning, to also know myself, to see how to communicate with other people and there are always cool moments. In the recordings, we also make a lot of food, so, in the end, all the cameramen, the ones who direct, eat what we prepare. 


Thank you very much, chef Sara! 


Soon “La Coca”, will have a new edition and many new features for this season. We wish you the best of luck from Cook Concern.

Her recipe: how to make a homemade granola.


Follow Sara on her Instagram @insidemenutrition

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