Samah Dada loves to eat—actually, that might be an understatement. A native of Newport Beach, California, Dada’s true love for food blossomed when she and her family moved to London. From hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurants to Sicilian-style pizza, London’s foodscape was transformative for her palate. Now, Dada is pursuing her passion for wellness and food through DadaEats, her blog and social media platform that have amassed quite a following due to her vibrant recipes and personality.
After appearing on “The Today Show” with her own segment, #COOKING, Dada is excited for the next chapter in her food journey—sharing how to make the best comfort foods and snacks a little healthier with Thrive Market.
When did you discover your love for cooking and baking?
I grew up in the kitchen watching my mom cook traditional homemade Indian dishes. The thing is, she would always opt for healthier ways to create the traditional comfort favorites, swapping butter for olive oil and cream-based curries for tomato-based. My passion for cooking and baking—and doing so in a mindful and intentional way—came from those early days of spending time at home in California with my mom. Since then, my passion for food has completely morphed and transformed into something I could never have dreamed of!
Walk us through your process of making your favorite recipes a bit more healthy.
Here’s the thing: I love food. (I’m sure you’re not shocked by this.) But, at the same time, I love feeling healthy, exercising, and being mindful about the entire experience of eating. When I started getting really into health and wellness, I noticed that there was a tendency for people to view being healthy in an all-or-nothing sort of way. So, if I’m “healthy,” does that mean I’m not supposed to have a cookie? That mentality didn’t sit right with me because I truly love dessert, cookies, cakes, ice cream, pasta—all of the types of meals that have an indulgent and “unhealthy” connotation. I’ve never believed that being healthy means giving up all of those things—rather incorporate them in ways that truly make you feel satisfied and amazing after everything you eat. This realization motivated me to start writing recipes that turned my favorite meals into ones with real ingredients, so that anyone who wants to pursue a more mindful and healthy lifestyle feels like they can bake their cake and eat it, too.
How do you choose your ingredients?
I choose ingredients that are minimally processed, sustainable, and organic when possible. For my baked goods, I tend to gravitate towards almond flour and coconut flour, as they are both grain- and gluten-free flours that I love to work with in the kitchen. I like to find alternatives to the classics so as to make my recipes more inclusive for everyone—whether they’re gluten-free or not gluten-free, vegan or not vegan. I want there to be an option for everyone—something they’d intentionally choose and can’t wait to make.
You’ve got quite the busy schedule. How do you prep your recipes so you can eat them on-the-go?
It’s all about being organized! I try to meal prep one dish for lunch and one dish for dinner at least three days out of the week. That way, I know I’ll have something waiting for me at home when I’m exhausted after a long day. It also leaves room for a couple days out of the week to eat something else if I’m craving it, or go out to eat with friends.
My favorite recipes to meal prep include my Avocado Cream Pasta, Spinach Pesto Pasta, Chili, and Cauliflower Fried Rice. I always have hummus, carrots, berries, apples, rice cakes, and nut butters on hand as essential staples that I can grab when I need a snack!
What are your favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
I go through phases with all of my meals to really stay in tune with what I’m craving week to week. For breakfast these days, I’ve been loving rice cakes with almond butter, banana slices, honey, and cinnamon. I also have been eating a ton of avocado toast with pink salt, pepper, and “everything but the bagel” seasoning, along with a spinach salad and 8-minute eggs.
For lunch, I’ll usually throw together a salad with roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, hummus, a veggie burger, carrots, and some kind of crunch (usually plantain chips or Siete Grain-Free Tortilla chips).
For dinner, I have been eating my spinach pesto pasta on repeat, with roasted tomatoes, almond milk ricotta and garlic bread!
What are your top tips for healthy snacking? Other than popcorn, of course, which we all know that you love ...
I am a huge snacker! Of course, I love my popcorn, but I’m also a huge fan of keeping rice cakes around. These are so easy to pair with a nut or seed butter, top with sliced bananas or berries, drizzle with honey, and add cinnamon. I’ve also been whipping up my Nut-Free Maple Granola Bars to have with my afternoon cup of coffee. And, of course, I love a good apple with peanut butter, granola, and cinnamon, as well as carrots and plantain chips with my homemade Hemp Seed Hummus!
What do you love most about Thrive Market?
It’s obvious that Thrive Market is an amazing online marketplace and resource for healthy food, snacks, and ingredients for everyone’s kitchen, diet, and lifestyle. But my favorite part about it is the commitment not just to partnering with sustainable and ethical companies, but to giving back to the community. One of the main reasons why I feel so aligned with Thrive Market is because of the Thrive Gives program. Knowing that every time someone joins, a membership is donated to a low-income family, teacher, veteran or student makes me love the company even more than I already do. (Because let’s be honest—getting groceries delivered straight to your door is a pretty gorgeous thing to begin with.)
What made you switch to online grocery shopping? How has Thrive Market changed the way you shop?
I’m going to be honest: I love grocery shopping. I am actually a little bit obsessed with it, so I love discovering new ways to do it! Thrive Market has allowed me to be very intentional with my grocery shopping. It’s exciting to be able to filter the products so seamlessly by category, diet, and preference—and to be able to discover new products along the way that fall under those same umbrellas. It is also an amazing time-saver when I’ve had a crazy week and want to have my groceries come to me instead of me going to them. It’s pretty exciting to see how Thrive Market’s prices are a lot lower than brick-and-mortar stores, too—definitely a plus when I am constantly testing new recipes.