Rozanna Purcell is only 24-years-old, but she’s already conquered the industries she set out to dominate. At 20 she won the Miss Universe Ireland competition and placed 7th in the competition, launching a worldwide modelling career that has seen her live and work in places as far flung as South Africa and New York.
However, while the modeling shows no sign of slowing down, Rozanna has also embraced her love of food, a passion that was bred into her since her childhood in Tipperary. Her family swear by homemade and locally sourced produce, including from their own garden. This wholesome influence is obvious when you scroll through her blog, and soon-to-be cookbook, Natural Born Feeder. Think leafy greens wherever possible, no processed crap and host of raw and paleo options and you’re the right and healthy track.
In the last two years Rozanna’s blog has grown and so has her reputation as one of Ireland’s leading healthy living ambassadors – she’s been known to try her hand at a few triathlons. This Christmas she’s realising her first book of recipes with Gill & Macmillan and is going back to college to study nutritional sciences. She’s also working with brands such as frozen yogurt company Mooch on healthy smoothies and a suit collection called Scribe on her very loaded plate too.
We caught up with health guru last week.
With your blog and cookbook due out later this year, you’re becoming Ireland’s go-to foodie personality for people looking to revolutionise their diet. When did this all start? Was there a turning moment?
I have always had a keen interest in food. I grew up in a household where everything was homemade. My granny loved to bake and would always have freshly made scones at the ready. Likewise with my dad and aunt, who make the best dinners. I would always help out and carefully watched how different recipes were made.
I have continued to cook throughout the years, even in college. I have always been interested in learning about how food can fuel your body, especially when training, and complement a positive mentality. I’ve posted a lot of foodie pics and received questions from people on social media about my diet so decided to start sharing my tips and recipes.
How does your diet differ now from before? I have always appreciated homemade and good quality food – we never really had processed food growing up. However, nowadays instead of using traditional products such as sugar, I now use alternative healthy products in my cooking and baking. What does breakfast, lunch and dinner look like for you? It depends on my day and my training. During triathlon season the ratios differ a little between my regular carb, protein and fat intakes. I try to have a good mix with each meal. Here is an example: For breakfast I usually have a protein-packed option either an omelette with feta, spinach and tomato, my proats (Protein Oats made with coconut water and egg whites, it’s actually pretty delicious) or oat pancakes with some nut butter. Lunch would consist of chicken or fish with lots of vegetables or salad and quinoa/bulgur or starchy veg. Dinner would be similiar, but I usually have a bit more time. Vegetable linguini with prawns, my kicking curry or low carb lasagne. I snack a bit during the day mostly on nut butter or nuts and some fruit. I have a bit of a sweet tooth that usually kicks in at night time so maybe a sneaky homemade raw ball or my sweet and salty popcorn.
Do you go back to Tipp much – commiserations on the hurling loss – and if so, what’s your favourite thing about home? I try and go home once a month. It’s really nice to get out of the city every now and again and have one of my dad’s dinners. My mum has a herb/ veg garden which I love. I always come back with loads of fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit. I also love cycling in Tipperary. So, you’re one of the most successful models of recent years in Ireland. How do you cope with the haters who dismiss your work with the label ‘Irish Model’? I don’t really pay attention to anyone who would think that. I think I am a bit oblivious to any of that. If I ever did see something written about me I am at that age where I realise it is probably small mindedness and wouldn’t take it personally. After Miss Universe you travelled loads and you’ve done so much television work. Do you have any desire to leave Ireland and try and forge a career in the States or London? I would love to go back to New York. It feels like a second home to me. Now that I have found my passion in food, I would love to go back and explore opportunities within that market. I would love to train with different chefs in New York and become more exposed to different techniques and methods.
Natural born feeder smoothie launches today @@claytonhotels their new vitality breakfast menu is the perfect way to start the day! A photo posted by rozannapurcell (@rozannapurcell) on
Of everywhere you’ve lived and worked, where’s your favourite place in the world?
South Africa, Cape Town. I spent five months there and fell in love with the place. I loved the landscape and lifestyle there. I was introduced to all new health foods that hadn’t reached Ireland at this stage. People were so passionate about training and eating healthily and I found it really inspiring.
And what advice would you give to a teenager who said they wanted to be a model? Is it a tough industry?
My advice would be to be smart and listen to your peers who have been in the industry for a while. There’s a reason they’ve been there a long time. I think it is important to enjoy the process; modelling can open so many doors and bring lots of travel and opportunity, but at the same time remember not to let it consume you. Always prepare for the next step.
Outside of cooking, blogging, modelling and charity work, what else do you do?
I obviously love baking and cycling, but maybe something you don’t know is I love photography. It’s definitely something I want to try to do more of and develop. I also love podcasts.
You’re only 24 and making us feel lazy and unaccomplished – have you any goals for turning 25?
I missed out on triathlon season this year so I would definitely like to do another Ironman at 25. Another big goal is to travel to some new places and expand my foodie repertoire, learn some new skills and really submerge into different cultures to see how they cook, prepare and view food. I’m also back in college this year, so hopefully I’ll ace my exams.
Photos by Ailbhe O’Donnell