Nadine is a cookbook author, passionate and self-taught chef, mother of three daughters and co-owner of the world-renowned restaurant Noma in Copenhagen.
She spent her early childhood in Portugal and when she returned to Denmark still at a very young age, she taught herself to cook simple meals. Her love for creating beautiful food led her, as a 19-year-old girl, on a culinary path into the arms of her husband, the chef Rene Redzepi and since then they have been together not only building up the restaurant Noma, famous for exquisite Scandinavian cuisine and voted Best Restaurant in the World year after year, but most importantly they have also built up a strong family in their home in Copenhagen.
Nadine is a bubbly and very clever woman with a busy schedule, but to her, “downtime” with her family around the dinner table is the most precious time of the day and her undisturbed and deep sleep the best tool to be the person she wants to be.
Early bird or night owl?
"Before I had kids, I loved to sleep in, but now I have no choice - I have become an early bird. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed at 9.30pm or 2am, I will still wake up early.
When the weekend comes, my girls will bring me a large cup of English Breakfast tea with milk in the morning and we all cuddle up in bed and enjoy a slow start."
You have named your book Downtime: Deliciousness at Home – what does Downtime mean to you?
"For me the dinner we have at home is my absolute favorite time of the day. Even if I am busy and don’t have time to prepare a big meal, I can still make something quick and we all get to sit together and talk about our day or whatever subject occupies our minds at the present moment.
I also very much enjoy the hours leading up to it, the grocery shopping, the thoughts that go into handpicking healthy and heartwarming ingredients and the joyful cooking of the food.
Downtime to me simply means precious time with my family."
Do you have a ritual at night to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep?
"If I am not going out in the evening and Rene is still at work in our restaurant, I have a very steady routine… I put the girls to bed, brush my teeth, clean my face and use all sorts of creams, jump into my pajamas and make myself a cup of this calming licorice root tea that I find really soothing. I like my tea strong…also I take magnesium every single night to relax my muscles and to help me get that all important deep sleep.
We have a couch area in our bedroom and typically I fall asleep after forty-five minutes of watching TV; later I zombie-walk my way over to bed…."
Are you co-sleeping?
"We never have our kids in the bed; we have always been super strict with that one. Since Rene works so much, I want the bed and the bedroom to be ours….
I don’t fall asleep deeply if the kids are lying next to me, but I love them coming in for cuddles in the weekend mornings.
If they have ever had trouble falling asleep because of jet lag, or in general, I would always go and sleep with them in their bed, so they would never get the habit of sleeping in our bed.
I need my sleep so I will be ready for them in the morning!"
Do you enjoy reading?
"I love to read… when you are in the middle of a good book you can’t stop thinking about it. That is my favorite thing.
I just finished a new book that I had recommended by our neighbor, who is our really good friend: Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, it was a super short book - but it took a while to read anyway. The whole idea behind the book is how to find Zen no matter what you do. The whole approach is about being who you are – the end doesn’t matter - it is how you get there!"
What does exercise do to your sleep?
"Every day when we have dropped the girls off to school, we exercise together for a couple of hours and then we sit down and have a coffee before the working day starts. It is such a wonderful feeling because then I know I have done something good for myself and that same feeling comes to me before going to bed too. If I don’t exercise in the morning I just end up sitting all day and using my body helps my mind to relax. Being tired physically does help me towards a better sleep.
When we go travelling I don’t exercise much and I eat differently, which results in a poorer quality of sleep.
On the airplane, I always try to drink lots of water and get maximum sleep, which on most of our trips is not a problem.
After having our three kids I have become accustomed to waking up and falling back into sleep very easily.
If on a rare occasion I cannot fall asleep, I use a form of meditation taught to me by my acupuncturist.
Basically, I will get myself in a comfortable position and then tell myself that I cannot move at all. After a while I am just lying there and don’t even feel connected to my body at all. I force myself to concentrate on my breathing and not moving, not even if my nose is itching... and then suddenly I am gone. This is the best way to fall asleep and I would recommend it for everyone to try!"
Does noise and light affect your sleep?
"I like to sleep in complete darkness, so I always have my sleep mask next to me, so if Rene comes home late at night and reads or watches TV, I will put it on. The noise from the TV doesn’t bother me at all – but the light does.
I end up sliding on my sleep mask and then I am gone again; I might not even notice that I put it on.
Our kids all sleep with sleep masks as part of their good night routine."
Any specific food you go for to prepare your body for bedtime?
"Not really, I like to eat food that makes me feel good. For many people the idea of being full is to not be able to move… but that is wrong – food should make you feel good, not stuffed.
Eating a big dinner and lots of snacks just before going to bed will wreck your sleep and is not doing any good for your waistline either.
I have a glass of red wine as a treat every night with my dinner and if you don’t overdo it, I believe one glass can be good for you."
Pyjama, night dress, your partner’s tee or your birthday suit?
"It all depends on the time of the year. In wintertime, I wear pajama pants and a tee since I often have one arm and one leg on top of the duvet and we do like the bedroom to be cold as sleeping in a warm bedroom makes me feel like I am waking up with a hangover…
In the summer, I sleep with an old T-shirt …. the older the better."