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Otago University students and sisters Emily (left) and Sophie Martin. Photo/Guy Frederick

How Otago Uni students Sophie and Emily Martin became the 'Tasty Twins'

With the new academic year beginning, Sophie and Emily Martin are sharing lessons they’ve learnt the hard way on how to cope with life as a university student and keep on an even keel.

They were born within minutes of each other, raised in the same home, went to the same school and to the same university, where they lived in the same hostel. Now, they’re flatmates.

Sisters Sophie and Emily Martin are as close as twins can be – and after coping with their share of ups and downs as young students, they’ve joined forces to spread the word on how to handle the pressure and strike a healthy balance in life. 

Over the past two years, “Soph and Em” have attracted some 13,500 followers to their Instagram account @tasty.twinsss, where they dish out daily health and wellness tips, from advice for coping with exam stress and money worries to eating well on a budget. Typical of their posts is a photo of the 21-year-olds arm in arm on Dunedin’s St Kilda Beach with the perky message, “Nothing that a little bit of Vitamin Sea can’t fix!”      

University, they agree, can be overwhelming for first-year students.

“It’s a big transition from high school, where often decisions are made for you, to uni, where there are so many demands on your time, from studying to partying to looking after yourself,” says Emily. “It can be super difficult to juggle everything.”

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Both sisters have dealt with anxiety, so fostering positive mental health is one of their primary drivers. “We had very different experiences, which we also managed differently, and as part of embracing a healthy life, we made a conscious effort to be more open and share our experiences,” says Emily. The goal, says Sophie, is to help people find the best way to keep on an even keel. “We’re all about balance in everything we do.”

It was during their second year in an Otago University hostel that the twins, who grew up in Wellington, decided to broaden their horizons from “the fairly limited diversity” on the menu. “Mum had raised the food standard pretty high at home, so it would have been virtually impossible for hostel food to even come close,” Emily says.

As well as their secret strategy of whizzing up nutritional smoothies in their rooms, they began to venture out and sample Dunedin’s cafe scene. At first, the Instagram account featured places they loved to eat. Then they started posting their own recipes, which they describe as basically healthy takes on their mother’s home cooking.

Now in their fourth year at Otago – psychology for Emily; consumer food science and marketing for Sophie – they both work part-time as gym instructors at Les Mills. Sophie takes high-energy Body Attack classes, while Emily teaches Body Balance (a combination of yoga, Pilates and tai chi), which reflects their personalities perfectly: Sophie loves to bounce around while Emily is more inclined to a slow stretch.

They’ve also just released an ebook, Tasty Twins: Tricks and Treats (available here for $15), packed with more than 50 recipes, some quick and easy workouts, and tips on how to look after your mental health and survive student life. Ten per cent of the profit from sales will be donated to Youthline.

Cookie Dough Bliss Balls. Photo/Supplied

Recipe: Cookie Dough Bliss Balls

This sweet treat, from Sophie and Emily’s new cookbook, is a twist on their mum’s cookie recipe.

  • In a bowl, combine 1 cup almond meal, ½ cup nut butter (we used peanut), 1 scoop protein powder (we used Two Islands Salted Caramel protein), 4 Tbsp maple syrup and a handful of chopped dark chocolate. If the mix is too dry, add almond milk.
  • Roll into small balls about the size of a $1 coin. Place in container in fridge for 1-2 hours. 
  • Dig in straight away, or top with melted dark chocolate, freeze-dried raspberries or anything you like! 

This article was first published in the March 2020 issue of North & South. Follow North & South on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to our fortnightly email for more food stories.