How long have you been involved with raw foods and holistic health?
I first started the actual raw food lifestyle full on over 4 yrs ago now. It all initially commenced with a change to a more healthier regime overall which then, through research and more self learning.....progressed into the raw food regime and onto my qualifications in nutrition.
What lead you to your interest in raw food nutrition and did you have any health issues that you've overcome through this lifestyle?
It all stemmed from receiving the sad news that both my parents fell ill. My mother was diagnosed with early on-set althzeimers at the young age of 61yrs and my father having cancer at the age of 64yrs. Feeling helpless in every way, i wanted to research if there were any means to help either ailments. This started off my personal journey into nutrition. I was convinced that somewhere along the way to my mother's illness, her food intake had some connection to her situation and with regards to my father, I was in search of helping his progressive illness to relent some what via his food choices too. I personally had no health issues of my own thankfully.
Where do you live currently and where would you live if you could be anywhere in the world?
I live in the South of France near Monaco and have done for the past 12 yrs. As for the question of ...''where in the world I would live?"..... I strongly believe 'home is where the heart is' and my heart lives here in France precisely where I am.
What does your daily diet look like and are there any foods you consider total staples?
After my initial experimenting with raw food/un-cooked recipes, I gradually discovered over time what exactly works for MY body. I truly believe, this regime is specific to each individual and, each of us who endeavor to explore with raw foods, need to take advices and experiment with differing recipes, but the penultimate conclusion needs to come from within. By simply listening to your body and adhering to it's messages in the form of how your body responds to differing foods, this is the only way you can become aware of what works for you. I now eat very simply. I discovered that 100% raw was not working for me at all and since this initial attempt I have found my balance with certain cooked foods incorporated in my diet. I love salads and this comes naturally to me to consume at least one large mixed 'rainbow colored' salad daily. Depending on the season, steamed vegetables and cooked quinoa are also alongside my favorites too. The summer season brings the addition of varied fruits and local produce. Like I said, simple really. I've learnt that my body doesn't like too many nuts nor seeds hence why a lot of my recipes on my blog are not so heavily based with these ingredients.
Do you eat seasonally, and how does your diet change throughout the year?
I do with out a doubt. I am fortunate to live in an area of France where local fruit and vegetable markets are in abundance with glorious varieties of lush, succulent produce. We are close to the Italian border and therefore, we are advantaged to have a lot of choice from the Italian Green houses too.
If I am honest, my diet doesn't really change so much from season to season except in the choice and variety of fruit and veg which is increased during the summer months and I would possibly not eat steamed vegetables very often either.
What would be your top 5 tips for someone transitioning into eating a primarily raw diet?
My first tip to someone transitioning would be not to focus on what you are ''omitting'' from your diet but simply what you are ''ADDING'' to your diet. If we feel deprived, this will have an adverse affect on your progress, therefore, start off consuming the usual but ADD raw foods in addition. Add a side salad to each meal, eat an apple as a snack as well the usual....eventually, your body will be thanking you for these healthy additions and your cravings will transfer from the 'nutrient deficient' foods to the healthy option naturally. Also, the more often you do something, it eventually becomes a habit and thus no thought process is necessary ...... you will automatically choose the healthier option eventually!
Each person's adventure into the raw food lifestyle is JUST that....individual. What works for some may not work for you, therefore, be open to exploration of differing recipes and ideas BUT listen to your body. If you feel heavy or bloated after consuming a certain food, adhere to this and amend the amount or type for the next time.
I found that a simple food journal upon my commencement of this diet helped me tenfold. It wasn't detailed or took up too much of my time, but it really did allow me to see what worked for me and what didn't. In time, this allowed me to omit certain foods through the process of elimination! For example, I now know that spinach works against by body, too many nuts and seeds give me acne and mango gives me hives.
Preparation - I for one learnt the hard way, if I have nothing prepared (raw) for those moments of hunger, I would grab the first thing available to me raw or not. If on the other hand, I took time every few days to prepare a few of my raw food staples...... I remained on the healthy path with more ease. You don't have to plan nor prepare for the whole week ahead, just make sure there are a few of your favorites already made and waiting for you in the fridge.
Don't feel the need to have ALL the equipment you see a lot of the raw foodists use. Becoming raw doesn't have to break your bank and you will see that there are ways around certain methods shown in recipes. There are a few 'must haves' like a decent kitchen knife and a chopping board, but the rest... you can make do with alternatives. Most households have some form of a blender now a days, it doesn't have to be a 'high speed' blender like a vitamix...... of course, these appliances make life easier in the long run but you can 'make do' with what you have until you feel it is justified to purchase the equipment you desire.
Take the journey at your own pace and don't allow this to become an obsession about food. It can be a wonderful adventure and you can discover many uplifting and 'feel good' revelations about yourself and life around you, but listen to YOU!! It's all about the balance of the mind, body and spirit and therefore all of these areas need to be aligned overall.
In your opinion, what's the best place on earth to be a raw foodist?
Seeing as I have only lived in France since my raw food journey began, I can only presume it would be USA as they seem to be so far ahead of the game with regards to this regime and vegan lifestyles. As much as I love France and England and the movement is becoming more known here....we are still way behind on consumerism of such products available compared the the US.
What is your favorite thing about being a chef and nutritional consultant?
This is going to sound 'corny' so a pre-warning!!! It makes me happy to know that I can inform someone (who wants to learn) about the health aspects and improvements that are coming their way via this journey. I for one, lived the majority of my life eating blindly and living a lifestyle of ignorance - so to speak - of the outcomes to my body and longevity. Once I educated myself further and improved my lifestyle I often asked myself.....'why did I not know any of this before? why was I not informed before?' If I can help someone in this way, even if I give a little snippet of information that sticks with them and improves one part of their life....then, that makes me happy.
What do you bring to your recipes that is uniquely you?
I aim for simplicity and ease. I for one will keep on this raw route only if what I consume and enjoy have an ease to prepare and create. Over complicated recipes/ideas with oodles of ingredients are off putting for myself and I know I will never try as they become too time consuming to create, despite how delicious the outcome.
What piece of equipment do you feel is the most necessary in a raw food kitchen and what do you use the most?
A blender! Like i said, it doesn't have to be a high speed type at first but I do use this piece of equipment daily, numerous times. (Actually, the most important would be a decent sharp knife and a chopping board!!)
Being a girl I can't help but ask my other raw food loving ladies if they have any raw/natural beauty secrets they'd like to share?
Oh, this one is simple for me.... Organic Coconut Oil. I have used this as an all over body moisturizer for years now. I use it as a lip balm, a hair wax replacement (if I don't, my hair stands up on end and I look like Sonic the Hedgehog), eye make up remover and I even use it often in my un-cooking. I would be lost with out this little beauty!!
Green juices or green smoothies?
100% Green juice girl!!
And last but not least, what is your all time favorite recipe that you've created?
This would be my Raw Quinoa Cocao Pops recipe. I hadn't come across this at all so decided to give it a go and it even turns the milkchocolatey like the cooked version.