Eat Clean – A Healthy Balance
Teas and Infused Waters
Fruits in Season
Ingredient Health Benefits Glossary
List of Searchable Terms
More from Ching-He Huang
About the Publisher
In 2011, I began suffering from allergic reactions – my face and skin would turn blotchy after eating shellfish and nuts. For three years my foodie life was in disarray and I was very unhappy. I carried antihistamine tablets with me and had to constantly monitor what I ate because I didn’t know what specifically was causing the reaction. So, to try to solve the problem, I decided to detoxify my body of any pollutants or preservatives that might send my system into overdrive.
Through my own research, I found the cause of the reactions – I was allergic to any foods that had been treated with sulphites. This encompassed a wide variety of foods, ranging from wines, frozen shellfish and frozen pizza dough to yoghurt.
Different types of sulphites are added to many processed foods and they are also used in the production of toiletries and cleaning products. In food, sulphites are used as preservatives, acting by inhibiting moulds, yeasts and bacteria. The long-term effects of ingesting sulphites are unknown. Many people are unaware they are allergic to sulphites; a long testing process involves sulphites being slowly introduced into the body to determine a reaction. My own allergies were due not to any specific food, but to the sulphites used to preserve the ingredients. So eating foods such as nuts and shellfish was like an allergy roulette – I never knew if I would suffer a reaction. However, once I eliminated them from my diet, the allergic reactions stopped.
Food legislation may determine that these preservatives are safe, but the problem is that our bodies react differently to different products – and what adversely affects some people doesn’t affect others at all. This is due to each individual’s ability to detox or get rid of these additives from their bodies. It cannot ultimately be proved that sulphites are ‘safe’ in the long term, as no one really knows their full effects.
I knew my diet had to change. I was overworked and stressed, too, and being on the road I had little time to cook for myself or to exercise. My weight increased during this time. I had always been able to maintain a healthy weight of 55kg, but it jumped to 64kg. For the first time in my life, I was overweight. I wasn’t happy with the weight increase and I knew something was not right.
OK, this wasn’t life threatening, but I didn’t feel myself. I craved sugary high-carbohydrate foods all the time, I was hungry an hour after eating, I wasn’t sleeping through the night and then felt sluggish when I woke up in the mornings, and my bowel movements were irregular. I knew I had to do something drastic but I kept putting it off.
Then in 2013, during the filming of Restaurant Redemption in America, my make-up artist and I went out for dinner at a seafood restaurant and we ordered salmon. Right under the skin of my portion I found two dead roundworms – perfect little things, still intact. Being a cook, I was used to dealing with insects, but after further research I discovered the ugly hidden truth of parasites that live in the human gut. If there were worms in my salmon, I started to consider what might be living inside me. It was food for thought!
Being paranoid, I was convinced I had worms, so I decided to clean up my diet. Our intestine is as long as the height of our bodies, and that is a lot of tubing. Conventional medical experts believe that the gut is self-cleaning, but perhaps this is assuming your body is in tip-top health. Going through periods of eating the wrong foods, having irregular lifestyle habits, or simply feeling anxious can all affect our bowel movements. If we periodically have to deep-clean the pipes and drains in our kitchen to unclog our sinks, then we must surely have to do the same with our insides? It got me thinking about the deeper issues happening inside my gut.
So I decided to go for a general medical health check-up in Taiwan and the doctor confirmed what I had suspected. A chest x-ray showed that my intestines were full and clogged up, so the doctor prescribed laxatives to help me. My gut was unhappy! I decided my diet and lifestyle needed an overhaul, so I embarked on a three-month diet of fresh greens, salads, soups and fruit in an attempt to clean my gut. What I saw and experienced in the toilet was a revelation. However, after the three months I started to lose more of my muffin top and belly fat, my skin and eyes glowed, I was more regular and my sleep had returned. The result was that my body was able to digest my food more efficiently and therefore absorb more nutrients.
Being a cook, I have always been mindful of eating healthily but my own experience really opened my eyes. Now I truly believe that you are ‘what you eat’ and my own personal experience has taught me this. It’s funny that when you become more attuned to your body’s needs you also start to realise that you are very much ‘what you think’ too. These two truths go hand in hand. When you eat good, you feel good, and then you look good – a cycle of positivity!
This direct action of intervening in my own health made me feel better and more in control of my body. It felt good to have energy and know that I was clean on the inside and out.
As a result of my own personal ‘cleanse’ experience, I became even more discerning about the quality of my food – ultimately, the quality of the ingredients and produce we eat becomes the building blocks of who we are. After further research, I was given books by friends, including Clean by Alejandro Junger M.D. Inspired by their work and research I decided to share my collection of the recipes and dishes that helped me on my journey to health (which is still work in progress). I hope it helps you on your journey, too.
What I have learnt is that our bodies are amazing and work efficiently to clean and detoxify us every day if we are in good health. Generally, we don’t really need drugs and prescriptions. If we are ill, it is because we are not feeding ourselves with the right nutrients to allow our bodies to work optimally. Of course, illnesses may also be caused by viruses and cancers – but if the body is truly healthy, our ability to fight disease is greater and good health may prevent these illnesses in the first place. This is the basis of Chinese medical food therapy – that prevention is better than cure.
Our bodies are highly intelligent and are designed to self-clean. However, if we over-pollute them with toxins and the wrong foods, they will lose their natural ability to continue to clean and therefore heal themselves. If our system is imbalanced, it gives rise to illness. Just think: if we don’t take the rubbish out, bacteria breeds, creating more waste. If our bodies lose the ability to expel waste, bacteria breeds and toxins multiply. If the balance is not addressed, the toxins accumulate, clinging on to fat in the body, not only making us feel unwell, but preventing any ingested fat from being broken down, too. A downward spiral begins to affect our metabolisms, and our bodies gradually lose their ability to naturally regulate and burn fat efficiently because they are overloaded with too much toxicity and too many pollutants to cope with.
The main problem lies in the quality of our foods. Why is a vegetarian or dairy-free diet deemed more healthy? It isn’t, intrinsically – especially if, for example, vegetables are doused in pesticides and chemicals or milk comes from diseased cows. The ‘health’ of our food determines our health. So, ‘Food is medicine’. The famous Hippocrates quote is still very relevant today, but in the age in which we live, ‘Food can also be disease’ and causes illness if it is not ‘clean’.
What you will come to realise is that, by eating clean, your health will return and your body will find its natural rhythm. It will be able to metabolise and break down fat better and you will naturally start to lose weight and slim down. Consistent effort in this vein will produce great results – and all this without having to starve yourself.
During my ‘cleanse’ time I lived on soups, salads and stir-fries. I balanced my diet with a combination of hot and cold dishes, raw and cooked, vegetarian (I ate no dairy products for three months, but I ate organic eggs), a little quality organic meat and fish. Not only did this benefit my health, but it is sustainable, too.
Whatever you experience in your journey to improved health, I hope you find this book useful and that it opens your mind to a different East–West approach to eating healthily. And you should be able to use some of the facts I have found to help you achieve optimum health.
What is this book about?
For the last three years I have been travelling extensively in the US, working on TV shows promoting Chinese cookery. Along the way I have come across lots of people with health issues; many of those I have met are younger than me and suffer from diabetes and heart disease and are on a cocktail of never-ending prescription drugs. It is truly shocking. A lot of the people I met were also on some sort of weight-loss diet.
The simple truth is that there is no need to diet by starving yourself; you can lose weight and stay slim and healthy, as well as extend your life expectancy, if you consistently eat healthily, for example by eating a clean, balanced diet combined with regular exercise. This is not a secret, yet people find it hard to follow. I have had the same problems – stress, overwork, lack of time and expense; all these are everyday modern factors that contribute to the demise of our health and well-being. Anyone who is time poor will find it difficult to balance everyday nutritional needs.
So in this book I wanted to combine nutrition, delicious food and quick and healthy cooking techniques and yet also deliver on practicality – plus I wanted the food to be gourmet and exciting. Quite a tall order!
What you choose to eat determines not only the health of your body but ultimately its shape. A healthy body equals a more efficient one, allowing your body to burn fat effectively. This book contains over 100 easy recipes to help start you on your way. Every recipe is balanced with protein, seasonal vegetables, herbs and spices to help your immune system during each season. Eating a balanced, seasonal diet is an effective way to maintain good health. Each recipe also includes nutritional information so if you are following a restricted calorie diet on any specific day you can reach for those easily.
Why wok cooking?
Many of my recipes are made in a wok – wok cooking is easy, speedy, healthy and inexpensive. Ingredients can be seared at a high heat using a small amount of oil, making dishes taste crisp and delicious while also retaining their nutrients. You can invest in a good unseasoned carbon-steel wok for less than £15, and as long as you take care of it, it can last a lifetime (so that’s a pretty good investment!). Unseasoned carbon steel is great for healthy cooking, better for the environment and more stable, because there is less chance of metal chemicals leaching into the food – unlike seasoned non-stick woks. A good stainless-steel wok with a lid is also great for healthy cooking and is a one-pot wonder. You can not only stir-fry in a wok, but also make soups, steam, braise and make curries, so it’s the perfect versatile cooking vessel. Above all, wok cooking is fun and as we all have to eat 365 days of the year, you are more likely to stick to this lifestyle change if it is fuss-free and enjoyable.
Why Asian cuisine?
Asian cuisine offers a diverse range of recipes. Not only does it deliver on taste, freshness and speed, but the ingredients used in many classic dishes are also healthy. I won’t only be sharing classic dishes, but some fusion recipes too, making the very best combinations of Asian ingredients with up-to-date research on their health and nutritional benefits. The recipes are wide ranging and varied, so rest assured that there are plenty of delicious dishes to choose from.
De-clutter your mind
I also offer tips that I personally believe in, to strengthen and calm the mind. These nuggets of advice come from many sources – people I have met, stories I have heard, things I have read – and I hope they will help to strengthen, enlighten and enrich your spirit. They also make for fun reading. These words of wisdom were important to me in achieving a healthier version of myself. I believe you are not just what you eat, but what you think, too. The mind controls our eating habits and it is important to consciously eat for optimal health.
My personal motivation and beliefs
As a cook promoting food on TV, I always felt inclined to make nutritious dishes for taste, health and well-being, but I admit that health was not always the priority! However, seeing widespread health issues, and having experienced my own bout of bad health, I had an awakening. I felt I could no longer justify creating recipes to entice people simply to fall in love with Chinese cuisine and culture. My cooking has never been over-indulgent and I don’t use a lot of butter or sugar – but it could be cleaner and healthier. In general we could all eat better and be leaner, cleaner and kinder to our environment, and this book is my first step to reminding myself and sharing with others the importance of eating well.
Today people are suffering from more diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and from allergies, than ever before. I was always taught that prevention is better than cure, that our diet determines the health of our bodies. With this in mind, I wanted to create a book that would be useful and practical every day, in every season, knowing that the quantities have been measured for salt, sugar, fat and calories. However, food and its health benefits don’t just come down to conventional nutritional analysis. There are many things we don’t know and we shouldn’t discount alternative, unconventional healing efficacies.
Traditional Chinese dietary advice, for example, follows the age-old principle of yin and yang. Thousands of years of Chinese medical research point to eating and living in harmony with nature. Based on this philosophy, a healthy diet relies on a balance of fresh seasonal ingredients – raw and cooked, hot and cold. Raw foods are deemed ‘cleansing’, cooked foods are considered ‘nourishing’, with some ingredients being more ‘healing’ than others. In traditional Chinese cuisine, few foods were eaten raw because they were deemed too hard for the body to digest. However, having experienced the health benefits of the Western culture of eating raw salads, I have combined the best of Eastern and Western ways of eating. Also vital for good health is knowing how to prepare and cook food to maximise its nutritional benefits, so I have tried to incorporate some of these Eastern principles into my recipes. Combining these with conventional Western nutritional research, I have taken an integrated East–West approach to nutrition, too.
This book is designed to help you eat clean and fresh every day. The basic tools you need to get started are a carbon-steel wok, an all-purpose chef’s knife or a cleaver, which I prefer, and a chopping board. With spices and Asian storecupboard ingredients that you can build up, eating nutritiously and healthily is at your fingertips.
By eating a diet made up of 80% plant-based foods and 20% organic meat, fish, dairy and eggs, you will be well on your way to good health. Again, the quality of those ingredients will determine the quality of your health. Clean air and water are perhaps the most important of those, aside from food. We cannot control our water and air quality on a daily basis, but we can control our food choices. Don’t get me wrong: I am no saint, as I succumb to the occasional slice of cake, but consistent efforts make the odd slip-up inconsequential.
I wish you clean eating and happy, healthy wokking!
Eat Clean – A Healthy Balance
The word ‘clean’, as described in the English dictionary, states ‘free from dirt, stain, impurities, pollution or contamination’. How can one possibly eat clean? Why do we need to eat clean?
When I started on my journey of eating clean, I did not expect to uncover the ‘dirt’… The chances are that if you eat processed foods, drink, smoke, eat a high-sugar and high-fat diet, your body is suffering from toxic overload and is unable to function at its best. You may not be suffering any physical symptoms or illness, but the long-term effects of this accumulation are not good. Daily accumulated damage to your cells and body can lead to serious irreversible damage that could be detrimental to your health. In the present day, there are so many auto-immune diseases and illnesses that doctors do not have the cure for and while there is no direct conclusive proof that diet affects health, you cannot help but see the truths that are right in front of us. Do people who smoke long term suffer lung damage? The answer is yes. Do people who drink excessively suffer liver damage? The answer is yes. Are people who eat a high-sugar diet more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes? The answer is yes. My mother had type 2 diabetes and she reversed it by adopting healthy, clean eating more than 15 years ago.
What you put into your body directly affects your health and state of mind. Even a simple cup of coffee gives me a head rush, or a glass of wine makes my face flush. In other words, whatever we put into our bodies, there is an effect as a result of that action. Some effects from food can be more subtle and therefore deceptively harmless, so we often fail to recognise the signs and continue to pollute our bodies until they can’t take any more.
It isn’t as simple as eating healthy foods, either. It used to be. We have lost control of our food manufacturing and therefore we understand less about the processes than our grandparents did when they used to grow more of their food. Nowadays, 90% of the food found in the supermarket comes from a packet. In the past, most of the food came unpacked – either from a market or local shop or home grown.
If you truly look at wholefoods – defined as foods found in their natural state – only 10% of the foods found in the supermarkets can really be called ‘whole’ – and that is from the fresh fruit and vegetable counters. And yet within that section, only some products are labelled organic. Shouldn’t all foods be organic, as they once were? What is wrong with the inorganic stuff? What do we not know? Why is there a difference?
The way our food is produced is no longer simple. Complex food-manufacturing systems dictated to us by fulfilling economic efficiencies means we have lost our primordial ways of living and therefore eating. This balance has to be restored – but because of the complexity of the way our food is produced, we must work harder to seek out the best ingredients – if best means the most nutritious, and ‘nutritious’ being ‘clean’. Knowing where your food comes from and cultivating it as much as you can is difficult in the times we live in, yet, if everyone grew their own food or slaughtered their own animals, we would be a lot ‘cleaner’ and healthier, and we would have much less food wastage.
Through my own journey, I realised that the food allergies I suffered from were due not to the ingredients themselves, but to the additives the ingredients were combined with. For example, I noticed that when I consumed frozen shellfish, I would sometimes have an allergic reaction. However, on one occasion in Macau, I visited a seafood market where the catch was extremely fresh and the prawns hadn’t had time to be preserved. I didn’t have any allergic reaction at all; I ate six gigantic prawns with no effect, whereas previously any slight contact would have made my face swell in a second. I was in heaven.
This is when I started to notice a pattern. At first I thought the allergy was just with prawns, but when I consumed pizza dough, nuts or wines, the hives would resurface. My system must have been experiencing a toxic overload whereby any chemicals consumed would give rise to these allergic reactions. It was my body’s way of telling me that I had reached the limit and something drastic had to be done. I didn’t look unhealthy, but internally my body was not happy.
The body’s natural rhythm and metabolic function is affected by what we consume. If this is disrupted by ingesting high amounts of pollutants and additives, the body will struggle to reach its natural equilibrium. If the metabolism is affected, so is the body’s ability to burn fat. By eating clean, the body will stay clean and, ultimately, it will also be lean.
Why eat organic?
I’m a great fan of organic foods and believe that organic produce is healthier, as it is less exposed to artificial chemicals and fertilisers. It has a lower environmental impact and may have a higher nutritional content, too. Organic foods are more expensive to buy, but because of the benefits I really believe they are worth the extra money, so I choose to buy organic fruit and veg, dairy products and fish where possible.
I also exclusively choose organic meat. This is because I care about animals and their welfare. Organic livestock are given access to the outside, are fed organic food and are not allowed to be given hormones or antibiotics. This is obviously a much more pleasant environment for an animal to be raised in. And even if you are not concerned about animal welfare, eating organic meat makes sense because it means you get tastier cuts of meat that are free from chemicals and artificial drugs.
The general belief is that animals are not as evolved as humans. They hunt and follow their instincts blindly. However, I believe that as humans we have been blessed with greater consciousness and thus responsibility. Regardless of our instincts, we can consciously choose which actions we take, and by these actions are we defined as people.
At one time, of course, all foods were organic and I hope that we can return to this state of being again some day.
Seasonal, local food
Shopping for seasonal, local fruits and vegetables is something that I’ve been doing for a while; eating within the seasons ensures that produce is at its best both flavourwise and nutrientwise and is in abundance at the time. Eating seasonally is also better for the environment and produces fresher, cheaper ingredients.
To go one step further is to grow some of your own food. Recently this has become popular in cities where people are utilising any outdoor space to grow vegetables, berries and herbs. What could be more local than that?
From first-hand observation, my grandparents seemed much healthier than many of my parents’ generation and lived illness free until old age. They were farmers and lived off the produce from their land by necessity, not having access to processed foods. They were more active, too, and ate whole, organic foods within the seasons. Their generation probably had a lower life expectancy than elderly people now, but they lived until their late eighties. My point is that they lived until that age without heart disease, cancer or diabetes and died of old age, not disease. Of course, most of us don’t live on a farm – but we can still be in control of what we eat by choosing wisely.
Why no alcohol?
Limit alcohol or just quit drinking altogether. If you enjoy wine, look for wines with ‘no added sulphites’. Sulphites occur naturally in wine so no wines are actually sulphite-free; they just contain little enough that it doesn’t need to be declared on the label. Sulphites are one of the biggest causes of allergies (see here for more information). They are also regulated food additives that are used as preservatives to maintain food colour and prolong shelf life, prevent the growth of micro-organisms, and maintain the potency of certain medications. Sulphites are used to bleach food starches (such as potato) and are also used in the production of some food-packaging materials (such as cellophane).
The sulphites that can be added to foods are potassium bisulphite, potassium metabisulphite, sodium bisulphite, sodium dithionite, sodium metabisulphite, sodium sulphite, sulphur dioxide and sulphurous acid. You may also see them described as sulfites, sulphites or sulfiting or sulphiting agents.
Why no caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant and can wreak havoc with the body’s own natural metabolism, as it impairs the metabolising of glucose in the body which could potentially lead to weight gain. It is known to raise blood pressure in some people suffering from hypertension. It may cause insomnia, increase allergies, and cause indigestion, severe headaches, migraines and forceful heart contractions. This stimulant interferes with the body’s natural ability to regulate itself, so it is best to limit coffee and chocolate intake.
Why no GM products?
Genetically modified (GM) foods are derived from organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering – for example, through the introduction of a gene from another organism. The human species has evolved over thousands of years by adapting slowly to its natural environment. Originally all foods were organic, yet in the last 20 years the human diet has changed. The biotech industry has targeted two of the most commonly eaten foods – corn and soy – and has altered them to ‘living modified organisms’. Now several countries in the world have banned GM foods because the impact and true cost to humans and the environment is unknown. This tampering with nature’s genetic code could have detrimental effects on human health. There have been several independent studies that show that GM products give rise to tumours in rats, produce smaller animal foetuses and contain high levels of the toxin ghlyphosate, which is linked to birth defects and illnesses. GM foods also cause severe inflammation of the stomach and enlarged uteri in pigs (whose gastro-intestinal tract is similar to that of humans).
I believe that not enough research and government regulation has gone into protecting our food sources and it is best to stay away from GM products. GM crops can also pollute other crops and many studies report that the world’s natural ecosystem could be destroyed by GM crops, which can eliminate their competing species in the wild, rendering many original life forms extinct.
We do not know the damaging health effects of consuming GM products either, and with an increase in gluten intolerances, coeliac disease, auto-immune diseases and cancer I think it is best not to take any risks, especially when there has been no conclusive evidence that GM foods are safe.
To read more, please see www.collective-evolution.com
Why low sugar?
Sugar is highly addictive. It can cause stress to the adrenal glands that regulate your metabolism and can put your system on a sugar high followed by a sugar low, with accompanying mood swings. Some experts suggest that ingesting excessive amounts of sugar is proven to lead to type 2 diabetes, which is reversible through a low-sugar diet. Sugar is present not only in the diet in the form of granular sugar, syrups and fructose, but also in carbohydrate-heavy starchy foods (including wholegrain varieties) such as rice, pasta, noodles and bread. Once digested, these sugars are turned into glucose, and this type of sugar can spike insulin levels and cause havoc with our body’s ability to naturally regulate itself.
The main problem is that many of the foods we consume today are high in sugar. A person may consume a sugar-laden smoothie or cereal for breakfast, followed by a large pasta meal at lunch and then a starchy rich meal for dinner, including a sweet dessert. A high-sugar diet also feeds the bad bacteria and yeast, such as candida, in our body, an overgrowth of which leads to all sorts of problems, including from skin rashes, heart palpitations and leaky gut syndrome (where the bacteria has eaten away at the walls of the intestines and bacteria and toxins from bacteria waste leak back into the bloodstream). In fact, a candida overgrowth as a result of too much sugar is a silent killer that scientists are only sharing with the public now.
Some doctors prescribe a strict no-sugar diet to limit the growth and spread of cancer cells within the body. Sugar is also incredibly ageing, as glucose in the cells shrink the cells; in the same way that salt is highly dehydrating, so too is sugar.
Sugar from seasonal fruit is a better, natural source. Combined with the naturally occurring fibre in fruit, this type of sugar provides slower-release energy than sweet drinks or sugary snacks. It is also less likely to upset your insulin and natural metabolism levels. Ideally, we should be eating less than 5g of sugar per day per 100g of food. I have included a glossary at the back of the book that details which fruits are in season and their respective calorie content.
As mentioned, bread and pasta spike your insulin levels and increase the glucose and sugar levels in your body, making vitamin absorption difficult. Surely these are more than good enough reasons to reduce one’s sugar consumption? The recipes in this book contain some sources of complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa or noodles, including some sugars in vegetables such as carrots. However, limiting the frequency of eating these and their amounts, keeping their consumption in balance throughout the day, will limit the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
Why reduce wheat?
It is also wise to reduce wheat consumption and ingredients that contain gluten, as gluten not only increases glucose levels but is also responsible for gastrointestinal issues, autoimmune diseases and thyroid problems.
Why no smoking?
Give up smoking! Did you know that along with nicotine (used as an insecticide), cigarettes also contain cadmium (used in batteries), stearic acid (used in candle wax), toluene (used as an industrial solvent), ammonia (used in toilet cleaners), paint, methanol (used in rocket fuel), arsenic (used in rat poison) and hexamine (used in barbecue lighter fuel)? Smoking also creates gases such as methane and carbon monoxide – more toxic chemicals. It is widely known that long-term smoking causes lung cancer.
Alkalinity equals balance and low inflammation and toxicity
Alcohol, sugar and caffeine, as mentioned before, are all acid-forming foods that increase the pH of the body. The body’s desired state is an alkaline state. You can check your alkaline levels by putting a strip of litmus paper on your tongue to test your saliva. Healthy saliva gives a reading of pH 6.5–7.5, meaning it is in an alkaline state. It is important to make sure that the body is not in an acidic state, as acidity increases inflammation of the body, leading to acid reflux, digestion problems, allergies, indigestion, bloating, heartburn, fatigue and mood swings. The long-term health problems of a body in a constant acidic state can lead to serious and more chronic illnesses.
Food provides sources of both acidic and alkaline properties, and by eating the right foods, the body can maintain a healthy balanced state of alkalinity. I have created recipes with this balance in mind. Most foods, such as meat, fish, dairy, grains, most nuts, sugar, shellfish, soft drinks, processed tomatoes, corn, beans and sweet potatoes, are acidifying. Whole fruits and vegetables, barley, buckwheat and Brazil nuts are alkalising. It is important to be aware of the pH of the food you are consuming, together with food ingredients, so that you can keep the body in balance. By limiting alcohol, sugar, caffeine and dairy products in your diet, your body is on its way to a low acid state and so low toxicity. By eating the right foods, the body has a chance of healing and re-balancing itself.
Routine is Good For Health: Cleanse Every Day
Back in our primordial days, we slept when it got dark and we woke with the sunrise. There were no in-between snacks or munchies at midnight, and so our body had a long rest period from eating. This is a period of natural fasting when the body has a chance to renew itself and the digestive system gets a break. So when we wake, we awake hungry and ready for food, hence why we break-the-fast. Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, setting you up for the day to come.
However, many Chinese practitioners recommend drinking a glass of body-temperature water (also known as the ‘life-saving first drink’) before breakfast, because it helps to rehydrate the body after a long night’s fast. It also cleans the gut so that it can work most efficiently and absorb nutrients. Many health books recommend drinking up to 1 litre of warm water first thing in the morning and then waiting 90 minutes before eating, to help flush out all the toxins. Toxins also build up in the saliva around the teeth at night, so it’s important to get up, clean your teeth and then drink warm water, otherwise you are flushing the toxins that have collected in your mouth right back inside your body, meaning that it has to work harder. During the 90-minute wait it is recommended that you try to go to the toilet so that any waste matter can be expelled.
If you have trouble going to the toilet, you can try 1 tablespoon of organic castor oil mixed with the juice of 1 large orange. Wait 90 minutes and drink a cleansing herbal tea during this time until you get some bowel movement. This can be done once a month to keep the system cleansed. Personally I find it is not as harsh on my system as other detox pills and methods.
4 Drinks to Help You Break-The-Fast
1. A litre of warm water from the kettle
Drink and wait 90 minutes before eating solid foods.
2. Organic castor oil and orange juice (once a month)
1 tablespoon organic castor oil
juice of 1 large orange
Mix together and drink on an empty stomach. Wait 90 minutes, during which time sip herbal tea before eating solid foods.
Note: If you are pregnant or have bowel disease, please consult your doctor about taking castor oil.
3. Organic cider vinegar drink
1 tablespoon organic, unfiltered, natural fermented apple cider vinegar (look for ones that contain ‘mother’ – strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria)
250ml warm water
1 teaspoon organic manuka honey (optional – leave it out if you are diabetic)
Mix all of the above together, stir and drink on an empty stomach. Wait 30 minutes before eating solid foods.
4. Lemon juice warm water
juice of ½ organic lemon
250ml warm water
Combine the two, stir and drink on an empty stomach. Wait 30 minutes before eating solid foods.
It is important to get the body into a routine. Breakfast doesn’t appeal to many people and it is to do with lifestyle. For example, if you eat late at night, the body won’t feel hungry until midday the next day, especially if you have had a heavy meal, although the length of this time can vary from person to person depending on their digestion. So it is no wonder that some people don’t care for breakfast and usually skip it.
Some health experts say just eat when you are hungry and listen to your body, and this is true – which is why most late-night eaters would say that breakfasts are not for them. It works, too, because the body naturally adjusts and works around your lifestyle. However, this puts a lot of stress on the body. The body has to work harder to adjust; it has so much waste to eliminate, with thousands of chemical reactions taking place every day, trying to get clean air and supplies all around the body, why shouldn’t we make it our priority to give it a helping hand?
The least we can do is try to follow a regime. This may require a huge change in lifestyle, but a commitment like this is for life if we are to live a healthy long life and make the best use of our bodies and our time on Earth. Personally, when I have a routine I find my sleep patterns are more regulated, I sleep more soundly and when I am fully rested I don’t need an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning – I awake naturally. This is correlated to the time of your last meal: for example, if you wake up at 7am, work back 12 hours and you will notice that a meal that ends at 7pm the night before will mean you will wake up by 7am the next day, because the hunger pangs will naturally awaken you. There are many studies that report that our liver will detox best while we sleep and ideally if we are asleep before 1am. It takes a couple of hours to reach a deep sleep, so the optimum time to get to sleep is around 11pm. As it can take 3–4 hours to digest food, by the time you sleep, the body will be ready to heal itself rather than having to concentrate on digesting food, because the gut will have had time to heal any inflammation it may have.
So try to make a routine and stick to it. By eating a sensible and balanced diet and taking regular exercise, this natural rhythm of fasting and giving your digestive system a break will allow you to keep your weight in check. This is because your body will have the chance to rest, and if we need mental R & R, so does the gut.
The best way to ‘break-the-fast’ is with nutritious, low-GI foods (foods that don’t spike blood sugar levels) that make you feel satisfied and energised for longer.
Calories, Nutrition and Yíngyǎng
For men, nutritionists recommend a guideline consumption of 2,500 calories daily, and for women, 2,000. However, even these values can vary depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity. Calories are used to measure how much food you are consuming and it is relatively easy to understand if you are on a weight-loss programme. Of course, it’s simple to say and assume that if you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight, and if you consume less than you burn, you lose weight.
However, this shouldn’t be the only way to measure food, because it is misleading. Dieticians in the West and Chinese food therapists also think in terms of nutritional value – Yíngyǎng. They think of the food in terms of its nutritional content: fast food has no yin-yang and fresh food has lots of Yíngyǎng. Thinking of the nutritional value of the food, as opposed to its calorific content, helps with your food choices. When we use the term nutritional content or value, we mean in terms of nutrients. So, for example, is the dish or ingredient rich in vitamins, amino acids; is it acidifying or alkalising?
Is the ingredient yin or yang; does it impart a warming quality or a cooling effect on the body? These principles are what differentiate the Eastern and Western approaches to nutrition and therefore to diet and dieting. Having lived in the West on an Eastern diet, I am fascinated by the amount of people who comment on the healthiness of Chinese and Asian cookery – although this is dependent on the quality of the ingredients, the way it is cooked and what with!
Of course, most Chinese and South-East Asian diets are mainly based on fresh ingredients – vegetables, rice, grains and little meat – but they can also be high in sodium and sugar. Yes, we don’t use butter – but we do cook with a lot of oil and sometimes MSG. In the same way that Westerners have introduced the concept of eating salads (via Pizza Hut salad bars) that are deemed healthy to the Chinese and Asians in their respective countries, I have come to realise that a combination of the two disciplines, an East–West integrated approach, may be the way forward for people striving to achieve a balanced healthy diet and a healthy weight that can be maintained in the long term.
There are many different approaches to diet and dieting. Some people suffer terrible allergies to specific foods and therefore have to eliminate certain ingredients from their diet – for example, nuts, shellfish, meat or dairy. Some people have so many problems that they need a drastic overhaul of their diet and so turn to raw veganism, and some are pescatarians. I believe there is no need for drastic measures but rather for a balanced way of eating that combines a little bit of everything, that contains the highest amounts of Yíngyǎng and ‘clean’ ingredients. Here are a few simple truths – and some of them might even challenge your pre-conceived ideas of optimum nutrition and health!
Did You Know?
1 Juicing is a good way to get a large hit of the vitamins you need in a handy glass, but it contains little fibre. Be aware of smoothies and juices: they can spike your insulin levels, as you are basically drinking liquid sugar. Instead, eat five portions of vegetables a day and limit yourself to one portion of fruit at any one time. It is worth noting that eating fruit as part of a meal will stop the sugar from being absorbed so quickly. Or choose low-GI (glycemic index – see here) fruits such as apples).
2 If you do juice, don’t just juice fruit, juice vegetables as well – for example, broccoli, kale and cabbage, with lime or lemon juice. Be sure to buy organic fruit and vegetables (or grow your own), otherwise you are drinking juice plus pesticides.
3 If you can stomach eating the peel and seeds of fruit such as oranges and lemons, do chew well. Papaya seeds are known to be healthful cures against parasites and harmful bacteria. You can grind these and add them to shakes or porridge. These are nature’s natural detox cleansing pills. Consult a herbalist, as some fruit seeds can contain toxins, but from my own experience, fresh seeds from grapefruit, lemons, oranges and papaya seeds are OK. Of course, dried seeds from watermelons, pumpkin and sunflowers are all good nutritional mineral sources, too.
4 Traditional Chinese medicine (similar to Indian Ayurveda) advises that you should eat the five tastes every day – sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and sour. Bitter is perhaps the hardest to take in daily, but teas and spices deliver on this. It is most important to look for natural ingredients, such as wholefoods, that contain these tastes.
5 Be aware of too many soy products. Buy organic or non-genetically modified sources of soy. Some studies have proved that soy can lower testosterone, block essential minerals from being absorbed and cause gastro-intestinal problems.
The Chinese philosophy states the 7 daily essentials: firewood (as a heat source), tea, rice, oil, salt, vinegar and sauce (natural fermented pastes that contain healthful bacteria). Oil and salt are good for you as long as they are from natural and ‘clean’ sources – free from as many pesticides and chemicals as possible. Salt should be from mineral-rich sources such as rock salt or sea salt, although conventional medicine would recommend avoiding added-salt and high-salt foods. Generally, our modern diets mean we consume more salt than we should.
6 Sweat – go to a sauna once a week and drink plenty of water. All the toxins collect around our cells and one way to help expel them is to exercise and sweat. Our skin is the largest detox organ found in our bodies and we never think to make full use of it. We think of sweating as gross and do all sorts to block sweat, but we are hindering our body from working at its optimum level. Anti-perspirants are full of chemicals that are absorbed directly into the body. If you are sweaty, then sweat! It is the body’s way of clearing the toxins.
7 Drink more water, especially in the morning. Drinking water on an empty stomach helps to cleanse the colon and gut, thereby increasing its ability to absorb nutrients. It also helps prevent constipation, increases the production of new blood and muscle cells, helps with weight loss and can boost the metabolism. Chinese dietary practices believe that water should be drunk at room temperature or body temperature, which is 37.5ºC. Ice-cold water can ‘shock’ the stomach into inactivity. Drinking water helps improve the skin, gets rid of toxins from the blood and keeps your skin clear and glowing. Keeping hydrated also balances your lymph system, which helps perform daily functions like fight infection. Water also helps your skin look plump and youthful, so you stay looking younger for longer. And who doesn’t want that? Just make sure you buy a good filter to filter out any pollutants or chemicals found in tap water.
Clean Eating = Good Health = Lean and Slim
If you have picked up this book in the hope of getting lean, then unsurprisingly the answer is clean, consistent eating. Consistently choosing the right foods over time WILL deliver results. This is hardly a revolutionary idea. However, the clean recipes in this book are so easy to cook and taste great that it makes being consistent that much easier.
If you are currently at a body weight you are unhappy with, it’s important to recognise that you did not get that way overnight. It was most likely gradually crept up on you. The same goes for losing weight – it’s a slow journey that takes time. Consistent actions will produce lasting results.
Weight loss is not about starving yourself but rather about feeding your body with all the precious, essential nutrients that will help build the body of our dreams: by looking good, we feel great and by feeling great, we look good. This is the balance of yin and yang (light and dark), energy and matter, body and mind, soul and spirit, conscious and unconscious.
Eating to sustain the body is crucial for our well-being, but we have lost our way and people now eat ‘emotionally’ to fill a void. When we eat to fill an emotion, it often leads to disaster! We make poor choices and we don’t eat to fill the body with nutrients, and often we put more stress on it by eating the wrong foods. This balance needs to be tipped as obesity numbers are rising faster than ever.
The world works in perfect unity – from warm to hot to mild to cold. Just as our planet needs our love and care, our body is our world and its ecosystem is regulated by how much we nurture it with love and nutrients. This connection between all things and all emotions is the key to what you desire.
This mindset is important, because the desire to achieve your full potential will drive you to understand nutrition and to learn how to cook and eat so that you can get those results. Having this knowledge will empower you to make positive changes to your diet.
So every time you reach for something to eat, ask yourself if you are truly hungry. And question why you are eating. This is the first step to being honest with yourself and fully aware of your habits so that you can avoid emotional eating and therefore overeating! Keeping a diary, being on track of what you eat, is not an obsessive thing to do – in fact, it is an obsession we should keep. Our bodies have to function every day for the rest of our lives, so why shouldn’t we be obsessive about keeping them strong and healthy?
The Science Behind Our Food
The foods that we eat are primarily comprised of three different macro-nutrients. These are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. We need a balance of all these nutrients in order to have good health.
Although fats have got a bad name in the past, it is now clear that they are very important for humans to maintain good health and metabolic function. It’s more about the kind of fats that you are consuming.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are better for you. These are usually liquid at room temperature and when eaten in moderation reduce blood cholesterol and thus diminish the chance of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat and are extremely good for heart health. The best source of omega-3 fats is oily fish; some plant foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds and their oils also contain some.
Try to stay away from saturated fats from animal sources, as these raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. However, saturated fats from plant sources, such as coconut oil, may not have this problem and some experts believe they may actually contribute towards heart health. Trans fats or hydrogenated fats are also ones to avoid. These are oils that have had hydrogen chemically added to them. These fats cause a rise in cholesterol and significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
Protein is vital for the growth and repair of muscle, ligaments and tendons, DNA replication and cell regeneration.
Proteins are made up from chains of amino acids. These can be non-essential amino acids, meaning that the body can manufacture them itself, or essential amino acids, meaning that the body cannot synthesise them and they must therefore be consumed from food. There are nine essential amino acids, and proteins containing all nine are called ‘complete’. Those that don’t contain all nine are thus termed ‘incomplete’.
There are abundant sources of complete protein in meat, eggs, fish, dairy and quinoa. Protein is also found in beans and grains, and although they are classed as incomplete, two or more groups of these foods (for example, black beans and rice) can be combined to create a complete array of amino acids.
Carbohydrates are used as a primary energy source within our bodies. Sugars and starches are both made from sugar molecules, and after these enter the bloodstream, insulin takes the sugar into the body’s cells (including the brain, liver and muscles) to provide energy or fuel for the body. If there is an excess, it is stored as fat.
When we eat simple carbs, our bloodstream is flooded with sugar due to this simple chemical structure being digested quickly. The body cannot deal with this sudden rise in blood sugar, so the body processes it quicker by releasing insulin, and any excess sugar not used immediately by the body as fuel is stored as fat.
Complex carbs or starches, on the other hand, are comprised of many sugar molecules joined together in long chains and are usually found in wholefood sources such as sweet potato. These long chains take much longer to be digested and therefore release energy slowly over a period of hours. This gradual release does not greatly spike insulin levels and therefore doesn’t trigger fat storage. These carbs tend to have a much lower rating on the glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is a system of rating how fast carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body. The higher the GI number, the faster the glucose levels rise in the body. Another benefit of eating complex carbs is that they usually come with lots of fibre, too. Fibre will make you feel full, so that you are more satisfied and therefore less likely to over-eat unhealthy foods. It also keeps your digestive system working correctly and can help to lower cholesterol.
It will come as no surprise, then, that I advocate sticking to carbohydrates from complex sources as much as possible, as it will help you become heathier and leaner. In fact, if you never consumed a simple carbohydrate during your whole life you would be just fine! One exception to this is eating fruit. Fruit contains fructose which, even though it is a simple sugar, does not have a high impact on blood sugar levels due to its fibre content and because it is metabolised differently in the body. However, eating too much fruit, like anything else, will lead to weight gain, so consume in moderation. It’s also best to try to avoid any processed food containing fructose as a sweetener as it is extremely concentrated and goes straight into the liver, which can cause toxicity.
An extremely useful tool for anyone wanting to get lean is to track your macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins). The premise is that to gain or lose weight you need to consume a certain number of calories every day. These calories are made up from carbohydrates, fats and proteins in differing amounts. By tracking them, you can see how much of each you are consuming daily and easily hit your target for each macro.
There are lots of macro-nutrient calculators online that will tell you how much of each macro-nutrient you should be consuming per day based on your goal, height, weight, sex and activity level. These are useful as a starting point but everybody is different, so it requires some trial and error to find out which amounts make you lose/gain weight. Keeping a daily record allows you to figure out how many calories you need to consume to lose weight and what those calories should come from.
Although this approach requires some effort, it is well worth trying. Logging your food is easier then ever – I can recommend this online calculator as a good starting point: www.healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator. Or if you have a smart phone, Calorie Count is a very handy app to track your macros. Tracking macros also has the benefit of reducing hunger pangs greatly. This is because when focused on hitting the macro targets people tend to eat more regularly, are less hungry between meals, and thus avoid snacking. The result of this is that for most of the day you are full up with healthy food and junk food cravings are greatly diminished.
All of the recipes in the book have both the total calories and the macro-nutrient breakdown to make it easy for anyone following this approach.
A deeper connection through choice – choose clean eating, choose health
This book was born out of my desire to eat and live better. I was creating recipes as a chef and thought my food was healthy, but I wanted to really know, have a deeper understanding of and monitor the nutrients that my body consumes. As I age, I want to be healthy and fit, I want to be in the best shape I can be. I want to enjoy food, eat well and I want to be aware of what I eat. While researching for this book, what I found was a revelation – that most ingredients in their pure unprocessed state are full of goodness. It’s not difficult to eat healthily, it’s about making healthful food choices, about being mindful in choosing to eat well. On the whole, our body is ingenious, here to protect and take care of us if we feed it the right nutrients to allow it to work efficiently. By feeding it the right fuels, maintaining one’s natural slim waistline without overly exercising is within reach.
I wanted to find a way to break all this down to serve as a reminder to help us to eat consciously. We can choose to be happy or healthy or both. It comes back to a state of mind. We can choose to be responsible for our lives and the environment we live in, or we can choose to be ignorant. There is no right or wrong, no judgements made; however, your choices reveal who you really are and who you want to be. Are you conscious or unconscious? Are you open- or closed-minded? Do you choose love or fear? Wellness or illness? This may seem rather extreme – and it is! But being true to yourself is the root of good emotional health and translates to good body health. Hence the term body, mind and spirit. Only you have yourself to answer to!
The future of food – a revolution in ‘thoughtful’ eating
My comparisons are extreme, but there is food for thought here. The world is overpopulated, yet if we really wanted to save our oceans and stop the killing of animals, we could – but we don’t. Could the world’s population stop eating fish for 10 years and wouldn’t fish stocks be restored? If we all stopped eating processed foods for 10 years and only ate a diet of wholefoods, wouldn’t we be in the best health of our lives? I don’t mean to be preachy. I think we should spend more time caring about what is truly important in life – food, water, love, care and respect for the environment. If we all cared and shared the same values as human beings, perhaps we would be one step closer to solving the world’s problems together. And what is more important than securing sustainable sources of healthful, pure, clean foods?
I do not have the answers to all questions, because I am on my own journey to understanding all the complexity that surrounds our current system. The world produces more food than ever before, yet we have more complex diseases than ever. This is rather worrying, as food is supposed to sustain us, not cause us illness! Our health depends on the cleanliness and health of our planet. We could all do with cleaning up our acts individually and collectively for future generations. For me, if this means sacrificing my palate, then so be it. I know I am not alone in this quest. Cultural beliefs and eating habits will ultimately change as we will fight together for change for survival.
A Cook’s Notes
• All recipes serve 1, unless otherwise stated.
• Use organic ingredients where possible.
• There are specific egg brands that are organic; the hens are fed a special diet, so have increased sources of omega 3. Look out for these as they have a higher nutrient content.
• I prefer to use a combination of organic coconut oil and rapeseed oil. For those wanting a lower calorie and fat content, substitute 1 tablespoon of coconut oil for half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil or 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with ½ teaspoon of rapeseed oil. This will reduce the amount of fat, saturated fat and calories.
• No processed ingredients – all in their natural state where possible.
• Avoid ingredients in metal packaging (such as tins) where possible.
• If you are consuming papaya seeds as part of a detox programme, look to buy non-genetically modified papayas from Mexico or South America. Take no more than 1 tablespoon a day. If you are pregnant or trying, don’t eat papaya seeds.
• Some Asian food recipes can be high in sodium, so try to eat these recipes with other low-sodium meals to balance sodium levels on any given day. The recommended daily limit for sodium is 2400mg per day.
• For those who need more protein, add one more medium egg to any breakfast meal; the nutritional values for one extra egg are:
• For those who want to increase their protein intake, add organic whey powder to your meals.
• For those wanting to reduce their sodium intake, halve the amount of low-sodium light soy, tamari, salt or stock used. For low-sodium light soy, make sure it is made from gm-free soya beans.
• As a substitute for rice wine, enhance the umami or savoury flavour by adding a tablespoon of vegetable bouillon stock in liquid form. Or use 1 tablespoon of water to create extra liquid or steam.
• Drink plenty of filtered water – aim for a maximum of 2 litres per day.
• In this book, all ingredients purchased were from organic sources where possible, but inevitably not every food is easily available in an organic form.
• There are a few recipes that require a grill pan.
• Limit sugar. Where I have used it in the recipes, I have chosen organic soft brown sugar or caster sugar for natural goodness, and only a small pinch.
My Top 20 Essential Everyday Ingredients to Help Eat Clean
1 Organic coconut oil – unprocessed, unrefined, pure coconut oil. Solid at room temperature, but melts as it hits the wok. Coconut oil is a stable fat and the latest unconventional nutrition experts advocate using coconut oil, stating that it is good for the heart, reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. (Source: Coconut Cures, Bruce Fife N.D.)
2 Seaweeds – wakame, nori, nori flakes, kelp – seaweeds come in many different forms. Dried nori seaweed makes a great low-fat snack and can be used in soups and salads. It is the perfect low-calorie ingredient that is high in Yíngyǎng. Seaweeds make a great sushi-style wrap for vegetables. Fish get their omega-3 from both seaweed and other fish, so go straight to source! While omega-3 quantities may be low, seaweed contains minerals such as iodine, which is proven to be good for thyroid function.
3 Fruit – eat only those that are in season. Most fruits contain high sources of vitamin C and antioxidants. For more nutritional information on fruits see the ingredient health benefits glossary.
4 Garlic – a good anti-fungal and anti-bacterial ingredient. Delicious grated raw in a salad dressing or used in a stir-fry.
5 Organic wheat-free tamari – if you are allergic to wheat, try using a wheat-free, gluten-free soy sauce (although it is high in salt, so use it in limited amounts). Do compare different brands, as some low-sodium soy sauces have a lower sodium content.
6 Nuts – all kinds of nuts, but raw and unprocessed and preferably organic. With nuts, I wash them first (as you don’t know what dust, dirt or moulds have collected on them during harvesting and packing). Then drain and place on a roasting tray. Drizzle over sea salt water – minimal pinches of sea salt dissolved in filtered water (omit if you are on a low-salt diet) – and roast in the oven at 180ºC (350ºF/gas mark 4) for 10 minutes to crisp up and get all toasty (watch them so they don’t burn, as all ovens vary). Great crushed and sprinkled on salads and in soups or eaten as a fuelling snack.
7 Organic miso paste –great for making soup broths and contains some healthy bacteria from the fermentation process. It also contributes a delicious savoury flavour. Be careful to use small amounts, as some can be high in sodium.
8 Extra-virgin olive oil – a healthy monounsaturated fat that helps decrease total blood cholesterol.
9 Fresh shiitake mushrooms – natural umami in flavour and rich in antioxidants.
10 Organic dark leafy greens – kale, cabbages, spinach, broccoli (and all other vegetables). The bonus is that this group of vegetables contains phyto-chemicals that are thought to combat cancer.
11 Avocado – in Chinese it is known as Niu-you guo, or nature’s butter. It has high levels of monounsaturated fat, which helps regulate blood sugar and is good for the heart.
12 Lemons and limes – great sources of vitamin C and are alkalising and cleansing. Add zest and flavour to dressings and seafood dishes. The seeds are great, too, for cleaning the gut.
13 Eggs – make sure you buy organic. A good source of protein and also a source of choline, a nutrient that some of us may not be getting enough of. It’s also thought that choline may have anti-inflammatory properties, and may help protect against cardiovascular disease. Egg yolks also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeanthanin, which are thought to protect against macular degeneration.
14 Ginger – in Chinese medicine, this warms the body and is very yang, great for digestion and fighting colds and flus. Heat a little piece and rub it on the temples to relieve headaches and migraines.
15 Organic bouillon vegetable stock powder – quick and easy for making soup broths. Look for low-salt options.
16 Papaya seeds – excellent for naturally helping to expel parasites in the gut. Not used in conventional medicine, but from personal experience they work!
17 Goji berries – add them to your nut mix. They contain myriad nutrients and are delicious in soup broths, teas and stir-fries. Traditional Chinese medicine advocates they are good for eye health.
18 Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, linseed and flaxseed are all organic sources and great sprinkled on foods. Seeds are rich in sources of fibre, vitamin E and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are good for our hearts.
19 Fresh chilli – adds flavour and vitamin C to dishes, delicious!
20 Dried spices – from turmeric (which has anti-microbial properties healing the gut of any inflammation), to cumin, which helps improve the appetite after fevers or vomiting, spices contain many healthful properties. Most spices are eaten in very small amounts, but usage helps to increase health according to Chinese food therapists. The ancient Indian principles of Ayurveda hold the same belief.
My Top Equipment
1. Wok Stainless-steel wok that I season with cider vinegar, as it has less chance of leaching chemicals into the food. I choose to cook with a wok because it’s fast and fun. With a busy lifestyle, you want dinner to be on the table in no time. The shape of the wok also means that concentrated heat cooks the food in a small amount of oil, while allowing the ingredients to retain their nutrients. Economical, fun and makes meals taste great!
2. Wooden spatula Simple tool for swishing ingredients in the wok.
3. Cook’s knife A good sharp knife, even if it is an all-purpose one.
4. Chopping board Go for bamboo, which lasts a long time, is not very porous and is recyclable and sustainable for the environment. Avoid plastic, as you cut into the board, meaning that little pieces can get into your food. You can also try wooden boards made from beech.
5. Bamboo steamer An inexpensive and healthy way of cooking. It also helps to keep food hot before it is served at the table.
Create Your Own Clean Mantras: My Own Daily Personal Healthy Principles
This is the most important meal of the day. Provide the body with fuel to stoke the metabolism.
Keep it simple
Simply eat ‘pure’ food. Look at an ingredient; if it cannot be found in its natural state, don’t eat it.
Check the labels and eat foods that have no artificial additives, preservatives, colours or flavour enhancers.
Nourish and replenish
Think of your body as a car; it needs to be fuelled, oiled, clean and hydrated to work optimally.
Listen to and respect your body. We have an amazing anatomy that allows us to walk, swim, run and dance! We want it to be healthy so that we can go after our dreams.
Make a gourmet effort
Being healthy needn’t be boring. Make a fuss over mealtimes and make them fun and exciting. Get friends together and on the road to eating well, so that you can all encourage each other.
Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated. Brain fog is associated with dehydration. This false sense of tiredness can tempt you to reach for sugary and unhealthy snacks.
Think before you eat
Eat consciously and mindfully when you are really hungry and not because you are feeling emotionally empty.
Cleanse your mind: Happiness is a state of mind
Along with my tips for eating well, I also share a set of beliefs that might help you achieve a happy state of mind, also the key to good health.
Health is wealth
Wealth can’t buy health. If you are have permanent ill health, how can you be happy? Therefore health is wealth and happiness.
Dream and do
Be who you want to be, not a ‘wannabe’. Follow your heart and do what you want to do to maximise your life, not what others expect from you.
You cannot eat money
When the world’s food resources are all depleted, people will realise you can’t eat money. At that point, all the money in the world can’t buy pure food, so there is no point chasing money. Money is a tool to be used, not used to enslave us.
Time is precious: each day cannot be relived, so live for each day.
Love with an open mind and an open heart. What you give, you will receive. It is the natural law of attraction.
Gratitude is humility
Gratitude is an attitude that promotes humility. Humility is good for the soul. When we count our blessings, we feel rich and fulfilled. Choose your thoughts wisely.
Life is simple – live a simple life.
Love life and life will be filled with love.
Face fears – live courageously
Do not live entrapped in your own fears. Live courageously. The only fear you should be fearful of is fear itself, as it leads to inaction. Courage leads to action. Action means one step closer to your dreams and life goals.
Exercise and meditate
I start my day with the exercise ‘The Five Tibetans’ – a great yoga exercise that helps the posture and keeps one’s mind and body balanced. It can be done in less than 10 minutes when you are used to the routine, and if you have a busy lifestyle and travel frequently, this is perfect for maintaining the body. You just need a quiet space and perhaps a towel – and that is it. Please feel free to do your own research to gain more information on ‘The Five Tibetans’.
I find that running twice a week for 20 minutes keeps me in check. Overall, keep active and keep moving; whether it’s doing housework or walking instead of driving, every bit counts. Do what makes you feel balanced and revitalised energetically. Our body is an engine and needs to be used, otherwise it will go rusty! Do check with a doctor before starting an exercise programme, especially if you have had any health issues or haven’t exercised in a long time. Take it slowly and build up your fitness.
Take some time for meditation. It is a great way to relax, unwind and de-stress. You don’t have to follow any particular meditation. Sitting comfortably (whether on a chair or cross-legged on the floor) the simple act of closing your eyes, slowly and deeply breathing (in and out through the nose) and thinking of nothing is a great way to quiet and rest the mind. Deep relaxation is good for the body and mind. Remember, worry does not achieve anything except damage your mental and physical health. It is proven that, when we are stressed, the body releases cortisol, which not only makes you gain weight but also damages cells. Take a deep breath, make a list and tackle your issues one at a time. The more you tackle each day, the lighter your mental load will become. If you have already reached rock bottom, remember – it can’t get any worse! With each effort and each day, it can only get better.
Thank you for finding this book and for allowing me to share my journey and beliefs with you.
Good luck on your journey to finding good health. I wish you peace, good eating and happy living always.
It’s an old, well-known saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s actually true. During sleep your metabolism slows down due to the lack of food and movement, meaning reduced fat burning. Upon waking, you need to speed up your metabolism once again. With this in mind, I have created a range of breakfast dishes that will fire up your metabolism, energise you and help you start burning fat.
Yang-yang chilli eggs
This is a favourite recipe of mine that makes a simple and lean breakfast; it has a spicy kick and an array of health benefits to help you start your day. I call it ‘Yang-yang’ chilli eggs because, according to traditional Chinese food therapy, eggs are ‘hot’ in energy, as are chillies, so this is the perfect dish to warm up your body.
The egg whites are packed with protein, which will kick-start your metabolism (and maintain your lean muscle mass). The healthy monosaturated fats from the avocado contain anti-inflammatory properties and allow the absorption of vital fat-soluble nutrients.
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon diced white onion
¼ red pepper, deseeded and diced
2 (for women) or 3 (for men) free-range medium eggs
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of ground black pepper
½ avocado, peeled and stoned
1 dash of Tabasco (shop bought or home made – see here)
Heat a wok (or pan) over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. As the oil starts to melt, add the onion and stir-fry for 1 minute, then stir in the red pepper pieces and cook for another minute until the pepper starts to soften. Beat the eggs with the sea salt and black pepper, then add to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute until scrambled.
Remove from the wok and serve with the avocado sprinkled with a splash of Tabasco.
According to traditional Chinese food therapy, eggs are yang but when boiled they become more yin. Raw peppers are yin and the hot salsa is yang, so overall the dish is rather balanced and neutral and makes the perfect yin-yang start to the day! Ultimately, this is a clean, tasty and zingy breakfast.
It’s also packed with vitamins C and E, which both protect against cell damage and are vital to support a healthy immune system. The healthy monounsaturated fats from the avocados can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower levels of the unhealthy types of cholesterol. This is a good recipe for those who are after a low-carb breakfast.
500ml/18fl oz cold water
2 quails’ eggs
½ green pepper, deseeded and diced
2 teaspoons home-made chilli ‘Tabasco’
1 ripe avocado, sliced in half and stoned
Pour the water into a wok (or pan) and bring to the boil, then boil the eggs for 3 minutes until hard. Place under cold running water until cool enough to handle.
Shell the eggs, then dice. Mix with the green pepper and add the chilli Tabasco. Toss together, fill the avocado halves and eat.
Golden Chinese eggs with oyster sriracha and toasted cashew nuts
This spicy twist on fried eggs will help you start your day with a bang. Coconut oil is full of medium-chain triglycerides, providing a great low-carb alternative that some nutritionists believe will increase energy expenditure to help you burn fat faster.
Lean protein from the eggs will help you maintain and build your lean mass, helping to keep you slim, while turmeric in larger amounts can boost brain function. It’s also one of the strongest known anti-inflammatory ingredients around – inflammation is linked to diseases including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Lastly, the cashew nuts add fibre and a satisfying crunch, plus they contribute a range of vitamins, a good amount of the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese, and a range of health-promoting phytochemicals.
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 (for women) or 3 (for men) free-range medium eggs
1 pinch of turmeric
1 pinch of golden linseeds (optional)
30g/1¼oz toasted cashew nuts
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha chilli sauce
Heat a wok (or pan) over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. As the oil starts to melt, swirl it around in the wok. Crack the eggs into the wok and fry gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle in a small pinch of turmeric, then turn the eggs over and cook until medium–well done.
Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with the linseeds (if using) and cashew nuts, plus a seasoning of oyster sauce mixed with sriracha for a spicy kick.
Protein-burst smoked salmon, spinach and chive egg-white omelette
A great all-round, nutrient-rich breakfast. The egg whites and salmon provide lean protein to help recovery and start up your metabolism for the day. Salmon is also high in omega-3 fats, which help maintain brain function and may protect you from depression and memory loss. Spinach is a superfood containing a multitude of nutrients, including vitamins such as folate, A and C, minerals such as iron, potassium and manganese, and fibre.
½ teaspoon coconut oil
3 free-range medium egg whites, lightly beaten (save the yolks for another recipe)
40g/1½oz smoked salmon slices
1 small handful of baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
1 small bunch of chopped chives
1 pinch of ground black pepper
1 sprinkle of paprika or gochugaru (Korean dried chilli flakes)
½ avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced
Heat a wok (or pan) over a high heat and add the coconut oil. As the oil starts to melt, swirl it around in the wok. Add the egg whites and cook, stirring to scramble, for 30 seconds, then let the egg set in a pancake shape.
Gently place the smoked salmon slices on the egg, then sprinkle over the spinach and chives. Season with black pepper, then gently fold over the omelette. Sprinkle with some paprika or dried chilli flakes and serve with the avocado. Eat immediately.