My first job in Espinho was cooking for a bunch of yogi’s. It was actually more of a favour but people liked what I cooked that day and offered to pay. At this point, I spend much more time in the kitchen here than expected.
Since a while now, I follow Anna Jones, who worked for Jamie Oliver once but now has her own light to shine. At her table, you will find vegetables & healthy dishes, and her cooking influenced me a lot. When it becomes more technical I like Stephanie Scheirlynck, a Belgian sports foods expert that I got to know when Davy trained (as a vegan) for the Tour of Flanders. The expert, that also advised some of our finest athletes gave Davy some personal advice & ‘unconventional’ tips (beer possible! Animal protein overrated!) which I liked a lot! Because of these women, I somehow started cooking in an intuitive way that was also healthy for my gut, liver & mood. This is what Susana (food expert & yoga master) must have seen that first day. She proposed me to help her with a detox programme she developed for her clients. At that time detox for me was about green smoothies & raw food. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She’s a master you know, so she explained to me how the digestion system works and why some food digests better than other (balancing & combining wise). It dawned on me that with the right food, your body & mind automatically starts to purify itself. It’s nature, stupid!
Canary in the coal mine
I like to keep things cosy & love to eat with my eyes so I started to explore Nutrition. I want to prepare not only healthy but also some damn good looking food. No food emulsions & foams for me but actually food as we know it. I read Michael Pollan’s bestseller In Defence of Food (check his docu Cooked on Netflix, amazing). This is what I learned from the guy: everything we know about food is based on old assumptions from scientists & politicians who were pressured by the meat lobby ( food industry) when they redrew the food pyramid. For example: in 1973 the food industry accomplished to overrule the imitation label on processed food. And after that- for consumers, fake food was considered more and more normal. It got worse in the eighties when the FDA started communicating about proteins & saturated fats instead of meat & vegetables. They shifted the focus from food to the scientific neutral Nutrition. That opened the door for the industry to influence the consumer who was happy to have hotdogs & hamburgers with omega-3 fatty acids, gluten-free diet cookies or sports drinks full of antioxidants. Everybody happy!
And how about proteins? Truth is that we easily reach our daily required amount of proteins with nuts, legumes, lentils & green vegetables. With a big piece of meat, you easily succeed that amount. Not good. To all men who proudly & manly told me that they need their proteins to perform, and said that vegetables are for rabbits: the tiny blood vessels that lead to the penis are the ones that first get affected. That is why an erectile dysfunction is called the canary in the coal mine as the sign for something that went terribly wrong with your health. Karma is a bitch, hehe.
Good, better, best!
I want to cook like in the old days. Honest & healthy. Together, around a big table. Nutritionism is an Ideology and Ideologies are based on assumptions we follow with eyes wide shut. That is why we are collectively mashing avocado instead of eating what our grandmothers made with love: bread, potatoes, fresh soup, veggies and a small piece of meat. In ancient times only the rich had cardiovascular disorders & were obese. Now, with all the cheap, processed food & expensive bio food, it’s the other way around.
But let us be honest: The problem is not only the government, the industry (let us not forget the media here) or science. It’s also human nature. Like Bjork once said: ‘Be ready, be ready to get confused because there is no logic to human behaviour.’ We can also call it cognitive dissonance. We all know that processed food sucks and that we have to keep it far from the ones we love. So yes, we are to blame as well.
The good news? Because of us, farmers markets, cooperatives and city gardens are on the rise! That is where I shop for food. More good news? Research reveals that our body can easily turn around the negative effects of a lifetime of bad eating habits, with a plant-based food pattern. Instant happiness as it should!
Like Susana told me, the secret is about balance & combining. Basically that piece of salad and two slices tomato with your steak,… Try it the other way around. Just to be clear: I have no problem with meat. Just consider it a side dish or as a nutrient that provides flavour, like in Asian cuisine. Actually eating healthy is like permaculture: some vegetables, fruits, legumes, proteins envy each other so you have to grow/eat them separately. For example, when you drink coffee after a steak, your body will not absorb all the iron from the meat.
The best news? We only decide what is good for us. Do we let industry take the best of us or are we going to trust our common sense and start enjoying our grandmothers home cooked veggies again? To end with Susana’s words: “ Purifying starts with taking yourself seriously and start making the right choices.”
So yes, you can guess what I will choose. But first, start with that vegetable garden in the house we still don’t have, aaah!
You don’t have to believe anything I say, do your own research, haha: