With summer just around the corner, a lot of us are starting to think about eating a bit better. My Kitchen Rules Australia finalist Luke Hines is all about making delicious real food that tastes great and gives you a real energy boost. I caught up with Luke when he made a quick trip over to New Zealand from his native Australia to get his take on what we should eat, and what we need to leave off the grocery list if we want to look and feel our best.
I have a copy of Luke’s book, Healthy Made Easy, Macmillan, RRP $39.99, for one lucky reader. For more on how to enter, visit my Facebook page www.facebook.com/eatscooksreads
Click on the links to check out Luke’s delicious recipe for Crispy Chicken & Bacon Sweet Potato Pockets, or these amazing Choc-Raspberry Bombs – perfect for sweet tooths who need a healthy alternative to chocolate.
Q: There’s a lot of conflicting advice around about what we should and shouldn’t eat. You say in your new book that your recipes cater for everyone: in order to stay healthy, are there any foods we should be avoiding altogether?
A: I always come from a belief that we should celebrate the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and avoid any that could cause us harm or inflammation. That said, we are such unique beings that there is no one size fits all approach! Which actually makes the food and health space exciting! We celebrate a wonderful thing I refer to as bio-individuality, meaning we need to find out what works for us and celebrate those foods! I personally function better avoiding gluten, dairy and refined sugar, and I’ve seen this reflected in many of my clients in the health space, therefore my books take this approach, as it removes some of the common intolerances people face, giving them the ability to shine inside and out.
Q: Did you eat healthily as a child? What led you to pursue a career in nutrition?
A: I struggled with my weight as I was going through adolescence. I was not overly sporty, and experienced bullying at school for being overweight, in fact my nickname was Buddha! That said, I discovered how good I felt when I started moving more and eating well which ultimately led me down the career path I am doing now. I realised that I could help others experience the turnaround I had experienced myself! So starting in the fitness industry, and now the focus being heavily on food, I feel equipped to understand peoples needs for healthy to be easy and something EVERYONE can achieve.
Q: Fermented foods are in vogue at the moment and are good for gut health: why do you think we need to eat this type of food more than we used to?
A: I think these types of foods are getting more time in the spotlight for good reason. With each piece of new research that comes out surrounding gut health, we are understanding more and more the importance of having a healthy gut, and a healthy gut bacteria. With links between the gut, cognitive function, happiness and health, there has never been a better time to include fermented foods into our lifestyles.
Q: A lot of people really struggle to eat breakfast, partly because of time and partly because they find it hard to stomach food at this time in the morning. What’s your best 5-minute breakfast recipe for non-morning people?
A: For non-morning people I always suggest recipes that can be done the night before! It might be as simple as a chia pudding you’ve made the evening before, or my salted caramel bircher which can be made in bulk and enjoyed on the run! Think about what you can make when you DO have time that stores well for when you wake up!
Q: Many of your recipes are quite low in carbs – something many people say they need for energy. What are the best foods to eat for people who crave carbs?
A: If people are craving carbs, I would first ask why? Then they will be better equipped to make an informed decision on the best food choice for that moment. If it is exercise or movement based, they might consider things like berries, bananas or below ground root vegetables. If they dont need fast acting or quick release carbs, I would suggest they satiate their hunger and energy needs with good fats that are slower release such as avocado, nuts and seeds.
Q: What’s your favourite recipe in this book and why?
For me it is either the Bangkok Beef Cheeks, as they literally BURST with flavour, super easy to make and use my favourite cut of meat! Otherwise the brilliant brownie is a go-to recipe to have in the house for when I crave something naughty but nice!
Q: Do you believe in cutting all sugar out of our diet?
A: No, I believe this approach has to be made on an individual basis and very carefully for specific reasons. Balancing good fats, proteins and smart carbs is my advice! Just avoid processed and refined sugars and celebrate sugars from fruits and vegetables.
Q: You say almond meal is one of your kitchen staples: why do you use this in place of other flours? Does it behave the same way?
Almond meal is a fantastic grain and gluten free alternative to other flours. Its high in good fats and contains protein, and it works very similar to regular flours in baking! It’s versatile, delicious and something that can really take a dish to the next level.