The moment I heard of Pete Evans I was instantly drawn to one of Australia’s leading authorities on healthy cooking and lifestyle.
Most Australians would know who Pete Evans is, and if not by name definitely by face. Passionate about food from an early age, Pete has experienced an incredible career and success with six award-winning restaurants, including ‘The Pantry,’ ‘Hugos Manly’ and his latest, ‘Bar Nacional’. He is also co-presenter on the Lifestyle Channel’s Home Show, Postcards from Home, the very successful My Kitchen Rules and, in his most recent adventures, on Moveable Feast, where we see Pete create spontaneous meals and feasts as he travels throughout America.
Pete’s passion in nutrition and healthy lifestyle is expressed through the use of fresh, sustainable and organic food. Following him on social media, it is easy to see that he is genuine about his healthy lifestyle and food values. Recently graduating from New York’s internationally revered ‘Institute of Integrative Nutrition’ Pete takes nutrition seriously and he wants to teach others about healing foods. As you would expect from someone who is more than curious about healthy eating and delicious food, I wanted to know more about Pete and about his driving forces.
Therefore, I would like to share with you this inspirational interview.
”I introduce to you, Pete Evans”
What is Food Medicine to you? Can you share with our readers why nutrition has become such an influence on your cooking style?
I believe that you are what you eat, or rather you are what you absorb; therefore if you’re eating a nutrient-dense diet you’re nourishing your body with goodness and allowing yourself the chance to be the best that you can be. I changed my diet to reflect that belief over two years ago and the difference in my health and my energy levels is nothing short of extraordinary. So now I guess you could say I’m on a mission to help teach people how to create not only yummy food, but truly nutritious, healing, life enhancing food too!
What dietary guidelines/principle do you follow not only for yourself but also for your two very gorgeous little girls?
My partner Nic, the girls and I follow a predominantly paleo lifestyle, which is very simple and straightforward. It basically cuts out all the energy sapping, disease forming, totally unnecessary ingredients like sugar, wheat, gluten, grains and most dairy and it embraces what mother nature naturally provides, for example, plenty of fresh colourful vegetables, organic, one hundred percent grass-fed, ethically raised, sustainable meat, poultry and wild fish, fresh herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and a balanced amount of fruit. We gratefully stumbled across the paleo diet back in 2011 when Nic came across an incredible book called ‘Primal Body Primal Mind’ by outstanding author and certified nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas. Nora covers a wide range of health topics in the book and outlines a detailed documentation of nutritional principles and links them directly to evolutionary history. She provides guidelines as to why and how to eat for optimum nutrition and backs it all up with the latest scientific discoveries. It’s a marvellous read because it offers a sane voice of reason in a world that is sadly littered with so much confusing health food mania and marketing. It’s the kind of book that you wish was written years ago!
I have once read you always choose organic apples as regular/supermarket ones are heavily sprayed with chemicals, what other foods do you recommend organic?
“Knowing and understanding where your food comes from, and how it was farmed is a great tool to help you on your journey towards a healthier body and mind.”
The most important food to buy organic is your protein, for your health and of course, for ethical reasons too. I can’t stress how important it is for people to choose organic, one hundred percent grass fed, humanely raised beef, pig, lamb and chicken and also wild caught fish. As far as produce is concerned, yes organic vegetables and fruit is always the best option, but if your situation doesn’t allow for that then you can choose wisely. A good rule of thumb is if it has a relatively soft texture choose organic, especially berries as they’re sprayed with extremely toxic chemicals. Because berries are our favourite choice of fruit due to their low fructose and high antioxidant content, when they aren’t in season we buy frozen organic berries which are actually reasonably affordable and easily defrosted prior to use. Another way to get your hands on healthier produce is to buy your vegetables and fruit from a farmers’ market, because not only are you getting fresh, local produce and supporting the community, it’s often spray-free. And don’t be shy to look the farmer in the eye and have a chat about what farming methods they use. Knowing and understanding where your food comes from, and how it was farmed is a great tool to help you on your journey towards a healthier body and mind.
Can you tell us more about your involvement with Mindd Foundation?
The FOOD IS MEDICINE seminar is an extremely worthwhile way to spend a day in order to gain a wealth of life changing, crucial knowledge. The Mindd Foundation offers real solutions for the whole family by integrating principles of dietary therapy, nutrient therapy, structural support, progressive functional and naturopathic medicine, allopathic medical knowledge, neuro-behavioural therapies, and environmental and lifestyle education to restore the body’s natural ability to grow, heal and prevent disease. I will be speaking about food and sharing some healthy healing recipes and ideas for healthy kids’ lunch boxes along with numerous well-respected nutritional experts and professionals. There’s also a great range of wonderful exhibitors to visit during morning tea and lunch, all of which will have products and services available for trial and purchase on the day. Check out mindd.org for more information.
What inspired you to study at the New York’s internationally revered ‘Institute of Integrative Nutrition’? (Are you still studying? When did you finish?)
Nic and I were both really keen to do some sort of nutrition course because we were both already constantly reading and searching for knowledge about health and wellness. I was passionate about using a nutritional approach to better my craft and the more I learned the more I became conscious of the fact that it was imperative for me to have a respected qualification in the health industry in order to be taken seriously when trying to teach people how to make healthier food and lifestyle choices. Anyway, it was during a family dinner at home with my good mate ‘juicing legend’ Joe Cross, that we were introduced to the thought of studying with IIN by Joe, so we researched the course and decided it was the ideal one for us, and I’m proud to say that we both recently graduated with flying colours.
How has your studies influenced much of your cooking style?
“I understand and respect the fact that the exact same diet doesn’t necessarily work for everyone and different people have different levels of tolerance for certain types of food, but it’s hard to go past the facts, and there are now millions of people that believe and wholeheartedly stand by the dietary theories that I follow and endorse.”
IIN basically reinforced what I was already doing, and what I believed to be the ideal food to consume. I understand and respect the fact that the exact same diet doesn’t necessarily work for everyone and different people have different levels of tolerance for certain types of food, but it’s hard to go past the facts, and there are now millions of people that believe and wholeheartedly stand by the dietary theories that I follow and endorse. There are numerous factors to consider also, for one, what type of environment or climate you live in. My family and I eat according to the seasons, so in summer, we eat cooling foods such as plenty of raw refreshing salads. However in winter, along with our salads, we also eat more warming nutritionally dense dishes such as stews and soups too. Bottom line is, you just can’t go past what Mother Nature naturally provides us.
Though you may have walked away with a wealth of knowledge, what stood out the most?
“My family and I eat plenty of high omega 3 foods like wild caught, sustainable salmon, sardines and mackerel at home but we also take 3-4 omega 3′s throughout the day too.”
Throughout the course I studied over a hundred different dietary theories, and a paleo style diet was by far the most recommended diet by the majority of the experts. It’s also imperative that you make sure that the bacteria in your gut is balanced so that you can easily digest and absorb the nutrients of your food, so one of the next big things which has already taken off around the world, is fermentation. Cultured/fermented vegetables provide natural probiotics and are a delicious addition to every meal. Also one of the most important things to get into our systems in abundance that was stressed by all of the lecturers is purified omega 3 triglycerides. It’s the ultimate anti-inflammatory agent, and all diseases are caused by inflammation in the body, so it’s the one thing I always recommend to anyone who asks ‘what supplement should I take?’. My family and I eat plenty of high omega 3 foods like wild caught, sustainable salmon, sardines and mackerel at home but we also take 3-4 omega 3′s throughout the day too.
I admire your enthusiasm in making organic and earth friendly produce affordable to the masses. Tell us about BU Organics (Be You).
My good mate and legendary Chef Pete Melov (who is also an IIN graduate) and I felt compelled to open an organic store that was community minded and full of affordable nutrient dense food. Pete M has actually been passionately cooking and selling sugar, gluten, wheat, grain, soy, and dairy free food for well over 10 years from his superb cafe the ‘Suveran’ in Bondi Junction Sydney, so he’s actually very much a pioneer where making super healthy, delicious organic food is concerned. B.U is more than just an organic produce store, we also sell a variety of organic sprouted seed and coconut breads, an array of different pre-prepared meals, pestos, nut spreads, a very tempting selection of healthy carob treats that are sure to please the most discerning chocolate lover, savoury and sweet muffins, pies, wraps and nori rolls, and I’m sure there’s more that we make and sell but that’s just off the top of my head. We’re all very proud of our humble little store and we look forward to expanding in the future.
What are some of the challenges you have faced embarking in the organics industry?
The main challenge and also our goal is to make organic produce affordable and available for everyone! Organic should be the norm, as that’s what it used to be and that’s what it needs to become once again. Everyone has the right to consume organic produce, so it’s just a simple matter of motivating people to let go of greed, embrace health and begin practicing safe, humane farming methods… we’re getting there.
You are also the host of the new PBS show ‘Moveable Feast’, the series by which WGBH will showcase America’s ﬁnest artisans, producers and chefs. How did you embark on this new venture?
WGBH and I had been trying to work together on a cooking show for quite some time, but we didn’t manage to get the timing right until earlier this year due to my other filming commitments. Making the show was a formidable journey for everyone involved, and for me, one of the real attractions of the Moveable Feast format was the fact that it brought an immense amount of focus back to the marvelous farmers that are doing their best to produce organic, ethically raised, sustainable produce. Also each and every chef I worked with on the show astounded me with their integrity and their ability to pay so much respect to the farmers and the food with their delicious creations. So needless to say, it was a very inspiring adventure from start to finish!
Can you tell us more about your experience throughout America and what were some of the highlights of the adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip, but I was especially partial to the episodes where we caught and cooked our food, whether it was fishing, clamming, or crabbing, we were getting amongst it and making sure we got the freshest, wild caught produce and because I’m a hunter-gatherer at heart, that’s my idea of an ideal way to create a memorable dish.
What is next?
There’s plenty in the pipe line that’s for sure! I’m determined to visit as many schools as possible throughout Australia to connect with our youth and also their parents to educate and encourage healthy food choices. We’re filming a second series of Moveable Feast, which means visiting more US states, meeting incredible producers and working with more inspiring, international chefs. I’m writing three new cook books to help teach people how remarkably easy it is to create delicious, nutritious meals without sugar, gluten, wheat and most dairy. I’m opening a few new restaurants with my good mate and one of the best chefs in the world Gavin Baker. And I’ll be surfing stacks of good waves with all three of my beautiful girls too!