I am very much a summer girl, so as autumn approaches I have learned to embrace the change rather than dread the cold. At the start of each season, I do a mini cleanse; it might be a day of juicing or three days of eating vegan only depending on my schedule. The idea is to reboot - and in the case of summer ending, it’s my way of paying forward. This isn’t a quick fix, it builds on my already alkaline diet, which I can honestly say has transformed my life.
What’s an alkaline diet?
Basically, it means avoiding red meat, wheat, dairy, sugar and processed food. The idea is to create the optimal pH balance in the body, because an acidic environment is thought to harbour disease (and can be blamed for low energy, weight gain, digestion problems and cravings). It's a lifestyle I learned from my long-time nutritional doctor Simone Laubscher, MD.
Why did you switch to an alkaline diet?
When I was younger, I was able to rely on genetics. Today at 52, I need to make conscious choices that support my body for optimum health, vitality and beauty from the inside out.
A few years ago, I was feeling really run down, despite living what I thought was a healthy lifestyle and taking an array of synthetic supplements. I learned from Dr Laubscher that by reducing acid-forming foods and replacing them with nutrient packed vegetables and fruits, the body can return to an alkaline state, rid itself of toxins and allow the digestive system and liver to rest and recuperate. For the body to work optimally, the pH of blood sits in a narrow range of between 7.35 and 7.45, which is slightly alkaline, and the body does everything it can to maintain this value. So it’s quite simple: eat more plants, less animal foods and to help along the way, take an absorbable bio-live alkalising greens blend such as The Super Elixir (300g, £62.50). It’s the only daily supplement I take now.
What has the alkaline diet done for you?
Maintaining the body’s natural healthy balance and opting for alkaline leaves my body feeling lighter, cleaner and bursting with energy. I also wake up feeling better rested. I firmly believe in the saying, “You are what you absorb’’ and when the body’s pH is balanced and nutrients come from absorbable quality whole foods, the cells are nourished right down to the mitochondria. Absorbing nutrients from whole foods is just so much better. I saw a dramatic difference very soon after I started. I also stopped taking all synthetic vitamins.
What's in your fridge?
It depends when you look! But generally we always have homemade almond milk and cashew milk (I make a fresh jug every couple of days), some fresh, seasonal produce - always ginger, garlic, lemons, organic eggs and organic butter. In the freezer I always try and keep a stock of frozen bananas and berries for a quick smoothie on the go.
If you had a daytime snack in between meals, what would it be?
Sometimes it's a protein smoothie, or often I have 2-3 dates and a herbal tea or perhaps fresh organic almond butter with apple slices.
What's always in your store cupboard?
I always have coconut sugar and coconut flour - great alternatives to refined sugar and flour - liquid aminos (a great alternative to soy sauce), olive oil and grapeseed oil for salad dressings, almond butter for smoothies and for putting on my oatmeal, miso for soups and fish marinades, quinoa, lentils, cashews, coconut milk, and whatever my boys have smuggled in!
My favourite alkaline recipes
Warming oatmeal topped with kiwi, stewed rhubarb, organic peanut butter and a sprinkling of bee pollen.
If I have time I love to start my day with something warm, it makes me feel nourished and sets the tone for a healthy day.
Seared salmon served with a simple salad of kale, spinach, carrots, edamame, coriander and peanuts.
I am a big fish fan - I don’t eat much chicken or red meat, so fish is a great protein source and salmon is packed full of those wonderful omega 3 fatty acids.
Puy lentil salad with beetroot, quinoa, spinach, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds and goat’s cheese.
If I’ve had fish at lunch I tend to have a plant-based protein at dinner. I limit my dairy as much as possible but I do have goat’s cheese occasionally to add some interest to salads.
After dinner treat
1-2 squares of dark chocolate.
Yes, I eat chocolate!
My go-to alkaline meal for family and friends
I am loving thes amazing pesto salmon skewers by Donna Hay right now. They are a winner every time in our house.
1 cup (200g) whole wheat couscous
1 1/2 cups (375ml) boiling water
150g cavolo nero (Tuscan kale)
800g skinless salmon filets, cut into 5cm cubes
2 courgettes, thinly sliced
2 sping onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped plus extra to serve
Basil leaves and lemon wedges to serve
100g baby cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), shredded
3 cloves garlic
2 nori sheets, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (50g) pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Place the couscous and the boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the water to absorb.
To make the pesto, place the cavolo nero, garlic, nori, pine nuts, water, oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat a chargrill pan over a high heat. Cook the cavolo nero in batches for 1-2 minutes or until charred. Set aside.
Thread the salmon onto 8 pairs of metal skewers, alternating with the courgettes, Brush with half the pesto. Cook for 2 minutes each side or until charred and cooked through. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the onion, pumpki seeds and remaining pesto.
Toss to combine. Divide the cavolo nero, couscous, and skewers between plates and top with basil, lemon wedges and extra pumpkin seeds to serve.