Wednesday, October 23, 2013

sustain expo: pete evans + sam gowing

I had the 'day off' from my beautiful family on sunday and headed to Melbourne solo for the Sustain natural and organic lifestyle expo. I went to see my friend Sam Gowing launch her book The Healing Feeling and see her cooking demo, and it was a bonus to see another old friend Pete Evans who was there also doing a couple of cooking demos.

As much as I loved my day out and seeing Sam and Pete, - expos aren't my thing. Information overload and overwhelmingly they are about shopping and selling stuff, stuff that most of us do not really need to live a natural and organic life. When I was working as a journalist going to an expo or festival was a great way to find stories of new products because that's what the media is obsessed with new new new, but now I'm really wanting to keep life simple and non consumerist.

The highlights of the day weren't Sam and Pete's recipes (as nourishing as they were!), it was what they had to say. Their words inspired me to delve deeper into this wholefood way of life and to keep talking to others about following it too.

Pete kicked off the cooking demos with some breakky ideas - miso soup with veggies and protein, and a delicious berry chia seed pudding. Pete and I worked together 20 (!) years ago at the first restaurant he co-owned and while he has always had an interest in health and nutrition, over the past few years it has become a focus that he has committed to by studying holistic nutrition and opening BU organics in Bondi.

At the expo Pete spoke in a way that would have either been inspiring or challenging depending where listeners were on their wellness path. "We are what we absorb," he began, talking about the importance of proper digestion and gut health, making the point that digestion begins in the mouth reminding us to chew, chew, chew! It's also a good reminder of why taking the time to sit down and eat is so much better for us than eating on the run. A personal trainer once said to me, if you don't have time to sit down and eat, you don't have time to eat.

I've written before about the growing confusion over how to know what to eat - paleo, gluten free, grain free, dairy free ??!! - the refreshing thing about Pete's message is that it is not preachy or holier than thou, he suggests that we be our own experiments, what is right for one person may not be right for another person. He suggests that if you have a feeling a food you are eating is not agreeing with you, stop eating it for a while see how you feel, reintroduce it and see how you feel.

Pete also acknowledged the emotional reasons behind why we eat certain foods, such as grain or sugar. He posed the idea that the more emotional resistance we had to giving up a certain food the more addicted we were to eating it. He suggested that we keep asking ourselves 'Why?' Why are we drawn to eating certain foods if they have no nutritional value and if they can have a negative affect on our health.

Sam whipped up a delicious cauliflower 'cous cous' salad with nuts and berries and shared her story of going from being a publican to becoming a nutritionist and spa food chef. Like all of us, Sam is so much more than the titles on her work profile she is wise and grounded and when it comes to food, guided by common sense and a good dose of Chinese Medicine too. One point in particular that Sam made that stood out to me was if you have weak digestion, having a cold raw green smoothie may not be that helpful, with a tough green veg like kale for instance Sam recommended lightly steaming it and letting it cool before adding it to your smoothie.

Sam talked about food miles and how she favours locally grown over imported organic, "There are fabulous growers at farmers markets that may not be certified organic but who grow food without toxins and I'd rather buy from them than buy organic food that's been on an aeroplane". Sam's favorite superfoods aren't the ones that cost a lot of money, sure they're nice but in her book kale, cauliflower, broccoli and tumeric have just as much merit.

The audience in all the sessions wanted to know about which oils were best to use, coconut oil was on both Sam and Pete's list as were extra virgin olive oil for use cold (ie. in salads or food after cooking but not to be used when cooking because heat changes its structure), Sam is a fan of macadamia oil over popular oils such as rice bran oil, one tip she gave was to buy oils in dark coloured glass over clear glass or in plastic. Clarified butter (ghee) and animal fats (beef or duck) were other options for cooking, and sesame oil was favoured for dressings or adding in at the end of cooking such as in Pete's breakfast miso dish.

For more inspiration and recipes from Pete and Sam check out their facebook pages here and here, and Sam's blog bittersweetsour or buy her book The Healing Feeling. Pete's health inspired cookbook will be out in April 2014.

Where are you finding your real food/wholefood inspiration at the moment? Share your favorite blogs, websites and cookbooks in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, chew, chew, chew, thank you for the obvious but necessary reminder, so simple but something that i often forget to focus on. You gleaned so much wonderful information, i personally loved the macadamia oil tip, as although we mainly use coconut oil it can get quite pricey and although we buy macadamia oil (there is abundance around these parts) i didn't quite connect it as a great alternative. Thanks lovely one. xxx


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