This week's intensely healthy fridge comes from the wonderful Andre in NYC. He's one of the smartest guys I know (there are articles online where people profess how much they just want to be like him), a programming master (just google him - it's wild!), and a tae kwon do superstar (having just completed an incredible competition last week in NJ). You are in a for a treat with all of the amazing foodie inspiration he has in store for you... read on for some ancestral eating info, great prep-ahead ideas, and an all-around beautifully balanced kitchen. Whether or not tae kwon do is your activity of choice, his great insights on eating will provide lots of inspiration for fueling a busy, high-functioning schedule!
So tell me about what's going on in your fridge...
Things usually end up in my fridge if they meet one or both of 2 criteria:
1) Can I either use it in a smoothie?
2) Can I use it in an omelet/scramble?
Kale, Celery, Fresh mint, Full fat coconut milk (smoothie ingredients).
Blueberries, raw almonds, almond butter (smoothie ingredients), hand-made mozzarella (a gift for someone else that got left in my fridge).
Grass fed ground beef, turnip, fresh coconut, radish, ginger garlic, sweet potato, eggs (breakfast scramble ingredients).
In the containers I have:
Coconut water (from when I cut the coconut), grass-fed butter, leftover slow cooker beef/vegetable curry, home-made almond milk in the blender bottle (I don't strain mine, I like the crunchy bits) and mashed sweet potato in the tall container.
Fridge Door (top):
Natural peanut butter, Athletic Greens, kimchi, hot sauces (including my favorite, African peri-peri sauce that a friend brought back for me from Malawi).
Fridge Door (bottom):
South African chutney (taste of home), mustard, olives, wheat-free tamari sauce, probiotics, "superfood blend" (which I didn't love).
How would you classify your eating these days?
That's a really hard question to answer at the moment. I spend a lot of time researching nutrition, and run experiments on how I feel/perform based on what I see. So my way of eating tends to be a bit of a mix and match. It's funny, after all my research, the only thing that I can say I know for certain is that sugars (and by extension simple carbs) are poisonous and if we eliminate most of them from our diets we will all live longer. I'm not as certain of this, but believe quite strongly that sugar (not fat) is the big bad guy behind most of diabetes, heart disease and cancer deaths in the world.
If I had to pick, I would classify my current eating as "ancestral". The place that I start most of my reading from is Mark's Daily Apple
and I expand from there. I trust a lot of what he says.
At the moment I try and reduce/eliminate legumes, dairy, grains, simple starches, sugar, gluten and processed foods from my diet.
I try and keep my food free of toxins by buying grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and organic produce (except for the "clean 15
", which I will buy conventional versions of in a pinch).
I apply the 80/20 principle to my diet though, so for instance if I go to a South African restaurant I will eat nostalgic foods, or if someone accidentally leaves hand-made mozzerella in my fridge I will use it in my breakfast scramble!
Talk to me about all the coconut!
At the moment I try and eat a very low carbohydrate, medium protein, high fat diet. This video by Ron Rosedale (http://vimeo.com/54542119
) gives a good summary of the line of thinking that has me eating this way. Essentially the idea is that by keeping carbohydrates to a minimum and protein to only what you need for bodily function/repair and using healthy fats to make up the rest of your calories, you don't let your body go into "time of plenty lets get old / make cancer / die" mode.
Coconut is a tasty, versatile source of healthy saturated fat (check out what Mark's Daily Apple
has to say about this). I can use it in curries, smoothies, tea, or dessert if I'm feeling decadent (whipped coconut milk, blueberries and a half a teaspoon of honey... mmmm). Coconut is just awesome!
Where do you shop, mainly?
East Harlem has very few options for "clean" foods. There used to be a green market, but it shut down. The only thing I really buy from my local grocery store is peanut butter, sweet potato, fresh coconut and blueberries (they occasionally have organic blueberries). Otherwise I mix and match between Amazon.com, Fairway on 86th street (my old "local" grocery store), Whole Foods near Union Square and the Union Square green market (on the days where my training schedule brings me near Union Square when it is on).
How do you feel about supplements and/ or meal replacements? How do they fit into your life right now?
I think supplements are essential. Firstly (especially in the US) our soil is so depleted and there are so many more environmental toxins that I don't believe that our food can provide all of the nutrients and antioxidants that we need to live the longest healthiest lives that we can. My favorite supplement is "Athletic Greens" which is a "live" cocktail of organic fruits and vegetables that includes many essential nutrients. I take it to make up for any deficiencies that may crop up in my diet. I also take omega 3s, and vitamin d. For sleep, I take extra magnesium before bed.
I guess I also "replace" a meal a day with a protein shake (using whey protein, although I will start using gemma pea protein soon). Although I don't really consider it a "meal replacement", as my "shake" is a full meal: it can have from 500-1000 calories in in. I include ingredients like avocado, spinach, kale, celery, almond milk, coconut milk, butter, peanut butter, almond butter, cocoa and blueberries (obviously not all at once... that would be gross...). So the protein powder is more of a "meal addition" than a meal replacement. I train really hard and my body constantly feels like it is in need of repair, so I feel like I need more protein that the average person. I use a protein supplement because clean meats and eggs are just too expensive/hard to find for all my protein needs and I worry about toxins/carbohydrate content in most of the plant-based protein sources. Protein powder may be "processed" but you can find clean brands without additives (I just started shopping at True Nutrition
and have found some good brands there).
What is your favorite food presently?
I LOVE peanut butter. I could eat it all day, every day. Peanuts are prohibited in most ancestral diets, but the shelling, and grinding process supposedly (hopefully) removes most of the anti-nutrients/toxins from the peanuts themselves, so I feel safe adding it to my smoothies or having a tablespoon as a snack.
How often do you cook? What's your favorite thing to cook?
I love cooking and being creative in the kitchen, but really can't bring myself to cook proper meals just for myself. When my partner
is not away on work, we really enjoy cooking meals together.
At the moment I make a "scramble" every morning, which includes eggs, ground beef and a bunch of veggies. I also will put veggies / grass fed beef into a slow cooker on the weekends and freeze the results for lunches. Other than that I will tend to make a smoothie for dinner most nights and can't help myself from getting pretty creative with the ingredients (sometimes to disastrous results). Most days for lunch I have a big salad from the organic deli at the bottom floor of my building.
My favorite thing to cook is probably roasted root vegetables.
How does your food support your life?
Right now, I treat most meals as fuel for my body. I train hard to be able to fight competitively, work "startup" hours and sleep between 4 and 6 hours a night. As such, I try and put the best fuel possible into my body (and as mentioned above, I continuously tweak the recipe). For instance, because my glycogen levels are normally pretty low (due to the fact that I don't eat many carbohydrates) I will have mashed sweet potato about an hour before I train. Or I won't eat any carbohydrates from 4 hours before I go to bed for my first sleep, because they can reduce deep sleep.
My utilitarian view of food is only for meals that I eat alone, food also supports my social life in very a big way. I love sharing meals with others. There has to be a massive crisis to make me turn down a dinner invitation. I think that most of my friendships these days are maintained with food as the main excuse to get together!
This is all such well-thought-out, really practical advice - thank you for sharing, Andre!
Alrighty, everyone: how can you channel some ancestral eating this week? Go to it!
Would you like to see your fridge here? Email me at amy [at] fromthegroundupwellness.com.