Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Andrew Weil after a cooking demonstration at his Newport Beach restaurant, True Food Kitchen, where he shared some of his key healthy food tips. He, along with Executive Chef Michael Stebner, highlighted recipes from their cookbook, True Food.
As a Certified Food Healer and specialist in Fitness Nutrition, I fell in love with a few new ingredients Dr. Weil presented. One such ingredient was the sea buckthorn juice that comes from the sea buckthorn plant. According to Dr. Weil, this plant has origins in Italy and is native to Mongolia. The sea buckthorn plant is a spiny shrub that produces a tiny orange berry that helps boost energy, reduce the effects of stress, is high in antioxidants, and also has cosmetic uses due to its vibrant orange color. For the demo, Dr. Weil and Chef Stebner used the sour tasting sea buckthorn juice to boost antioxidants in a dessert of Sea Buckthorn Bars (recipe here: Sea Buckthorn Bars). While tasty and higher in antioxidants that most common dessert bars, I would still suggest cutting back on the sugar and also replacing some of the granulated sugar with healthier manuka honey (available at health food stores and some supermarkets). My recommendations are noted in the recipe, here: Sea Buckthorn Bars
Here are highlights and opinions on Healthy Food Tips from my interview with Dr. Andrew Weil:
*When it comes to bread choices, Dr. Weil and I are in agreement that sprouted bread is the way to go. He suggests – if you can see the grains, then it’s probably a good choice. Most whole wheat breads on shelves in supermarkets are NOT whole grain.
My tip: buy sprouted bread and use sparingly. Enjoy lightly toasted for breakfast with a little grass fed butter. Use for sandwiches – but try not to eat it everyday unless you live a highly active lifestyle. Store sprouted bread in the freezer to make it last longer.
*On the subject of gluten, Dr. Weil says he has “no problem with gluten” stating that there are tests for celiac disease, wheat allergies but they “cannot test for gluten”. Here again, I agree with Dr. Weil.
*On health issues in North America, Dr. Weil states that the “gut flora in the North American diet has changed greatly due to overly processed foods and the use of antibiotics. He goes on to say that there has been an unbelievable rise in Cesarean deliveries to now 1 in 3 of all babies are delivered in this manner which means that the infants are not benefitting from the nutrients provided by the mother through the birth canal. Dr. Weil also notes that the decline in breast feeding is also limiting the amount of healthy pre-biotics from mother to child which stimulates the growth of positive organisms.
*Dr. Weil and I agree on eating fermented foods. One of his favorites: sauerkraut. One of my favorites: coconut kefir
*Dr. Weil suggests using cashew milk for ice cream. I use cashews to make “cheese”.
*Two topics that I heartily agree with Dr. Weil on are sugar substitutes and the concept of juicing. When it comes to sugar substitutes such as stevia, Dr. Weil remarks that it is a real problem, interfering with the brain and causing patterns for cravings. Dr. Weil feels that most people who consume sugar substitutes such as Stevia are in an unhealthy relationship with food. I can agree with that.
Now, to the subject of juicing, Dr. Weil and I are again on the same wave length. When you purchase any of my diet programs that include what I term “cleanse drinks”, you will enjoy the juice AND the pulp. Because, anytime you remove the fiber from fruit, you increase the fructose level and you decrease the opportunity for the fiber to sweep out fats and toxins from the body.
Specific tips from Dr. Weil:
*Have a saturated fat budget (love this idea). I suggest writing down what you eat daily and include the number of fat grams. The healthy recommendation for number of saturated fat grams consumed per day is, on average, 22 grams (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
*Dr. Weil’s Top 5 Best Foods to Eat Daily:
1) Leafy greens (check!)
2) Olive oil (check!)
3) Berries (preferably organic – check!)
4) Dark chocolate (check!)
5) Salmon (check!) and Fresh Sardines which are grilled (great idea!)
*Question: “Dr. Weil, “Recent studies have shown a decline in diabetes. Do you see a reversal in obesity?”
Dr. Weil: “I see diabetes rising in the young and no, I do not see obesity reversing.”
*Question: “Any suggestions for families wanting to make healthier food choices when they are on tight budgets?”
Dr. Weil: “Buy meats and chicken in bulk (check!) and subsidize meals with beans and vegetables.”
*Question: “What is next for Dr. Weil?”
Dr. Weil: “I’ve just finished a book on Fast Food, Real Food – 30 minutes or less which is coming in the Fall. And, there are plans for True Food restaurants.. a fast, casual concept.”
If you have questions for Dr. Weil, visit him at Dr. Weil.com