Dr Libby Weaver
Bite's Dr Libby Weaver is a leading voice, best-selling author and international speaker on health, nutrition and well-being. Dr Libby’s approach involves cooking with 'real’ food and maximising nutritional value in every meal. It’s all about delicious and nutritious. To find out more about Dr Libby, go to www.drlibby.com.
What is your earliest food memory?
Mum and Dad buying me Musk Lifesavers at the local swimming pool after a swimming lesson when I was 4.
Who is your cooking idol and why?
Chef Cynthia Louise, the co-creator of our Real Food Chef series of cookbooks. She is a genius, and I don’t say that lightly. We wanted to include more family favourites into our latest cookbook Real Food Kitchen and when our team suggested Banoffee Pie and Coconut Ice, she had to google what they were as she’d never eaten them. Her first attempt at making them from Real Food ingredients was beyond extraordinary. She nailed the recipes first time from every perspective: appearance, taste, texture and my must: the Real Food ingredients.
What are some of your favourite everyday meals?
I adore lashings of avocado on a “bread” made from pumpkin and brown rice, with lemon juice, salt and pepper. I love my home-made “fried rice” packed with at least 5 different green veggies, cashews and egg. In my fridge, I always have something from one of the cookbooks ready to go such as the Vegetable Bake. I love the Cashew Cheese drizzled through it and I eat the Bake on its own or add something to it. My freezer is known among my friends as the Magic Freezer as there is always some kind of sweet food from Real Food Kitchen ready to offer guests in there. At the moment you could choose from Vanilla Balls of Bliss, Coconut Ice, Caramel Slice or Beetroot Cake.
What are your five kitchen must haves – ingredients, appliance or other?
1. Lemons to add to everything from water to avocado
2. Parsley as I eat a spring most days and I add it to any meal that warrants more greens
3. High quality water filter: I grew up on tank water and l love the taste of pure water
4. High-speed blender for whipping up smoothies and Real Food Kitchen desserts
5. Magic Freezer: a freezer filled with delights from Real Food Kitchen so I always have something nutritious and delicious to offer people!
If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A BBQ in the backyard where I grew up. My Dad can’t travel these days so sitting around the backyard with him as the sun sets after a hot country NSW day is a joy for me.
Who is your dream dinner guest (or guests), and what would you cook for them?
My friends and I used to play this game at uni. I love outstanding conversation that gets everyone thinking and a quick quirky wit. I’d invite my immunology professor from uni as his brain is beyond belief. Jon Bon Jovi would be on the list too so he could tell us about his JBJ Soul Foundation work of helping people without a home, to get a home and start afresh. Deborra-lee Furness (Jackman) is a definite so she can share her humour, playfulness and inspiration, especially when it comes to supporting adoption. And Kylie Minogue for the glitter. I’d make sure there was a grand piano in the room so Jon and Kylie could get a sing-song going! I’d create the food from Real Food Kitchen and start with the Brilliant Brassica Soup, as the Brassica family of vegetables have such powerful anti-cancer properties, that it’s great to include them regularly in our diets and this is a delicious way of doing that. Next I’d serve the Beef Rendang as the feedback we’ve had about this dish is that it is incredible. There would be a great big salad beside that and to finish the Banoffee Pie. People are astounded that sweet food can serve their health, rather than take away from their health and the taste and the texture of this Real Food Kitchen dessert is such a winner!
Tell us about a standout dining experience or meal that you’ve had recently…
Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy Park in New York City, sitting in the back garden, eating their sensational Philly Roll of Avocado, Kim Chee and Creamy Cashew Cheese, with tatsoi, hijiki, scallion and sweet chilli, followed by their Classic Sundae. Not only is the dining experience itself a delight but you walk out of there nourished and having experienced so many taste sensations. The walk back to the hotel through the streets of NYC is always fun too.
What are the top 5 nutrition tips and advice you’d give to a person who wants to change their diet for the better?
Slow Down. If you amp yourself up on caffeine, rush around, or push your body intensely during cardiovascular exercise, your body will predominantly burn glucose and you will crave sugar to replenish your stores. Slow down people! I cannot stress enough the importance of balance in your diet and balance in your choice of exercise. If you are an adrenalin junkie you need to incorporate more yin style activities such as a restorative yoga class into your week or practice diaphragmatic breathing to help balance your nervous system and help your body shift into fat burning mode.
Flavour your food. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom have been found to reduce sugar cravings. Adding cinnamon to porridge or home baking can help to regulate your blood glucose response. The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Include more foods in their natural form, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Add herbs and spices to these foods whenever possible and fresh is always best.
Make a commitment to view food as nourishment. Many people have a love hate relationship with food, which is often exacerbated by years of dieting or calorie counting. When you look at a food instead of looking at the calorific value consider what nutrients it supplies you and how it will make you feel. Ask yourself the question ‘will this nourish me?’
Fuel yourself for longer. Try adding more fat to your meals, particularly at lunch, in the form of avocado, nuts, organic butter, tahini, oily fish and observe if your desire for sweet foods mid-afternoon diminishes. Good fats slow down the release of glucose into your blood stream meaning you actually stay full for longer.
Eat more plant foods/vegetables. Plant foods are life-giving foods. They’re good sources of soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps provide bulk to our stools to keep our bowels regular and is used to help feed our gut bacteria. Feeding the good bacteria is an essential component of keeping the balance between the good, and not so good bacteria, in the gut. A healthy digestive system is the foundation of good health. It is all very well to be consuming a nutrient dense diet but if your digestive system is not absorbing and utilizing these vitamins and minerals you will not reap the benefits.
Christmas is on its way, and cooking a delicious and nutritious meal for the whole family can be challenging. What advice or ideas can you give us?
First and foremost Christmas is about being with family and friends or simply giving to others, but often we lose sight of this. In the midst of the hustle and bustle to buy presents and prepare elaborate lunches and dinners I think we forget that this is also the perfect opportunity to relax.
We’re so blessed that Christmas falls during the summer months so we can make use of the beautiful seasonal produce on offer. Prepare lots of salads to accompany your Christmas lunch or dinner and add extra vegetables wherever possible. The best advice I can give is purely a mindset. Approach Christmas with the desire to nourish your soul – which may mean having a little bit more food than usual but will also mean eating lots of fresh salads and vegetables to support your health.
If you do overindulge put a full stop at the end of the sentence and approach the new day with the intention of supporting your health. Most importantly focus on letting the ingredients shine - simple food is often the most delicious.