I’ve known Amie of The Healthy Apple since we lived in NYC several years ago. We’d bump into each other time and again at blogger events but I really didn’t get a chance to speak to her in earnest until last fall. After following her medical events on her blog I was so pleased to see that she looked like a million bucks when we met in person. And now I know why: her diet! Amie has been thrown more health challenges than most and she has done an incredible job healing herself through her diet. Her unusual genetic situation makes her body more susceptible to processed food than the average person and it has wreaked havoc on her life. But once we she realized how to handle it through eating she began to do just that. These days she is a private Chef and incredibly talented writer and she recently chronicled her whole journey in this amazing book: Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body. I am thrilled for her success and am excited to chat with her today!:
1) It is incredible how you were able to heal yourself so well with food. Looking back, were there symptoms you had early on that were indicators of what was to come?
There were a ton of symptoms: everything from chronic leg swelling (about 40 pounds of water in my legs by the end of every day), food intolerances, bloating, dark circles under my eyes, yellow color to my skin, being tired on and off, loosing weight, gaining weight, retaining water and stomach pains were a few of the issues I faced throughout the last 10 years. There were many more but those were the ones that stick out most in my mind. Through every stage I went through (Lyme, PCOS, Liver detox, Leaky Gut, Cdiff Colitis, Hypothyroidism, Anemia, etc…the symptoms were very different for each stage. I honestly still look back at everything and wonder how I survived all of this. It was awful. I remember just wanting to die like 100 times in my 20’s because no one was helping me and I felt so lost. Somehow I hung in there, cried a lot and just kept going until I found answers. Symptoms manifest differently for everyone so it’s best to get to the root cause of what’s going on in your body instead of looking online or reading a book about similar symptoms because we all experience side effects in different ways (food intolerances, rashes, acne, bloating, etc.).
2) How do you approach developing a new recipe given the diet you follow? Where do you find inspiration?
Oh wow. This was the best part. I went down to visit my parents on the shore and cooked in their kitchen for most of these recipes. I had a lot of fun and then I had them re-test each recipe! I honestly just buy a ton of food and play in my kitchen all day long- that’s how I develop recipes for my blog and for my book. I have a few ideas in mind but mostly I’m just using whole foods to make something amazing and figuring out ways to use the scraps in a delicious way. I wanted to make these recipes practical and easy so the ingredients were easy to find and everyone of any age could make them. That was really important to me. I wanted those folks, like me, who can’t eat gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, eggs, corn, etc to feel normal and eat amazing ice cream and cookies and crackers and nut cheeses and feel fabulous. It’s all about feeling amazing while making these foods and eating them. There’s healing in the joy of eating. Trust me. Cooking has been very healing for me and seeing a recipe turn out fantastic is so emotional and amazing and I wanted to share that feeling with everyone!
3) “Clean eating” is such a loosely defined term. Some people take it to far too extreme a level in the name of weight lose and personal purity. It also seems like a lot of the cleaning eating jargon out there is based on pseudo-science. How do you define “clean” food and maintain a healthy relationship with what you eat? When you have a question about food who do you turn to?
I agree. Clean has lots of definitions in the media and in my book Clean Eating is about eating whole, one-ingredient foods. What’s in an avocado? An avocado. What’s in an apple? An apple. What’s in an almond? An almond. You can base your entire day- all your meals and snacks around whole one-ingredient foods. For example: an apple with almond butter for a snack, or a salad with lettuce, fresh herbs, lentils, avocado, apple, walnuts, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper. Those are great examples of how there is nothing processed used here. You can do this each and every day. I’ve done it for 10 years so it is possible. Does it take a bit more planning ahead and work? Yes but it’s worth feeling amazing.
I don’t want people to eat clean because they should, I want people to realize that once you see life this way, you’ll never got back. Ever. Once you see how amazing you can feel eating whole, fresh foods- why would you ever want to go back to feeling crummy eating processed foods? To me, it’s important to fuel my body with quality foods because my health is more important to me than anything. I learned the hard way that if you don’t have your health, you really can’t do or enjoy anything in life. That’s why I put my health first. Clean eating doesn’t mean dieting or depriving yourself. Go out to eat, enjoy your life but be mindful of the choices. Make your own salad dressing instead of buying a processed dressing, look at the ingredients on your bread, etc. That’s what this is all about. Being mindful!
4) Can you share a behind the scenes story from the writing of this book? Something that didn’t come together like you expected? Or some hilarious tidbit from the photoshoots. (We all have these stories – so spill the beans!)
Well I went to visit my parents like 20 times while doing this book and their kitchen looked like a bomb hit it. They are Not ready for me to start on the next book ahhahaa. I put them to work. They loved it but it was exhausting. There are over 200 recipes in this book so it was a lot to manage and I had 2 people test every recipe to make sure it worked on different ovens, etc. That was the craziest part of the book- the testing of the recipes. I thought it would come together a lot easier but it was challenging. I survived to say the least and after all I’ve been through, I don’t get stressed about anything anymore. I sort of just let everything go and meditate it out. Stress just eats away at us and effects our health and that’s the last thing I need. So, I’ve learned to embrace imperfection and love the work that I can do everyday without pushing myself. I’m learning how to enjoy life and not push or do everything and it’s quite magical when you learn how to do that. You look at life in a different way!
5) What’s next for The Healthy Apple? We can’t wait to see!
Well, I’ve been asked to start my next cookbook but I need some time to rest and have a little fun. I’m feeling healthy and energized for the first time in over a decade and it’s time for me to rest a bit, have fun and enjoy my life. I’m 33 and haven’t felt well since I was 20 so I’m ready for an incredible summer filled with lots of giggles and sunshine. Then, I’ll be ready for my next book…there’s a lot more I want to share with my audience to help more people. Stay tuned!
To enter to win a copy of Amie’s book:
- Leave a comment sharing your favorite healing food to eat!
- Contest runs from May 12th through May 19th. Winner will be announced in the May 20th newsletter. Good luck!
(All images courtesy of Amie Valpone. Photography by Lauren Volo and used with permission. Please do not reprint.)