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Bonnie Stedman Interview – Health Space Clinics

Below is an interview article with Health Space naturopath & nutritionist Bonnie Stedman and the North Journal Spring addition on all things food. Enjoy!

What is on this spring time menu?

I love sharing food, so lots of dishes on the table that everyone can help themselves from is my ideal way of eating.  Today I served some of my favourite food!

  1. Corriander and Walnut Biodinamic Brown Rice salad
  2. ‘Extra’ Garlic Cumin Hummus
  3. Mint and Lemon Smashed Avo
  4. Fennel and Chicory salad
  5. Smoked Paprika Baked Carrots
  6. Chilli, Cinnamon Beef Brisket

Ingredients / Method / etc

I like to cook simple and quick, tasty meals, so I try not to get too complicated. Quality ingredients usually don’t need too much messing around with. One thing I am particular with is avoiding processed foods so I will make things from scratch where I can. For example, I always have a bone broth in the fridge or freezer ready to use as stock. I’d never buy stock.  Reason being, a broth is so simple to make, super nutrient dense and has so many healing qualities, I’d feel like I’d cheated myself if I bought one. This is probably my secret ingredient for all soups, stews and casseroles and sauces, that ensures an ‘explosion of flavor’ experience. I would also rather soak and boil chickpeas for the hummus than use tins. Again, the difference in flavor is undeniable. Using a quality organic Olive oil for dressing is worth the investment not only for the flavor but also for the level of antioxidants in quality raw, cold pressed, organic olive oil.  

Explain why this menu? and why it is a good springtime feast?

Spring is a time to embrace fresh flavors again. Whilst there can still be some cool weather, so nourishing warm foods remain important, its time to blend a few crisp, light, zesty flavors into the mix. Adding a 'non meat’ protein into the mix like nuts, chickpeas and avocado's, allows the meal to remain filling yet the digestion process is softer and faster, ensuring you don’t spend the rest of the day in a “meat coma”.   

What does food mean to you?

To me food resembles more than just the standard joys that come along with it, such as spending time with family and friends, celebrations and socializing. Food serves a higher purpose than just these beautiful pleasures, and that purpose is to fuel and heal your body, mind and spirit. Its wonderful how recently there seems to be more of an interest in the fact that individual constituents of fresh whole foods were used as medicine many years ago and I hope this attitude is more widely adopted in the near future. We eat at least three times per day so obviously WHAT we eat and HOW we eat it is going to have a pretty large impact on our mood, ability to sleep and heal, energy levels, and general wellbeing.   

How should you feel after a good meal?

A good meal should leave you feeling satisfied yet not sluggish. I usually tell my patients to eat until you are 75% full then take a break from eating for 5-10 minutes, then assess if you are really still hungry. By then your brain will have received a message from the stretch receptors in your stomach that there is enough food.  It’s a great way to avoid overeating.    

Why is it important to use good ingredients? why is it important to you to know where your ingredients come from?

I only cook with organic food and am extremely passionate about using local produce wherever possible. Our meat today came from my favorite butcher on the Northern Beaches, “Shiralee Organic Meats” in Brookvale, and the fresh produce from either the organic markets at Narrabeen or Avalon Organics Grocer. I practice as a Naturopathic Nutritionist out of the Health Space Clinics in Mona Vale where I also have access to a wide variety of organic produce which we source from ethical suppliers who educate us on the origins of the food, so my dry ingredients always come from here. Our Potts Point clinic has an even larger range of incredible produce including fresh so I wish I lived closer to that clinic.

Unfortunately most food today is very different from when our grandparents were kids. They always ate ‘organic’ as the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, hormones and other chemical products weren’t widely used. Today the common 'non organic' apple you buy from the supermarket is chemically sprayed an average of 20 times whilst on the tree. If the apple has been shipped in from overseas then there are even more chemicals used to stop the natural ripening process during transit time. Its pretty scary really, and no wonder we have such a high prevalence of ‘unexplained’ chronic disease in our community.

Why is it important to eat with the seasons?

I like to think of the seasons as Mother Nature’s hormonal cycle.  Any woman will tell you that working against your hormones brings nothing but trouble, but working with them can bring to fruition some of the most incredible creations life has to offer. Its the same with food. Having a salad for lunch on a cold winters day is like pouring water on your campfire, your left feeling pretty lifeless, however a hot casserole made with warming spices is like stoking that campfire so your nourished and fuelled for the day. Spring is the time to start waking up certain systems in your body and allowing the detoxification process to naturally occur after a winter. Eating lighter meals that include more bitter leaves such as Rocket will support this process, along with plenty of water to flush out stored toxins.

How important is matching foods that work well on your menu?

As I mentioned earlier, every food plays a specific role within the body. There are so many ancient traditions that teach us about this, however understanding just the basics can go a long way to maximising the benefits of what you eat. For example, eating a salad of bitters such as chicory and fennel before the brisket (or any meat) will stimulate pancreatic enzymes along with HCL that help to break down proteins in meat as well as initiate a pathway that allows us to absorb the B12 efficiently. This ensures there is no rotting and/or fermenting of the meat in your gut which can lead to all sorts of digestive problems.  Slow cooking the Brisket is another way to reduce the digestive systems workload as the ‘breakdown’ process has already begun. We can use up to 80% of our daily energy on breaking down and assimilating our food so any prep work we do to minimise this work load allows us to use our energy in other ways. If we ‘eat smart’ then our ability to live more energetically is enhanced.  Its pretty exciting the more you research into it. 

Describe the joy of sitting around a table with friends eating good food?

Food should never be eaten alone in my view (unless of course your in need of some quiet couch time, a good book and a big fruit salad with coconut yogurt and shavings of dark chocolate……mmmmm).  

Food historically brings family and community together, giving us an opportunity to bond, form relationships and switch off from the demands of our busy lives. I love nothing more than sharing a meal with the people in my life that make me smile.  It’s a simple pleasure that can’t be beat!

By Bonnie Stedman and the North Journal

October 2015

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