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You’ve become an advocate for healthy living, what’s made you more health-conscious?
I have always been interested in the field of nutrition and now I'm studying it so I can expand my knowledge on a subject that is very close to my heart. I have been cooking for 25 years and I wanted to dedicate the next 25 years or more to understanding the importance of the food we choose to put into our systems and as a parent who is responsible for someone's life in the early years it is something we all need to consider when filling up the shopping trolley.

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How has it affected your physical and mental wellbeing?
To be honest I have more energy, more clarity of mind and I feel like a teenager again. Food is important as is clean water and air, but they're just some of the ingredients to a great recipe for life. You also need to focus on having a job or career you love as well as happy relationships at home and I constantly strive for that.

Do you still indulge/have the occasional Hugos pizza?
I don't eat wheat or dairy myself anymore - unless I'm judging someone's food on My Kitchen Rules. But I do enjoy a new type of pizza we make at BU organics which is made from sprouted seeds and vegetables and they are so good!!

What superfoods will be popular in 2013?
I am not a fan of the word superfoods, I think eating real food is what it is about. Organic (chemical free) fruit and veg, sustainable seafood as well as ethically farmed meat is what we need in our diets as well as some cultured vegetables and probiotics such as fermented papaya for good gut flora. Olive leaf is also a great ingredient to investigate as is native Australian foods such as Kakadu plums.

How to supercharge your diet

If you were to pick five foods for their health benefits what would they be?
These are 5 things I include in my diet:

Coconuts - either the juice and flesh from young coconuts, or the oil and milk that comes from them are part of my diet everyday.
Fermented papaya - there is a lot of amazing research available on this terrific fruit.
Olive leaf - again there is evidence this works wonders for us.
Cultured vegetables - I make them every week or two at home (Kim Chi or Sauerkraut or other versions I play around with).
Cloves and turmeric - are wonderful spices to use in your cooking and drinks.

Food resolutions for 2013

Which five foods should we avoid to clean up our diet?
I will never tell anyone what to avoid, but I am more than happy to tell you what I avoid and It works for my body - everybody is different and it is best to do your own research.

Sugar - David Gillespie has addressed this in his book Sweet Poison and the Sugar Blues by William Dufty is also a great read. The bitter truth about sugar
Wheat - there is a remarkable book by William Davis called Wheat Belly that is full of interesting information.
Grains - another wonderful read is Nora Gedguadas book Pprimal body, primal mind, to me this makes a lot of sense.
Dairy - I have never been able to tolerate dairy (my mum fed me yoghurt every day of my life as a kid and I have severe allergies when I consume it).
Eggs from caged chickens - I love eggs and eat them everyday, but they need to come from chickens that roam around and eat a natural diet.

Sugar-free diets are becoming increasingly popular, do you agree with quitting sugar?
We never used to eat refined sugar - now everything has it in it - people are eating low fat this and low fat that, but in fact they are sometimes loaded with sugar, I think common sense will prevail. The only sugar I eat is from naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and honey.

Sweet poison: Sarah Wilson on her sugar free diet

There’s a lot of buzz words associated with health foods, can you explain why almonds should be activated and vegetables cultured?
Usually nuts are full of enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting in dry conditions. So if you soak them, you fool the nut into starting to sprout - which is good because the sprouted form has nutrients that are more easily absorbed. (Those enzyme inhibitors can make digestion more difficult for us). Which means more of the good stuff in the nut is used by our bodies! And you don't have to spend a gazillion dollars to buy activated nuts - they're really easy to make yourself.

Pete Evans' Twitter backlash over activated almonds

Raw cultured vegetables are chock full of goodness. They include Sauerkraut, Kim Chi, pickles and many others. There's a major difference between the foods eaten today as compared to long ago. Years ago fermented vegetables were used as a way to prevent spoilage in food. They were also used on the voyages of Captain Cook to prevent scurvy with his shipmates. The main difference today, as compared to long ago, is that cultured vegetables such as pickles and Sauerkraut have been pasteurised, which destroys the many strains of health promoting bacteria’s and naturally occurring enzymes that help with digestion and other things.

Lots of people don’t buy organic because it’s more expensive, why is it worth the extra cost?
Many years ago all our food was organic without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers or being subject to irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical food additives - I am sure if I offered you an apple that was grown organically or I offered you another apple that had been subject to the before mentioned, I know what you would choose. As far as cost goes, I think we all need to assess what we can and can't afford and look for ways of making clever choices when it comes to what we cook and how we cook. I'm currently working on a book that I hope will offer some of these answers.

How does BU Organics make it more affordable to buy organic?
We believe in stocking only things that will benefit your health, we are also firm believers that we can keep prices down through a lot of different factors such as volume and buying direct from the farmers and producers.

What can we learn at your community cooking classes?
Well this interview just scratched the surface, you'll have to come along with an inquisitive mind!

BU Organics cooking classes take place at Pete's BU Organics Bondi Junction store in Sydney, NSW.

Watch full episodes of MKR on Plus7
MY KITCHEN RULES: All about Pete Evans


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