Lee Holmes is one very special health foodie. I have been following her inspiring journey over the years and am now in a position to congratulate her on the recent launch of your 6th book! I have put together some questions based on the philosophies shared across these amazing titles spanning the topics of Ayurveda, gut health, kids nutrition, clean & green vegetarian cuisine as well as eating for health and beauty. I am sure this is going to be a very memorable read! 

What is supercharged food?

Supercharged Food is the name of my website that you’ll find me blogging over at www.superchargedfood.com. It’s a website which encourages S.O.L.E food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. It features delicious recipes, information, news, reviews and menu planning ideas to make it easy for people to enjoy a satisfying, wholesome and nourishing diet. I often talk about what a supercharged food is and to me it’s a food which is natural, real and full of vitamins, minerals and ingredients which are super powdered. It’s not a superfood which you need to trek miles to the Congo to find. It’s your everyday foods like zucchini, cauliflower and leafy greens!

In a nutshell… what is Ayurveda?

Originating in India, Ayurveda presents a holistic approach to feeling well and living in harmony with yourself and your surroundings. It is a union of the mind, body, senses and soul.

Through nutrition, yoga and meditation, it focuses on treating the individual as a whole rather than a specific issue or disease, so that you can achieve balance and good health, not only in your physical body, but also in your mind and spirit.

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I love the Ayurveda philosophies and how a holistic approach to feeling well and living in harmony with yourself and your surroundings is taught. What role does nutrition play in holistic health and wellness?

In my recipe book Eat Right for Your Shape I look at nutrition from an Ayurvedic point of view and a way of understanding and influencing the interplay of your bodily systems to keep your true self feeling balanced, healthy and calm. I feature an extensive selection of delicious and nourishing seasonal recipes with ingredients that correct your doshic imbalance, in order to create harmony, weight management and health.

One of the principles of Ayurveda is that any substance with which your body comes into contact will either aggravate or pacify your dosha. Doshas are energies that circulate around your body and govern physiological activity; they also determine your individual temperament and specific physical characteristics.

There are three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – and they’re made up of the five elements – air, water, fire, earth and ether – that constitute our nature. When doshas are out of whack, they can cause physical and mental disorders – so, simply put, finding your dominant dosha and keeping it in balance is the key to maintaining your overall health.

Food is vital and central to Ayurvedic medicine. Our taste buds not only identify and discriminate between the flavour hits we encounter when we eat; they also unlock the nutritive value of foods and kick-start the entire digestive process. The advantages of eating right for your dosha means that you can balance whatever is out of whack and in the process create a robust digestive system, the cornerstone to good health and energy abundance.

Meals are also based upon the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent and a big home truth about Ayurveda is its emphasis on freshly prepared earth-based foods. I really enjoyed delving into the richness
and healing qualities of many of the ingredients that are used in Ayurvedic cooking such as ghee and turmeric, and a myriad of spices like cardamom, fenugreek and Asafoetida.

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Your latest book has an emphasis on balance and self care. What are your top tips for self care for busy stressed out people?

The first one is to give your digestive system a spring clean…
The health of your body is largely dependent on your intestinal tract and its micro-flora. Through my own healing I have found that a well-functioning digestive system is so important and by removing bad bacteria, replacing it with good bacteria such as probiotics and fermented foods and enhancing your liver’s and kidneys’ capacity to remove waste from your body you will feel so much better. The way I give my digestive system a good spring clean is by drinking smoothies, eating soups and including more easy to digest foods, because it’s a really fast and easy way to fortify my body with nutrients whilst giving my digestive system a break. Also drinking enough water will help cleanse your body and that’s a quick and simple thing to do.

Secondly if you are in Australia, summer is coming so I recommend switching over to warm weather diet
I like to make the most of nature’s summer fruits and vegetables and enjoy seasonal wholefoods. I ‘ve found some great buys at local growers markets by buying in season and in bulk. My favourite ingredients are spring greens and vegetables because they are fantastic in mixed salads; just add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon, fresh tomatoes, avocado and a sprinkle of nuts and seeds which contain natural essential fatty acids for a glowing complexion. Another one of my tips is to add spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric to your food to stimulate digestion and detoxify the skin. I have loads of healthy recipes on my blog www.superchargedfood.com

People should be so inspired by your own recovery from autoimmune disease and how you healed your own gut. Why is gut health so important to our overall health?

There is a growing amount of awareness and clinical studies being released about how connected our gut is to so many other parts of our health and life, and in particular the link between the brain and the gut. When you think about the fact that 70-80% of serotonin that you produce is actually manufactured in your gut, and via the vagus nerve, and interestingly, that your gut sends more messages to your brain than your brain sends to your gut, then you will see how these connections can make a difference to your overall health and the way that you think and feel.

What are some of the symptoms of poor gut health?

Symptoms can be varied and can be brought on by a number of reasons, anything from antibiotics, bad diet, smoking, environment or stress. You could have digestive complaints such as bloating, constipation, stomach pain or even low energy, skin trouble and aches and pains.

It’s really about getting that bacteria right in your gut, and making sure the balance between all the different types of bacteria are there. So when you eat a lot of processed foods and live a high-stress lifestyle, that starts to destroy the good bacteria in your gut and creates the bad, which then makes you start feeling more tired, you lose energy, and you can be prone to putting on weight.

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What are your top 5 tips for improving your gut health?

The good news is the gut does renew itself. The cells renew themselves. So when I got sick with an auto-immune disease and fibromyalgia, one of the first places I looked was my gut. I altered my diet to one that was gut friendly and then I could start to actually absorb the nutrients from my food again. I found I had so much more energy! I was feeling better, and I could slowly start to eat better and reintroduce ‘normal’ foods again.

I run a four-week online Heal Your Gut program on my website along with a 2-day a-week Heal Your Gut Maintenance program too. The tips or phases that we follow begin with giving your digestive system a rest from hard to digest foods and ones that cause you problems or irritations. Step two is cleanse your body and you can do this through a good diet and also using natural ways to do so like Epsoms salts baths and oil pulling and dry body brushing. My next tip is to then put the good bacteria back in again after you’ve cleansed the gut, through eating probiotic rich foods and/or taking a probiotic. And then step four is about detoxing your life. When I first started doing this, I had a very stressful job, and I was a single mum, so a lot of stresses in my life. But when I changed my lifestyle and brought in ways to reduce that stress, I’ve found a really good balance – and the gut needs that.

Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is vitally important for optimal health. What are some simple ways to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables?

One of the ways I like to do it is to get inspired by recipes, other authors and new ingredients. There’s nothing like a great new recipe to get you feeling inspired to cook or create a healthy meal. Smoothies are good for adding more veggies or fruit to. Also in my Eat Clean Green and Vegetarian recipe book I have so veggies in most of my desserts. I even have a Cauliflower Cheesecake recipe. But don’t worry it tastes amazing!

Beauty really does come from the inside out. It is impossible to maintain your optimal weight and have healthy skin and hair if you are not in tiptop condition on the inside. What tips do you have for the V&M community on the topic of eating for beauty?

Beauty really does come from the inside out. It is impossible to maintain your optimal weight and have healthy skin and hair if you are not in tiptop condition on the inside.

You don’t have to strictly follow a beauty regime, but it is incredible to notice how just a few small changes to your diet and daily routine can make a huge difference to how you feel. With the right regime, you can nourish your body from the inside out and you’ll truly notice your skin starting to develop a glow, your digestion will improve and you’ll experience more energy than ever before. I love to eat lots of natural foods, veggies, fruits and good fats as well as spices and herbs like turmeric, basil and mint that give your base meals flavour as well as being medicinal. If you find it hard to get enough in through your diet and want a boost, Southernature’s Grape Seed 40 000 PLUS Green Tea contains potent antioxidants, which helps protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals. The Vitamin C, Green Tea and Grape Seed in the tablets, help maintain healthy skin, they help strengthen collagen fibres in the body, and ultimately improve the look and feel of your skin. Silica is also a mineral which is wonderful for hair skin and nails. My Heal Your Gut Powder contains Diatomaceous Earth which is rich in silica. It’s easy to drink too and has no taste. You just pop it in a smoothie or a glass of water or juice each morning.

As a busy working Mum yourself what tried and tested strategies do you have for feeding kids a balanced diet?

If you’re aiming to create healthy meals, snacks and lunch boxes for kids, using nutritious foods in a stress-free, practical way then the trick is to keep things as simple as possible and once you feel comfortable letting the processed and instant foods move to the back burner, you can start creating your own meals.

This can be a difficult task when you’re a busy parent, juggling a multitude of hats whilst trying hard to give your children the best start. But it can be possible.

I’m always suspicious of parents who say that their kids eat everything. Is it really true? And what’s their secret? Most kids go through phases – they eat whatever you put in front of them at first, then they develop a taste for things and start rejecting anything that isn’t pasta (or so it seems).

Most often than not, green veggies are the first to disappear, whilst orange ones linger a little longer, and eggplant or mushrooms never even get much of a look in!

I would love to share my favourite six ways to supercharge your child’s diet from my book Supercharged Food for Kids.

1. Secret spinach smoothie
Next time you make a make a blueberry smoothie, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, toss in a handful of spinach and it will likely go undetected. Mix a handful of spinach with a scoop of Greek yogurt, a scoop of ice, blueberries, half a banana and almond or rice milk. Now watch them gulp it down.

2. Marinara sauce
Most kids love pasta, so take advantage of it and make a sauce that’s full of vegetables. When cooking the sauce as you normally would, add zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, kale or any other vegetable you’d like to sneak in. Use a handheld blender to smooth the sauce before dishing it up with a bowl of pasta. They will never know the difference.

3. Chia muffins
Chia seeds are a delicious super food, packed with omega 3s and ridiculously high in antioxidants. They’re extremely versatile and easy to use. Add them to smoothies, sprinkle on top of yogurt or muesli, or toss them in your muffin mix, they thicken muffins nicely and add bulk and texture.

4. Veggie-packed meatballs
Next time you make meatballs, use a food processor to blend mushrooms and zucchini, then add it to the meat mixture before forming the balls. When cooked, your kids won’t notice the extra veggies, but you’ll know they’re in there!

5. Dip it
Kids love an interactive meal and not just splattering it all over the table. Making their own anything always goes down well. The same is true for dip. Surround a nice healthy dip with carrot sticks, celery sticks, snow peas and cucumber slices and you’re bound to increase the veggie quotient quickly.

6. Cauliflower mash
This white veggie is not an easy one to get kids to eat whole. Mashed, however, it’s a whole new ball game. Mashed cauliflower is one of the most delicious side dishes a parent or caregiver can make. Add a sweet potato or two, if you like, to maintain texture and your kids will devour it. You can also sneak pureed cauliflower into a white creamy sauce and pour it over grilled chicken breasts.

Whether it’s school sandwiches, wraps, pizza, pasta, nuggets, muffins, energy bars and desserts they can all be supercharged with a little tweaking, to appeal to a child’s sense of fun and adventure. They’ll have no idea you are steering them away from soft drinks and sugary treats and towards healthier eating because fingers crossed they’ll be too busy enjoying the deliciousness.

Lee has shared her Brown Rice Nori recipe that the whole family love…

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BROWN RICE NORI
MAKES 4

This is my vegetarian version of a typical sushi roll, usually made with sweet white rice that can raise your blood sugar levels too quickly due to its sky-high glycemic index. By using wholesome brown rice and tempeh, you can create delicious rolls that will make your insides and outsides happy. The fibre in brown rice and fermented soy (tempeh and tamari) will ensure these rolls are easier for vatas’ delicate bellies to digest. Bite down on raw cucumber and carrot to add crunchiness, and relish the creaminess of tahini and avocado, which add a dose of good fats to complete a balanced meal that’s as fun to make as it is to eat.

60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) wheat-free tamari, plus extra to serve
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ghee, melted
65 g (2¼ oz/¼ cup) tahini
100 g (3½ oz) tempeh
370 g (13 oz/2 cups) cooked brown rice
4 nori sheets
½ avocado, sliced
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, sliced lengthways into eighths
½ carrot, sliced lengthways into thin sticks
2 spring onions (scallions), halved lengthways

Combine the tamari, lime juice, ghee and 1 tablespoon of the tahini in a bowl. Add the tempeh and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

Remove the tempeh from the marinade. Heat a dry frying pan over medium heat and pan-fry the tempeh until golden
on both sides. Cut into thin strips and set aside.

Combine the rice with the remaining tahini. Lay a nori sheet shiny side down on the bench. With wet hands, take a quarter of the rice and press it evenly over the nori sheet, leaving a 3 cm (1¼ inch) border along the top side. Lay a quarter of the tempeh, avocado, cucumber, carrot and spring onion on top. Moisten the top edge of the nori with water and roll up securely. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Cut each roll into four pieces and serve with extra tamari.