Foodie Friday: Samantha Gowing
Today’s Foodie Friday is someone I love, admire and have so much respect for. Sam Gowing is a therapeutic chef, an award-winning clinical nutritionist, a renowned teacher of food as medicine, and author of The Healing Feeling. She is also the creator of Food, Health, Wealth, a company that provides culinary and marketing solutions to the wellness industry. Sam is also one of my healthtalks co-hosts, lending her knowledge and incredible kitchen skills as our superstar chef.
Meet Sam …
What was the catalyst that turned you into a healthy foodie?
My dad taught me to cook, as did my maternal grandmother. I grew up at the restaurant table at my father’s first restaurant in the Melbourne. At the peak of Dad’s smoking career – a frequent flyer who carried cartons of Peter Stuyvesant’s “passport to international smoking pleasure” – he would chain smoke over a hundred cigarettes a day, lighting one after the other as he extinguished the previous one in a mammoth marble ashtray. Usually given to him as gifts during the 1970s, these ashtrays themselves could have been used as doorstops – or weapons for adulterating husbands – as they were so heavy! Watching his excoriating demise from cancer – and not knowing back then how I could help to extend his life – was the catalyst for me to embark along the healing pathway of using food as medicine and supporting those who are living with cancer.
What is non-negotiable when it comes to your diet?
I follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to diet – and I’m famous for being all or nothing! It’s who I am and it works for me. So when I’m on the road I ensure I have enough nuts and seeds and Paleo style snacks to see me along my journey so I never have to default into anything dodgy. This is non-negotiable.
When someone cooks for me, or I go to a restaurant as a guest or have to judge a place for the annual awards, then I eat what I choose or I am given! I’ve been in the business now for 30 years and dining in great restaurants is a part of my life, so it’s about authenticity of self. So if I over-indulge at a degustation dinner, then the next day it’s straight back on the health trail to repair and renew. Same goes for the extended festive season. This usually involves fasting followed by a gentle cleanse and lots of exercise to rebalance my system.
Why do you eat the way you eat?
I’m becoming more and more intrigued by the Paleo way of life. The more I read, the more it makes sense, especially from an unprocessed, wholefoods point of view. Essentially it’s about minimising your grain intake and upping the ante on premium organic meat and enjoying an abundance of sustainable fish. Most importantly it’s all about hunter-gatherer, so masses of great vegetables are a must. I also add root vegetables to my diet as my digestion needs the love from those slow cooked tubers!
If you were trying to convert someone to your dietary philosophy, what would you make for him or her?
A menu abundant with fresh, organic, biodynamic and wholefoods. The fewer preserved, processed and fragmented foods consumed, the more the body will thrive on the natural nutrient content in whole foods. I would offer a range of specialty tinctures, tonics and smoothies packed full of superfoods to facilitate the healing process by slowing down the process of degenerative disease associated with aging.
I would encourage them to enjoy the ultimate in first class proteins such as organic chicken, biodynamic turkey, grass fed locally raised beef and lamb. Premium protein sources guarantee effective liver detoxification and muscle tissue repair and renewal – essential to the healing process.
How do you stay healthy while travelling?
I travel a lot both overseas and domestically and I find that the lack of ventilation is what depletes me the most, so oxygenation is king to avoid acute inflammatory reactions and dehydration.
I always travel with chamomile tea bags and organic miso soup sachets, which I can pour into a mug or a cup on a plane and top up with hot water. Both assist greatly by instantly relieving impending jetlag, anxiety about the tasks ahead and ultimately ground myself from being ‘up in the air’. The salty flavour of the miso is very contractive and helps to centre and calm the mind. It is also a great tonic for fatigue and nausea while travelling. I never leave home without a magnesium supplement, which I take at night.
Whenever I travel to Bali, Sri Lanka or Zanzibar to write my signature Surf Spa Food menus for hotels and retreats, I always pack a jar of Gubinge, our Australian Kakadu Plum Superfood – one of the richest sources of vitamin C you can find.
I also stock up on E3Live/AFA – an extraordinary freshwater plant food with a full spectrum of over 64 perfectly balanced, naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids (protein), enzymes, chlorophyll, essential fatty acids, cognitive-enhancing phyto-nutrients and other antioxidants.
When I get to my hotel or villa after a long flight as soon as I finish unpacking I start climbing the walls! Well my legs do when I practice the restorative Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose). This pose facilitates the flow of blood to the entire body, and reduces swelling, inflammation, fatigue and fluid retention. Inverted postures such as this pose have a cooling effect on the body. They can also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm, relax and soothe the mind and body.
What are your go-to meals and snacks when you are super busy?
Working long stints in a commercial kitchen can often suppress my appetitive for hours on end, so at the end of the day I don’t really feel like much to eat – that’s when my Peppermint Paleo Slice (recipe below) comes in handy. It’s my number one go to snack and I make batches of it each week and freeze them in small amounts. I’ve been experimenting with snacks to eat while on this pathway and I’ve come up with a ripsnorter of a treat! It needs refrigerating in the warmer weather, which we’re loving here in Byron this summer. Substitute the nuts, dried fruit and seeds for whatever you have in your pantry and just use more vanilla or maybe lemon essence or zest if you have no peppermint oil.
Juices or smoothies: Which do you prefer? What’s your favourite combination?
Green smoothies – hands down! You know, I never used to get the fuss about green smoothies until I got on the Vitamix tip! Oh how my world changed! My favourite blend is organic kale, blueberries, maca, mesquite, cacao, E3Live and a drop of peppermint oil. I top that up with filtered water with ice on a hot day and that keeps me afloat until the mid afternoon.
What’s the biggest nutrition misconception you always have to clear up for people?
The organic debate! I am forever diffusing the conflict of organic versus conventional. So these days I offer this solution – Sam’s SLOWER principle:
Seasonal, Local, Organic, Wholefoods, Environmental and Regional
If you could prepare a meal for anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and what would you make?
Such a powerful question and it has deeply affected me. I would cook for my dad. He never ate my ‘grown up’ food and I know he’d be stoked to enjoy the beautiful, organic menus I now prepare for hundreds of people each year.
It would be a simple feast of cured sustainbale fish, locally caught Tweed Heads’ prawns, grass fed beef with a wasabi miso dressing accompanied by my famous beetroot, and rosewater salad – as seen on healthtalksTV series one. We’d share this with a half bottle of Billecart Salmon Cuvee – his favourite champagne!
What does being a Wellness Warrior mean to you?
It is with great pride to be a Wellness Warrior and a badge not to be worn lightly. For me it is about sharing a depth of learned knowledge fused with inherent wisdom so that others can benefit from the teachings and pass down the lineage of good food, healthy mind and a very festive spirit. Each one should teach one.
A Recipe From Sam
Gowings Peppermint Paleo Slice
This is the ultimate raw Paleo treat – no cooking required.
What you’ll need:
¾ cup currants
¾ cup dried apricots
¾ cup hazelnuts – activated if possible
¾ cup Brazil nuts – activated if possible
¾ cup sunflower seeds – activated if possible
¾ cup cacao
¾ cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 drops peppermint oil (organic food grade)
2 teaspoons agave syrup
¾ cup coconut oil, melted – plus a little extra for greasing
2 tablespoons goji berries for topping
Extra coconut for topping
What to do:
Line a rectangular or square cake tin with baking paper. Brush with coconut oil
In a food processor, blitz currants, apricots nut and seeds until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs
Add cacao, ½ cup shredded coconut, vanilla, peppermint and agave
Fold through melted coconut oil
Press into the lined tin, scatter extra shredded coconut and goji berries on top
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow to set
Turn out onto a board when hard and cut into squares
Keep chilled and use within 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 weeks
Positive affirmation for the day: I am making the best possible choices.
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