Having twice made a remarkable recovery from cancer, Bernadette Bohan became focused on promoting health and well-being by educating people all over Ireland about life-changing improvements we can make to our diets. Bernadette has become an advocate for a diet of plant-based foods, which has been proven to play a part in destroying viruses, bacteria and cancers. Having adopted the lifestyle change herself, she soon noticed real results: her health improved greatly, her skin glowed, her energy exploded and her waist shrank. Bernadette’s new book Raw showcases her ability to make healthy eating enjoyable and achievable. She took some time out to share her tips and tricks with us, as well as some of her delicious recipes.
Hi Bernadette, can you tell us a little about your journey, and the circumstances that led you to making changes to your lifestyle?
When I was diagnosed with cancer for a second time it was a major wake-up call. It really made me focus, and prompted me to take massive action to change my lifestyle – no buts, and no excuses. The stomach lurching experience of becoming a cancer patient faced with the terrifying possibility of dying before my children grew up. Common sense told me that food must play an important role in health and healing. Food can be so powerful. We can easily see and feel the detrimental effects food can have on our bodies through weight and even sickness when our diet is poor. Instinctively we all know how well we feel when we eat healthily. Food keeps us alive from the cradle to the grave. So I made it my business to find out what foods make the body function correctly. Looking back, I honestly thought I was leading a healthy lifestyle; but facing cancer for a second time I had to up my game. My personal experience as an ordinary mother’s and the obstacles I faced as I grew from a frightened patient, to a desperate student and finally a teacher on a mission to pass on my knowledge has taught me to resolve my problems and not rely solely on scientific research. All too often we delegate responsibility for our well-being to our doctors and rely on the latest ground-breaking discoveries of modern medicine to fix us. Nobody knows your body better than you.
Why should people be excited about including live foods in their diet?
Well, the physical improvements are the best incentive. As you become more nourished by raw, living foods, those extra pounds simply melt away and you won’t need to pay attention to expanding waistlines. Counting calories – believe me will be a thing of the past? You have more energy, and you lose the intensity of cravings. Raw, living foods do not cause the body to gain weight because you are eating foods in their natural state with all of their enzymes intact. Enzymes help us assimilate and digest foods properly. Glowing health and vitality is the best advertisement for this lifestyle, why not look the picture of health. It has changed my life immeasurably and that is why I feel so passionate to share how to enjoy this positive healthy form of eating. The logic underpinning the raw, living foods diet is pretty much common sense. Think of it in terms of ‘live foods’ or ‘dead foods’. Live foods are foods that have not been denatured by heat, and as such their nutrients and enzymes remain intact. Naturally live foods nourish your body more than dead foods that have been boiled, heated or zapped the life out of.
What equipment does a person need in their kitchen to follow a raw diet?
Top of the list is a masticating juicer. It’s so easy to implement a daily routine of juicing, all you need is just some fresh fruit and vegetables and a good juicer. Masticating juicers are very economical as they produce very small amounts of dry pulp, which ensures you get the best possible value – the most juice – from your produce. Masticating juicers are not usually sold in the high street as they are a bit more of a specialty – check out my website www.changesimply.com for a range of my favourite juicers.
A dehydrator is an excellent piece of kitchen equipment that makes crisps, snacks, biscuits, crackers and main meals. You can produce satisfying, tasty and enzyme-rich foods for yourself and your family and make super-healthy foods that are tastier than shop-bought products and have the added advantage of being free from artificial preservatives. The snacks are great if you get the munchies while watching television or sitting at your desk and are fantastic for kids’ lunchboxes.
It’s worth it for the crisps alone. Dehydrators are relatively inexpensive, from €150. Mine is in constant use in my kitchen, as it’s simple to use and keep clean, and is very efficient.
Sprouts are very much part of my lifestyle, and I have various sprouts like alfalfa, broccoli and, radish growing in jars. By growing your own sprouts you are literally growing your own organic vegetables. I have tried and tested many different gadgets for growing sprouts and always end up going back to the glass jar system.
Sprouting seeds and beans are inexpensive and an excellent way to ensure you and your family has a good supply of vitamins and minerals. Sprouts are constantly growing, right up until the time of consumption. You can add them to juices, soups, sandwiches, salads and main meals.
This is a fab kitchen gadget for the living food enthusiast. It’s easy to use and you can make spaghetti, vegetable noodles, potato chips and shoestring potatoes, all from veggies. How cool is that?
It’s a great way to jazz up a salad as it adds interesting textures. The noodles are perfect for ‘stir-raws’ (-fries) and salads, and the interchangeable blades can cut cucumber, carrots, sweet potato butternut squash, courgettes, radishes and apples in seconds. An easy gadget to use, you simply pop the veggies on the spikes and turn the handle, and you produce beautiful spaghetti, spirals or ribbons instantly. Kids love the interesting shapes and it’s a great way to get them to eat more veggies.
What three easy changes can a person make to their diet to include more live food?
When you are trying to change poor eating habits it helps enormously if you get your head in the right place. Your mental approach can work for you or be one of the biggest drawbacks you will face. Think about it: if your mind is constantly nagging you with the whys and wherefores, will it make for a smooth transition? The easiest way to transition to better health is to transition gradually. You’ll find it’s not a tough as you think. These recipes will help you successfully transition to a healthier diet without starving yourself or feeling deprived. You can make a juice each day, have a salad for lunch or dinner and add sprouts to your juice or salad, it’s that simple.
Can we expect lots of side effects like headaches, lethargy etc to kick in once we start a raw diet?
Well that depends on what you have been eating and drinking. Eating nutritious foods is a very effective way to create a body that is resistant to disease. Many people only change their eating habits when they are forced to because of a health issue. Mother Nature has laced thousands of foods with nutrients that help keep infections and other illnesses at bay. The sooner you start the better.
What’s in your fridge?
I buy lots of veggies for juicing like cucumbers, celery, kale and lemons. You don’t have to change your entire diet at once, unless you want to. Drastic changes in diet are hard to stick with – you might last a week or two before you start craving all the stuff you are psychologically attached to. Cleaning out the fridge of all the familiar food you normally eat and replacing it with a field of green veggies may not be a wise move in the first week.
What five items are on your shopping list, week in, week out?
Apart from my veggies for juicing I use broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions and garlic for soups and main dishes. We have a massive assortment of unhealthy foods at our fingertips, remember convenience is a big selling point. They are foods for profit, not health. The recipes in RAW will help you avoid the foods aisles that stock processed, sugary foods.
What is your failsafe midweek family meal?
There is an array of delicious choices to satisfy any palate in Raw. My family love my Sir don’t Fry, One pot Stew, Raw Lasagna, Carb Free Spaghetti with Sweet Pepper Sauce, and Roasted Garlic Cottage Pie. These recipes will help you embrace eating nourishing food even within a busy schedule.
Finally, what would you say to anyone who is interested in changing their lifestyle, but feels that it might be too much of a challenge?
When you are preparing food, why not make something that will actually nourish your body? You don’t have to be deprived to eat healthily. You might think you will be missing out when eating raw foods, or that it’s some extreme and boring way of eating, but it’s not. This is real food that nourishes your body, not the fake stuff that damages it. What you will miss out on is the fried, calorie-loaded, factory-created processed foods that are full of chemical preservatives. In my opinion, that is an absolute advantage of a raw diet, not a drawback. When people feel the benefits of making one practical change to their lifestyle, however small, it leads them to taking another step, then another. It will soon become a walk in the park and you will be whipping up raw meals in a flash.
For more of Bernadette’s recipes click here.