Bet­ter liv­ing through eat­ing well

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Food - Clodagh Finn

CA­VAN na­tive Áine McA­teer has a CV that in­stantly grabs your at­ten­tion. Her client list as a pri­vate chef in LA in­cludes Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters, such as Nicole Kid­man and Tom Cruise, and in re­cent years she has started to in­cor­po­rate mar­i­juana into her cook­ing for med­i­cal pur­poses.

The re­sults, she says, have been very en­cour­ag­ing and she hopes to or­gan­ise a hemp event in Ire­land in the New Year to ex­plore the health ben­e­fits of the plant which is used in ev­ery­thing from cloth­ing to build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

Here, the Cannabis for Medic­i­nal Use Reg­u­la­tion Bill passed through the Dáil last De­cem­ber, but in July the bill was ef­fec­tively shelved fol­low­ing a re­port from the Oireach­tas com­mit­tee on health.

McA­teer now hopes to open up a dis­cus­sion on the health ben­e­fits of cannabis, draw­ing on her ex­pe­ri­ence of us­ing it in­fused in but­ters and oils in Cal­i­for­nia where its use for qual­i­fied pa­tients has been le­gal since 1996.

She says hemp has a wide range of health ben­e­fits and it is worth ex­plor­ing how they can be ex­ploited by in­te­grat­ing them into food. But that is just one el­e­ment of her wide-rang­ing and holis­tic ap­proach to cook­ing, which is un­der­pinned by the guid­ing prin­ci­ple that you can eat your way to bet­ter health.

She dis­cov­ered the truth of that in her late teens/early 20s when she was di­ag­nosed with an un­der-ac­tive thy­roid. She took med­i­ca­tion at first, but then be­gan to seek out ways to im­prove her health nat­u­rally.

The search brought her to the Golden Dawn, a mac­ro­bi­otic restau­rant in Dublin. “I thought that ev­ery­one looked so healthy and I thought that what­ever these guys are on, I want some of that.”

As it turned out, “some of that” in­volved a rad­i­cal change in diet. The woman who was brought up on creamy milk and cheese in Ca­van dis­cov­ered that she was lac­tose in­tol­er­ant and had to cut dairy from her diet.

She in­tro­duced sea veg­eta­bles, rich in thy­roid-boost­ing io­dine, and a range of whole­grains and pulses and soon her health be­gan to im­prove. She was so im­pressed, in fact, that she started to work for the restau­rant. Two years later, she moved to Lon­don and be­gan to study at a mac­ro­bi­otic cen­tre where she dis­cov­ered the heal­ing power of food.

“I al­ways go to my kitchen when I’m not feel­ing well,” she tells Feel­good.

“There is al­ways some­thing I can do through food to im­prove the con­di­tion I have and I have seen it with the peo­ple I work for.”

She moved to the States to fur­ther her stud­ies and there she started to cook for Bar­bara Or­bi­son, wife of the fa­mous mu­si­cian Roy.

Be­fore too long, her holis­tic and heal­ing ap­proach to cook­ing was in de­mand and she was asked to cook for other fa­mous mu­si­cians as well as a long list of Hol­ly­wood stars that in­cluded John Cu­sack, Pierce Bros­nan and the Simp­sons cre­ator Matt Groen­ing.

Many of her clients sim­ply wanted to max­imise their health, but oth­ers were look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach to deal with ill­ness.

For ex­am­ple, she re­calls work­ing with an R ’n’ B singer whose MS symp­toms sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved af­ter she cut su­gar from her diet and be­gan to eat in a more bal­anced way.

She says achiev­ing more bal­ance in the diet is cru­cial and rec­om­mends that our food be as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble. Pro­cessed food, su­gar-rich food and an over-re­liance on car­bo­hy­drates cause acid­ity in the sys­tem, which brings with it a range of prob­lems.

“A lot of peo­ple start the day with cof­fee and toast, but that is re­ally acidic,” she says, rec­om­mend­ing small, sim­ple changes to im­prove health.

Here are two of her juices to start and fin­ish the day. Morn­ing Green Elixir You’ll need: 1 bunch cel­ery; 1 small cu­cum­ber; 1 bunch fresh pars­ley: 1 green ap­ple, half lemon.

Cut into man­age­able sizes for your juicer. You can peel the lemon if you pre­fer a more mel­low lemon flavour. If it’s or­ganic, you can juice the skin too. Press through your juicer and en­joy. Sweet Dreams Night­cap You’ll need: 1 cup of hemp, oat, al­mond or other nut milk; half tsp turmeric; 1 tsp honey.

Heat the milk and stir in the turmeric and honey. Sip and drift off into happy dream­land.

HOLIS­TIC AP­PROACH: Áine McA­teer is in de­mand for her ap­proach to diet, say­ing it should be as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble. She is also known for in­cor­po­rat­ing mar­i­juana into her cook­ing.

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