Gil­berto Gil daugh­ter be­comes healthy food 'guru'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Bela Gil may be the youngest daugh­ter of Brazil­ian singer and politi­cian Gil­berto Gil, but she's not rid­ing on her father's mu­si­cal coat tails. In­stead, she has turned her fas­ci­na­tion with the "weird" things her dad ate when she was lit­tle, such as tofu and sea­weed, into her own tele­vi­sion show on cook­ing, "Bela Coz­inha." In it, Gil shows how to make a veg­e­tar­ian ver­sion of Brazil's na­tional dish of fei­joada (a stew of beans, usu­ally with pork and beef ), gnoc­chi pasta made from yuca, or a pesto sauce from ca­cao-all show­cas­ing nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents from her coun­try.

"I feel that Brazil­ians have stopped eat­ing real, home­made food, with salad and veg­eta­bles, and in­stead eat more in­dus­tri­al­ized food be­cause they are un­fairly cheaper," the 29-year-old nu­tri­tion­ist and cook told AFP in her col­or­ful Rio of­fice. With around a mil­lion Face­book fol­low­ers, the youngest of seven chil­dren from Gil­berto Gil has made a name for her­self. She has two restau­rants in Rio de Janeiro, three best-sell­ing recipe books, and var­i­ous branded prod­ucts, from a line of or­ganic food to a cloth­ing line.

But it's her trop­i­cal, healthy cui­sine that is best known. In it, she swaps out but­ter for co­conut oil, eggs for lin­seed, dairy milk for al­mond milk, and sausages for roast fish. Memes have popped up mak­ing fun of her "hippy" ten­den­cies. But in the Gil house­hold, such jabs have never been a prob­lem. When it comes to eat­ing, her father was al­ways a diner apart. From his ex­ile to Lon­don in the 1970s, the singer started a mac­ro­bi­otic diet, back when it was con­sid­ered ec­cen­tric.

A niche in Brazil

Gil­berto Gil, says Bela, never forced his kids to fol­low suit. But he chided them when they drank too lit­tle wa­ter, or too much juice, or ate too much sweet foods. Bela started to adopt some of her father's ways at age 15, when yoga started to in­flu­ence her life­style. At 18, she left to live in New York, where she stud­ied nu­tri­tion. She spe­cial­ized in holis­tic eat­ing in search of phys­i­cal, emo­tional and spir­i­tual balance. Be­cause of her father's prac­tices, "I didn't feel so strange and his ex­am­ple en­cour­aged me to con­tinue in this di­rec­tion," she said.

While healthy eat­ing is a cur­rent ev­i­dent in West­ern coun­tries, it's not so prom­i­nent in Brazil, where poverty is once again on the rise even as ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied crops and de­for­esta­tion grow. "Brazil is a coun­try that's re­ally rich, and re­ally poor," Bela said. "Not ev­ery­body has the op­por­tu­nity to choose. My fight is for those who can to give pri­or­ity to or­ganic prod­ucts." She has joined an NGO that pro­motes food for so­ci­ety, and also hosts a ra­dio pro­gram on child­hood nu­tri­tion.

But her tilt to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity doesn't end with food. She also uses her own YouTube chan­nel to in­spire other Brazil­ians to make their own tooth­paste with tumeric, or home­made baby food, or al­ter­na­tives to store-bought san­i­tary nap­kins for women. "We're be­ing ma­nip­u­lated a lot by in­dus­tries push­ing us to think that we can only buy tooth­paste in the pharmacy, that we should only drink bot­tled milk, or take cer­tain medicines." "To learn that there are al­ter­na­tives to all that is some­thing unimag­in­able for a lot of peo­ple," she said.

Like her father

With her in­di­vid­ual style and pen­chant to teach it, it's no sur­prise that Gil­berto Gil said that she's the daugh­ter who's most like him, and not only in ap­pear­ance. He and other mem­bers of the Gil fam­ily pop up in many of her videos, in which al­most noth­ing is kept se­cret-the one most watched was when she had a nat­u­ral child birth of her sec­ond son in her home's pool. Nat­u­rally, she ate the pla­centa, for its vi­ta­mins. Bela says she re­grets noth­ing, and has no right to say what is right or wrong-only what makes her happy. "And I feel happy to have so many fol­low­ers. The more peo­ple in this boat with me, the bet­ter," she smiled.

— AFP

Brazil­ian cook­ing show host Bela Gil, 29, poses dur­ing a photo ses­sion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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