FOOD FOR THOUGHT

MAR­I­JUANA, A MONIKER AND MY KITCHEN RULES: PETE EVANS SERVES UP A NEW COOK­BOOK AND SPILLS THE BROTH ON HIS LAT­EST EX­PLOITS

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE| BIG READ - WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN

When you’re a con­nois­seur, some­times it pays to lis­ten to your own ad­vice.

After years of guid­ing others how to hone their skills in the kitchen, Pete Evans is re­flect­ing on his own best teach­ings in his new book.

“The one thing I al­ways say on My

Kitchen Rules is less is more and I’ve fol­lowed my own ad­vice for this book,” he says.

“The best chefs in the world use the least amount of in­gre­di­ents but achieve sub­lime re­sults. That’s why this is my favourite book of all.

“My au­di­ence kept re­quest­ing sim­pler recipes from me that are still de­li­cious but also healthy, so this is my gift back to our au­di­ence or any­one con­sid­er­ing chang­ing their life­style. It’s a re­ally sim­ple book that tastes de­li­cious and pro­motes op­ti­mal health.”

Din­ner in 5, a col­lec­tion of 100 recipes com­prised of five or less in­gre­di­ents, is de­signed to make it eas­ier for fam­i­lies to eat to­gether dur­ing the week. All of the recipes are pa­leo — a whole food-based diet in­spired by the foods avail­able to our pa­le­olithic an­ces­tors for which Evans has be­come the poster boy and punch­ing bag.

“Any­body who knows me knows I’m pa­leo,” he says. “We’ve es­tab­lished the fact that I have the moniker of Pa­leo Pete. I don’t think I’ll ever shake that nor would I ever want to shake that. We’re pro­duc­ing amaz­ing out­comes for other peo­ple.”

Last month Evans took to so­cial me­dia to share an image of him­self in his chef’s whites be­fore he went pa­leo 10 years ago.

Even if a cave­man meal plan, or any other fad diet, doesn’t ap­peal to you, it’s hard to ar­gue with the ben­e­fits of ditch­ing pro­cessed food.

“This is my rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what we eat and how we eat,” says Evans, who lives on a 10ha prop­erty at Round Moun­tain in the North­ern Rivers with his wife Ni­cola and teenage daugh­ters Indii and Chilli.

“I’m 46 now and in the best shape of my life with the best men­tal clar­ity. I’m hav­ing the best time in my life at the mo­ment and I can only see it im­prov­ing. It’s not like I’ve hit the peak yet. We’re all evolv­ing to great­ness, if we choose to.”

So how does Evans bal­ance his pa­leo diet with his judg­ing du­ties on MKR, which re­quires him to taste food that’s full of ev­ery­thing he would nor­mally avoid, such as dairy, sugar and grains?

“It’s a choice to be a judge on that show, which I fully love,” he says. “MKR makes up one per cent of my yearly diet, the rest is pa­leo. In­ter­est­ingly, a lot of the food we eat on MKR these days is meat and veg so it’s not that far re­moved from what I nor­mally eat.

“We just wrapped sea­son 11 and the food was the best we’ve ever had. I say that ev­ery sea­son, but the cooks are con­stantly evolv­ing. There are some re­mark­able dishes I can’t wait for the au­di­ence to see.”

Evans has at­tracted a lot of crit­i­cism for his ad­vice out­side of MKR, which ranges from diet to sun­screen and al­ter­na­tive medicines.

Bone broth for ba­bies and sun gaz­ing as ‘free medicine’ drew par­tic­u­lar ire from med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and the pub­lic alike.

One health and well­ness is­sue he be­lieves he’s on the right side of is the push to le­galise mar­i­juana.

Evans trav­elled to the US and Canada ear­lier this year to film The Magic Plant, the fol­low-up to his Net­flix doc­u­men­tary The Magic Pill.

There’s no word yet if Net­flix will pick up the new doco, which is in post-pro­duc­tion, but Evans says it will “find its right­ful home”.

“I’m a strong be­liever ev­ery sin­gle adult, should they chose, should legally be al­lowed to grow a few plants to be used as food or medicine,” he says.

“As ma­ture and in­formed adults, and through cor­rect ed­u­ca­tion, there’s no rea­son we shouldn’t be able to grow this won­drous plant along­side our other herbs and plants.

“The fear around so­ci­ety de­gen­er­at­ing be­cause of this one plant — that hasn’t hap­pened.

“How can we have these laws in place for cer­tain things and not others?

“Al­co­hol is read­ily avail­able any­where you choose to be able to pur­chase it. If you were to abuse that you could kill your­self by over­con­sump­tion of it.”

The tide is just be­gin­ning to turn here in Aus­tralia, with the ACT be­com­ing the first Australian ju­ris­dic­tion to le­galise the pos­ses­sion, use and cul­ti­va­tion of small amounts of mar­i­juana.

“It’s a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity here if we do it cor­rectly and in­tel­li­gently that Aus­tralia could be­come one of the most for­ward­think­ing na­tions that can show the world how it’s done,” he says. “I have hope for that. I’m an op­ti­mist and I be­lieve it could hap­pen.

“Aus­tralia is one of the high­est per capita users of mar­i­juana, even though it has been il­le­gal. It feels like it’s part of our cul­ture.”

Breast can­cer suf­ferer Olivia New­ton­john is an­other high-pro­file ad­vo­cate for the use of med­i­cal mar­i­juana, speak­ing at a Cannabis Sci­ence Con­fer­ence in the US last month about how it helped her wean off mor­phine pain killers.

Evans says his doc­u­men­tary will re­veal an even wider range of ev­ery­day uses of the mir­a­cle plant, from oils and body balms to juice that aids di­ges­tion and even as a pantry sta­ple.

While it’s not likely we’ll see con­tes­tants cook­ing with mar­i­juana on MKR any time soon, Evans al­ready has a mar­i­juana cook­book in the works.

He’ll ap­pear as a guest speaker at the Hemp Health & In­no­va­tion Expo at the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion & Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre to­mor­row.

“Ev­ery­thing is about bal­ance. Once we have our nutri­tion un­der con­trol those other killers of health don’t seem so daunt­ing. We tend to have the en­ergy or ca­pac­ity to ex­plore those other things once we change what we eat.

“I al­ways say start with the nutri­tion and the rest will come eas­ily.

“There’s a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion out there about find­ing what works for your­self.

Mar­i­juana is just one op­tion for peo­ple.”

START WITH NUTRI­TION AND THE REST WILL COME EAS­ILY

Din­ner in 5 by Pete Evans, Pub­lished by Plum, $39.99. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Wil­liam Meppem.

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