Sunday Times

Blue Train moves



Where does the interest in no/low carb come from?

My son, Lucca, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was eight years old. For years we followed the advice of dieticians to feed Lucca a high-carb diet and to count the carbohydra­tes to work out insulin dosages. Although his HBA1C (his average blood sugar) was quite good, he still had fluctuatio­ns in his blood sugars. Doctors could not explain to us how to reduce these fluctuatio­ns because we were doing everything by the book.

In 2014, I met professor Tim Noakes at the launch of the Real Meal Revolution and the things he spoke about changed my perception. He explained that refined carbs like sugar, starches, flour, pasta and rice were actually causing high blood sugar, inflammati­on and heart disease. I was convinced to change our diet to a low-carb diet but I could not find clarity on how Lucca would still get the much-needed insulin he required.

I then met a fellow type 1 mom, Ronel Hentschel, who introduced me to Dr Bernstein in the US. He explained that you can use insulin to cover protein because it also has a glucose response in the blood. This response called protein gluconeoge­nesis is much slower and steadier than the fast release of high-glucose carbs. Protein is combined with nutritiona­lly dense fibrous vegetables that are low in carbs and do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. We started to follow this diet and it improved Lucca’s time in range and his overall health.

I understand you not only wrote the cookbook, cooked all the dishes and styled the pics, you did the photograph­y as well. We emigrated to the Netherland­s in the beginning of 2020. After only one month here the Netherland­s went into total lockdown because of Covid. I could not shoot the recipe book with a photograph­er because of the lockdown and we took the plunge and bought a camera. I did an online photograph­y course and with lots of help from my photograph­er friends (and years of experience as a food stylist) I started to shoot the images for the book.

Lucca (now 19) helped me as my assistant and it was a really special project for us.

There is such low-carb innovation in your new cookbook, like the cabbage pasta and a pizza base made from chicken and cheese. How did you stumble on this idea? Some of the ideas have been born out of a need for variety in our diet. Like the cabbage noodles, we always ate zucchini noodles to replace pasta and just needed a change after so many years. It was a happy discovery for us because the sauce really coated the cabbage noodles well. The pizza was also in desperatio­n because our normal low-carb pizza was based on almond flour and mozzarella and it started to spike Lucca’s blood sugar for some reason. Do you think your move to the Netherland­s has inspired the Express part, being able to deliver a meal to the table in record time?

Yes, also to keep washing up to a minimum! It was inspired by people who said they could never eat low carb because it takes up too much time to prepare it. I wanted to show that you can still make healthy food even if you have only five minutes available.

Low-Carb Express, Penguin Random House SA, R320.

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