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Celebrity Health - Susan Jane White

Nuts about food

Susan Jane White is a nutritional cook, or ‘nut’ for short. Her book The Extra Virgin Kitchen was a No.1 bestseller in Ireland, while her second cookbook, The Virtuous Tart, won Cookbook of the Year. She lives in Dublin with her husband restaurant critic Trevor White and their two sons.

How did you become a nutritional cook?

Twelve years ago I had a debilitating immune disorder. My body was very ill and my digestive system wheezed like an asthmatic snail. I chose to nourish my body through simple food choices. And it worked. Cooking without wheat, sugar and dairy is not restrictive at all. Quite the opposite. It’s incredibly liberating. I’m not saying wheat and dairy are unhealthy, but the quantity we consume is definitely unhealthy – breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, snacks all seem to have wheat, sugar and dairy, right? Giving these foods a break will open up your eyes to a fabulous fleet of wholefoods such as grains, beans, flours and multi-coloured rice that we would not otherwise be exposed to.

Imagine a space where cravings don’t control your every thought, and where energy belts through your veins. It’s a way of life, and doesn’t demand rigid principles. I’m not telling people to give up wheat, sugar and dairy altogether. That would be bonkers. But replacing bread, pasta, croissants and junk with super-nutritious suppers will pay huge dividends.

Is it easy for people to wean themselves off processed and refined foods?

You’re looking at a junk food veteran, so I know just how hard it is! Cleaning up your diet doesn’t have to be boring. It’s easy to dismiss ‘healthy’ food in cafes as very often it tastes plain awful.

Nourishing food can and should taste amazing. I want to turn your sugar cravings into a nutritional slam-dunk without sacrificing taste. I want you to eat badass noodles and feel like a ballet dancer afterwards, rather than a constipated rhino. Weaning off processed foods needs to be fun and damned delicious. I’ve made this my profession – sort of like Paul Daniels in an apron, magically hiding things. I’d advise starting with one recipe a week. By the end of the year, you will have mastered 52 incredible wholefood recipes that rock your world, both physically and mentally.

What sort of exercise do you do to keep in shape?

I used to be a pentathlete, but motherhood is my preferred extreme sport now. It keeps me even fitter. Should you spot me in an Irish yogi studio, try not to peel over laughing. Flexibility is not natural to me – I’m more of a speed junkie. Nevertheless, I’m embracing my natural aversion to yoga and even enjoying it most mornings. More importantly, I really like the people attracted to yoga – they always seem to be calm, kind and happy.

What sort of foods do you eat to stay healthy?

Raw chocolate gives me wings. I eat a lot of rye sourdough too. We signed up for an amazing sourdough course in Cloughjordan with Riot Rye. Since then, I’ve been hooked on rye sandwiches for lunch topped with kimchi, sea salt, olive oil and avocado – although no two days are ever the same. We love making curries in the evening, and freeze leftovers for super busy nights. There must be at least eight different types of wholegrain rice in our cupboards. And breakfast is always a fun affair with my two boys Benjamin and Marty – they adore buckwheat waffles with almond butter and date syrup, boiled eggs and soldiers, or simple sushi rolls.

Do you take any natural supplements?

I take omega-3 when I remember. I prefer not to rely on one particular brand, and like to change them up. I swear by Udo’s Super 8 probiotics for any digestive discomfort or nausea. I’m prone to candida if I indulge in too much sweetness, coffee, chocolate or stress – especially on the same day. No other probiotic stops candida in its tracks like Super 8.

Do you buy food in health stores?

Yes – 90% of the time. My vegetables, bread, fruit, condiments, green beauty, you name it, comes from my local health food store in Dublin. Sometimes my budget is rough so I cut back on certain items. But rather than shop in a supermarket, I put my money into the stores that I want to see succeed. They are, after all, the backbone of my healthy lifestyle.

Do you ever worry about your health?

No. I worry about the health of our soil though.


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