As you know, Alchemy founder Domini Kemp shifted her focus towards healthier eating after being diagnosed with cancer in 2013. With experienced nutritional therapist and author Patricia Daly, she went on to write The Ketogenic Kitchen, a book about low-carb, high-fat diets and about the importance of eating healthily when undergoing treatment for cancer.
In this piece from Rude Health magazine, she talks about her approach to healthy eating. And at the end there's one of her favourite recipes from the book, for her Cracking Crackers.
What sort of exercise do you do to keep in shape?
"I have read research that 30 minutes of exercise a day can really help to prevent serious illnesses recurring, so I jog even though I absolutely hate it. I go to the gym and do weights even though I find that boring. I love boxing though and occasionally ride horses – I used to show jump professionally. I try to do 30 minutes exercise per day or an hour three days a week. I do yoga as well."
What sort of foods do you eat to stay healthy?
"For years I followed a high-carb, low-fat diet following the food pyramid as we are all advised to do. But after cancer the second time I looked at my diet and turned it upon its head. I did research and met nutritionist Patricia Daly, and switched to a low-carb, higher-fat and added exercise.
"For breakfast I would eat full fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with chia or flax seeds and raspberries and blueberries. I might add apple sauce from the health store. I no longer have honey. If I have more time I would cook eggs for breakfast.
"For lunch I go for soup or a salad. I try to eat light during the day. I cook dinner four to five nights per week and often go for something vegetarian, eggs, fish or chicken. We don’t eat huge amounts of meat. For my daughters, aged 18 and 6, I cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa or lentils and I might have a really small bit of these but nothing like the amount I used to eat. I now have more vegetables, a little protein and more fat. I like butter and it is filling and makes food taste great. This way of eating suits me – I have more energy and it is easier to keep my weight in check. I found it easy to change. Fat is very satisfying and filling. Eating carbohydrates made me hungry all the time – I used to get terrible sugar lows and feel cranky. It just didn’t suit me. Ketogenic porridge (which has coconut oil, coconut flakes, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, chia seeds and spices) can keep me going all day. At home for dessert I eat 85% chocolate – so I don’t eat too much of it."
Is it hard to be healthy when you have to travel for work?
"I try to be good. When I order in restaurants I don’t dig into chips. I might have a spoonful of dessert. In France on holiday last year I had croissants for breakfast and really put on weight!"
Do you take any natural supplements?
"I take vitamin D because we don’t get enough sun in Ireland. I have B12 shots every month because I have anaemia. I use a magnesium spray too. I like health stores and would buy lots of things such as bee pollen, herbal teas, Super Life sprinkles, flax and chia seeds, coconut yogurt, spices, Epsom salts, beauty and cleaning products."
Do you ever worry about your health?
"I don’t obsess about it. I have checkups every six months. I am aware that five years is the magic number. The older I get I am more conscious of wanting to be healthy and feel good. When you are in your 40s you can’t treat your body the same way as you did in your 20s; you have to work harder at it and be less self-destructive."
How do you relax when you are not in the public eye?
"I am a big bookworm and love reading. I don’t watch much TV, but I like watching good films. In the evening I enjoy cooking dinner. I like to sit down with friends and catch up. I definitely drink a lot less than I used to."
Do you have any health tips for Rude Health readers?
Stress less – it is crucial to keep a check on your stress levels. When I have thought I wasn’t stressed I have been tested and found that my cortisol levels have been sky high, so I obviously get more stressed than I realise.
Exercise regularly – that feeling of being physically worn out is good for me and I know it is doing me good.
Just get on with life – I no longer sweat the small stuff and get as wound up about things.
- 75g sunflower seeds
- 60g chia seeds
- 45g psyllium seed husks (most health stores have these)
- 45g flaxseeds
- 30g pumpkin seeds
- 20g sesame seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds (10g)
- 1½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan pink salt (8g)
- 1 tsp dried thyme (1g)
- 3 good tbsp coconut oil (81g)
- 200ml boiling water (200g)
Makes about 12 crackers
These crackers were adapted ever so slightly from the original recipe from Sarah Britton’s book, My New Roots. The trick was to remove the oats. Oats in general are a great food, but they are mega high in carbohydrates. After many attempts, here they are: low-carb, grain-free and absolutely delicious.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Next, add the coconut oil to the boiling water so it melts. Once this has melted, add this to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a wet dough that’s kind of cement-like.
Pour the sludge into the lined baking tray and smooth it out with a spatula. If the mix is being really uncooperative, sprinkle it with water so it gets a bit wetter and therefore spreads easier. It just means you’ll have to cook them longer. Press down the mix roughly so it spreads out, then place a second sheet of non-stick baking paper on top of the cracker blanket and carefully apply pressure to make the mixture thinner and so that it covers the whole tray. It’s easier doing it this way than with a rolling pin.
When that’s done, remove the top piece of baking paper and bake the crackers for 30 minutes. If you can, use a flat surface to flip them over (like you would one half of a cake) and bake for another 20 minutes. If you find the outside bits are going nice and brown but the inside is still a bit raw, break off the cooked bits and keep cooking the middle. They need to be really crisp and golden brown, not raw and wet or soft. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool fully and dry out before breaking up into rough squares or rectangles for serving.
If after a day or so you find they need to be crunchier, stick them back in the oven for a blast. The main thing is to let them truly cool down before you store them, or any residual heat will make them sweaty and soggy. Ewww!
You can also buy The Ketogenic Kitchen here: http://www.easons.com/p-4101768-the-ketogenic-kitchen.aspx
Many thanks and enjoy!