Good oneBy Des Doyle

Simply put Susan Jane White’s latest book ‘The Extra Virgin Kitchen’ will make you glow!  Her contagious enthusiasm jumps from each page with recipes that are both simple and exciting, including the aptly named ‘F*ck me salad’.  Born out of personal illness at the hands of poor diet, Susan Jane now stands at the pinnacle of the “free from” food movement and her new book will convince you to be healthier, not only for the first couple of months of 2015 but for life. 

What inspired your latest book ‘The Extra Virgin Kitchen’?

My wrecked body. Our ‘modern’ diet was killing me – way too many meals and snacks pumped with highly processed wheat, white sugar and dairy. Look, there’s nothing wrong with these food groups of course, but several times a day? Every day? That’s borderline pathological. Yet how many of us question this weird fanatisicm? Reducing wheat, sugar and dairy in your diet is far from restrictive. That’s the beautiful irony!
Interview - Susan Jane White

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How’s that? Sounds restrictive to me … 
There are stacks of groovy grains and flours to play with, that may have otherwise never muscled for attention – quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, flax. These are your new badass friends. Many taste even better than regular wheat. Rosemary, olive and flaxseed bread, instead of boring slice pan? Mexican chilli beans, avocado and corn tacos, in place of soggy pasta evenings? Dark chocolate brownies made from coconut nectar and fudgy dates? Still with me? Sounds queer, but instead of feeling restricted with your food choices, expect to feel entirely liberated. There’s a whole world of ingredients waiting to enter your playground.
Who is this book catered for?
Anyone who craves more energy. Or wants their skin to glow.
How tough initially was it to change your eating habits?
After developing a serious immune disorder you describe beginning a nutritional pilgrimage. I was reluctant to address my habits in the beginning. Healthy food seemed way too expensive. I soon realised that poor health is much more expensive. I was out of work from illness, felt and looked thoroughly miserable, and my health insurance was rocketing. I had to reassess my value system. Does this make sense? Think of food as information for our body. Every bite we eat contains ‘software’ or code that tells our genes how to express themselves. Food literally has the ability to turn our “good” genes on and our “bad” genes off. Each snack or meal you have is either fighting disease, or feeding it.
Your book is sure to inspire healthy eating amongst its readers, was there a book that changed the way you thought about food? 
Wow thanks. Yes. Michael Pollan writes beautifully on how our food culture shapes our physical, intellectual and emotional selves. I didn’t want to be cheap, fast and easy like the diet I had! His best book? Food Rules, €5.99. These quirky rules often visit me while I’m shopping. Here’s some of my favourites:
“It’s better to pay the grocer than the doctor”
“If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry at all”
“Eat food that comes from a plant, not made in a plant”
You have a recipe in the book called ‘f*ck me salad’ please tell us more?
It’s more fun finding out for yourself.

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Ireland has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe, what measures do you think society should be doing to fight it?
Taxing advertising. Hard. This has two effects – increased revenue from the Big Food corporations to treat the illnesses caused by many of the foods being advertised (let’s be frank, they are almost always confection and sodas). And secondly, it creates a better and fairer playing field for small artisan companies who don’t have marketing departments or budgets for prime time television commercials and billboards. I’m not supportive of a sugar tax. Wily food corporations will simply channel their R&D budgets into other noxious sweet substances to highjump the tax, and potentially do more damage to our bodies. Hit them with a tax bill instead. A brave, progressive and dedicated health ministry could do this.  Advertising grossly influences our children’s food preferences, their pester power and their eating patterns. We know this, otherwise companies wouldn’t spend millions on advertising.  So how can we call ourselves a civilised society when we let the Big Food industry manipulate their thoughts? And meddle with the fate of our children’s health? I find this barbaric. And right now, our government is complicit in permitting unscrupulous marketers access to our children’s thoughts. Yes there’s a health crisis. But it’s plain to see that’s there’s a moral crisis our ministry needs to tackle too, in order to redres the Irish healthcare system. No?
You are the former president of Oxford University’s Gastronomy Society, what impact did that role have on you?
Very little really. Is that rude?
People claim you have energy levels that would rival Graham Norton on acid, what tip can you give to reach those heights?
Cut down on wheat, white sugar and dairy for 3 weeks, and see how your battery responds. If this doesn’t appeal, try a pinch of cayenne pepper in warm water and fresh lemon in the morning. The chilli will awaken your senses faster than a voodoo drum.
If there was one recipe from the book that you would recommend to try today what would it be? 
Banana toffee ice cream. I’ve seen people bless themselves upon tasting it. No gunk, just 100% pure unadulterated wholefoods to get your serotonin raving.
Do you have a favourite restaurant?
I think The Woollen Mills is outrageously good in Dublin 1, and Etto Dublin 2. Both sell quirky bottles of sherry, so maybe that’s why! I regularly go to Alchemy Juice Co upstairs in BT2 to grab something quick. Everything is free from wheat, refined sugar and dairy so it’s like a health bomb for your body.
The Extra Virigin Kitchen is available now
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