Plant-Powered Peeps: Meet Dr Libby Weaver
This week I’m super excited to bring you one very special lady, who for many of you, will need no introduction. Dr Libby Weaver is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading nutrition, health and wellness specialists, who also happens to live in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand.
I started reading about Libby a few years back, as I began researching more into natural health and nutrition, in an effort to cure my Graves disease and hormonal disfunction (you can read more about that here). It wasn’t until I heard her speak live that I fully realised what an incredibly talented individual she was, with an extraordinary passion for health and wellness, particularly amongst women. As I’ve mentioned before, so many women and men seem to be being inflicted with more and more illness in our society, whether that be autoimmune, cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Surely there’s a link between it all, and Libby certainly brings a beautiful and unique perspective to the issue. She also has a super impressive bio, having completed a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics with Honours, followed by a Ph.D in Biochemistry examining biochemical and nutritional factors in children with autism. Being a bit of a study-geek myself, this alone made me stand up and take notice. Let’s just say Libby has inspired me to head back to Uni (for a 4th round) to further develop my knowledge in this area.
Libby has also released a number of best-selling books, two of which I would particularly highly recommend. Firstly, Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, a synopsis on the intense stress levels and flailing health being experienced by the seemingly majority of women across the developed world. And secondly, for the foodies amongst, The Real Food Chef – a compilation of plant-based recipes, which read like a dream. She’s also recently released two more books, Beauty From The Inside Out, and The Real Food Kitchen with Chef Cynthia Louise. I cannot wait to get my hands on her second cook book, and if you haven’t yet browsed through her first one, I would definitely recommend.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Dr Libby…
Why did you decide to turn to a more plant-powered organic lifestyle?
I was very privileged to grow up in small town in country New South Wales where my parents grew some of their own vegetables and herbs. We also had chickens and fruit trees in our back yard so I loved being close to nature from a young age and have had a deep appreciation for where our food comes from all of my life.
How has your health (physical and emotional) changed since then?
When I was doing my PhD in nutritional biochemistry I was so fortunate to be surrounded by some truly inspiring, genius professors who shaped my knowledge and essentially my future. As my education about the biochemistry of the body and how it really works grew, I also came to better understand the science behind how and why organic food supports human health.
I love to read and my understanding of human psychology has been something I’ve continued to grow. Our emotional landscape can have such a huge impact on our physical health. I incorporate many restorative practices to support my physical and emotional health. I also choose to focus on all the things I feel grateful for.
If you had to give someone 3 reasons why they should switch to more plant-based organic food & beauty products, what would they be?
- It is important to consider what you put on you skin, you only need to look at the way nicotine patches work to appreciate that the skin is a direct route to the blood supply. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to consider not only what you eat but also what you apply to your skin. There are many components of some skincare products that have been shown to disrupt the endocrine system
- We absorb nutrients from the foods we eat, nutrients keep us alive. Eating a diet rich with nutrient dense, plant based foods is a great way to look after your health and sometimes in the rush of life we forget to nurture our bodies and opt for ‘fast food’ and packet foods that have minimal nutritional value.
- Your body is made up of 50,000,000,000,000 cells! That is 50 trillion, your hair, nails, skin, eyes, bones, organs, blood are all made up of cells and how you care for your cells depicts your health outcomes as well as the way you look and feel. Beauty really is an inside job. How many of us stop to consider that our outer layer is merely a reflection of inner processes, completely reliant on the health of the 50 trillion cells that you are made of? And the health of those cells is impacted by everything from the food you eat, the nutrients present or missing from your blood, and the hormones and messages your body makes based on whether your thoughts are fearful or loving. When most people think about improving their appearance, they usually focus on a product, another “quick fix”. Yet when you consider that the skin cells on your face are a small percentage of the total number of cells in the whole body, it seems crazy that we don’t spend more time getting the majority of the cells functioning optimally, leading us to the outcomes we seek.
What does a day on your plate look like:
I usually start the day with warm water and lemon juice followed by a green smoothie.
For snacks I often carry The Real Food Chef Brain Balls around with me, made up of ground nuts, dates, and seeds they are a perfect nutrient-dense snack that I can make a big batch of and take a couple out of the freezer for snacking (click here for a similar recipe).
For lunch I often have poached eggs with a big pile of greens or leftovers from the night before.
For dinner, I normally make something out of my Real Food Chef cook book. Last night it was kelp noodle pad thai and this evening it will be the quinoa vege patty, a recipe I would love to share with you!
Now, your favourite foodie indulgence…
Chef Cynthia’s raw miso cheesecake! It is absolutely out of this world and the recipe is in my latest cookbook, The Real Food Kitchen. I’m beyond excited to share these recipes with you. (Stay tuned beautiful readers, I have a surprise for you next week..)
What do you think the biggest fear or misconception is about going more organic or plant-based?
A lot of people focus on the fact that eating organic food is more expensive. However, the cost of organic food is the true cost of food; it costs more because it has not been sprayed or stored in a way that can keep it fresh for months at a time. I urge people to eat organic whenever possible.
To reduce the costs I encourage you to buy organic produce that is in season. Or focus on incorporating organic options in slowly starting with greens and then gradually transitioning over. Another option is to buy in bulk and split it between friends particularly when it comes to nuts and seeds.
Shop at local farmers markets and not only will you be buying what’s in season you’ll also find it is a lot more cost effective and directly supports the key people in this whole chain – the farmers who grow the food.
What’s your approach to balance & moderation in life (and/or food)
I lead a very busy lifestyle so I am sure to have time on my own each day. Whether that be to do some restorative yoga poses or having cup of tea and reading a book, or simply sitting in contemplation, it is so important to have that sacred time out to just ‘be’.
I also fill my body with incredibly nutritious food and make sure I get plenty of sleep, and that generally sets me up for a very balanced headspace. I also like to say: It is what you do every day that impacts on your health, not what you do sometimes.
You’ve been given permission to raid the Be Good Organics stock room – what’s one foodie product and one beauty product you’d nab…
Can you share your favourite plant-passionate recipe?
My favourite recipe is a Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Patty served with a big green salad. This is a recipe from my Real Food Chef cook book and is a beautiful and highly nutritious meal! The combination of quinoa, brown rice and the seeds is packed with nutrients, it’s hard to name one that isn’t in this recipe.
Because this patty is rich in protein, it is quite filling just as it is, but I love it with the addition of simple greens.
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Patty
- 1 cup pumpkin peeled and cubed
- 1 cup kumara sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 large red capsicum bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 medium zucchini diced
- 1 cup button mushrooms stemmed and quartered
- 1 small eggplant cubed
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 sprig of rosemary finely chopped
- 4 sprigs of thyme leaves removed
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 cup cooked quinoa both white and black
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 c cup basil leaves shredded
- 1/2 c cup fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 c cup chives finely chopped
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1/4 c sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 c sesame seeds preferably white
- 1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
For the roasted vegetables:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the herbs and oil until they are well coated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet or large roasting dish and bake until they are caramelized and tender, about 25 minutes.
For the quinoa patty:
- Combine the cooked quinoa and brown rice in a large bowl. Add the fresh basil, parsley and chives.
- Add the roasted vegetables to the quinoa mixture and blend the ingredients with your hands, slightly mashing them to make the binding for the grains. Season with salt and pepper.
- Form the mixture into patties of a size you prefer. Generally, a patty of 180g (6 ounces) is sufficient for a meal.
- Combine the sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and cumin seeds in a small plate. Gently but firmly coat each side of each patty in the seed mixture.
- Serve the patties cold or at room temperature. You can also heat them in a 150°C (300°F) oven for 20 minutes.
- Don’t be afraid to use whatever vegetables you have on hand with this one. As long as you have the pumpkin and onion, this will work with any collection of veges. For example, I added extra pumpkin, carrot and chopped cauliflower leaves instead of the mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant.
- This mixture is a bit crumbly on its own, so if you’d like a firmer patty, add 1/2c of chickpea (besan) flour (click here to order) and 1/2c water to the mix before moulding into balls. Chickpea flour is a fantastic binding agent, perfect for patties and fritters. Then roll in the seeds and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes and they’ll firm up
- I like to serve these with sliced avocado, fresh tomato, and a dollop of homemade relish. A heaped tablespoon of fresh pesto or guacamole would also work perfectly.