Plant-Powered Peeps: Meet Kevin from Matakana SuperFoods
This week’s inspirational Plant-Powered Peep is yet another gentleman – yes we’re rolling out the healthy lads this Christmas! Kevin Glucina (aka Dr G) is the founder and chief researcher at one of my favourite New Zealand based health food companies, Matakana SuperFoods. He also happens to be my partner’s relative (those Croatians from Oratia are everywhere in Auckland), so practically family.
When I first met Kevin at a family 50th a few years back (right in the middle of my hectic stressed-out manic corporate days), I thought – gee, I need to take some of what he’s taking. He looked over 10 years younger than I knew he was, and had a wonderful relaxed air about him. A few sneaky (organic) wines later, I learned about how incredibly passionate Kevin is about superfoods, and helping people integrate their super-nutrient benefits into their every day lives, to improve their health and cure illness.
Kevin has been around the traps, with over 30 years of experience as a health practitioner, so is a wealth of knowledge on all things holistic health and superfoods. I like to think of him as New Zealand’s equivalent to David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe. Kevin was even a pioneer of the organic growing movement in New Zealand back in the 70’s and 80’s, so truly lives and breathes organics.
What I love about Kevin’s approach and the ethos of Matakana SuperFoods, is their focus on whole foods with super-nutrient qualities. While individual extracts of foods have been used in simple tablet-style supplementation for years, Kevin is leading a new movement away from pills and towards whole superfoods, as nature truly intended. A wholefoods approach offers greater health benefits due to the synergistic (combined) interaction of nutrients having much more to offer than a single component being extracted and injected into a synthetic tablet. Often the balance, ratio and type of nutrients found in the combined whole food leads to superior assimilation and absorption by the body (which means more health benefits for you).
I also love that Kevin is constantly on the forefront of bringing new and amazing super-nutrient wholefoods, used by ethnic tribes in the furthest corners of the world for centuries, to the masses. Some of my favourite of his products include his Sacha Inchi high protein powder, his Sacha Inchi Extra Virgin Oil (high in omegas so a great replacement for fish or flax oil), his low carbon-footprint freeze dried organic coconut water (the only one of its kind in Australia and NZ), and his unique high protein Super Choc cacao drink, which combines raw cacao with high protein Sacha Inchi powder and pure coconut sugar.
Kevin is also a big proponent of balance in life (fantastic), so when he’s not craftily sourcing the latest in unknown Amazonian superfoods, he’s surfing the globe, hanging out with monk herbalists on Mt Wudang in China, or chilling out in his beautiful home town of Matakana (65km north of Auckland) with friends and his family.
Without further adieu, meet Kevin…
Why did you decide to turn to a more plant-powered organic lifestyle?
I first started experimenting with organic growing in the early 80’s – as a health practitioner it was a natural fit with my overall philosophy. In those days organics and natural health was in its infancy. I started advocating gluten free diets to my patients around 1983. At that time it was difficult to get the right ingredients – it’s great to see that has finally changed.
How has your health (physical and emotional) changed since then?
It has been interesting to watch the evolution of my own opinions on health and diet over that period. I had the good fortune to be able to spend time with some of the famous monk herbalists on Mt Wudang in China in the early 90’s. I learnt a great deal from them about the way our food influences our mental and emotional state and our overall energy and vitality. They advocate integrating diet with our individual natural environment. One simple example of that is maybe to eat more hot foods in the winter and more cool foods in the summer. Some foods have more cool energy than others and of course that is also influenced by the way it is prepared – raw, steamed, boiled, stir fried, roasted, barbequed. It’s a sliding scale.
It’s a simple concept but one which differs greatly to the average Western diet where we get stuck in a pattern of eating the same things every day, year round. What I learnt from that experience is to stay open and flexible, adapt what you eat to the environment you find yourself in. Eat according to the season and availability when possible. I guess it makes sense to me now that eating a strictly raw food diet in the depths of winter may supress my spleen meridian (the term for your energy channel in Chinese medicine, which determines how well your body absorbs nutrients from your food), ultimately reducing energy and vitality. Likewise eating too much food with a hot energy and preparation in the middle of summer might also create imbalances in digestion and emotional behaviour. These days I look for balance in everything I do.
If you had to give someone 3 reasons why they should switch to more plant-based organic food & beauty products, what would they be?
Number one is, genetic factors aside, plant based organic food may help to prolong life and help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Along with exercise and a flexible mental/emotional disposition the right food can have an immense influence on how much we get out of life.
What does a day on your plate look like:
- Breakfast – a Super Greens shake (containing Chlorella, Spirulina, Kale, Broccoli & Spinach) OR super berry shake (containing Sacha Inchi Protein Powder, Chia Seeds, Maqui Berry, Camu Camu, Goji Berry, Raspberry, Coconut Fibre, Yum Berry, Blueberry, and Coconut Sugar); and complex muesli, yoghurt and fruit.
- Lunch – a complex salad straight from the garden with Sacha Inchi Oil and pepper as the salad dressing and a cup of organic tea.
- Dinner – steamed vegetables and occasionally either an egg or sometimes a small fillet of fish.
Now, your favourite foodie indulgence…
A visit to Basque country – the food, the wine… and it all tastes so much better after being in their big surf!
What do you think the biggest fear or misconception is about going more organic or plant-based?
The fear that you were going to be missing out on something – that may have been true in the 80’s but now I think it’s totally the opposite!
What’s your approach to balance & moderation in life (and/or food)?
Out of 21 meals in the week two or so are some sort of meat, five include fish and the rest (70%) are plant based.
I practice my own version of intermittent fasting Monday through Thursday where possible. This system involves eating a fairly big breakfast and lunch followed by a small early dinner at around 3.30-4pm. Then nothing else except water till morning. The 16 or so hours without eating leaves me with a great empty feeling in the morning, helps control weight and has big benefits for the immune/recuperative systems at night where more resources can be diverted to those areas rather than being heavily drawn on by the energy required for digestion.
In a normal week where I don’t have social engagements breaking my routine I only drink alcohol on Friday and Saturday – this way I still get to have fun. I enjoy a great Bordeaux style wine with friends, and there are some good ones here in Matakana – friends and wines! But by restricting alcohol to two or so days per week the alcohol doesn’t dominate my chemistry and set up an imbalance in my energy.
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?
Would you like to share your favourite plant-powered recipe with us?
This recipe is a favourite of mine and a perfect treat for the festive time of year. The recipe is very forgiving, so will allow substitutions to suit your dietary requirements.
I’m enjoying this with some homemade coconut custard, strawberries and cherries right now (which are very much in season here in the southern hemisphere). Alongside an organic chai tea and of course some fabulous friends and family.
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
Healthy Christmas Fruitcake
- 250 g sultanas
- 250 g raisins
- 100 g dried apricots or dates
- 50 g currants
- 150 g coconut sugar
- 2 c water
- 1 1/3 c coconut oil
- 50 g walnuts chopped
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 9 Tbsp water to make 3 ‘chia eggs’
- 1 c coconut flour
- 2 c wholemeal spelt flour or a gluten free alternative such as rice flour, buckwheat flour, or almond flour
- 1 tsp aluminium free baking powder
- 1/2 c wheatgerm or oat-bran optional
- 1/2 c almond flour
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) and grease and line a cake tin.
- Put the dried fruit and coconut sugar in a saucepan with the water. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
- Once cooled, stir in the oil, walnuts, chia eggs, then flours, wheat germ (if using) and almond meal. Mix well. Turn the cake mix into the tin and smooth the top.
- Bake for between 1 & 1/2 – 2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
- 22-24cm (8-9") pan
- Make it gluten-free: use gluten-free flour. I love the combination of rice flour, buckwheat flour, and almond flour in this recipe.
- Make it nut-free: omit the walnuts and use your favourite seeds instead.
- This cake will keep in a sealed container for up to a week. Otherwise slice it into individual servings and put them in a sealed container in the freezer for up to three months. Simply pull a few slices out the day before you need it.