05 Mar Sunday Times gets up close and personal with Jonno Proudfoot
SUNDAY TIMES GETS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH JONNO PROUDFOOT
Last weekend the Sunday Times (Cape Town) featured the four most popular recipes from the Real Meal Revolution Online Program, and a one-on-one with Author, Chef and CEO of Real Meal Revolution, Jonno Proudfoot.
What are the most popular recipes at RMR?
What does Jonno eat when he cheats?
Why was Real Meal Revolution so successful?
Read the full story and hey, we’ll throw in the recipes too.
FOUR OF THE BEST
Here are the four most popular recipes at Real Meal Revolution.
Exclusive – read the full uncut interview:
Sunday Times (ST): How long have you been a Banter?
Jonno Proudfoot (JP): I’ve been Banting on and off since July 2013. I’m not a strict everyday Banter, but I do watch my carbs, cook most of the food I eat, and I certainly use Banting as a tool to shed weight if I’ve been naughty.
ST: What prickled your interest?
JP: I’ve always been a sport lover and I’ve also always been obsessed with the idea that food can be used as a tool beyond just fuel for survival. It can be used to optimise performance, to set the mood, to enhance focus and many other things.
When my wife lost 20kg following this ‘Noakes Diet’ in 2012 I was intrigued. Prof was on my radar as a sport scientist, and now his diet was helping people lose weight. I knew I had to get involved because his diet sounded like it ticked all of my boxes. And it did.
ST: You were a pivotal part of the Real Meal Revolution team and the first cookbook. What was your role?
JP: I wanted to write a cookbook on the foods we ate while my friend and I were training for a swim from Mozambique to Madagascar. We were swimming to raise money for Operation Smile, so I developed the book as an annuity income source for the charity. I rallied Prof, Sally-Ann and David to fill certain roles. I developed the framework, delegated writing pieces to the team, assembled the manuscript, found the publishers, cooked and tested all the recipes and worked very closely with Quivertree Publications to produce the final product. Sally-Ann audited my recipes and consulted on the very first Green, Orange and Red list. Prof wrote the epic scientific essay at the back of the book. David contributed to the recipes and negotiated the first publishing deal to make sure we got a good slice of the ‘pie’ for the charity. Quivertree Publications agreed to donate R5 for every copy they sold. To date, we’ve managed to raise more than R1.5mil for Operation Smile.
ST: Does a Banting lifestyle work for everyone?
JP: There are elements of it that work for everyone. Eating real, unprocessed food is a no brainer. Eating a diet super low in carbs though, that is different for everyone. My experience has been that lean people who are athletic battle without carbs, while those who are prone to putting on weight benefit hugely from removing most carbs from their diet. There are members of Real Meal Revolution who swear their doctors have taken them off ALL chronic medicine (that’s diabetes meds, blood pressure meds and sleeping pills) and the only thing they changed was their diet – to Banting of course.
So strict Banting is not for everyone, but it seems to work brilliantly for those who are overweight or suffer from most chronic illnesses.
ST: The Banting lifestyle is often described as an expensive one. True or false and if not, why not?
JP: False. I could claim responsibility for some of this misconception. I believe following the recipes in the Real Meal Revolution as your diet could be a very expensive exercise. I developed the cookbook to entice the housewives of the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, but the diet is not the recipes, it is actually just the green list.
You don’t have to cook fancy foods to keep your carbs low, quite the opposite in fact. All you really need is a good mix of veggies like morogo, peppers, courgettes, broccoli and cauliflower combined with and any meat or eggs cooked in any animal fats and you’ll see the weight drop.
Green means go.
ST: The Banting lifestyle has changed the way South Africans shop, dine out and has even become a hot dinner table discussion point. Why do you think South Africans have taken to it in such a big way?
JP: Wow, so many reasons. I think some of the bigger reasons are:
Prof was and is SA’s most loved scientist, so when he speaks, the people listen. And this time he wasn’t just commenting on our rugby failure in the world cup. It was a U-turn on everything he has ever said about nutrition. People love that kind of controversy, especially when it comes from someone they love, in favour of something they love like fat.
Tim was in demand and he supplied himself wherever he was needed. The country wanted to hear him speak on every radio station and at every event, so he obliged. He was the most epic frontman any publisher could ever have dreamed of and he was unstoppable at talks.
As far as the press goes, 2014 was the year of a general election and there were a lot of newspapers who refused to print anything nasty about the ANC. I believe (conspiracy alert) that the press printed story after story about Noakes and Real Meal Revolution because it was the only thing that would sell papers that wasn’t gossip on corruption. If you’re from Cape Town, you know which paper I’m talking about.
The book itself was a great product. When most scientists head out to fight for what they believe in, they often present their message through tomes of sciency writing that very few people understand or can really relate to, apart from other academics. Most science books lack sex appeal. I think Real Meal Revolution was something that made all of the science that Prof was punting immediately accessible to the average Joe. The cover was something people wanted to identify with, or ‘co-brand’, themselves with. The book was on the recipe stand in everyone’s kitchen, not because they were using it, but because it was a cool family friendly rebellion to be a part of.
A few other things played a role. Cape Town is known as the food capital of SA and we generally set trends that the rest of SA follow. So when the whole of Cape Town changes the way it eats, the rest of SA catches up quickly.
That’s not even the half of it. There are so many moving parts that I think it may be impossible to create again.
ST: You offer a Real Meal Revolution online program. How does it work?
JP: I absolutely love this program. It’s like a little private Banting Facebook with all the low carb gizmos. When you become a member you get access to all of my recipes from all of my books, specially designed Banting meal plans, shopping lists, meal tracking and carb counting tools, a support forum and fully automated goal wizard that uses your data to predict to the exact day when you will arrive at your ‘Awesome Weight’.
It’s a super cool program that we’ve been fine tuning for three years now. We’ve managed to attract thousands of members because it’s actually cheaper to join for six months than it is to buy all my books.
The support forum is where the action happens. All of the members chat about what they’re going through, share their successes and exchange ideas in there. I spend most nights reading what happened during the day on the forum.
ST: How has Banting changed your life?
JP: The biggest impact of Banting in my life has been on my faith in institutions. Unfortunately when people talk about science, studies, or quote any experts, I take a very cynical view. Banting has shown me how even the smartest people can get it so totally wrong, and that the solutions to our biggest problems are often staring us right in the face.
My next biggest change is probably a new belief I have that there is nothing that will improve one’s life more than working hard at life itself. For most mooties, shakes, pills or quick fixes there are much more effective cures or solutions that require nothing more than human effort. These cures may be harder to effect, but they are better for the mind and generally yield greater more sustainable results in the long term.
ST: Following a certain diet/lifestyle it can be difficult to rustle up something quick to eat. What is your go to snack/meal?
JP: Breakfast I usually skip but on weekends I often take it more seriously. We have a stash of frozen ice cubes of bolognaise that we heat for our toddler’s meals. I often nuke them in the mic and whip up a quick bolognaise and cheese omelette.
My standard lunch is a raw egg shake (4 eggs, tons of ice, single espresso and Nomu Sugar-Free Hot Chocolate in the Nutribullet). Otherwise it’s leftovers, a handful of nuts or I just skip lunch altogether.
Bunless burgers made from scratch (with every topping you can think of) are a family favourite.
Steamed courgettes tossed in butter with any piece of grilled fish, chicken or meat is textbook supper at our house.
If I’m feeling lazy, and this is probably not 100% Banting, I’ll go for Chicken Livers Peri Peri from Chippies in Rondebosch. I worked there as a cashier 20 years ago and they still make it exactly the same (lose the floury Portuguese roll, of course).
ST: Cauliflower is a Banting blessing. What is your best way of enjoying it apart from turning it into cauli rice?
JP: I prefer it roasted in chunks with Middle-Eastern spices, pomegranate rubies, heaps of parsley and tarator (tahini sauce). You just don’t get better cauliflower than that. I’m also working on a cauliflower steak recipe at the moment that I got from some Aussies. I use the word ‘steak’ loosely, it’s basically a thick slice of cauli grilled on the braai. It’s all about the rub and the dipping sauce. Watch this space.
ST: When you dine out what do you order?
JP: I always order the weirdest thing on the menu. I want to taste new things as often as possible. If there is nothing weird, I go for things that are rich and packed with powerful flavour. Mussels with cream, steak with pepper, mushroom or béarnaise sauce. On the opposite end I like any raw or slightly seared fish dishes with Japanese or Thai flavours.
ST: One can’t be that good all this time when following LCHF diet. When you do break down what is it you crave the most?
JP: Haha, it’s not that I break down. I sit somewhere in the middle of the scale when it comes to how hard I need to Bant to stay in shape. I would say I Bant properly about 4 days a week, the other days are gluten-free and sugar-free, barring one or two epic cheat meals. My favourite cheat is wood-fired pizza, although I consider a gluten-free base a half-cheat for me. Proper cheats are things like real wheat pizza, pies from any farm stall on the N2, thick fries with real mayo, falafel pitas with all the pickles and fillings from Sababa, hot croissants filled with everything at Saucisse, pan au chocolat and more recently, artisanal ice cream on Belgian waffles from Creamery. And then there’s my wife Kate’s chocolate mousse. Yes!
ST: You are busy writing a new Banting cookbook. This is your 4th book. Tell us about it and is there really space for another Banting book of recipes/tips?
JP: Yes, there is totally room for more. The green list is vast and there are countless things you can do with each ingredient. There is zero science and zero weight loss advice in this book. I am writing it to share the techniques and flavour combinations I use to make my food taste as good as I can get it. I want this book to be seen as a delicious cookbook before it is seen as a Banting book.
I believe people should see how delicious food can actually be so they forget about restricting themselves or counting carbs and rather, fall in love with food again. I want people to want to cook. I have 400 recipes for it at the moment, but I am culling it down to about 365. Hopefully there will be something new to taste every day for a whole year. I might even turn that into a competition J
The only tip I have for Banting better is to get your mind right, or pay someone to help you get it right. Get a therapist or a coach to help you rewire your relationship with food. Experience has shown us that food is only one pieces of a bigger puzzle for those who are sick and obese.
ST: The diet was named after an undertaker who developed a low carb/high protein lifestyle. What do you think he would have to say about its fairly recent rise in popularity?
JP: He wrote Letter on Corpulence in the late 1800s with the intention of helping thousands of people rejuvenate their health like he had done with his own health. I like to think he handed us the torch (well, we kind of took it from him) and I think we have done him proud. He’d probably want to chat about it over a glass of sherry but I think he’d be pretty stoked. Especially with all the scientists who agree with him, and the advancement of cuisine. He liked his grub.
ST: The list of the six most popular Banting recipes is a combination of salad, vegetarian, chicken, beef and pork. A good mix and all so delicious one hardly feel you were following a ‘diet’. What do these six tell you as the expert?
JP: The first thing they tell me is that people are still cooking, which is good. Cooking is a dying art and I want to keep it alive. I think for the most part, these recipes are an indication of the variety of pallets we have in our member base. We have members from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and 70 other countries, and the top listed recipes change regularly. It’s as though all of the cooks in the group continue to try new recipes and I’m just so honoured that they choose to try mine.