Pressed Juicery consults a wide range of health experts to help train their team. Everyone from yogis to chefs to nutritionists have made their way through our doors in order to keep our staff up-to-date on the power of juicing and a healthy lifestyle. Chef John Hellmers is one of those experts. With his rare combination of classical training in the kitchen and well-informed views about the health benefits of eating an alkaline diet, John helps folks across L.A. in their quest for vibrant health through meal delivery programs, cooking classes and custom cleanses at Food With A Reason. We love to pick John’s brain about how to keep ourselves from becoming overly acidic and we’re always impressed with the incredible recipes he uses to get us there! We asked John which staples he keeps stocked to make the alkaline diet easier to adhere to. Here are John’s thoughts and his essential picks…
An alkaline lifestyle is becoming more and more mainstream as people learn more ways to optimize their body’s performance. When training as an alkaline chef, I learned the importance of starting from the basics and of cooking based on the idea that the foods we eat truly do fuel our mind and body. It is key to realize that becoming more alkaline is a lifestyle, not a diet. Things like stress, lack of sleep, drinking alcohol and what we eat are all major contributors to an acidic lifestyle.
It is believed by many holistic experts that acid causes inflammation that can lead to chronic disease. Balancing the body with nourishing alkaline foods can create an internal environment that helps with low energy levels, poor digestion, weight-loss, aches and pains, and even disease. The goal is for our bodies to absorb these densely nutritious foods without adding acid-forming foods as well. Eating the proper foods, then digesting and extracting them quickly, will lead to the least amount of acid build up. Below is a list of products I use nearly every day in both my own and my clients’ kitchens to help prepare the very best alkaline meals. Stock up to get on your way to a less acidic lifestyle.
The most important thing to me in a kitchen is the proper kind of salt. As a chef, it’s one thing that is necessary to good tasting food. A lack of salt can make your food bland and flat, and is really the one ingredient that takes all flavors to the next level. However, there’s a lot of controversy over it. The wrong salt can certainly be a dangerous thing to our bodies, but mostly because of all the additives and fillers companies add to keep the price down. All-natural sea salt is nothing but minerals that our bodies need to survive. Salt actually energizes our bodies as long as it’s used with the proper foods. Proper salt and water get everything moving in our system and help to constantly detoxify us. Himalayan pink sea salts are great as well.
Our Pro’s Pick: Real Salt
Coconuts are all the rage, and coconut oil is a super healthy fat to use in cooking. I like to use it to add a bit of sweetness to any savory dish. It goes great with Asian cuisine like stir fries or curries. Use coconut oil in smoothies, desserts or as a creamer in your latte. It’s a natural source of energy and rich in healthy fatty acids. Its also been known to curb your appetite to help with cravings. Coconut oil is not only great to eat, but it has also been proven to help make your skin healthier as a moisturizer.
Whether you add it to a morning juice, shake or just your water, greens powders are great ways to enrich your body with the extra fruits and vegetables you may need. They are natural detoxifiers that can help boost your immunity too. Be sure to get a brand that is high in greens and superfoods. Stay away from the fruitier formulas that may be sweeter and add unwanted sugars. Drinking plenty of water is crucial in the alkaline world so adding a scoop or two of powder to a few glasses will really help in balancing your pH levels.
Our Pro’s Pick: Doc Broc’s Power Plants
It can be hard keeping things new and original when dealing with any restrictive diet. The one thing I always tell people is to have a collection of herbs and spices. There are so many ways to prepare vegetables, and just by adding a touch of a certain spice, it can transform them and take them to the next level. When making soups, for example, I always use some fresh herbs, as well as a dried spices, to enhance flavor. Gather a couple blends as well. If you’re making pasta, use an Italian blend. If you’re making a salsa, perhaps use a Mexican blend. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Our Pro’s Pick: Frontier organic herbs and spices
Water is a cornerstone of good health. Your body is mostly water, so incorporating healthy clean water is essential to your body’s functionality. Alkaline water is a step above normal purified water because it also has electrolytes in it. It’s also believed to help correct excess acidity by really hydrating and flushing out your system. Tap water is known to have all sorts of chemicals and toxins in it that we clearly want to avoid introducing to our bodies. When cooking, I use alkaline water all the time. Whether it’s steaming vegetables, washing fruits or making a soup base I always try to use alkaline water to improve the foods I’m preparing.
Our Pro’s Pick: Qure alkaline water
Lemons and limes
Instead of waking up and gulping down a cup of coffee, try starting your morning with a glass of water and lemon. It’s a natural energizer. It’s also known to help aid in digestion, help eliminate toxins, boost your immune system and freshen breath. I use lemons and limes constantly. When making dressings, I’ll always use lemon or lime plus fresh herbs to enhance any salad. Steamed or raw vegetables are all delicious with a touch of these amazing citrus fruits. When choosing any produce, its important to always use organic. A lot of people talk about the chemical reasons, which are true, but there are other reasons as well – the one I always focus on is the shelf life. Organic vegetables and fruits turn very quickly. They break down in just a matter of days, as opposed to conventional, which can last weeks. Think of how that same logic works in our bodies. The longer the shelf life, the harder it is to truly get out of our systems.
The right Cooking oil
Oils are so important in the kitchen. Knowing which oils to keep raw and which to cook with can become overwhelming. When cooking with oils, be sure you use oil that has a high smoke point. This means the oil will maintain its healthy properties even at higher heats. Certain oils will start to oxidize and become rancid at high temperatures. Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can consume, but it must be used raw to maintain its healthful properties. Oils like grape seed, safflower and sunflower, however, are all better for cooking. 3-6-9 oils are full of amino acids and easy to add to a morning shake. Coconut oil, avocado oil and flax oil also have positive and healthy properties. When storing any oil, it’s best to keep it in a cool, dark place. This avoids oxidizing which will diminish the qualities of the oils.
Our Pro’s Pick: Spectrum Sunflower Oil
Chlorophyll is what gives all the greens around us their beautiful color and energy. Liquid chlorophyll is quickly becoming the new trend in healthy living. Adding it to a juice, shake or soup can be a great way to incorporate it in your diet. One main benefit of chlorophyll is the positive influence on your blood cells. Drink chlorophyll and build healthier blood!
Our Pro’s Pick: DeSouza’s Liquid Chlorophyll
A good way to monitor your pH levels is by using pH strips. These strips use saliva or urine to give you an accurate reading of where your acid levels are. They’re small and easy to keep with you, making it convenient.
Our Pro’s Pick: Enzymedica pH Strips
Whenever people ask me about alkaline eating, one of the main concerns they have is where their protein will come from. There are many ways to incorporate more protein into your diet, and hemp seeds are one of my favorite ways. I add them to a number of raw dishes, like salads, to add texture. You can also use them in shakes, granolas and dips or as a topping for your favorite soup.
Our Pro’s Pick: Nutiva Organic Shelled Hemp Seed
Alkaline water ionizers or machines can be a bit pricey. If you’ve been looking for a cheaper way than constantly buying alkaline bottles of water, an easy fix is the purchase of pH drops. Just add to water before consumption and get that pH boost you need.
Our Pro’s Pick: Alkalife pH Booster Drops
We all need a snack throughout the day. Nuts are a great way to get a rich source of protein, as well as the crunch we so often desire. Almonds are my favorite to nut to keep around. Not only do I eat them raw, but I also like to make my own almond milks and almond cheese. Cashews, macadamia, pine, pecan, walnut and hazelnuts are all types of nuts that are encouraged when transitioning into the alkaline lifestyle. You do want to make sure to get the raw and organic ones – the ones that are pasteurized go through a heating process that can leave chemicals that are harmful to consume.
Our Pro’s Pick: Essential Living Foods Raw Unpasturized Almonds