At Almond Breeze we’ve been fans of Carine for years and we love that she uses our almondlicious almond milk in the creation of many of her healthy and fun recipes.
As well as creating special recipes just for us, at the end of last year, Carine created, styled and photographed the incredible smoothie recipes for our free downloadable New Zealand’s Ultimate Summer Smoothie Recipe Book (download it here) with recipes created by you, incorporating our amazing New Zealand fruit and vegetables.
Carine has amassed a loyal and enthusiastic fan following on Facebook of 60K people by sharing her simple, delicious clean eating recipes. Her inspiration for discovering sugar free food came when she discovered her love of sugar had dangerously set her on the path towards type 2 diabetes.
Since that alarming discovery, Carine’s mission has been to understand how food impacts her body and to share what she learns with others. She does all this with her passion and boundless talent for creating food (and incredible food photography!!) that is as tasty as it is good for the body. Carine swears by the 80/20 philosophy of food enjoyment and lives her life to the full without sacrificing one morsel of happiness!
We sat down with Carine and to find out how she plans to spend Christmas, how to create a sugar free life without sacrificing all the fun, and asked her to share her two favourite Christmas time recipes that everyone loves!
How do you spend Christmas, and do you have a Kiwi Christmas or a European Christmas or a bit of both?
I usually spend Christmas with my husband, our two kids and some family members, who join us from France. This year my family-in-law is coming and our Christmas will be a French Kiwi Christmas. I still bake 23 sorts of cookies, one each day of December to build my Christmas cookie box that we eat on Christmas day and offer to friends and neighbours. That’s a popular tradition from where I was born in east of France. Santa is also delivering presents on the 24th at night, not the 25th as we also do in east of France.
The food menu is very Kiwi, lots of local grilled meat, salads, and vegetables on the BBQ, but we keep things 50% vegan and gluten free as my husband has an opposite diet to mine. I am a meat eater, I don’t eat many carbs and no sugar. He cares about the animals and the planet. So my cookie jar is 100% vegan and gluten free and sugar free, to respect all diets.
Wow, you were diagnosed as fast-approaching type 2 diabetes! Was eating sugar free your way of dealing with it, and how long did it take from switching to sugar free to no longer having type 2 diabetes?
Yes, I took the big switch in July 2013. I gave birth to my first child in March 2013, and few months later my blood test showed I was pre-diabetic. It meant I had to reduce carbs and sugar drastically to avoid type 2 diabetes. I choose to go 100% sugar free at first, the first month was very difficult as I did not know anything about the diet.
I learnt how to screen food labels, I educated myself through nutrition books, and I cleaned my pantry from all sweet food for a new start. After six months of eating sugar free and low carb my blood sugar was back to normal and I felt great. No more energy crashes or sugar cravings! I still eat sugar free after five years and I will never go back!
Do you have advice about embracing a sugar free life that you learned along the way that you can share?
Talk to people with a similar issue! I joined a diabetes group on social media. I read lots of nutrition books and cookbooks to learn how to cook differently. It’s an entirely new lifestyle, so you have to restart from the very beginning.
I recommend to clean your pantry and fridge from all the food loaded with sugar and find alternatives. It will avoid tension for the bad food. There are lots of alternatives that taste like sugar, are 100% natural and don’t contain any sugar – even chocolate and biscuits! So reload your pantry with the right stuff and stick to your rules.
You gained a master’s degree in science, how has this helped you in understanding food and nutrition and the way the body requires and uses energy, and what are some key points you learned?
I graduated in 2018 with two masters degrees in material science, and nanotechnology. While those science area have nothing to do with nutrition and the body, it helped me to understand faster how the body assimilates sugar, triggers insulin and impacts my mood, energy and body weight.
As a girl passionate for science, I use my body to test everything I read in nutrition books, and create recipes that react well on my body, and started to share them on my blog with only one wish of helping others who have the same issue.
We love that your 80/20 food philosophy, incorporating 80% clean recipes and 20% “less clean”, and that your #treatyourself recipes are fun but without reaching for processed foods. Why is the 80 / 20 philosophy and removing guilt from eating important to you?
It is definitely what helps me live a sugar free life, for five years now. You can’t be too strict with yourself or you quickly feel sad, deprived. Life should be fun even if you have a particular diet. So while I eat sugar free 80% of the time I still have some natural sweet treats on occasion or higher carb food. I just try to choose ‘the best of the worst food’.
For example if I have to go to a burger restaurant, I will opt for kumara instead of potatoes, and I’ll have a burger without the bun and lettuce instead. With sweets, I do have one fruit a day, usually berries as they are low sugar, and on occasion an apple, or very occasionally a banana if I go for a long run. The 80/20 philosophy is what keeps my life in balance and my social life active too, as I can easily go out with friends or my kids and share food.
Can you tell us about keto and its role in the body and energy levels?
I don’t eat keto, only low carbs, which means I do eat slightly more carbs than people on a keto diet. The idea of the keto diet is to turn your body into a fat burning machine. Your body will burn fat as its primal source of energy instead of carbs. You have to get most of your energy/kcal from fat.
I eat lots of eggs, meats, avocado and coconut oil to reach my target and lots of greens too! My energy levels have never been so high, and I have mind clarity too.
What’s your absolute FAVOURITE food and why?
I am obsessed with cookies, crepes (my French roots) and wrapped food. I wrap most of lunches and I have a cookie per day for afternoon tea. So now you wonder how can I eat those food on low carb right? Well, the answer is on my blog. I create everything myself using low carb flours and gluten free ingredients, and I manage to make wraps, bread or crepes with barely 3 g net carb per serve to enjoy my fave food safely.
What’s your no. 1 hot tip about maintaining a happy, healthy lifestyle?
Balance! Never go 100% into something! This will give yourself some freedom each week for a drink, treats and to keep your social life on top. Also, sport; I train almost everyday and endorphins are the key to happiness too.
What’s next for you in 2019, and what are you most excited about right now?
Nothing special, just keep doing what I love to do, inspiring others to cut out sugar and live happy! The more I can help, the happier I feel.
We’d love to you share with us some a couple of your favourite Christmas recipe treats!
Spinach Feta Frittata
This Spinach feta frittata makes a delicious addition to the Christmas brunch on the 25th.
Ground Chia Seed Pudding
This Ground chia seed pudding is my all time favourite! It makes a delicious dessert or breakfast. It is easy to make ahead of time, ready in few minutes and loaded with fibre, and is a delicious chocolate peanut butter flavour. Everyone loves it – even the kids!
From our love of Almond Breeze almond milk to yours…
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