Food: Chewing the fat with Real Meal experts

Jonno Proudfoot
Jonno Proudfoot
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Authors of The Real Meal Revolution reveal going carb-free is the key to health and weight control

In terms of kitchen ‘outlaws’, sugar has completely overtaken fat as public enemy number one.

In fact, fat has been making something of a comeback in recent years, and the latest advocates to sing its praises are sports scientist and marathon runner Professor Tim Noakes, nutritionist Sally Ann-Creed and chef and open ocean swimmer Jonno Proudfoot.

Their book, The Real Meal Revolution, has taken South Africa by storm and has just landed on UK shores, promising to help people lose weight without giving up all that juicy meat, butter and cream.

There is a catch, though - carbs are strictly off the menu.

This low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) plan has similarities with the Paleo diet, in that it advocates a return to eating what our ancient ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, ate some 200,000 years ago - before we started cultivating grains. It also draws heavily on the Banting diet devised by British undertaker William Banting, who famously gave up the carb-rich eating habits of the Victorians in the 1860s to cure himself of obesity.

Of course, low or no-carb/high fat and protein diets have always been somewhat controversial, attracting both fierce critics and fans.

Prof Noakes, however, is convinced that this eating regime has benefited his own health. “We’ve been raised to believe that cholesterol, caused by eating too much fat, causes diseases, and that every disease in the book is linked to a high-fat diet. It turns out that’s completely wrong,” claims Noakes, who has Type 2 diabetes but, at 66, says he’s running like a 40-year-old.

“What’s killing us is having elevated blood insulin concentrations all the time, and that is caused by high-carbohydrate diets and it’s exacerbated in people like myself, who have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the most prevalent medical condition in the world, it dwarves everything else.”

To devise their recipes, Proudfoot drew up three lists - green, orange and red - of foods people should eat in abundance, be wary of and avoid altogether, with meat, cheese and leafy greens all on the green list; fruit, nuts and root veggies on the orange list and all flour, grains, cake, rice, pasta, sugar, potatoes and even peas on the red list.

So popular has it been in South Africa, that supermarkets have struggled to keep up with demand for Banting ingredients, including cauliflower, which forms the basis of several recipes, such as cauli-wraps, cauli-mash and cauli-rice.

“There was a national cauliflower shortage,” says Proudfoot. “The price of cauliflower for 1kg used to be 50p and at one point, it went up to £4! One supermarket chain in particular now sells pre-packaged versions of some of our recipes, including cauli-rice.’’

Proudfoot had the idea for a cookbook when he was training to swim from Mozambique to Madagascar and wanted to chart his diet. He approached Prof Noakes and Creed, and together the three have come up with a radical attack on carbohydrates.

Whether or not you want to go full-on Revolution, here’s a recipe from the book to try at home...

:: Please consult your doctor before embarking on any extreme diet change, especially if you have a health condition.

WARM HADDOCK AND CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING

(Serves 2)

For the dressing:

4tbsp tahini

Juice of 2 lemons

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Approx 100ml water

For the salad:

100g butter

300g cauliflower, cut into small pieces

300g smoked haddock

60g toasted pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas 4).

Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pan. Place the cauliflower in a small oven tray and drizzle with butter. Roast the cauliflower until it is golden on the edges, around 30 minutes.

Add the haddock to the tray and return to the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, break the haddock up and give everything a good mix, either in a bowl or in the tray.

Portion the salad onto plates and scatter with pine nuts.

Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and while mixing continuously, pour in the water until you reach a good pouring consistency. Drizzle over the salad before serving.

Note: if you’ve been good with your carbs for the day, this is epic with some pomegranate seeds scattered over it.