Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP is the author of the best-selling cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation & Reset Your Body and the Editor-in-Chief of TheHealthyApple.com; she is a Manhattan Celebrity Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Writer and Motivational Speaker specializing in simple gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free ‘Clean Eating’ recipes. Amie recently healed herself from a decade of chronic illness including Lyme Disease, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue, Leaky Gut, Heavy Metals and much more exhausting thousands of doctors in the country and Mayo Clinic; she shares her story of how Clean Eating and Detox saved her life and inspires you to Clean up your food and lifestyle, too. Amie lives in Manhattan, NYC where she cooks for a variety of clients including celebrities and people with busy lifestyles who enjoy healthy, organic, whole foods. Amie's work appears on Martha Stewart, ABC News, Fox News Health, WebMD, The Huffington Post, The Food Network, Glamour Magazine, Clean Eating Magazine, SELF Magazine, Prevention Magazine, PBS and many others.
Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Pinterest @TheHealthyApple
Seeing that you tried and tested a lot of approaches to healing yourself, what do you feel have been the top 3-5 best practices that brought balance to your body?
Ahhh there were so many the last 13 years. I'd say my top 5 are:
Self Love and Compassion
How would you describe your philosophy about food and living well?
To me, there is no one ideal diet. I believe you can benefit from a cleaner, greener diet. But that doesn’t mean you need to eat exactly what I eat. While there are some precepts for clean, toxin-free eating, which I explain in my cookbook, Eating Clean, there are many ways to eat healthy.
I’m not into labels. To me, healthy isn’t about being a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian. If you want to come up with a name for what this is, knock yourself out, but the most important thing is to eat foods that make your body feel good.
If a food makes you feel lousy, it's not for you. I don’t care what’s trending or hot or highly recommended by the buzziest superstar or bestselling author. You are the expert on what you can eat. Your friend, trainer, or mom may swear up and down that unpasteurized dairy is the golden key to health or that millet is king, but if it makes you feel ill, pass it up.
Same goes for animal protein: some people swear you shouldn’t eat it, but there’s no need to feel guilty if you feel your best after eating a grass-fed burger. The right foods for you should make you feel satisfied and energized, not sick and sleepy. There is no preordained, across-the-board “right,” just what’s right for you.
What’s your take on fasting, juicing etc.?
I've never done it and I don't believe in it. I think green juices are great but the majority of them are full of sugar, which feeds candida and non beneficial bacteria so you have to make sure your gut microbiome is in good shape before you drink juices. Also, be VERY careful getting juices from juice bars; that's a very easy way to get parasites since many places don't clean them well enough or know how to clean them to remove all the parasites from the raw fruits and veggies.
Do you have a recipe you love and use regularly from your book that you can share with our readers?
Yes! This one. No baking required and it's so yummy. No gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar or other inflammatory ingredients in site!
Some new projects are in the horizon for you. Can you share about these?
Ahhhhh a lot of new things. My new website (I gave TheHealthyApple.com a major makeover) and it's my new baby. It's so beautiful and makes me happy to look at. It's a wellness website, no longer a food blog layout because I wanted to give people more. People deserve more information then they are getting from western medicine doctors and I want to help people understand all the information that's out there to see what they resonate with and teach them to trust their intuition for how to heal their body and any health issues they may be experiencing. I love giving birth to a new big project each year. I created a dozen online programs for people from Gut Health to Eczema and more and I'm working on hormone programs as well as mind-body programs to share with my readers. The site has a lot of emerald green- my favorite color- it's such a happy hue and it's the heart chakra color, so I wanted people to feel cozy and at home when they're reading and browsing. I want to help people feel comfortable when they're going through a health crisis and they're not getting the answers they need to heal their body.
What was the inspiration behind creating this new site?
I just came out of 10 years of the hardest decade of my life struggling with dozens of chronic health issues: my hormones failed, my thyroid failed, my weight went up and down, my gut was bloated and everything I ate was painful after c-diff colitis, I had to learn how to heal myself and to create beautiful food that was delicious and didn't make me feel deprived. I spent years with Western medicine on pharma drugs then discovered Functional/Integrative medicine and detoxed all the toxicity out of my body, then I realized there was yet another layer of healing that I needed to do, the layer that I avoided at all costs because I didn't think there was a connection to healing physical symptoms. This layer is the mind-body layer. It's opened my world to a whole new perspective and I'm beyond grateful. Nine years ago, I started sharing my recipes with the world when I started my website. Then last October, I decided to branch out even more and talk more about mind-body because the energy work was what was really healing me and I wanted to let people know how they could get into this for another layer of healing.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to turn her passion into a career?
Follow your heart. Don't focus on the money. Don't focus on what ANYONE else is doing. Stop comparing yourself or where you are in life; you are exactly where you need to be. Trust you are being guided and follow your intuition. Sounds silly, I know but I'm being honest. I went to business school and CEO's often ask me what my business plan is. Mine=my intuition. And it's brought me to where I am today.
What is most inspiring you at the moment in the beauty and wellness movement?
I love how brands are cleaning up their products to remove toxic chemicals; this is amazing. Everywhere I go, I'm seeing new 'clean' brands popping up that are becoming conscious of the environment and the toxins in skincare, haircare and makeup!
What advice would you offer women when choosing her beauty products?
Read the ingredients closely! My book has a huge chart on what ingredients to avoid and what ingredients are safe. The word organic doesn't mean there are no chemicals for beauty products so you have to be extra careful. Contact the company to make sure. Hidden gluten is in SO many beauty products, too!
Do you have any go to supplements / specific foods / herbs that you swear by?
Yes LOTS of detox veggies to support my liver detox on a daily basis: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula, dandelion greens. They are my go-to's! I also do a lot of raw nuts and seeds (and nut/seed butters) and avocados. Healthy fats are SO important for women for hormone health to help with your skin tone, energy, hormone production, PMS, etc. I eat so much more fat now then I did in my 20's. It's not about being thin, it's about being healthy!
How has this way of living shaped your thinking about where to live?
Hahaa; so, I live in the beautiful west village of Manhattan where I feel like I live in Paris. My life is very relaxed. My organic market is on the corner and they deliver everything I need everyday. The farmers markets are incredible and the water nearby is beautiful. I do long for being in California some days and I'll probably end up out there for Feb-March the next few years to soak up the vitamin D from the sun and get some fresh west coast air. But Manhattan makes me feel alive. If you know where to live and you take care of yourself and eat well and manage your stress, you can live here. Now, living and working in midtown Manhattan is enough for me to double over with spiking high cortisol and health issues- that, I surely couldn't do! I did that in my 20's and that was enough, haha! Now I'm all about the R&R and taking care of my body! When you go through such a dark period of your life and you realize how precious the body is, it becomes a catalyst to change and your life is never the same- and honestly it was a blessing in disguise. I love my life. I'm surrounded by the most incredible friends and I feel so amazing. Life is really, really good. But it took me a decade of trauma and pain to get to where I am so I appreciate every second.
What’s your favorite self-care or (inner or outer) beauty ritual?
Epsom salt baths; easiest way to detox your body!! More on this in my book, Eating Clean.
What inspires you at the moment? What’s your “theme” for the coming months? What will you be focusing on?
Kundalini meditation is big for me right now. I'm in teacher training for it. It's beautiful and has showed me the beauty of life and embracing the feminine. I was brought up very masculine and today women are living in a man's world and we have to be tough and push ourselves and fight for things but that's not what it's about. I've learned how to let go, receive and just BE and it's magical. I also never ever EVER thought I'd say that. 10 years ago I was working at VOGUE and Ralph Lauren in design; if you asked me to meditate, I would have cracked up!
How do you keep abreast of the toxic chemicals that are in our environment? What lifestyle choices are you making?
Ahhh so much! I outline this very detailed in my book step by step on how to detox. I eat organic, I meditate to detox my mind, I do LOTS of energy work and body work each week, I sleep a lot, I say no to things that don't make me feel good and I spend more time alone to recharge than I do in groups even though I'm a ball of energy and you'd never know that when you met me because I'm so high energy. Those practices to me have become a way of life, they are how I detox daily. Detox is not the same thing as a juice cleanse. Not even close.
This is a common mistake. Take spinach, a powerhouse green and juicing favorite. It’s also one the most contaminated vegetables when it comes to pesticides. It’s on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Dirty Dozen list for that reason.
Apples are another example of a healthy food often used in juice cleanses that can be full of toxins. (Conventional apples rank number-one on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. See page 000 for the full list.) Putting them in a blender together with other fruits and veggies and drinking the resulting mixture through a straw doesn’t make them healthier. You’ll just be delivering the toxins to your body in super easy-to-digest form.
The best way to detox, in my book, is to go organic and remove toxic exposures making you sick, fat, and bloated.
Detox is a way of life.
You can’t detox over a single weekend; there is no shortcut. If you care about your health, detox needs to be an ongoing process that becomes a way of life. Instead of approaching it in fits and bursts, it’s better to develop a deep understanding of the harmful environment we live in, and then bring that awareness to everyday life, gradually eliminating toxins from the body. Every. Single. Day.
There’s more to healthcare than Western medicine.
Western medicine (also known as conventional or allopathic medicine) has its place, no question. It saves lives every day. But where it excels in emergencies, it falls short on day-to-day lifestyle guidance.
Why? Your physician does not go home with you. (If he does, can I have his number, please?) No one knows what you experience but you. Most doctors are highly skilled in one area, but don’t have the time or expertise to know what lifestyle changes you need.
I highly recommend you do your homework on different kinds of integrative and functional medicine doctors. Check out my website, www.TheHealthyApple.com for more information on integrative and functional medicine. These are MDs who treat the body as a whole, looking not just at the physical self, but the mental and emotional self, too. I didn’t stop searching until I found an integrative medical team that could help me get my life back, and they did. So even if you are struggling, don’t give up! There are options beyond Western medicine.
One more crucial thing to keep in mind: you’re the expert on your body. Explore what methods and practices make you feel best, and share these notes with your doctor at each visit. You might just pass along something useful to someone else, and it will go a long way in enabling your doctor to combine his wisdom with yours. You and your doctor are a team. It’s time to start playing your part.
What woman epitomizes beauty for you?
Every woman epitomizes beauty; I just wish they could all see their beauty that they bury deep so far inside of themselves because they don't feel as though they are worthy of it.