One of our favourite places to find healthy snacks on the go in London is The Retreat Café in Parsons Green. It is the creation of Kim Parsons, a naturopath from Australia who is passionate about seasonal nutritious food. We asked her a few questions while enjoying her newest invention, the 'Matcharoon' - super power matcha tea & macaroon.
Why did you become interested in healthy eating?
I was one of the lucky ones; I was one of those children who was brought up searching for the freshly laid eggs under the hens’ warm belly. At age five I could tell you exactly what was growing in the vegetable garden, I knew when the raspberries were ready to be picked for making jam. I tasted the sweetness of a fresh fig from the tree and looked forward to the autumn bringing the prickly chestnuts to roast over an open fire. So, I guess a passion for food, nutrition and healthy living has stemmed from my early years. I decided to become a naturopath because I loved being able to treat people with natural substances for health, I loved the idea that I could take what grew in our surroundings and help people make connections with their health.
What inspires your recipe creations?
More than anything I would describe my cooking as produce-driven. Growing up in Australia where the endless sun provides produce that is freshly crisp and bursting with tantalising flavour I was surrounded by an abundance of luscious tropical fruits, leafy bowls of salad, barbeque grilled seafood, tangy Asian noodles and spiced couscous....food that not only tastes great but also bursting with colour and dripping with delicious juices.
Now that I live in Europe, I love cooking by the seasons. The figs in August, the strawberries in the spring and chestnuts in Autumn.
What is your food philosophy?
Eat and drink everything in moderation. Be mindful about what you nourish yourself with, be happy, give and enjoy the people around you.
Do you have any crazy health tips that actually work?
I’m a Naturopath! So of course I have all the quirky ‘old wife’s tales’ tricks up my sleeves! Such as, sage gargles for a sore throat and onion syrup’s for ear infections etc. These all actually work by the way!
What recipe would you recommend to clients pre and post a juice cleanse?
I always recommend keeping it plant-based pre and post cleansing with loads of essential fatty acid packed foods such as avocado and seeds. With some healthy protein sources too such as nuts to help build strength again.
Are there any ingredients that you think are particularly helpful to use before, during and after a cleanse?
Absolutely, gentle cleansing herbs such as parsley for the kidneys, lemon and bitter greens such as rocket for the liver, carminative herbs such as mint for easy reintroduction of foods to the stomach after meals, and cinnamon and ginger to bring warmth to the body again.
What’s your favourite juice combination?
Spinach, fennel, apple and mint
What three foods would you always find in your fridge or kitchen cupboards?
Coconut oil, goji berries and avocados
How do you keep fit?
I keep a regular yoga practice and I love to be in the outdoors. I love to go for walks through Richmond Park in London as often as possible. Nature is what connects me to myself.
But in all honesty, what keeps me feeling the best I can feel is a healthy, happy, perspective on life. When my disposition is permanently set to feeling good about life, I always feel fit and healthy. I believe a lot of our health and overall wellbeing comes from our minds.
What is your vision for 2014?
I have big plans for the ‘retreat’ brand. After opening the café just 5 months ago we are looking forward in 2014 to more café locations, expanding the product range and bringing our products into more stores.