Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Teresa Cutter of The Healthy Chef; a leading authority on healthy cooking in Australia. She is on the Women’s Fitness Magazine expert panel, is a qualified chef, nutritionist and accredited fitness trainer.
Teresa is also the Founder and CEO of The Healthy Chef, a company creating delicious, functional foods for optimum health and wellbeing. She has just released some great new products in the functional whole food range; Organic Pea Protein & Organic Superfood. The last few weeks have seen her flat-out touring but Teresa took some time out to answer my questions about her Polish influences, Muay That training, figure competitions, her book The 80/20 Diet, and how she manages the pursuit of multiple passions!
Q+A with Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef (thehealthychef.com
Ceri, Healthy Party Girl:Your background is so diverse! How has your Polish heritage and French culinary training influenced your cooking?
Teresa Cutter: I’ve been inspired greatly by the Polish recipes my great-aunt used to create, and try to recreate them for the recipes in my books and on my website. My French training as a chef developed my skills and deepened my passion and love of high quality, delicious food. I’ve been fortunate to have such a diverse background in my training. Being inspired from my great Aunt, making the most awesome and nourishing wholefood meals she prepared from her organic garden. Doing the hard yards for many years as a chef working with the most experienced culinary experts you can imagine. The training was really tough but it helped shape my skills for perfection.
HPG:My brother was also a chef and he’s super passionate about Muay Thai and MMA; is there something that connects the two?
TC:I think to be a great chef you need to focus and have a lot of determination and skill. MMA and Muay Thai is all about skill, planning and focus—similar to cooking in a busy kitchen—Muay Thai also allows you to blow off some steam and makes you feel strong and empowered.
HPG:Did the Figure Competition diet affect your physical and mental wellbeing? I’ve heard it can be an extreme regime for some!
TC:Fitness figure and body shaping was a big part of most of my 20s. I loved it and it helped me become a better personal trainer and chef. It made me have a better understanding of how diet and exercise can shape your body to however you want it to be. The eating wasn’t that hard; it’s basically just clean eating, lots of veggies and fresh fruit complimented with a little protein. The training was awesome—your body can be so responsive—my life focused around training, sleeping, eating and working and it really hasn’t changed much now except that the training has mellowed quite a lot compared to what it used to be.
HPG: The 80/20 Diet concept really resonates with me as someone who seeks the ultimate balance of health and joie de vivre; how did you find yours?
TC:I live by my 80/20 rule and aim to do the right things 80 % of the time; eat well, exercise regularly, avoid alcohol and smoking, and manage my stress levels. You feel better when you eat well and it’s all about balancing diet and being active with quality rest. I also have a sweet tooth and love anything chocolate! I never feel like I’m missing out; even when I was competing, I was working as a pastry chef and I still managed to enjoy a little quality chocolate and a little indulgence without feeling guilty.
HPG:Having toured internationally, did you notice any patterns among your audiences?
TC:My audiences tend to be a mixture of people who are very passionate about health, nutrition and cooking and many who are relatively new to it. I love doing healthy cooking demos as it gives me an opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and inspire people to continue on their own health journeys.
HPG:A successful chef, presenter, nutritionist, sportsperson, cookbook author and restaurateur… AND an entrepreneur with your Functional Food range; how do you get all your energy!?
TC:I focus on supporting my immune system and energy levels by eating fresh plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and quality protein such as eggs or fish. I always pack a stash of quality functional foods such as my Healthy Chef protein and superfood, so I can easily whip up a shake or a smoothie when everything is super busy. The quickest meal is a super smoothie made from berries, Healthy Chef protein and my superfood loaded with antioxidants; it makes me feel on top of the world and allows me to power on if I need to.
HPG:What advice do you have for other people who, like myself, are trying to balance yet nurture multiple passions?
TC:Follow your passion! Pick where you want to be and work hard to get there but make sure to take care of yourself along the way. Often when we are pouring our heart into something (or many things!) that we are passionate about, our health can take a beating in the process. Stress is such a major player in chronic disease and inflammation. I try to manage my stress levels as effectively as I can but sometimes this is easier said than done. Regular exercise, adequate sleep and plenty of wholesome foods keep me grounded. Taking some time out, even just a few moments a day and remembering to breathe helps me!
HPG:You have my wholehearted agreement with your message “food, like life, is to be savoured”. In what ways do you savour life among all of your amazing projects?
TC:My best friend is my husband Paul and we’ve been together for 25 years! Your health, your partner and relationships with family are the most important things to cherish in life and nurture. I think it’s important in this crazy world not to get too overwhelmed and with what’s going on around you; stay in the moment, love what you do, laugh, and have fun. If you’re not having fun, don’t do it.
HPG:I love my smoothies and experimenting with different recipes; the ones on your blog are always great! Have you discovered any exciting ingredients lately?
TC:At the moment I’m doing a lot of anti-inflammatory recipes with my smoothies; ingredients like turmeric and ginger are appearing in many recipes. I love pineapple, turmeric, ginger, coconut water and flesh, and maybe a papaya and some Healthy Chef protein as a complete breakfast on the go. I also throw in some probiotics, wheatgrass or coconut kefir which is awesome for my digestive health.
HPG: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today, I can’t wait to try your new Organic Pea Protein range!
How good is that! I tried Muay Thai once and it’s a full on sport, to say the very least. But given Teresa seems to be the master of focus and multitasking I think “full on” is kinda how she rolls. Check her out online at her website The Healthy Chef, on Twitter via @teresacutter or Instagram @teresacutter_thehealthychef.
Have you tried any of Teresa’s awesome recipes? How about Muay Thai?
Who else would you like me to interview for my Sunday Funday Q+A!?
Leave a comment below and let me know!