Gourmand and vegetarian chef, Natasha Corrett, and Harley Street nutritionist, Vicki Edgson, are avid fans of the alkaline diet. Edgson is Corrett’s Godmother, and the pair has talked about teaming up on a food project for years. So when Corrett launched Honestly Healthy, Edgson seemed the perfect person to come on board as the director of nutrition. Honestly Healthy started out as a ‘fridge fill’ for busy Londoners who wanted something healthy delivered to their door a few times a week. Since its inception, Corrett has gone on to launch a range of takeaway food sold at Selfridges, create Honestly Healthy menus for luxury hotel groups in the Maldives and London, and most recently, with Edgson, co-authored a popular and groundbreaking cookery book, Honestly Healthy, which demonstrates how gourmands can live a healthy and balanced life. What makes Corrett particularly interesting is her love of food. She denies herself nothing but is conscious that moderation is a must. I caught up with Corrett and Edgson to talk about their journey so far and the launch of their beautiful lifestyle and cookery book.
NC: I was particularly interested in food because my father has two French restaurants in London. I got to work in Le Boudin Blanc’s kitchen when I was 16 over a summer and that was when I got a real taste for flavour combinations. I left school, went to art college, and went on to work in events. I took some time out and travelled around India. When I got back I started running yoga retreats in the country. One of my chefs didn’t turn up on one of the weekends I’d organised, so I had to cook. That was when I realised I could cook for large groups of people.
VE: I’ve been practicing as a nutritionist for 16 years. Natasha is one of my Goddaughters so I’ve known her all her life, she has always been interested in the nutritional side of food and health. I think obviously all the information that I have been exposed to has inevitably rubbed off on her which has been great.
What’s the alkaline diet about and why is it so successful?
VE: The body actually functions best when it is in an alkaline state. The western diet tends to be very highly acidic in the body. Dairy, red meat and poultry tend to form a very high percentage of our diet, and while it provides us with energy and protein for the body, people don’t realise that it is also very taxing for the body to digest like that. When the body is in the alkaline state everything functions better; you have more energy, you don’t have insomnia, you have better concentration and focus, skin is clearer, eyes are brighter and hair grows better. Very often, people become unwell because they are over toxic, overloaded, and the body is very highly acidic. Indigestion, bloating, abdominal pains, cramps, food intolerances, unnecessary sweating and skin problems will clear up very quickly when somebody is put on an alkaline diet.
NC: Things that we cut out are wheat, gluten, sugar, fried sugars, cow’s dairy, caffeine and alcohol. It’s a much more simple way of eating. I hate being told I can’t have something. So you can have pizza, pasta and brownies but they are done in an alternative, inventive way. It’s also not as straightforward as you’d think. You would think a lemon is acidic but it’s actually very alkaline for the body. In the morning your body is in its most acidic state, so the best thing to do when you wake up is have a hot water with lemon. Instead, most people go out and have a coffee which shoots the acidic levels through the roof and they struggle with their blood sugar levels all day. That’s why you get cravings.
How did Honestly Healthy come about?
NC: Initially my clients from the yoga retreats requested what I refer to now as a ‘fridge fill’. So I started delivering healthy food to my clients once a week at home. Harrods found out and asked if I’d like to serve my food in their food hall. It was then I rebranded as Honestly Healthy and got Vicki involved. She came on board as the nutritionist. Harvey Nics and Selfridges found out that Harrods had approached me and they made counter offers. I ended up launching a four-month pop-up concession selling lunchtime takeaway at Selfridges. Vicki and I got the book deal following the success of that venture. Over the last year it’s been amazing. We’ve also signed contracts with the Lux Hotel Group in the Maldives and Mauritius, and London La Suite West, which is launching this year on Inverness Terrace. On every hotel menu there is a Honestly Healthy option.
What can readers expect from the book?
NC: In the book there’s different sections. We’ve got the cleanse and lifestyle. In the cleanse it’s much more pared down. We’ve taken out lots of grains. Then you have the lifestyle program. Ultimately for me it’s a lifestyle, not a diet. If you want to cleanse you can do that for three days or three weeks. Whereas, in the book, the big emphasis is the lifestyle. We don’t want to deprive you. We want to show you that you can have your cake and eat it. It’s about an 80 percent, 20 percent split. 80 percent of the time live the alkaline lifestyle. 20 percent of the time you want to go out and have a glass of wine. That way you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Plus, if you want chocolate, if you want pizza, they are all there in the book. They are just more inventive. We also think vegetarians can enjoy it too. They can just add a piece of fish or white meat alongside any of our recipes and they’ll have a wonderful meal. We advise people that if they do want to eat meat and fish they have mostly white. Dark meat is really hard for the body to digest.
It must be difficult to pick, but do you have any particular favourite recipes from the book?
NC: My beetroot and red rice risotto is always a favourite. I often do it for dinner parties. The banana and toffee ice cream is to die for. Obviously it’s not obviously toffee, I freeze Brazil nuts to make the crunch, and we don’t use cow’s dairy, we use sheep or goat which is alkaline.
VE: I love them all but I think the quinoa and cranberry burgers are divine. A lot of people don’t like eating fruit in salad and usually I don’t either, but one of the recipes I love from the book is the avocado, mango, and dill salad. I eat a lot of avocado. Many people don’t eat them because they think of them as very fattening but they’re not. The fat in avocado is the fat we need for our nervous system and nerves in general – our skin, hair, nails. I probably eat about 10 avocados a week and that salad is just so fantastic.
Honestly Healthy is available nationwide, RRP £20