Having worked in several Michelin-star restaurants and as a private chef for billionaires, Lucas Lovelace knows his way around the kitchen. In addition to cooking, Lucas has a great passion for people to feel like they’re living their best life. Since diet is such an integral part of health, Lucas strives to customize meal plans in greater measure so people can have greater leverage (and time) to meet those goals. Lucas has shared a dozen of his favorite foods to incorporate into dishes as well as cooking tips to maximize their natural health benefits.
Artichokes throughout history have been placed in the category of “food as medicine.” They have both silymarin and cynarine- compounds both good for one’s liver, protecting it from toxic compounds. Besides being rich in fiber and low in sugar, they are a great source for inulin, a great probiotic that promotes good bacteria in our microbiomes. Buy from the Farmer’s Market and eat quickly, because artichokes respire and health benefits decrease rapidly!
Quinoa is rich in protein, unsaturated fat, essential vitamins and minerals! It’s also rich in beneficial polyphenols, and it appears to even decrease one’s risk for cancer and heart disease! Quinoa is great bound with a vinaigrette, like a light Chipotle like this one, and having a bunch of fresh garden fruits and vegetables tossed in!
Blueberries have been shown to prevent tumor formation, lower blood pressure, reduce arterial plaque buildup, and soothe inflammation! Not only do blueberries perform incredible heart feats, but they have been shown to slow age-related dementia, including better mental cognition, having better moods, and eating them is a great way we can all combat aging!
Avocados are considered a “Genius Food” (Max Lugavere shout out) and for good reason! Max points out they have the highest total fat-protecting capacity of any fruit or vegetable! Avocados are packed with Vitamin E, and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (these compounds actually make our brains faster). Avocados are also great for our microbiomes, and boost “brain-sustaining compounds that reduce inflammation, enhance insulin sensitivity, and boost growth factors in the brain.”
Cauliflower is wealthy when it comes to glucosinolates, a powerful antioxidant. Cauliflower isn’t an exception to the “shop by shade” principle, which says the darker the vegetable, the more nutritious, but even the pale, white cauliflower is rich in glucosinolates. The more color, the EVEN higher levels of antioxidants (purple is exploding with nutrients). Even green cauliflower and Romanesco have four times the amount of glucosinolates as white (which is incredible)! Steam or roast in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil or grass fed butter/ghee (boil and lose much of the nutrients and much of the cancer fighting properties). Color from high heat=flavor and deliciousness!
Apricots as “a rule have three to eight times more phytonutrients than peaches and nectarines”! They continue to ripen once picked, the problem comes though when people, warehouses, place them in the refrigerator which halts the development of their robust flavor and results in dull apricots, compared to wild! They have been bred also by people motivated by profit to be firmer, so they don’t bruise easily, and then they lose flavor. An interesting point is an apricot rushed to the market, picked early in mid-May, has only a fraction (in fact about 1/5th) of the antioxidants as an apricot picked right off the tree of mid-August. There really is a lot to be said for the “slow food movement.” The best apricots are dark, with minimal really light yellow. Blenheim and Royal Blenheim (good source of beta-carotene) are exceptional choices, packed with nutrition! Dried apricots have only about half the nutritional punch as straight from the tree or local farmer’s market. They make for a great summer dessert!
Shallots have 6 times more nutrients than a typical onion, ounce for ounce! In fact, only garlic has been shown to be more potent in killing cancer cells. One reason why Shallots are such nutrient powerhouses is they are nearly identical to their wild version from thousands of years ago (as a general rule, the closer to a vegetable’s wild version, the more packed with nutrition). Shallots are a great source for quercetin, a compound with a reputation for “its antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.” Add them to the mix of what you’re cooking today!
Broccoli when harvested is rich in glucosinolates and antioxidants. However, like brussels sprouts, it respires very, VERY quickly! Within just a couple days the majority of these nutrients are gone (make sure to buy from the Farmer’s Market if you can, and make it the first thing you cook!)! If you want to preserve as much of the broccoli’s flavonoids, vitamin c, etc., chill your broccoli in the fridge and you have a two/three day window, especially if in crisper drawer. To create optimum “gaseous” environment, pin prick a sealed Ziploc bag about twenty times. Studies have shown your broccoli can have as much as two times the amount of nutrients by using this simple technique!
We know garlic has powerful health benefits, but are you taking advantage of them when you cook? Garlic possesses the ability to create Allicin, an enzymatic reaction that proves to thin one’s blood, and contains 90 percent of garlic’s ability to fight cancer. That’s the thing though, garlic possesses the ABILITY to create allicin, but only when the two other substances found in garlic, alliin and alliinase, have had time to create this powerful compound! How does that happen? Mince or garlic press your garlic, and wait ten minutes. Alliinase is heat sensitive, so if that minced garlic goes immediately into your hot pan to make your tomato sauce or anything else you may be cooking, alliinase will be destroyed, allicin will not be created, and all you will be left with is garlic as a flavor enhancer, and not as a cancer/health fighter!
Maybe like me, you were told growing up to eat carrots so you could get X-ray vision like Superman! As unlikely as that seems now, carrots contain anthocyanins (the darker the carrot, the more; purple=best), which have great health benefits. That being said, a few simple tweaks and your orange carrots can be much more nutritious: don’t peel them, because the greatest concentration of nutrients is in the skin and the section just below. Carrots are also more nutritious when they’re cooked (that is not true of all vegetables), as cooking them breaks down their tough cell walls and allows our bodies to more easily digest their nutrients.
Plums are packed with vitamin c and antioxidants. Did you know: Prunes are dried plums, and also POWERFUL. It’s true that prunes help us stay regular, because they’re so high in soluble and insoluble. Dried plums contain sorbitol, which promotes the microorganisms within one’s colon. Bonus: Dried plums in a British study have been shown to strengthen bones even within postmenopausal women that had low bone density, and contain boron (not moron) which speeds bone development. Eat them fresh, eat them dried, just be sure to eat them!
Mushrooms are a great source for beta glucan, which studies, including one from the University of Western Sydney in Australia, have demonstrated can boost one’s immune system! Most people toss the stems, DON’T! Those stems are packed with beneficial gut activating bacteria. The scientific term for the stems is “mycelia,” and absorb nutrients straight from the soil to the mushroom. They’re packed with not just nutrition, but also flavor, and they are good for the Earth as they detoxify plant and animal debris and even help cultivate a rich topsoil. Wow! Mycelia with humans: Supplies beneficial probiotics, detoxifies harmful chemicals, inhibits autoimmune dysfunctions, has been shown to reduce histamine levels, fight tumor and cancer cells, fight the flu, candida, and are even adaptogens that help balance cortisol levels and stress hormones. Who knew that eating a diet with mushrooms, and even more, their STEMS, could be such a game changer!
About Lucas Lovelace
Lucas Lovelace began working restaurants at age 16, developing a passion for food before attending Le Cordon Bleu California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He secured an extern position at the prestigious Restaurant Oceana in New York City which increased his exposure to world class chefs.
Lucas spent the next six years refining his craft in the culinary epicenter of the world, working for one, two, and three Michelin-star restaurants before helping to run the iconic Oak Room restaurant located at the Plaza Hotel.
Now back in the San Francisco Bay Area, Lucas has spent the last several years primarily working as a private chef for billionaires. “What I want to do is take that experience and bring it to everyone,” says Lucas.
In 2018, Lucas launched LL Chef Services, which seeks to recreate the restaurant experience within your home offering personal chef services for at-home dinner parties. Lucas and his team offer three, four, and five course dinner options as well as wine pairings, sommelier experiences, live painting, and cooking lessons. Learn more at https://llchefservices.com/.
Photos Credit: Lucas Lovelace