She doesn’t eat any animal products. Or genetically modified or hybrid foods. In fact, she even avoids seedless fruits. Gulp. Is there then anything left to eat? Well, apparently there is. Mikella Efstratiou chats to us about how following an alkaline lifestyle became her best health secret she so loves to share.
Although Mikella Efstratiou only started following an alkaline lifestyle three years ago, she claims she hasn’t felt this great in ages … if ever! And it is with this mindset that her three-year-old toddler, Amaiyah, is following the same lifestyle.
“While I was pregnant, I developed this urge to make healthier food choices. Not only for me but also my daughter. I used to drink alcohol, smoke, eat red meat and drink sugary drinks. Add emotional eating and the list goes on and on.”
On Mikella’s hunt for finding what she feels would be the healthiest lifestyle, she came across the topic of alkaline foods by Alfredo Darrington Bowman, better known as Dr Sebi, a Honduran herbalist healer. Hugely fascinated, she started following doctors like Robert Morse and Arnold Ehret, who also supported an alkaline way of living. She got in touch with others living this lifestyle and then she was hooked.
A course in plant-based nutrition followed and she is now studying natural healing and herbal medicine.
“The most important thing I learnt from Dr Sebi was if nature didn’t make it, don’t take it. We are electric beings made out of electricity, therefore our foods need to be electric too, with high frequencies like berries as opposed to dead food like meat and processed foods. In short, an alkaline lifestyle consists of eating a selective list of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains and herbs that have not been hybridized or genetically modified by man.”
Slowly, Mikella swopped acidic products with alkaline ones. She replaced rice with grains such as quinoa and spelt; cow’s milk (which was her favourite ever) for coconut milk, hempseed milk, walnut or Brazil nut milk; meat with chickpeas, mushrooms and walnuts; eggs with aquafaba (chickpea liquid) and chickpea flour; honey or syrup with agave and sugar with dates or date sugar.
“Was it difficult? Absolutely! The first few months were hectic, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Mentally you need to be ready, consistent and have self-discipline. Luckily my degree in Psychology helped heaps and bounds. I had withdrawals from the meat and dairy as it was slowly leaving our bodies, but my gut was doing a happy dance. A few months down the line things got much easier.”
Mikella added that emotionally she felt like a new person … her struggles with depression, anger and sadness faded away. Physically her chronic back pain disappeared completely, she looked leaner, her ovarian cysts were gone and arthritis in her fingers was now something of the past.
“Gosh, even my memory improved. I was less tired and felt all-around stronger and healthier. And my energy levels are on point. A good thing as I’m a mom to a busy little girl!”
Amaiyah has also followed this lifestyle since she started to eat solid foods. She has never eaten any meat, but Mikella doesn’t deny her treats when she is at a party.
“She will have a sweet or two but is generally not fazed with it. Some do question how good the alkaline lifestyle is for growing kids. But from my personal experience, a whole plant-based lifestyle is extremely beneficial for children. Alkaline foods are full of electricity because they are filled with minerals. As long as we are mineral-rich, we can be strong and healthy. Without minerals, our bodies cannot absorb vitamins, amino acids and the necessary nutrients to keep healthy. Sometimes I add fruit and veggies that are not alkaline such as granadilla, nectarines and lentils, but do avoid very starchy foods like carrots and potatoes.”
Mikella and Amaiyah have also started to grow their own fruit and veggies.
Earlier this year, Mikella also published The Easy Alkaline Cookbook. A lovely handbag sized book with 40 quick and easy alkaline recipes she tried and tested herself – from mains, sweet treats, sides and extras. The inspiration behind the book was to show people how simple it can be to switch to this lifestyle. Think fried schnitzel, crunchy burger patties, mango hot sauce, sweet squash pie, spaghetti bolognese to breakfast waffles.
“With so many people getting more health-conscious, my aim is just to create more awareness and share my experience since following an alkaline lifestyle. I work out a four-week personalised meal plan to get you started or you can do an advanced transformational coaching session. Not only will you get three consultations, a four-week meal plan, but weekly progression check-ins, guidance along the way, recipes and tips and tricks to kick-start your journey.”
Although Mikella does not push her beliefs of an alkaline lifestyle on others, she does encourage people to do their own research on this topic and then makes their own conclusions.
“I fully accept that not everyone will agree because we are all different, and that’s okay too.”
Get your copy of The Easy Alkaline Cookbook by The Alkaline Momma from R280 from alkalinemomma.com
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The alkaline food list:
Spices and seasoning: Achiote, basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, cloves, coriander, dill, habanero, onion powder; oregano, pure sea salt, powdered seaweed, sage, savory herbs, sweet basil, tarragon and thyme
Oils: Olive, coconut, grapeseed, sesame, hemp seed and avocado oil
Grains: Amaranth, fonio, kamut, quinoa, rye, spelt, teff and wild rice
Nuts and seeds (including nut and seed butters): Hemp seeds, raw sesame, tahini, walnuts and Brazil nuts
Herbal teas: Burdock, chamomile, elderberry, fennel, ginger, raspberry and tila
Sweet flavours: Agave syrup and dates (sugar and syrup)
Vegetables: Amaranth greens, avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, chickpeas, cactus flower/ leaf, kale; lettuce (all except iceberg), mushrooms (all except shitake), Mexican cactus, okra, olives, onions, sea vegetable, squash, tomatoes (cherry and plum), tomatillo, turnip greens, zucchini, watercress, purslane, wild arugula
Fruits: Apples, bananas (the smaller, the better), berries (everything except cranberries), elderberries, cantaloupe, cherries, currants, dates, figs, grapes, limes (small), mango, melons, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prickly pear, prunes, raisins, soft jelly coconuts, soursop, tamarind
Text: RIALIEN FURSTENBERG. • Photographer: STEPHEN SEGAL. • Make-up & hair: ELAINE BOSHOFF.
Grilled bliss bowl
You’ll need: 3 cups brown quinoa, cooked; 1 cup kale, chopped; 1 purple onion, chopped; 1 large avocado; 1 cup mushrooms, sliced; 1 cup cherry tomatoes; 1 nori sheet, chopped into small pieces; 1 Tbsp oregano; 1 lime, juiced; 1 Tbsp hemp seeds; 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil; sea salt to taste
How to: Preheat the oven to 300°C.
In a medium baking tray add your chopped onions, mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes. Drizzle with grapeseed oil, spices and ½ of the lime juice. Grill for 15-20 minutes.
Add the avo, the rest of the lime juice and nori to a bowl and mash. Set aside. To assemble the bowls – add 1 ½ cups of quinoa to two bowls, then add the other elements as you please.
Creamy one-pot spelt pasta
You’ll need: 1 bell pepper; 1 plum tomato; 1 onion; 200g mushrooms; 200g kale; ¼ cup olives; 1 habanero (you can take out the seeds if you want less spicy); 1 Tbsp fresh ginger root, finely chopped; 1 Tbsp oregano; ½ Tbsp cayenne; 1 Tbsp onion powder; sea salt to taste; 200g spelt pasta of your choice; 4 cups spring water
Add all the ingredients to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil then lower the heat.
Simmer for about 35 minutes on low heat, with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Then get ready to tuck into a bowl of hearty goodness.
Walnut caramel slices
You’ll need: For the crust – 1 ½ cups walnuts; 1 cup of dates; pinch of sea salt
For the caramel – 2 cups dates; ½ cup spring water; ½ tsp clove
Pulse all the ingredients for the crust until fine. Then press it down on a square dish.
Blend the caramel ingredients and spoon on top of the crust. Place in the fridge to set. It can also be frozen which makes it super easy to pack in for lunch or have at any time of the day.
Alkaline roasted veggie pizza
Makes 8-10 mini pizzas
You’ll need: For the grilled veggies – 150g oyster mushrooms, sliced; 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced; 1 red bell pepper, sliced; 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil; ½ tsp cayenne; 1 tsp ground coriander; ½ lime, juice; sea salt to taste
For the Brazil nut cheese – 1 cup Brazil nuts, soaked for at least four hours; 1/3 cup spring water (add more if you want a thinner consistency, it’s all about preference); ½ tsp sea salt; 1 tsp oregano; 1 tsp hemp powder or hemp seeds; 1 tsp onion powder
For the crust – 4 cups spelt flour; ½ tsp sea salt; 2 tsp oregano; 2 tsp onion powder; ½ tsp cayenne; 1 Tbsp agave; 200ml sparkling water added gradually (you may need more or less just keep an eye on your dough)
For the tomato sauce – 2 plum tomatoes; 1 purple onion; a handful of dates
How to: Preheat the oven to 250°C. Grill one small butternut for 45 minutes. Once cooked and cooled, remove the seeds and mash. Add sea salt to taste. Set aside.
Mix the veggies well and grill for 25 minutes at 200°C.
Blend all the ingredients for the Brazil nut cheese. Set aside.
Add all the ingredients for the crust together. Knead until a ball is formed and set aside.
Blend the ingredients for the tomato sauce until smooth.
Roll the crust dough out and cut it into eight to 10 circles.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 200°C before adding toppings. If you like your crust crispy, drizzle some grapeseed oil on the edges before grilling.
Spread the tomato sauce on the crust, followed by the mashed butternut. Add the grilled veggies and Brazil nut cheese and grill your pizzas for a further 10 minutes or until your liking. Add fresh herbs and enjoy!