Adam Kenworthy is a private chef, culinary consultant and health coach based in New York City. What inspires me the most about Adam is how passionate he is about showing others that healthy eating and cooking can be fun and that he does so in the most encouraging way. In today’s “In The Kitchen With…”, we talk about how he became interested in nutrition and creating culinary art, as well as his tips and tricks for anyone interested in becoming healthier and cooking with vegan food.
Kim-Julie: How did you get interested in the world of plant-based cuisine and nutrition?
Adam Kenworthy: I first got inspired with food when I was training for ultra-endurance athletic events including Iron man, 100 mile trail running and biking across the US. I learned that the food I was eating really had an effect on my performance as an athlete. I became more interested in nutrition and felt like I connected with food and cooking beyond the effect that it had on my body. I also connected with the art form of creating food and I believe it’s one of the best gifts you can give to someone. I have cooked for friends and family many, many times over the years and I get great joy out of that. I think it’s comparable to giving someone a painting you made, but at the same time it’s something that is healing for the body. I find a lot of passion and joy in cooking vegan food because I know it is going to have a positive effect on a person.
KJ: When you started getting interested in nutrition, did you immediately go vegan?
AK: No, it was gradual. At first, it was just an interest in plant-based food and the effect it had on my body. Then about five years ago, that’s when I really stopped wanting to eat meat. I found myself craving salads more than steak. It shifted pretty naturally and then realizing the impact it had on the animals and the environment really helped me take that final step.
KJ: What were some of the immediate improvements you noticed?
AK: As I started to study nutrition more and more, I began incorporating different foods. If I thought I was not getting enough protein, I would use brown rice protein powder, for instance. The more natural foods like goji berries I chose, the more I felt like I was faster and my mind was clearer, really focused. Recovery was much faster too. I would not have as much lactic acid built up my body and my system was working more efficiently. I could definitely feel the difference.
KJ: Any advice you would give to people who may be inspired hearing that but who feel overwhelmed because they don’t know where to start?
AK: I think the best way to start is to just go the farmers market or the local store where you feel like you can get good produce. Go find something that makes you think “Wow, this looks interesting or different”. Water melon radishes or certain beets are a great example. You can find any produce you’ve never even heard of and then just look for recipes online. There is a lot of inspiration out there, on platforms like Instagram for instance. What I like to do is just post the basic ingredients rather than the full recipe when I share images. I do that intentionally because I think that if people know what I used, it’ll in turn allow them to find their own measurements and their own taste, which is something I always encourage. It’s a journey of your taste buds and developing your own individual sense. The whole process of making food for yourself and eating healthy has to be fun. A lot of people get intimidated, but I would tell them to just experiment and realize that there are no mistakes when you’re creating. If it doesn’t taste right, now you know and you can move forward. It will taste better the next time because you’ll have learned from that “mistake”. I really just want to encourage everyone to experiment and make it fun. Don’t look at it as a task because then it’s going to be a drag and you’ll prefer eating out, but if you look at it as a “Fun Friday Night Dinner” with a movie, you can incorporate some friends into the mix, some music, some stories. It’s all about making the experience and healthy eating fun.
KJ: What are your 5 favorite ingredients in the kitchen?
AK: Micro greens, squash (acorn or butternut), cauliflower, avocado, crispy lettuce (romaine or butter lettuce).
KJ: Can you walk us through what you typically eat in a day?
AK: I like starting my days with smoothies using organic rice milk and fruits like bananas, strawberries and blueberries. I like keeping it super classic. Sometimes I add hemp seeds or brown rice protein, as well as goji berries, which allow your body to recover quickly and give you a lot of micro nutrients. If I don’t have a smoothie, I’ll make a green juice with green apples, celery, cucumber, turmeric or ginger. For lunch I usually make a nice salad. I feel so inspired working with salads because there are a million variations and new ways to think about them.
For dinner, I like making stir fry or cauliflower pizza and I also make really good vegan tacos. Sometimes I eat out instead, so dinner is much more flexible. The food I eat is incredibly nutrient dense and hydrating, so I feel very satisfied eating this way.
KJ: What are some of your tricks while traveling?
AK: I always make sure I have a trail mix or dried fruit to snack on. When I go to places like Nicaragua, I just rely on eating tons of fruits and veggies throughout the day and then something like rice, beans and potatoes for dinner. As a chef and someone who is health conscious, I try to be very mindful of not making food my main focus point when I travel, because then it becomes stressful. I just try and go with the flow and be flexible.
KJ: Any last words you’d like to add?
AK: When I work in the kitchen, I like to always include people. It’s really important for me as I like to engage. I feel like sometimes as a chef or an artist, you have a way of doing things and you stick to it. For me, it’s been great to be flexible with that and really co-create and allow other bits to come in. I always learn something new and they may learn something that is beneficial to them as well, so I think that when it comes to food and cooking, that’s a good attitude to have in the kitchen.
EASY VEGAN RECIPE: GOLDEN ALMOND MILK
1 cup soaked raw almonds
20 oz water
1 tbs turmeric powder
1 tbs coconut oil
1 pinch black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Sweetener of your choice
Start by making the almond milk using a juicer or by blending the soaked almonds with water and filtering them through a nut milk bag. Once you have the milk, add it to the blender and add in all of the ingredients. Blend well.
Turmeric has been long studied and proven to have incredible benefits throughout the body and specifically the brain. The active compound in turmeric is called curcumin. Turmeric is fat soluble so it is a good idea to add a little healthy fat to help with absorption. Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat that contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently and can have therapeutic effects on several brain disorders. Another great idea when using turmeric is add black pepper or cayenne to it. The compound called piperine in pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric by 1000%.
Adam’s website: www.chefak.com
All pictures of Adam by Kim-Julie Hansen. Food Pictures by Adam Kenworthy.