Food & Drink
February 3, 2023

Chef Peggy Chan Shares Her Superfood Secrets For Staying Healthy

Peggy Chan
Peggy Chan

“Food is thy medicine” has long been a motto of mine.  Having run my own restaurant for 8 years (and eating sparsely when working), what I did eat needed to fuel me for a long time.  Scrambled tofu was generally my go-to, mixed with spices such as turmeric, coriander powder, mushrooms and greens.  Sometimes I would have a smoothie of bananas, berries, oat milk, laced with superfoods to keep me going.  My philosophy was to deliver the cleanest, simplest, most nutrient-dense ingredients and to source unprocessed, local, sustainable and organic ingredients.  This also helped in that the food I was consuming contained a high level of nutrients.

Just over 12 months on from closing the restaurant and into more regular eating habits (and sleeping!), my philosophy has not changed in terms of the food I eat.  The only difference is that I am able to have seat and not eat on the run. I eat a relatively balanced diet that includes a variety of unrefined carbs, plant proteins, and fats, with an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils.  I understand my body’s nutritional requirements and throughout this period my energy levels and alertness are at an all-time high and I can even go back into strength and conditioning training. The relationships I formed throughout the years of running the restaurant have carried forward. We get a weekly delivery of in-season, fresh organic vegetables from HK Farmers Pride and all of our superfoods from i-herb, Family Farm Organics and Regency Spices.  It is scientifically proven that eating certain types of foods in particular amounts can help prevent fatigue. On the contrary, eating the wrong types of foods can have the opposite effect. Because different foods are converted to energy at different rates, eating simple sugars such as candy can give people a quick lift, but the drop-off will be twice as fast! Luckily, I do not have a sweet tooth and hardly crave anything sweet. But when I do, I reach out for fresh fruits and dried fruits, dark chocolate or pure honey, which in addition to the the fructose and sucrose fix, also fuels me with a complex range of micro and macro-nutrients.

Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, bok choi, choi sum are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and are great sources of a variety of vitamins. They are a constant staple, as well as an assortment of mushrooms and root vegetables. Incorporating these into pretty much every meal helps keep me satisfied and my energy levels high throughout the day. I’m also a sucker for a coffee or two throughout the day (being married to an Australian doesn’t help), but even with my coffee or matcha, I’m incorporating some form of adaptogenic superfood powder such as chaga, lions mane and moringa.

If we start seeing superfoods not just as supplements but a part of our meal to be consumed at every meal, a whole food plant based diet can be extremely rewarding, delicious and nourishing.

In my soon to be published cookbook Provenance, I will guide our readers through how and where to source for nutrient dense ingredients, how they can be stored and what you will need to build a clean and nutrient dense pantry. Readers will learn how these ingredients can be utilised and incorporated into everyday meals.

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About Peggy Chan

In 2012, Peggy Chan opened Grassroots Pantry (GP) in Hong Kong with a mission to raise awareness and share knowledge on the benefits of plant-based cuisine. Her approach is technique-driven, with an added dose of mindfulness, bringing out textures and depth of flavour in vegetables and legumes.

Seven years later, she evolved GP into Nectar - a high-end dining concept featuring a progressive, seasonal tasting menu that uses locally-sourced and often forgotten ingredients. The same year, GP's first sustainability report was recognized by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ESCAP as a best practice case study on sustainable sourcing and responsible management.

Peggy emerged as one of the region’s most authoritative voices on organic sourcing and sustainable food systems, where she is often invited to develop educational programmes for schools, and consults other industries and start-ups on sustainable practices, empowering them to take action. Her goal is to encourage professional chefs to rethink their operational decisions from sourcing, menu development, to waste management.

In 2020, Peggy developed Grassroots Initiatives Consultancy to assist food service professionals in their transition towards best practices that meet both human and planetary health goals. In October this year, she gave a talk at TedxTinHauWomen as part of the TED Countdown global initiative on ‘Food Literacy as The Secret Recipe for Solving the Climate Crisis’, further sharing her ambition to transform the food system with the public.

Her upcoming projects include leading impact-venture Zero Foodprint Asia - an NGO that focuses on mobilising change on an industry-level; as well as spearheading Chef’s Manifesto in Hong Kong - a global initiative and network that engages chefs as advocates for a better food system for all.

Peggy is an alumni of Global Shapers Hong Kong, World Economic Forum, a HK Environmental Excellence Awardee in the service sector, and a nominee for the Basque Culinary World Prize in 2019.


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