Some of us deal with minor gluten intolerances, occasional heartburn, and lactose-intolerance. But we’re still able to enjoy most of the foods we love, and frequent just about any restaurant.
But for some, like food blogger Amie Valpone, life can throw a pretty major curveball when it comes to eating food we all suppose is healthy for us.
Amie is the unbelievably friendly and incredibly vivacious blogger behind The Healthy Apple — a wellness blog devoted to clean eating. I first met Aimee at a food blogging event where she exuded boundless energy and vivaciousness.
I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone so outgoing and so friendly, or who can talk so fast. Anyone who knows her will attest to that.
So when she shared with me her health story, I was shocked. This petite, energetic woman who simply radiated from the inside out and drew you into her passionate world was a far cry from the 20-something year old girl who found herself immobile and deathly ill. She was chronically sice, bedridden and riddled with questions of what was wrong with her, and doctors didn’t have the answer.
But that didn’t deter this ball of fire. She pursued her own personal health crusade. She didn’t have a choice. For her, it was life or death.
For a decade, Amie suffered from inexplainable digestive trouble and mysterious chronic pain.She was simply sick and tired of trying to figure out why she was sick and tired. She met with countless doctors all over the country, spending weeks in the hospital at a time, even visiting with doctors at The Mayo Clinic, hopeful for some answers.
Eventually, Amie received help from integrative medicine doctors who were able to diagnose her. They uncovered a Pandora’s Box of health issues, including Lyme Disease, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue, Leaky Gut, Heavy Metals, and much more.
Because of this plethora of allergies and auto-immune disease, Amie was forced to radially change her diet and lifestyle—not easy feat for anyone, let alone a food lover. She turned to acupuncture, yoga, meditation, herbal medicine, and organic, fresh unprocessed foods, as a means of defeating and healing her health issues.
“My ‘aha’ moment was getting chronically ill, but you don’t need to go through something that dramatic,” she writes. “I thought I was eating healthy but I had no idea how toxic seemingly healthy food can be.”
While her experience escalated to severe, Amie’s approach is to help everyone and anyone wishing for a guide to reset their body, to detox and feel right again.
Amie is a walking example the healing power of food. And now she’s helping others, too. In her new book, Eating Clean: The 21 Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, Amie shares how her experience can help clean up anyone’s life.
“My goal is to revamp your pantry and give your kitchen, your immune system, and your gut a makeover.”
Her 21-day plan will shares the knowledge and will power to do so. In the book she outlines her 21-day detox plan, how to reintroduce foods back into your lifestyle, what to do when traveling and eating out and tips on food prep and stocking the pantry.
But at the heart of the book is her collection of whole foods-based recipes, like my riff on her easy but totally delicious Marvelous Mango Salad that I added avocado to, and I’m sharing here today at the end of this post.
But First, my List of 10 Q’s for Amie’s A’s
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Happy. Healthy. Delicious.
2. If you could be one blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
There are so many women in this blogging world that I admire. Heidi is incredible and I honestly loved her from the second I met her. It’s too hard to choose one blogger but I do have to say that I was absolutely blown away and brought to tears when I started reaching out to my blogging friends like Skinny Taste, Inspiralized, Andie Mitchell, Gimme Some Oven, Cookie and Kate, to help support my book and they all responded immediately saying they’d love to. That made my heart sing. I felt so loved and supported for the first time in so many years. Going through 10 years of chronic illness you often forget that you are loved and you feel alone because you can’t relate to anyone else in the ‘real world’ doing real world things like eating out at restaurants, traveling, entertaining, etc. These women have reminded me that we are all loved and I really enjoy supporting them as well as many other women doing incredible work. Let’s just say that I am beyond grateful for this online community that has given me so much love. I’m so grateful.
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
I actually don’t read food blogs. I do my own thing when it comes to food. I am on social media promoting my friends and their recipes, but I don’t visit food blogs because I like to keep my own style and inspiration coming from my own life. I also am not online a lot. I try to step away from my computer and I don’t have a TV because I crave quiet and I enjoy just being in my kitchen testing recipes. But I do love a bunch of mind/body blogs that talk about self-love and wellness. So, my three would be….One of my best friends is Jennifer Kass, who has taught me about self-love and self-care. She’s incredible. Another would have to be Man Repeller, a fashion blogger. She’s fabulous and here in NYC. I love how she is true to herself, and how she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. The third one would have to be Dr. Mark Hyman’s blog. He’s inspired me in so many ways to heal my body and I’m honored that he wrote the foreword for my book.
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My food processor. When I had C-diff colitis, I couldn’t digest anything. I was on disability from my job and ate out of a food processor for over a year. Yum, right? Pureed food for an entire year — you can imagine how happy I was to finally chew again! I’m obviously eating whole foods now, but I do still love tossing a bunch of ingredients into my food processor to whip up an amazing spread, dip, ‘nut cheese’, etc. That’s my favorite thing to do, that’s why that chapter is so much fun. Making my own condiments, sauces and spreads is the best feeling to me since I can’t eat any of the processed products in the food store because I have terrible reactions to their refined salts, oils and sugars. People come to my apartment and open my fridge and see all homemade condiments on my fridge door from mustards to mayo to ketchup to hummus…it’s amazing.
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
Hmmmm. That’s a good question. For awhile it was grain-free crackers and pizza crusts without using white flours/all purpose flours (which I can’t eat because they make me double over in pain), but I’ve nailed those recipes. I have about 6 grain-free cracker recipes in my cookbook and a handful of pizza crust recipes in there too, that are made with almond four, chickpea flour, and veggies like zucchini and sweet potatoes. It took be a few years to get these down but now I eat them weekly. So, currently I’m still trying to make my baked goods better. I love making breads and muffins but it’s always tricky when using alternative flours so I’m ready to create a fluffy bread and muffins that are like biting into a cloud, hehe.
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Last night I was testing out a few recipes for my blog and I had sweet potatoes roasting in the oven, so I pulled them out, stuffed them with fluffy quinoa, fresh basil, sesame seeds, and a few dried cherries. Then I drizzled them with warm almond butter. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, of course. It was fabulous if I do say so myself!
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I love my alone time. I used to be a huge extrovert and the life of the party, and I still am a ball of energy/fun, but after 10 years of chronic illness I’ve learned how to slow down, focus on me and put myself first. At first, this sounded selfish to me and I felt guilty about not doing everything for everyone else and supporting everyone else, but at the end of the day, I was not healing and I knew I had to take a step back, slow my life down, start meditating and saying ‘no’. I think as women we feel guilty saying ‘no’ to things but if we don’t put ourselves and our health first, we feel out of balance because we’re not being true to ourselves. I’ve learned how to be true to myself and to surround myself with loving people. I feel so blessed to have a community online and here in Manhattan that are genuine, loving women that always bring a smile to my face.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
Any type of veggies and making amazing sauces, dressings and marinades with incredible flavors from fresh herbs, spices, nuts, and seeds. I’ve learned how to make simple food taste incredible because there are so many people that I work with (and my readers) who cannot eat many foods such as dairy, gluten, and soy, and they feel so much better when they remove these foods. So, I love creating flavorful sauces, spreads and more, which is a HUGE chapter of my book. I make nut ‘cheeses’ out of nuts and tapenades as well as tomato sauces from sun-dried tomatoes. I liven everything up with herbs such as parsley, cilantro, chives, and basil. I also love using fresh and dried fruits (without added sugar in them) to add to my dishes. They create the perfect about of natural sweetness without adding any refined sugar!
9. The one secret to your success is?
Almond flour. I must say this has really allowed me to create some incredible recipes like pizza crusts, crackers, flatbreads, crusts, etc. I have a sweet potato flatbread on my website made with almond flour and a few pizza crusts in my cookbook that include almond flour and they’re divine. I love showing people how to use almond flour to add protein to their recipes, too…it’s so nutritious and I love the taste….it’s just really finely ground almonds…and I make my own (and show you how to do that in my cookbook) in the food processor. Sometimes I let it run for too long and it turns out as almond butter, which is probably my 2nd successful ingredient. I add it to everything, even salad dressings. It’s my go-to.
10. What’s next for you? Do you see another cookbook in your future?
I do. I want to keep inspiring people with my story and giving them hope in their own lives. I’m branching out to not just food but more mind/body and lifestyle because that is what my book touches on and what I’ve learned is the key to healing. It’s everything together. It’s not just food. It’s learning how to balance, how to love yourself, how to enjoy life and how to be grateful in every moment. I’d love to write more books. That would be incredible. I would start a second cookbook tomorrow! I’m also relaunching my website and I’ll be coming out with some big programs that I’m really excited about, and I’m also doing a lot of collaborations and partnerships, which are really fun for me. Speaking is also one of my favorite things to do, so I will continue to speak and host workshops across the country to inspire those suffering or needing guidance. Life is good! Gosh, it feels so amazing to finally say that.
Thank you Amie for being one of our favorite foodie crushes.
And now, on to that Mango and Avocado Salad!
Marvelous Mango and Avocado Salad
Clean eating is at the centerpiece of Amie’s cookbook and nothing is kick off your clean eating habit than salad. I eat salad in one form or another every single day. I can’t get enough of them and Amie has a great selection of unique riffs I hadn’t thought of before.
About the recipe
This salad is fresh and light and can easily be made for a light lunch or brunch and if you’re a salad lover, you’ll have a hard time sharing.
I didn’t tweak Amie’s original recipe much but did add two additional ingredients. I love pairing avocado with mango so that was a natural to add to the salad patch.
The other addition was watercress. I love the spicy bite fresh radishes add to the salad, and I figured why not add a little more bite by tossing in some watercress, too. It really rounds out the springy, light flavors.
Amie uses spinach in her salad but mentions in the recipe notes that she likes it just as well with kale. Another version I’ll be trying soon. I added more greens to the amount she suggested in the book and it was a really good green lunch.
The salad is finished with a raspberry dressing that I almost switched up and am SO GLAD I DIDN’T! One of Amie’s favorite ingredients in her book is coconut oil. It’s restorative properties are healing to most any diet. Here, she cooks the raspberries gently in melted coconut oil. I was feeling lazy and almost skipped that part of the recipe, but felt I better give it a try and oh my word! It gives the dressing a completely different taste. I’m a huge fan of coconut, but even those who aren’t will enjoy the creamy and slightly nutty flavor. I’m totally keeping that idea in my arsenal for homemade raspberry sauce.
One note about the dressing, it makes quite a bit so drizzle sparingly at first and add as you go. Since it’s made with coconut oil, it will harden at room temperature. I imagine you could gently warm it if there’s extra left over.
If you try this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
- For the Salad
- ½ cup shelled raw sunflower seeds
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 large mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups firmly packed fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup watercress leaves
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 8 radishes, thinly sliced
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- For the Dressing
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- ¼-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Make the Salad
- Place the sunflower seeds in a skillet and toast over medium heat. Toast until fragrant, shaking often. Remove from the heat and add the salt.
- Make the Dressing
- Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the raspberries to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes or until they release their juices and soften, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a blender and add the lemon juice, olive oil, honey and ginger. Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine the mangoes, spinach, watercress, avocado, radishes, green onion, cilantro, parsley and mint, and toss to combine. Drizzle with half of the Raspberry Ginger Dressing to taste and toss again. Add more dressing to taste. Garish with the sunflower seeds and serve immediately.
Visit Amie and her blog at The Healthy Apple.
Purchase her book Eating Clean: The 21 Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body here.
As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
Thanks for reading and subscribe to FoodieCrush to have each post delivered straight to your e-mail box.