Paleo Pete: ’It’s not like I’ve hit the peak yet’

WHEN you're a connoisseur, sometimes it pays to listen to your own advice.

After years of guiding others how to hone their skills in the kitchen, Pete Evans is reflecting on his own best teachings in his new book.

"The one thing I always say on My Kitchen Rules is less is more and I've followed my own advice for this book," he says.

"The best chefs in the world use the least amount of ingredients but achieve sublime results. That's why this is my favourite book of all.

"My audience kept requesting simpler recipes from me that are still delicious but also healthy, so this is my gift back to our audience or anyone considering changing their lifestyle. It's a really simple book that tastes delicious and promotes optimal health."

Dinner in 5, a collection of 100 recipes comprised of five or less ingredients, is designed to make it easier for families to eat together during the week. All of the recipes are paleo - a whole food-based diet inspired by the foods available to our paleolithic ancestors for which Evans has become the poster boy and punching bag.

"Anybody who knows me knows I'm paleo," he says. "We've established the fact that I have the moniker of Paleo Pete. I don't think I'll ever shake that nor would I ever want to shake that. We're producing amazing outcomes for other people."

“Paleo Pete” Pete Evans has released a new cookbook. AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
“Paleo Pete” Pete Evans has released a new cookbook. AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

Last month Evans took to social media to share an image of himself in his chef's whites before he went paleo 10 years ago.

Even if a caveman meal plan, or any other fad diet, doesn't appeal to you, it's hard to argue with the benefits of ditching processed food.

"This is my representation of what we eat and how we eat," says Evans, who lives on a 10-hectare property at Round Mountain in the Northern Rivers with his wife Nicola and teenage daughters Indii and Chilli.

"I'm 46 now and in the best shape of my life with the best mental clarity. I'm having the best time in my life at the moment and I can only see it improving. It's not like I've hit the peak yet. We're all evolving to greatness, if we choose to."

So how does Evans balance his paleo diet with his judging duties on MKR, which require him to taste food that's full of everything he would normally avoid, such as dairy, sugar and grains?

"It's a choice to be a judge on that show, which I fully love," he says. "MKR makes up 1% of my yearly diet, the rest is paleo. Interestingly, a lot of the food we eat on MKR these days is meat and veg so it's not that far removed from what I normally eat.

"We just wrapped season 11 and the food this season was the best we've ever had. I say that every season, but the cooks are constantly evolving. There are some remarkable dishes I can't wait for the audience to see."

Pete Evans puts his paleo diet aside to be a judge on My Kitchen Rules.
Pete Evans puts his paleo diet aside to be a judge on My Kitchen Rules.

Evans has attracted a lot of criticism for his advice outside of MKR, which ranges from diet to sunscreen and alternative medicines.

Bone broth for babies and sun gazing as 'free medicine' drew particular ire from medical professionals and the public alike.

One health and wellness issue he believes he's on the right side of is the push to legalise cannabis.

Evans travelled to the US and Canada earlier this year to film The Magic Plant, the follow-up to his Netflix documentary The Magic Pill.

There's no word yet if Netflix will pick up the new doco, which is in post-production, but Evans says it will "find its rightful home".

"I'm a strong believer every single adult, should they chose, should legally be allowed to grow a few plants to be used as food or medicine," he says. "As mature and informed adults, and through correct education, there's no reason why we should be able to grow this wondrous plant alongside our other herbs and plants."

So what was his biggest takeaway from seeing legalised cannabis in action?

"The sky hasn't fallen," he says. "The fear around society degenerating because of this one plant - that hasn't happened.

"How can we have these laws in place for certain things and not others?

"Alcohol is readily available anywhere you choose to be able to purchase it. If you were to abuse that you could kill yourself by overconsumption of it."

Pete Evans discusses on Sunday Night the Medical cannabis debate: Australians left in pain by expensive and limited access to drug.
Pete Evans discusses on Sunday Night the Medical cannabis debate: Australians left in pain by expensive and limited access to drug.

The tide is just beginning to turn here in Australia, with the ACT becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.

"It's a wonderful opportunity here if we do it correctly and intelligently that Australia could become one of the most forward-thinking nations that can show the world how it's done," he says. "I have hope for that. I'm an optimist and I believe it could happen.

"Australia is one of the highest per capita users of cannabis, even though it has been illegal. It feels like it's part of our culture."

Breast cancer sufferer Olivia Newton-John is another high-profile advocate for the use of medical marijuana, speaking at a Cannabis Science Conference in the US last month (SUBS September) about how it helped her wean off morphine pain killers.

Evans says his documentary will reveal an even wider range of everyday uses of the miracle plant, from oils and body balms to juice that aids digestion and even as a pantry staple.

While it's not likely we'll see contestants cooking with cannabis on MKR any time soon, Evans already has a cannabis cookbook in the works.

He'll appear as a guest speaker at the Hemp Health & Innovation Expo at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre tomorrow.

Chef and My Kitchen Rules host Pete Evans at a cooking workshop in Cairns. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Chef and My Kitchen Rules host Pete Evans at a cooking workshop in Cairns. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

"Everything is about balance. Once we have our nutrition under control those other killers of health don't seem so daunting. We tend to have the energy or capacity to explore those other things once we change what we eat. I always say start with the nutrition and the rest will come easily.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there about finding what works for yourself. Cannabis is just one option for people."