Discover Benelux, Issue 76, April/May 2020

Page 44

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Pascale Naessens

three hours, but was actually quick,” grins Naessens. “I love to cook, but I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen when I could be with friends or my husband.” As the author points out, creating a convivial food experience can be just as important as what we are actually putting into our mouths. “I remember being at the kitchen table with family when I was young. It’s not the food I remember, but being with family. Those are precious memories,” she recalls. “Obviously, I love going to a restaurant once in a while, but cooking for friends and family at home is just so special. I lay everything out on the table and people can pick what they want. The atmosphere is way better.”

Bon vivant You could certainly describe Naessens as a ‘bon vivant’, and the perfect antidote to the myth that healthy eating is ‘boring’ or ‘tasteless’. The author only follows one rule when it comes to dining, and that is that she never combines fast carbohydrates and proteins. “All my dishes begin with vegetables as a base. And then you can choose whether to add fish, meat, cheese or carbohydrates,” she explains. “We used to go out in nature and eat what we found — we didn’t mix everything. Now, we live in a world of plenty and we buy everything we want all together. But if you put everything together you only have one taste.” 44  |  Issue 76  |  April/May 2020

Changing lives For Naessens, it is all about eating simply, and having respect for your body and your food. “When you see people eating better, they are happier, they have more energy,” she enthuses, adding that many people falsely think that eating healthy is restrictive or too much effort. “It’s funny, because people think they are free to eat what they want. But then you ask them what they eat in a week and it’s just bread, potatoes… It’s always the same — and its sugar,” says the author. “They also think it’s a lot of work to eat healthily, but all they have to do is

buy more fresh ingredients. Then, once you have them at home it only takes ten minutes to make a very nice meal.” Because Naessens’ recipes are so simple and accessible, she has managed to encourage even the most reluctant of cooks to change their approach to food. This is something, quite rightly, that she is very proud of. “I’ve changed a lot of eating habits in Belgium, and also in Holland over the last few years. I didn’t plan this, but now I’m like ‘Oh my God, look what happened!’ It’s so rewarding.”