When I asked Rosemary about being vegetarian, she quickly quipped back, “I prefer thinking of myself as a nutritarian who follows a whole-food plant-based diet.” Now you are probably already asking yourself, “What is a nutritarian?” The term was coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman in one of his many books including Eat to Live. Nutritarians base food choices on nutrient density – preferring foods high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Vegans’ focus is avoiding animal products, whereas a nutritarian optimises healthy foods choices. For example, a pile of highly processed sugar-laden foods might be vegan, but a piece of salmon would be a more nutritious choice.
Rosemary Schmid’s ‘Healthy Living’ journey began in earnest at the tender age of 14. “I hated the smell of cooking meat. I would go sit outside whilst my mom made dinner. The combination of summer temperatures, no extractor fan and the smell of meat didn’t work for me.” Knowing she would have to prove herself to her parents, Rosemary started researching and experimenting with various vegetarian dishes like lentil moussaka. “I was very lucky because my parents were supportive of me, and my mother loved having me in the kitchen. I also feel fortunate now because I was naturally interested in nutrient rich foods, even at a young age. I could have resorted to eating lots of bread but because of my reading and the desire to cook, I learned a lot about being a healthy vegetarian. I’ve always gravitated towards healthy foods.”
Her journey continues and has recently expanded, as Rosemary shares her expertise creating new delicious recipes for Green Vitamin, a local online health food store. Her creations have been an instant success. She has perfected concoctions like kale pesto and cocoroons (coconut macaroons) in three flavors: chocolate, cinnamon and strawberry. In the past year, she has also taken the leap to teach a few classes on raw foods; her most sought-after class is raw chocolate.
Rosemary manages her time well, spending her Sundays cooking, prepping and using her favourite appliances, the food processor/Thermomix and the Vita-mix. She says, “I couldn’t live without the ability to process nuts and seeds for granolas, nut milk, my special carrot muffins, crackers, chocolate and smoothies. Much of my diet depends on my food processor or blender.” She does have a favourite item amongst that list which is her daily fruit and kale smoothie with coconut kefir. She is also adept at fermenting and regularly makes kombucha, coconut yoghurt and sauerkraut.
Even though Rosemary spends a lot of time in the kitchen, she still has days where she needs to whip up something quickly. Her go-to meal is quinoa pasta with chunks of pumpkin and broccoli coated with her favourite kale pesto, though she often throws beetroot, carrot and greens into her Thermomix for a quick salad.
For the times Rosemary is under the weather, she turns to natural healing where her interest began at the age of 14. “Somehow, I just knew I didn’t want to take medication. I have a family history of type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s (thyroid disease) and celiac. I just did not want to end up dealing with those conditions after seeing family members suffer.” She goes on to say, “In times of stress we often forget about the importance of our own health, which I did, not so long ago. This led to my thyroid going out of balance. Luckily by making changes to my diet I could balance it again and avoid medication. This continues to prove to me how important it is to ‘feed our genes’ the best food available. Her practitioners of choice in Hong Kong include Dr. Alen Liaw and Dr. Michael Back of IMI, Dr. Alessio Savona at the Stanley Wellness Centre, and Dr. Howard Liu. When she finds herself needing a boost, a visit to an osteopath or chiropractor brings her back into balance.
Rosemary has also found her diet hasn’t limited anything she has wanted to do over the seven years she has been in Hong Kong. She enjoys salads at Life Cafe and is very happy to see the new wave of healthy eating options in Hong Kong. She enjoys Indian curries and other vegetarian Asian foods despite being gluten and dairy intolerant, which can make ordering more challenging with Asian sauces and ghee.
An avid self-educator on health, she continues to have goals for both practising and learning about new methods of healthy living. This includes attending an Indian retreat on pranayama (a type of yoga focused on breathing) and meditation. She fancies the idea of being able quiet her mind – a constant challenge for her. Swimming, yoga, running retreats and cooking new healthy recipes are on her list of things to accomplish.
Conscious Eating by Doctor Gabrielle Cousins
Eat to Live by Doctor Joel Fuhrmann
Immune System Recover Plan by Susan Blum
The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman
Everyday Raw Gourmet by Matthew Kenney