Chef Seamus Mullen: Sharing ways to eat right for a better you


The old saying, you are what you eat is becoming more apparent. Chef Seamus Mullen talks food, clean eating and a new way to sweeten recipes.

Have you ever woken up and felt blah. Thinking about the food you ate, was there a reason for that feeling in the pit of your stomach? Could the over-processed, manufactured foods be the cause of that feeling? Eating better for you foods can help anyone feel better.

Seamus Mullen, awarding winning chef, restaurateur and culinary personality, is testament to eating better. As chronicled in his highly acclaimed book, Real Food Heals: Eat to Feel Younger + Stronger Everyday, he shares recipes, his personal journey and commentary on delicious, healthy cooking. After battling a chronic, inflammatory auto-immune disease, Mullen took to the kitchen to help alleviate his struggles with the autoimmune disorder. Through clean eating, healthy food choices and flavorful recipes, Mullen is a prime example of good, healthy living starts with good, healthy eating.

Chef Seamus Mullen, photo provided by Colin Clark

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Seamus Mullen about better food choices, healthy cooking and finding easy ways to eat right. Below are my thoughts and insights from that conversation.

While many people understand the need to eat better, sometimes a big push can set them onto a different path. Mullen’s healthy crisis set him on the road to re-think his eating habits. Even a professional chef can succumb to the quick and easy foods that may not be the best healthy choices. When traditional treatments did not have a significant impact, Mullen turned to food as a way to heal his body. What he found was that food can and does heal both the body and soul.

With his knowledge of Spanish cuisine and upbringing on a farm, Mullen transformed his diet by using fresh ingredients. Although some people in the food industry denote healthy food as boring food, it doesn’t have to be. Mullen used the ideas of a flavor compass to prove that healthy food is delicious food.

Lamb Shank Braised in Sunsweet Prune Juice, recipe by Chef Seamus Mullen, photo provided by Colin Clark

Looking at Mullen’s recipes, he incorporates the idea that each dish should have four points, like a compass. The idea of sweet, salt, sour and spicy flavors balance each other to create a balanced, composed bite. But, these components come from natural ingredients, not processed ones.

While many people instantly think a sweet component comes from adding sugar to a dish, that thought isn’t the only option. Other naturally sweet ingredients can add the sweetness without the refined sugar. One example is prunes.

Granted, some people wince at the word prunes. Although some people still connote the dried fruit with their grandpa, prunes can be used in all types of recipes to add sweetness to a dish. Many other cuisines, like Spanish and African cuisines, use prunes as the sweet element to balance a recipe.

To get people to rediscover or re-think their opinion about prunes, Chef Seamus Mullen created a few recipes to add this nutrient dense fruit into anyone’s diet. One easy recipe for even the inexperienced cook to try is his Broccoli Rabe recipe.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe, recipe by Chef Seamus Mullen, photo provided by Colin Clark

"Sauteed Broccoli RabePrep Time: 10 minutesCook Time: 10 minutesIngredients• 2 Tbsp olive oil• 2 bunches of broccoli rabe• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced• 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar• 1 cup Sunsweet® Amaz!n™ Prunes, thinly sliced• Salt & pepper to taste• 1/2 cup slivered almondsInstructions• In a large, deep pan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the broccoli rabe until it starts to wilt and soften, about 3 minutes.• Add the garlic, reduce the heat to medium and continue to sauté until the garlic softens, but doesn’t brown, about 2 more minutes. Add the white wine vinegar and prunes and sauté 3 more minutes.• Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with slivered almonds and serve immediately.Recipe created by award-winning chef Seamus Mullen."

Everyone knows that she should eat more vegetables. From the health benefits to feeling better, vegetables offer a huge nutritional value. But, who wants to eat plan, steam broccoli rabe every day? Finding various vegetable recipes that make vegetables dynamic is key.

Mullen’s recipe using the Sunsweet Prunes adds a punch of flavor without a negative nutritional aspect. The balance of the sweetness from the prunes with the punch of sautéed garlic and white wine vinegar makes the broccoli rabe side dish quite flavorful and far from boring. When healthy food isn’t boring, more people will want to eat healthier.

Also, this type of recipe is easy to make. With just a few ingredients and minimal time, a delicious and healthy side dish is on the table. This side dish is definitely not your grandfather’s prunes.

As home cooks become more confident or adventurous in their cooking, they can explore other ways to incorporate bold flavors into a variety of meals. Options like Chef Seamus Mullen’s Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Turmeric and Pistachios or Lamb Shank Braised in Sunsweet Prune Juice are flavorful, healthy, nutrient dense recipes that even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy. These recipes show that healthy, good for you food can is easy to make with minimal effort.

Many people gravitate to non-healthy choices out of convenience. Sure that prepackaged bar might be quick and easy, but is that afternoon sugar crash worth the convenience. Nutrient dense, yet convenient snacks are available. People just need to re-think their perception of food.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Turmeric and Pistachios, recipe by Chef Seamus Mullen, photo provided by Colin Clark

For example, many people grab a protein bar to refuel after a workout. While that option is convenient, other unprocessed foods that are just as nutrient dense are available. Some Sunsweet prunes with a little almond butter can pack a huge nutritional punch.

Mullen suggested this swap for my competitive swimmer children. My kids are adventurous eaters and are usually up for anything. They liked the sweetness of this post-swim snack and dipping the prunes in the almond butter was a huge plus. More importantly, they said that this snack didn’t hit their stomach as hard. While they were satisfied, they felt more energized.

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That type of feeling is the whole point behind eating right. When food makes you feel better, people want to continue to eat healthy. Everyone has reasons for eating right. From a better athletic performance to improving overall health, food has a huge impact on your body, how it responds and how you feel.

Of course, there will be days when ice cream calls from the freezer aisle. No one is saying that certain foods are forever banished from your lips. Understanding how food impacts your body can help lead to smart choices, even when that guilty pleasure calls.

After speaking with Chef Seamus Mullen, my family has incorporated more healthy options into our cooking and food choices. I eat right because my body feels its best with better food choices.

Why do you eat right? Share your thoughts on why you eat right or why you want to eat right.