It’s only fair that on Valentine’s Day we serve up some serious eye candy for our Sporty Brother of the Week segment. Say hello to healthy heartthrob Dan Churchill. This former MasterChef contestant has been taking Australia (and the world) by storm with his healthy cooking ways and sheer passion to ignite change in the way we feel about food. Just like us, Dan doesn’t dig the “D” word. Of course we’re referring to “dieting”. He believes life is meant to be lived, not spent counting how many calories are on our plate. Now this is a philosophy we wholeheartedly believe in… Abundant living all the way!
So with a whole lotta knowledge under his belt and a burning passion to get the world active and healthy, Dan is already writing four more books, along with appearing at a number of cooking demonstrations, plus a TV show on the horizon – this guy is one to watch.
We were lucky enough to catch Dan before he headed to the States where we got to talking about Active Living, his ultimate Valentine’s Day dish and exciting plans for the future…
MNB: Hi Dan, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
No problem at all. Well I’m 24 and pretty much a typical guy from the northern beaches of Sydney, love the beach, surfing, being active, but I also have a special spot for cooking and food.
MNB: You’re known as The Healthy Cook, so clearly health & wellness is important to you. When was it that you really started becoming passionate about Active Living? What was the ‘uh ha’ moment for you?
Haha yeah I guess when I was growing up being the middle of three brothers in a sport loving family the idea of being active pretty much was a given. I also believe the environment plays a massive part in your activity and being surrounded by the beach, and an amazing atmosphere, the active lifestyle became second nature. I was always into my health and fitness. It began with rugby wanting to train as hard to be the best that I could be to perform for my team. Ideally I had dreams to make it but I guess I wasn’t meant to be a professional athlete.
After high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do, however, I have a philosophy that is to do something because you like it, that way you want to do it and, in turn, are more passionate about it and will succeed, rather than going into something because it may by you a house and you hate it. So, because I loved sport I decided to do a Bachelor in Exercise Science. After that, I wanted more specifics so I went onto complete a Masters in Exercise Science (Strength, Conditioning & Nutrition). It was during this period that I had my “uh ha” moment haha.
MNB: What are you working on this year? Any major goals you would like to hit out of the ballpark?
Well I am completing 4 books this year in The Healthy Cook Series, I am also filming in Thailand, South Africa, UK, but by the end of the year I want my show up and running in the US. I am off to the UK & US to perform proceedings early February.
MNB: What are some food misconceptions that really get under your skin?
Well for one I absolutely hate, and I mean hate, the word diet. It almost makes me cringe every time I hear someone refer to it. For me, at least, it reflects restriction. Restrictions force your body to build up hormones that play a negative roll in your internal state. So weight loss is affected along with cellular functioning.
Don’t get me wrong, you obviously have to learn to eat in moderation but if you do it right you can have chocolate and pizza, both of which actually promote the release serotonin and endorphins that promote so many benefits to optimal functioning.
For example, say your 40 but you look and act 28, first off congratulations but this just shows your age number means nothing. Same with calories. Yes I understand the technical aspect of calories in versus calories out, but if you look at the big picture of sitting down to a meal and having to do maths before you eat… that just sucks! Just eat it. Instead I always say if there is colour on your plate with protein and more fat content than carbs then you are killing it.
Don’t get me wrong, some people work better this way, however I find most of the time it is not realistic nor sustainable. When we think of ‘healthy’, the attention totally turns to nutrition and activity, which does help you to become healthier but doesn’t necessarily mean that you achieve total wellbeing.
MNB: So it’s Valentine’s Day… what do you cook for her?
I love this question! I always say my Spaghetti Bolognaise, which might be surprising seeing as I am “The Healthy Cook”. But there are reasons: Firstly I absolutely love it, it’s one of my favourite meals and I love making the pasta from scratch. Secondly, it’s a good way to get to know the lovely lady as it is not exactly one of the cleanest meals. I love seeing a girl who would just dive in get her fork twirl on and slurp the spaghetti without a care in the world. It shows they are confident, and are comfortable being themselves around me, which is really important. You could say it is a test… but it’s more about the fun. I’m massive on personality so this is a great way to see if there should be a second date
MNB: Okay, so if you had to choose…what would be your top 3 ‘can’t live without’ foods of all time?
Jeez, there are so many, I seriously love a lot of food haha! I would have to say my Spaghetti Bolognaise as a given, it also depends on what I am feeling at the time and right now I am in the biggest Thai phase because I’m gearing up for filming so I have to say Massaman Lamb Curry (with coconut milk and sweet potato not cream and white potato), then definitely a rib eye steak with sweet potato chips… got to have bit of Australia in there!
MNB: How do you MNB on a daily basis?
I train every morning either at the gym, crossfit or at a local park that has bars for resistance. This is always followed by a swim at the beach… best shower ever!! I then hit up a local cafe and do some study and do all my emails, which keeps my cognitive mind intact. Throughout the day I usually have meetings and or testing recipes. In the afternoon I either have that off or hit up some stand up paddling, boxing or go for a run. Got to keep a balanced lifestyle
MNB: What’s the Dan Churchill signature dish?
Well, growing up it was definitely my Bolognaise that everyone loved! However, more recently, people are loving my Mexican efforts like my Fish Tacos, Beef Tortillas with Kale Slaw. For Christmas Eve with the boys I slow cooked two lamb shoulders for 10 hours and between the 8 of us it was gone in 10 minutes.
MNB: Move Nourish Believe is our mantra. Do you have a personal mantra?
I reckon that’s awesome, I have two:
MNB: Best advice you have ever been given??
Admittedly, I have been lucky to have some amazing people in my corner, but one thing I will never forget because I fight it off every day is:
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t achieve anything, especially yourself.”
Because I have had that many doubters in my life, at the end of the day though I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself.
MNB: What does a typical day of MNB’ing look like in your world?
Everyone thinks about being active and eating right and, true, this is a big part, however you must also include down time such as either time for yourself or moments where you relax your body. This is something that only you know because people relax differently. Whether it be a swim, paddle or even running. You must also include cognitive aspects such as reading, tests or games as training your brain improves your body’s efficiency and functional optimisation.
MNB: I’m my happiest… when I’m eating with my friends and family, I get grumpy when I’m hungry haha.
MNB: The one thing I’m really trying hard to do right now is… answer these questions haha, actually it’s to finish my 4th book and filming.
MNB: Bedside book at the moment… It’s actually a travel book on the states I’m looking up the places for cuisine that I’d like to impact and film for.
MNB: Right now I’m listening to… Whiz Khalifa and Kanye West, probably throw a bit of Guy Sebastian in as well.
MNB: My ultimate workout is… The Filthy 50, I love those long WOD’s that incorporate all forms of functional movement.
MNB: If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be & why… Jamie Oliver. I am the cook I am today because I started watching him with my family at 12, I also love his message.
MNB: Any tips you could give to our readers wanting to break into the health industry?
Honestly if you really want to do it, no one else is going to do for you so take the leap. Think to yourself, “is it something I see myself doing long term?” and if it is then go ahead. As I said, if you’re passionate about something, you will want to do it and therefore you are more likely to succeed because you want to perform well. It’s an amazing industry and it can take you anywhere. I didn’t think I would be doing what I am about to do 2 years ago. So, just back yourself.
Dan Churchill’s Healthy Waffle Recipe
Sporty Brother of the Week: Dan Churchill
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: Serves 4
- 1 cup buckwheat flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
- Pinch of salt
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup rice malt syrup (use honey or maple syrup as an alternative)
- Olive oil to grease
- Turn on your waffle machine to heat up referring to the brands instructions.
- Preheat your oven to 130°C.
- In a mixing bowl combine the flour, coconut and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
- Separate your eggs into two bowls. Add the coconut milk and rice malt syrup to the yolks and stir to combine.
- Using an electric beater or a whisk, mix the egg whites to soft peaks.
- Combine the yolk mixture with the dry ingredients and then gently fold a third of the egg whites in. Once combined, add another third and then repeat with remaining whites.
- Brush your waffle press with olive oil to grease. Pour a portion of the waffle batter onto the press and close the lid and allow to cook for 3 minutes or until the steam has evaporated.
- Remove from press once golden brown and place on an oven tray to crisp up for 10-15 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Serve with maple syrup, yoghurt and berries.
*NB – To ensure you really get that nice crunch from the waffles you must put them in the oven after removing them from the waffle press. This removes more moisture and gives a nice golden tinge to the egg whites.
Thanks for hanging out with us Dan, we can’t wait to follow your next healthy chapter!
Daniel Churchill is a health and fitness owner who is passionate about inspiring a healthy, active lifestyle. Having completed a Bachelor in Exercise Science and a Masters in Exercise Science (Strength & Conditioning), Dan is passionate about combining his two loves of fitness and cooking to change the way we approach Active Living. Daniel is already writing four more books along with appearing at a number of demonstrations. Even though still in his early 20′s, Daniel is always looking to the future and hopes to one day be a healthy cook of the world.