Candice Kumai is a New York based Le Cordon Bleu chef and author who is passionate about nourishing wholefoods, smoothies and juices. After making a name for herself as the youngest chef to compete on the first season of Top Chef, Candice went on to become a major influencer on the healthy food scene in the US.
She regularly gives talks on nutrition at universities and is a contributing editor at Shape magazine and has a column in Men’s Fitness magazine. She’s also a guest judge on Iron Chef America and cookbook author. Candice’s new book, Clean Green Drinks 100+ Recipes To Renew & Restore Your Body and Mind is a beautiful collection nutrient-packed sips.
Oh and did we mention that Adriana Lima is a fan of her smoothies and juices? “Candice’s recipes are delicious and will keep your skin glowing from the inside out,” says Adriana. Hey, if they’re good enough for a supermodel we’re convinced!
How do you start your day?
Every morning I meditate in bed and read a mantra, “clear mind, beautiful day, no drama” which my amazing bestie Rico gave me. I try to channel that as much as possible! I then boil water and have tea.
What does being healthy mean to you?
I think being healthy means finding the perfect balance in your life. Knowing when to say no, when to get more sleep, when to workout, when to see friends, when to call your mum and never taking on too much. Being healthy also means appreciating those around you and the wonderful friends and family members that support you. Without them, I have nothing. I think being grateful is healthy.
How do you nourish your body?
I’m a huge fan of my clean green drinks. I think it’s really important to listen to your body. For instance, today, I already had an avocado and a chocolate green smoothie this morning! Clearly my brain wants happy and delicious monounsaturated fat. And, as a bonus, it all has beauty benefits too!
We know you cook. So what’s your signature healthy dish?
I like to say that I am well versed in Japanese and fresh California cuisine. I don’t really have a “signature dish” as every chef should be a good cook at everything! But anything that entails avocado, salmon, quinoa, soba noodles or miso, with a touch of sriracha [hot sauce] sauce, count me in as a pro!
Any health secrets you swear by?
The concept of hara hatchi bu, which means “80% full” in Japanese. It’s a saying my mother taught me, to never over consume until the point of popping out of our jeans. We only eat until we are 80% full. Satiety and nutrition are two words that I promote heavily in all of my books. And when I eat, I also think is this a “food with benefits” as I call them? I wouldn’t eat a bag of processed chips or soda because it’s really not going to do anything for me. But if I eat an avocado, I know it’s packed with health benefits. So everything you consume should give back to you. That is a rule of thumb I follow.
How do you move your body?
Any natural beauty secrets?
Try my making my Major Moisture Mask! Just mash 1/4 of a ripe avocado in a bowl and stir in one tablespoon plain yoghurt. Apply to your face and leave on for 10 minutes before gently removing with a warm washcloth.
Any tips for bringing more balance into your life?
You can’t let your persona move far from who you are as a person. I found misery when I was focused on the wrong things in my life. I found happiness when I went back to childhood friends, family, my sister’s advice, my mother’s advice, my father’s advice and the truth. I kept my focus on helping to improve lives and sharing information that was useful. I became of good use for others and found happiness in that.
Meditation, manifestation, and hard work, really truly can get you to where you want to be. If you want your own TV show, create your own brand, to become an editor in NYC. Who says you can’t do that? You are the only person to holding you back from achieving your own dreams. Some opportunities only come once in a lifetime, so make it count. Work hard, put your best foot forward, be the best and most authentic you possible! There is a book I recommend for everyone to read, called The Four Agreements. It will help to put everything into perspective for you.
How do you motivate yourself if you’re ever feeling flat and uninspired?
This “flat-slump” happens at least once a week. You have to surround yourself with highly encouraging people. I have notes on my desk, cards from friends in my bathroom, quotes on the wall from Maya Angelou and Eleanor Roosevelt. I read self-help books before bed and try to do something wonderful for a new person every day.
What are your fave stylish active wear essentials?
Do you have a personal mantra or a quote that resonates with you?
I have these sprawled across my bathroom mirrors:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.- Eleanor Roosevelt
“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – Maya Angelou
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Name three things I can’t live without are…
My Mum, my best friends, avocados and chocolate. That’s four, but who’s counting?!