RED BANK: EATING ‘CLEAN’ TO SAVE HER LIFE

Amie Valpone returns Monday to Red Bank’s Front St. Trattoria, where she once waited tables, to promote “Eating Clean,” her memoir and cookbook. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Valpone_EatingCleanAmie Valpone was a healthy woman in her early 20’s when a cascade of ailments began, taking her to the brink of death.

Battling numerous diseases and beyond the help of conventional medicine, Valpone said she spent most of the following decade curing herself through better eating — and clearing her body of toxins.

Now 33, she’s chronicled her journey in a new book, titled “Eating Clean,” which tells the the story of “how food saved my life,” Valpone told PieHole last week.Carrot FettuccineAmie Valpone’s gluten-free carrot fettucine. The author, below. (Click to enlarge)

amie valpone1On Monday, the book brings the former Spring Lake resident back to the Front St. Trattoria in Red Bank, where she spent her high school and college years waiting tables.

Her troubles began not long after college, when she was working at a new job in marketing, with a sudden, severe swelling of her legs. She wound up in the emergency room, and not long after received a scary diagnosis: she was told she had leukemia.

She didn’t: that diagnosis was quickly withdrawn, only to be replaced with another focussed on her white blood cell count. Meanwhile, her muscles ached, her belly distended, and her energy drained away, conditions that persisted for months and years. Doctors had diagnoses for the individual ailments — malnutrition, Lyme disease, C-diff Colitis, hyperthyroidism — but no explanation for why it was all happening.

They were “utterly without a conclusive diagnosis,” Valpone said. She ended up “nearly bedridden,” she said, and once had a crisis that doctors told her brought her within 24 hours of death.

So she decided to do what anyone of her generation would do: take a deep dive into Google in the hopes of educating herself.

“No one could figure it out,” she said. “I wanted to get to the heart of it. I was determined to figure it out.”

Soon, her focus turned to removing gluten, refined sugars, pesticide-laced vegetables and other harmful substances from her diet.

“It took another seven years to figure out how to be healthy,” she said. “But I figured out how to eat in a better way, and ended up healing my body.”

Her time at the Trattoria — which is owned by her aunt and uncle, Valerie and Michael Aufiero —  inspired her to get involved in recipe development and nutrition as a means of curing herself, she said.

Now a culinary nutritionist, Valpone blogs about healthy eating at her Healthy Apple website, where she adds a new recipe every week.

Her 400-page book mixes memoir with advice on how to do a 21-day cleanse and eat healthy.
It also includes more than 200 recipes that forego gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, refined sugar and processed foods.

“I only used whole foods in this cookbook to help people learn how to get back to basics and eat whole foods again to fight inflammation,” she said.

There’s even guidance on how to detox your cleaning supplies, beauty products, personal care products and home.

Monday’s event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and includes a book signing and recipe sampling. The Trattoria is at 31 West Front Street, and tickets ($26.62 to $36.87) may be purchased in advance here.

Here’s a recipe from the book:

Coastal Carrot “Fettuccine” with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pumpkin Seeds
Serves 4
In this dish, the “fettuccine” is actually made from carrots shredded into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. I think you’ll be surprised at how much it tastes like the real thing. The sauce clings to the ribbons, giving each bite a delectable, earthy flavor.
 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 ½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, divided
3 large rainbow or orange carrots, peeled
1 cup Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted, for garnish
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant,about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the basil and sauté until the tomatoes burstand release their juices, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the carrots into ribbons, using either a spiral slicer (aka spiralizer) or a vegetable peeler (this is easiest when you hold the carrot down on a flat surface).
Add the carrots, Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce, paprika, salt, and pepper to the pan, and cook until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with the remaining ½ tablespoon basil and the pumpkinseeds before serving.