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Eat like a Peruvian: An Interview with Manuel Villacorta

Whole Body Reboot cover“Health is not a diet plan, but a lifestyle. Understand your body, your strengths, and your limits and use this knowledge to make a change. Stop dieting, start living.”
~ Manuel Villacorta

For 20 years, Manuel Villacorta has been helping people improve their life with Peruvian power foods. Now, because of demand increases, these beneficial superfoods are becoming easier to find in supermarkets. This is why he has decided to come out with his new book, Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Super Foods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss (HCI Books).

I’ve been given a review copy and will be writing about my experiences reading it and testing out some of the recipes starting next month. However, in the meantime, I was able to get him to answer a few questions about his book hand his philosophy around eating like a Peruvian.

Carma Spence: What is a superfood?

Manuel Villacorta: There are many definitions of superfoods, and although there is no scientific definition, I define superfoods as hardworking functional foods that far surpass basic nutritional content. They are, quite simply, the cleanest, most powerful, antioxidant-rich, phytonutrient-rich and anti-aging foods available anywhere. And many of these nutrient-rich ingredients happen to come from South America, and more specifically Peru.

CS: Speaking of Peru, what is special about eating like a Peruvian … and why haven’t more Americans heard of this style of cuisine?

MV: Eating like a Peruvian from Lima is very different from eating like someone who is Andean or Amazonian. While the cuisine from Lima has fallen into a very westernized pattern, those from the Andes and Amazon regions have been eating the same foods for hundreds of years. However, only recently has the research on native foods such as lacuma, pichuberries and camu camu, to name a few, surfaced. American aren’t familiar with adopting such a diet because the research is still new.

Lacuna
Peruvian superfoood - Lacuna

Canistel-2” by Jim Conrad – JIM CONRAD’S NATURALIST NEWSLETTER. Written in the community of 28 de Junio and issued from a ciber 8 kms to the west in Pujiltic, Chiapas, MÉXICO. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Pichuberry
Peruvian superfoood - pichuberry

Image from Arizona Herb Association via flickr.com under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Camu Camu
Peruvian superfoood - Camu camu

“Camucamu seeds”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

CS: If this research is so new, what inspired you to develop Whole Body Reboot now?

MV: I began this approach to weight loss and lifestyle change with my clients, incorporating Peruvian superfoods into their everyday lives. The smoothie plan is how I start all of my willing participants and those who give it a try immediately reap the benefits. This book’s purpose is to spread this lifestyle regime, marrying the ideas of home-cooking and health.

CS: The book talks about a detox reboot. What does that mean? How is it different that the many detox programs people are more familiar with?

MV: The difference between the two terms, to me, is that detox claims the removal of unwanted chemicals in the body; while reboot suggests the feeling your body experiences when you give it a break from the constant stress we put onto our bodies through the food choices we make.

My 5-day reboot plan consists of five smoothies with different colored fruits and vegetables featured each day so that your body receives the widest array of nutrients while revitalizing the cells. By giving your body these much-needed nutrients, you will begin to feel cleaner, more focused, and you will lose weight.

Given that no one food, herb or remedy has the ability to cure ailments or disease, nor does it have the ability to ‘detox’ the body (that’s the liver’s job), I have followed the reboot with several customized and delicious Peruvian-inspired 7-day meal plans that you mix and match to your tastes and needs, whether you are male or female, an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, or you follow a gluten-free lifestyle.

CS: Are all the recipes in your book Peruvian?

MV: No. The recipes all contain Peruvian superfoods, but each recipe is inspired by a variety of cuisines. Some are Peruvian, some are Thai, and much more are American-influenced. For instance, I recreated a waffle recipe into sweet potato waffle. I take traditional foods and make them more flavorful and healthier.

CS: You mention sweet potato, which is one of the 21 superfoods. It is so simple, I find it surprising that it is a superfood. Will other superfoods be surprising?

MV: Absolutely! Although many of these foods were presented in my last book, Peruvian Power Foods, I have added potent guests to this list, hoping to enlighten the American public of a wider array of nutrients. However unique and unfamiliar the food, I decided to stick to foods that were attainable in the United States.

For example, while pichuberry is still very new here in the U.S., it can now be purchased in mainstream markets like Bristol Farms, Safeway, Whole Foods and Vons in California, Arizona, and Nevada. It can also be purchased online and shipped anywhere in the country. The pichuberry is possibly one of the greatest superfruits available in the United States.

CS: Since you start Whole Body Reboot with a detox and provide meal plans, would you consider it a diet book?

MV: No, my book is not a diet book, and it is definitely not a fad or a gimmick. This book is more so a lifestyle approach to sustainable, long-term health. It gives my readers the ability to develop skills and knowledge that will help carry them on through the years, in the most independent way.

CS: Why should someone pick up a copy of your book over other Peruvian cookbooks?

MV: Not only do I offer 135 recipes, but I offer individualized 7-day meal plans that the reader can pick and choose from. I also provide health advice, given that I am much more of a dietitian than a cook. I tell the reader why eating these foods are beneficial, not just how to cook them. However, just because I am a dietitian does not mean I kill flavor for health. Rather, I marry the two and this book is their journey together.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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  1. Pingback: Embracing the Lessons of Food: An Interview with Dawn Lerman - Carma's Cookery

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