Wholesome beauty

Actress-model Emily Lim discovers she is a ‘flexitarian’ after lunching at LivingFood.

IT took one meal and a cordial meeting with Philip Yiin, owner of LivingFood Bistro & Cafe, to convince local actress and top model Emily Lim Pey Chi that she is actually a “flexitarian” – a term befitting her mostly vegetarian diet with the occasional serving of fish or meat.

Pencil-thin with a flawless, glowing complexion, the former Miss Astro Chinese International first runner-up turned quite a few heads as she sashayed into Menara Tan & Tan in Kuala Lumpur. Bystanders probably recognised her from the latest Horlicks television commercial.

Having appeared in countless local and regional advertising campaigns and on the catwalk, Lim is also a much sought-after tele-drama and silver screen actress. Knowing full well her good looks and fit, slender figure are vital in her line of work, she firmly believes in eating well.

“As a model and actress, I have to ensure that I look good,” Lim says. “I remember losing out on modelling and acting jobs last year when I ‘ballooned up’ due to a hormonal imbalance. My skin also broke out in spots. I desperately tried to shed the extra weight through different fad diets and slimming treatments but nothing worked!”

Her equilibrium was eventually restored after she went back to eating small, regular meals, increasing her intake of vegetables and fruits, and undergoing a liver detox programme.

“That was when I began to read and educate myself about diet and nutrition so much so I’m now pursuing a diploma course on the subject,” says Lim. “Since whatever I eat affects my health and mood, I’ve become a more careful eater and avoid consuming refined carbohydrates such as white rice, flour-based products and processed food.”

She listened with rapt attention when Yiin explained to her the philosophy behind LivingFood.

“At LivingFood, we advocate eating whole, pure, raw and sprouted food,” says Yiin. “This means no processed food or anything that contains additives, preservatives or artificial flavours and colours.

“In keeping with the ‘you are what you eat’ adage, we recommend eating holistically. Real, pure food energises and strengthens us physically, makes our minds sharper and thinking clearer. We also want to prove that healthy food can also be delicious.”

The proof’s definitely in the eating. Lim was completely convinced once she sampled the refreshing Arugula Fruit Salad with Brie and Balsamic-Lemongrette Dressing, and crunchy Quinoa Salad with Guacamole and Romaine, recommended by Yiin.

According to him, our diet should consist of only 20% cooked food. “The rest should be eaten raw in its pure state or prepared below 40° Celsius. We also use sprouted nuts and seeds while eggs and dairy are kept to a minimum.”

Commending Yiin on the thin, crispy flaxseed crust topped with chunky homemade tomato sauce and vegetable in the Living Pizza, Lim reveals that one of her favourite food is Hakka lui cha, a traditional ground tea-based gruel mixed with an assortment of chopped vegetables, seeds and nuts. The Malaccan girl of Nyonya descent also relishes spicy food, especially Thai and Peranakan.

“I learned how to cook certain Nyonya dishes from my mother but I find their complex preparation tedious and some traditional dishes too oily for my liking. Luckily, I managed to persuade Mum to cook with grape seed oil; it’s quite costly so she uses it sparingly,” Lim says, gleefully.

Nibbling on the Living Enchilada – a house speciality of corn-flax tortilla with guacamole, sprouts, chopped tomato and vegetable – Lim relates that her breakfast of choice is oats with fruit or muesli.

“I’d usually have salads or a simple sandwich for lunch. Come dinner, I’d opt for some vegetable dishes. Sometimes, I’d make steamed fish with tomato, ginger and chilli or chopped torch ginger flower for better flavour and aroma.”

Surprisingly, she abhors roti canai, chicken rice and potato.

“When I was saving up to buy my first car, I ate roti canai for dinner nightly for one and a half years because it was cheap,” she says, shuddering at the memory.

“Chicken rice is another item I hate because we always eat it whenever we’re filming on location or doing photo shoots. As for potato, I don’t like the floury taste, so I refuse to eat it.”

On what reminded her best of her childhood days, Lim recalls that her mother never allowed her to eat junk food.

“Whenever I got pocket money, I would secretly use it to buy packets of crunchy Mamee instant noodle to snack on,” she says, giggling at the memory.

“The only other treat that I’d get for doing well in my exams was lollypops that double up as whistles. I guess that was what you’d call a sweet reward.”


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