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Celebrity Health – Theo Michaels

TV Chef Theo Michaels talks to Liz Parry about his love of healthy cooking and his new healthy food collaboration

TV Chef Theo Michaels first appeared on our screens in 2014 as a contestant on the BBC show MasterChef. In 2022 and 2023, he returned as a judge on the show, and is a regular guest on programmes such as ITV's This Morning and BBC Morning Live. Theo, who lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children, has published eight best-selling cookbooks. He is an Executive Chef for an international events company and co-owns a coffee and waffle house in Hertfordshire.

Q You come from a Greek Cypriot background. Was food and cooking a big part of your life from an early age?

Theo: I think when you've got that Mediterranean blood in your veins then food is just part of your DNA. I know some chefs will say, 'I had this epiphany and got into food', but for our family everything has always been centred around the dinner table.

Other people say, 'When I was a kid I used to help my mum in the kitchen.' But the reality for Greek families is that you stay away from the kitchen as much as possible, otherwise you're given a job straight away! Food is just ingrained in the culture. Everyone sitting around the table, eating together; that's what it's all about.

Q Were you taught to cook as a child?

Theo: I would say that I learned by osmosis – I'm not formally trained at all. I learned through being in that environment. You'd naturally learn how to cook dishes, you'd naturally get involved and you'd pick things up from a really young age. You just learn; it's almost like an informal apprenticeship.

Q You recently collaborated with SmarterNaturally to develop a series of healthy recipes. Tell us about this.

Theo: SmarterNaturally have created a great product, which is a soup based on a super-strain of broccoli. After reading the research behind the health benefits, I was sold on how beneficial the soup is for maintaining a healthy metabolism and supporting your body. My role was to get creative and come up with new recipes using the soup, but without cooking it because we didn't want to reduce its effectiveness. We have a Smoked Haddock with Cheddar Broccoli Sauce, a Thai Green Curry and a Sun Blushed Tomato and Walnut Pesto Rigatoni. They are full of flavour as well as being type 2 diabetes-friendly.

Q Do you have any simple tips for how to make everyday meals a bit healthier?

Theo: My first tip would be to try cooking from scratch and avoiding processed foods. I'm by no means naive to the reality of modern life though. We've got three kids under 14, I work, my wife works, and we have a busy life, so it's hard to find the time. Meal planning can be really helpful. Planning your meals for the week ahead removes the headache of trying to choose what you're going to have for dinner. This means you cut your food spend, you're buying less, you're wasting less and you're eating more healthily. I'd also recommend substituting meat in certain dishes. So, for instance, if you're doing a spaghetti bolognese, use less meat and instead top the dish up with a can of lentils or beans. They're an incredible source of fibre and protein and they just disappear into the dish. Also, don't waste the leftovers. Make use of them the next day.

Q What are your must-have store cupboard ingredients?

Theo: Well, going back to my Greek roots, I'd be an outcast if I didn't say a good quality olive oil! Also, tinned ingredients, such as tins of tomatoes, lentils and beans are great. You don't have to worry about soaking them the night before as all that's been done for you. A good selection of spices is a really good thing to invest in and can take you to different places with your cooking. So, curry powder and turmeric for India, smoked paprika for Latin America and maybe some Chinese Five spice for Asia.

Q Have you passed on your love of cooking to your own children?

Theo: Yes. Cooking is an important life skill. I put it in the same bucket as teaching the kids how to swim, for instance. We read and hear so much about obesity, diabetes and heart problems, and so many of these health issues come down to having a poor diet and being overweight. So, for me, teaching kids to cook is hugely important. It's our responsibility as parents, as schools and as institutions.

To find out more about SmarterNaturally and to try Theo's recipes, visit For more info on Theo, visit

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