“IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO SEE EATING HEALTHY AS SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY FUN,” SAYS RENS KROES, AUTHOR OF BEST-SELLING BOOKS Power Foods and her latest pocket-sized health foodie manual Power Foods On The Go. “Look at the ingredients and make sure you know what you are eating,” continues Kroes. “You’ll find you’ll have so much energy and feel so much better that you won’t want anything unhealthy anymore.” Taking one glance at the Dutch beauty’s glowing skin and megawatt smile is enough to convert any junk food junkie. (Good genes run the family–Kroes’ mother was a nutritionist, her grandfather was an organic farmer, her grandmother was an herbalist and supermodel sister Doutzen is a fixture in the fashion world.) A wellness superstar in her home country, recently Kroes hopped the pond to the States and is now expanding her empire to the Big Apple. We caught up with the Netherlands native in her kitchen where she whipped us a cauliflower tempeh stir-fry and chatted her daily routine, her lifelong commitment to spirulina and the importance of staying in the now.
Photos by Sasha Israel
How did your journey into power foods and using food as a healer begin?
My granddad was the first organic farmer of the north part of the Netherlands. Back in the day there were no pesticides but after the war, it was really common. My grandfather knew it bad for the soil. He really wanted to support all of the organic farms as well so he started one. My grandmother is also an herbalist – she knew everything about every herb.
So it’s in your DNA!
Yes, and my mother is a nutritionist. Every time she’d put something on a plate, she’d be like “It’s good for you!” And then she’d explain why. We grew up with bee pollen and tahini. Everyday, I took like four supplements of spirulina. I never got into unhealthy food. We never went to a McDonald’s or fast food places. I was not really interested, either. She was like, “Yeah, you can go, but not with me”.
What types of food did you grow up with?
Tahini with honey and sourdough bread because my great-grandfather was a baker and he had amazing breads. My mother always told me that this is the best bread. She used mashes of kale with potatoes. We ate a lot of tofu.
What do you miss food-wise, having been here for a little over a month from Amsterdam?
Fermented cabbage – sauerkraut! The good ones are in the Netherlands.
Did you go through a phase in your teens or early 20s where you “veered off the path” in your healthy eating?
No, we were so aware about what food does to you and how important it is. Of course sometimes I ate a packet of chips that were 45 cents but I never got out of control.
Take me through your morning routine.
I start with a shower and dry-brushing. It’s good for the circulation in my body. Then I drink warm water with lemon. I love it, I feel it’s a good start for the day and it makes me feel good. I don’t even know if it helps but it just gives me a boost. And then I’ll make coffee and breakfast. I do Bulletproof coffee most of the time with almond milk or oat milk. I love oat milk, I make it myself. I don’t do cow milk because it doesn’t really feel good for me. I know that raw milk can be good but I can’t find it anywhere.
So you have your coffee and what is for breakfast and lunch?
Sometimes a smoothie, sometimes coconut yogurt with all kinds of fruit and homemade granola. Or pumpkin porridge with applesauce – I love it so much, especially right now. Here in New York City, you can buy the pumpkin puree and don’t have to make it yourself. We don’t have it in the Netherlands and you have to make it yourself, it’s a whole process. Then I have a snack like some fruit, a handful of nuts or something easy like a muffin. Then I’ll have lunch, which is, most of the time, salad or a sandwich or something like this made the night before because I love to do that. I love to make big portions so I can use it the next day. Most of the time I have some leftovers and I’ll make a salad. Throughout the day, I like to drink green juices.
What does dinner look like?
I love curries, soups or leftovers again – something easy. I really love to empty my fridge before I go to the grocery store again, which is hard for me because I’m always cooking so I’m eating a lot as well. I’m like, “I need to finish this!”. It’s good food but sometimes the body needs to rest, too. Sometimes I’ll do cleanses because I’m eating too much.
You just moved to New York, do you have any new favorite health spots?
I love Wild Ginger, Siggy’s and Le Botaniste.
What would a cleanse look like?
It’s for 3 to 5 days of only juices without any fruit. I use psyllium husks to help the digestive system continue working – I think it’s important. It makes you feel full as well which is good because you won’t feel as hungry. As for supplements, I always use Vitamin D3 and Magnesium – especially because now I have two companies and there’s a lot of stress so it’s not easy. I still have my office in Amsterdam and in the morning I have a lot of emails so I’m like, “Okay, magnesium will help!” Because when you have stress, it takes magnesium out of your body so that’s important. I’m taking Nature’s Way DIM-plus right now for extra estrogen because I just want to balance it out and do a lot of weights when working out.
What about self care? What’s important to you and why is it important for your health?
I love massages because I’m always sitting. People don’t realize but I’m on the computer a lot. It’s not really healthy and these chairs aren’t good so I feel it. I think everyone should do those things because it’s really important. I also love to do yoga!
When you’re traveling, how do you prepare what you are going to eat?
I prepare good food, creams and moisturizers to put on my face. I have three supplements of Vitamin C that I use for on the plane. Every hour, the airplane takes Vitamin C out of you. And a lot of water. Flying is so bad for you.
Do you care about clean and nontoxic beauty?
Yes, I use Dr. Hauschka, Weleda’s Rose Day Cream– it’s very thick and it’s good because the weather is getting colder and it’s also nice to use on planes. I also love their body wash. I love RMS lip color and their nail polish. I bring it to the nail salon with me. I also have Essa Organics and I use the scrub from them and their face cleanser.
I think people are finally catching on how bad and toxic some stuff is.
People are just becoming more aware, overall. Also with exercising, people are more aware of their bodies so that’s good. But there’s still so much obesity in the world and there’s more and more so we have to do something about that. I hope to help just a little bit but it’s still hard. I think the teenagers are becoming more aware, too. It’s so important but there’s still so much insecurity because a lot of models are so skinny. They’ll say they workout when they actually don’t and I’m like “Why would you give them a wrong answer?” Or they’ll say they are eating so healthy when they also sometimes cheat – just be honest! There are just so many insecurities going on, especially with social media but I can’t focus on it. I’m just trying to provide an option for people.
As far as spirituality, do you have any interest in that? Do you meditate?
I just started to meditate. I went to a lecture from Abraham she was telling me I should meditate because it’s really important so I’m doing that now. Sometimes I forget but I also believe throughout the day to remember to be in-the-now. I grew up with The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I got into that when I was nineteen. I really believe in the universe and that you can make things happen if you really want to by focusing on it and just being happy and having a good heart. When you have a good heart, things will come easily – easier than when you have too much pain inside of you. It took time for me to realize this.
How did you overcome that struggle?
When I was nineteen or twenty, I was struggling with myself a lot – with who I was and who I wanted to become. Obviously, everyone has to go through that but I was very aware of it and I wanted to change it so badly. It took me eight years to really realize who I was. I’m 30 now and I still don’t know who I am but there was a point when I was around 28 when I started feeling really comfortable with myself. When you become older, you just don’t care as much about losing weight or what other people think of you. I figured out which circle of people I was hanging out with so I chose to let some people go and some people in – the people I really loved. I remember I used to try to please people so much and it took so much energy from me and I didn’t really get that back. I realized that I needed to have some boundaries and that felt so much better.