Founder of Couverture & The Garbstore
In your opinion, what does it mean to be healthy?
To be free of disease and to look after your body by eating well, exercising and resting (which we don’t do enough of!).
Do you follow any specific way of eating? E.g. are you vegetarian? Or a raw foodist? Do you follow a Paleo diet, etc? Can you explain a bit about why?
Since having breast cancer I have cut several things out of my diet as well as adding in things, but I don’t follow a known diet.
Why is it important for you to feel (and look) healthy? Is there a back-story to why you eat the way you do?
The scare of cancer has made me strive to feel as good and as strong as I can. Also signs of ageing are a big incentive!
The scare of cancer has made me strive to feel as good and as strong as I can.
What foods or groups of foods (if any) do you avoid? And why?
I avoid the following:
Red meat (due to hormones)
Dairy (due to hormones)
Sugar (due to high glycemic levels)
White flour, white rice, white pasta and white potatoes (converts to sugar and has no goodness in it)
Anything with anything artificial in it!
Do you cook every day? If not, how do you fit cooking into your weekly routine?
I used to cook every day but now have some help during the week. It is hard when you can’t just grab something quickly from the fridge. I do have to manage the food shopping to make sure I always have masses of fresh vegetables at any time. I make a fresh juice every other day (enough to keep for the next day). Preparation for supper mostly has to be done before the kids are home from school.
What’s your shopping routine? Farmers’ market, grocery store, online?
I usually do two Ocado shops and one Riverford Organic delivery a week. This is supplemented with trips to Planet Organic and a local fish shop. Sometimes I make it to the local farmers’ market (time permitting).
What do you think are the most nutritious foods and how do you fit them in to your diet and life?
Juicing has become very important to me and makes a difference to how I feel. I make sure that for every meal, two-thirds of my plate is loaded with vegetables or salad. I also think it is important to have protein and good carbs. I eat many more beans/lentils than I used to. I eat brown carbs (brown rice, buckwheat, spelt barley instead of risotto, quinoa, etc). I eat lots of nuts and seeds, too – adding them to muesli, porridge and salads.
I eat organic wherever possible. I buy meat that is grass-fed and fish that is wild (not farmed). When baking I use wholegrain flours and substitute butter for coconut oil. I have now started cooking much more with coconut oil (The Higher Nature make is tasteless, so good for savoury things).
I make sure that for every meal, two-thirds of my plate is loaded with vegetables or salad.
Do you cook and eat the same types of foods as your children? How do you satisfy their “kiddie” palate and still keep them on a balanced diet?
This is not easy but my kids are a bit older now so they are doing well with mostly eating as I do (we all eat together in the evenings). I have found quite a few treats that are not bursting with sugar and colourings/flavourings – there seem to be so many more options available now. However at the weekends they do have some more kid-friendly foods, like pizza.
How much emphasis do you put on your children’s nutrition? What is most important to you about what goes in their little bodies?
I would love to be able to control what they eat all the time but it just isn’t possible and I don’t want to create a situation where as soon as my back is turned they are stuffing their faces with crisps and Mars bars! I make sure that at home they have a good balance.
During the week we will eat fish one night, chicken one night, beans one night, lentils one night, eggs one night, and tofu (I sneak silken tofu into things so they don’t notice!). Always served with veg and salad. They love a homemade pesto made with spinach, basil, cashew nuts and pecorino cheese.
Occasionally we eat organic lamb (the only red meat I eat). I am trying to convert them to sheep’s cheese rather than cow’s (sheep only eat grass so are not pumped with hormones or fed any rubbish). I make them healthy pancakes with good flours, egg and rice milk (with added calcium). They eat Xylitol or coconut brown sugar as a sugar substitute. They only have wholegrain brown bread at home.
What is your optimal breakfast?
Avocado, egg, rye toast and roasted seeds on top.
How do you try and stay on track when you travel?
This is very hard! I take lots of healthy snacks with me and just try to stick to fish, rice and veg when eating out. If I can take a juicer with me, I do!
What are your favourite snacks?
Clearspring rice crackers, tamari-roasted almonds, nut butter on oat cakes, and Nakd fruit/nut bars.
Are there any cookbooks you couldn’t live without?
Raw for Dessert, by Jennifer Cornbleet
The Guilt-Free Gourmet, by Jordan and Jessica Bourke
Honestly Healthy for Life, by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson
Babycakes, by Erin McKenna
What is your food routine? Do you eat 3 conventional meals per day or do you have smaller portions throughout the day?
I do eat three meals a day as I have to fit a busy schedule in. I love having a green tea after lunch every day.
When you go out to dinner, how do you navigate the menu? What are your tips for healthy eating at restaurants?
I tend to ask if things have sugar or dairy in (many Asian fusion places have sugar in their dishes, which is annoying). I don’t eat meat and never have pudding (which is so hard as I have a very sweet tooth!). I have yet to find some restaurants that make it easy and a pleasure to eat out.
What is the hardest part of the day for you to avoid temptation?
I always need something sweet after lunch and supper so have a supply of raw, dairy, sugar-free chocolate in the cupboard. I have also found some great recipes for lovely healthy puddings so try to make one at the weekends. I love CoYo (coconut yoghurt), and pile this on fruit.
Are there any specific food brands you love? Because of what they stand for or just the food they offer?
I like Clearspring for what it offers; and Pukka (teas and aloe vera juice), as I like their approach.
How do you treat yourself in terms of food?
With healthy puddings, which I try to make. Sometimes I pick up an Inspiral passionfruit cheesecake (wheat-, dairy- and sugar-free) from Planet Organic.
Have you ever tried a diet or detox that worked for you?
I’ve never tried one. I feel like I am on a permanent detox anyway!
I feel like I am on a permanent detox anyway!
What’s your exercise routine/schedule?
I aim for yoga, a Pilates session and tennis once a week.
Do you power-up for exercise with specific foods – if so, what are they?
No, but I can’t do exercise feeling hungry so eat a Nakd bar or some nuts beforehand.
Do you like trying new exercise classes/trainers/trends? If so, what and why?
No. I have found what I love so I stick with that.
What do you wear to work out? Do you wear particular styles for particular workouts, etc?
I love James Perse for T-shirts and bottoms. I also like some of the more sporty VPL bra tops.
How do you fit exercise around your work schedule? Do you have to do it in the early morning? Lunch hour?
I try to do it early morning so it doesn’t eat into the day too much. Sometimes I take a Pilates class at lunchtime.
Any tips you have for fitting exercise into a busy schedule? The perfectly packed gym bag? Classes that don’t necessitate showering, etc?
I can get away without showering after Pilates or yoga! But I don’t have an answer to this – it does take up time.
Is there anyone you look up to as a healthy role model – someone who does it right in your opinion?
You, of course, Calgary!