[This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with cookbook authors, bloggers, women entrepreneurs and home chefs whose work I enjoy and admire. If you've got someone in mind you'd like me to approach for an interview, please shoot me an email at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment here and let me know! And now, enjoy today's installment!]
Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Heather Nauta, Holistic Nutritionist and owner of the site Healthy Eating Starts Here.
I first met Heather when she invited me to speak about candida at her Better Health Summit last year. I was delighted to be included with so many other bloggers and experts whose work I admire. . . and was thrilled to learn that Heather had also attended the same nutrition school that I did! After bonding over CSNN and how much we loved the program, we had a great time chatting at the Summit.
As I learned more about her site and the videos through which she provides nutrition information and recipes for her readers, I was so impressed with her knowledge and the work she does that I decided to become an affiliate for her cooking classes (one of which you can win in the giveaway at the bottom of the page!). Since then, Heather and I have even managed to meet up in person and solidify what was a budding online friendship.
I asked Heather a few questions about her online presence, her cooking classes, and her work as a nutritionist so you could learn a bit more about her, too. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing her easy and delicious recipe for Spicy Black Bean Burgers (HH-approved!).
And don’t forget to read to the end so you can enter the giveaway!
Tell us a bit about your career path and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve had a bit of a crazy career path to where I am now. In university, I studied business and aviation and trained to be a commercial pilot. Unfortunately, just as I was starting to work as a flight instructor, I started learning about environmental issues and decided that I just couldn’t continue a career that would require me to burn mass amounts of fuel every day.
My next career was as a financial adviser, but I was also disillusioned there because the job was more about sales than about what I wanted to do, which was help people set up a stable future. While I considered my next move, I worked as a candidate organizer for the Green Party during a provincial election in BC. It was exhilarating, but really stressful.
Having learned so much from my first jobs about what it was I wanted to put my time and energy into, I knew my next career had to fulfil some pretty big goals. I wanted to help people, I wanted to create positive energy in the world and I wanted to do something that would be in harmony with my beliefs on sustainability and ethics.
Somewhere along the way, my husband and I had first started eating healthier, then eating only plant foods. By the time I was looking for my next career, we were seeing the results of how great we felt, how much energy we had and how Phil’s lifelong acne had totally cleared off his face and shoulders.
I decided that I wanted to show people how easy and fun it can be to make delicious meals out of plant foods. I also wanted to have good nutritional background knowledge to motivate people to eat more good food and help people bring their body back into balance with the right nourishment.
I studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. The course was perfect for me, because I didn’t want to get into the reductionist style of scientific nutrition, where you look at each individual nutrient. Holistic nutrition is about how the body works as a whole, and how it interacts with foods as a whole.
So that was a bit of a long answer, but I feel like it’s been a long journey. I’ve learned so much, and it’s amazingly wonderful to be able to share that with others and help them on their journey. And I’m only 30 years old! I’m looking forward to all the amazing things that will happen in the future.
What do you love most about cooking with whole foods?
Well, my funny answer is that the dishes are SO much easier to clean! But my serious answer is that I just feel so much better eating whole plant foods. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t realize that you feel bad until something changes and you feel better. I didn’t realize that my lack of focus and energy was from what I was eating.
A lot of people ask me how I stay motivated to eat healthy foods all the time, and if I ever get cravings or just want to be ‘bad’. I have to say, the rewards of healthy eating are so fantastic that they are their own motivation. And if I feel like being ‘bad’, I know that true junk food will only make me feel worse so I have a lot of healthy treat ideas up my sleeve to indulge cravings in a way that still keeps me feeling awesome.
What is the most interesting new ingredient you’ve discovered?
Learning to cook with plant foods opened me up to all the wonderful spices and seasonings out there. I don’t know why I didn’t use them so much before, but I definitely would never go back!
I love the gingerbread-type spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves) and Indian spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, cayenne). I always thought I didn’t like Indian food, but it’s just that I don’t like the hot spices. If I use all the wonderful Indian spices without much cayenne, I love it!
I also think onion and garlic powders can add a really nice savory flavor to things. Fresh is better nutritionally, but the flavor is so amazing for certain things. I always figure that if a good seasoning makes you eat more fresh veggies, then in the big scheme it’s helpful.
My most recent discovery is smoked paprika, which I’d been seeing for a while but wasn’t sure I’d like it. I’m not too into smoky flavors. It was Dreena Burton’s recipes in her cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan! that inspired me to finally give it a try. She was right, it’s amazing!! I now put it in dressings, dips and sauces all the time.
Why do you use videos exclusively to offer your information?
Videos are my way of connecting with people, and I wanted to show things rather than just talk about them. There are a million recipes out there, and people might look at them and say ‘oh, I can’t make that because I don’t know how to do it’, or ‘that’s going to be too hard to make’. What I wanted to do was visually show people how to do things, how easy it is, and also how it can be really fun. A lot of cooking videos are pretty dry, and don’t get me excited about cooking.
It’s funny, although I may seem very outgoing in my videos I’m actually incredibly shy and hate watching and listening to myself! I’ve been working at it over the years, trying to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. It’s definitely easier when it’s just me in my kitchen with a camera than trying to present to a big audience. So videos are the best way for me to put myself out there without dying of nerves.
If you could transform any food to make it suddenly good for you, which food would you choose?
This is a really difficult question because I already make most of the things I love in a healthy way… I’ve always been a fruitaholic, too, so I’m lucky that most of my biggest cravings are for fruit. I guess the one thing that I haven’t figured out how to make without eggs yet is lemon meringue pie. My Nana used to make the most amazing lemon meringue pie. I’ve made a fantastic coconut crust and a lemon filling set with agar for delicious and healthy lemon squares, but the meringue topping hasn’t happened yet.
What’s your favorite dish to serve to someone who’s never eaten vegan food?
Well, this kind of depends on the person eating. Some people go wild for stuff like shepherd’s pie (which I make with lentils and/or mushrooms but still call it shepherd’s pie because I don’t imagine the shepherds ate lamb all the time, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t have any sheep left). Others really love a good tomato sauce drizzled over spaghetti and (buckwheat) meatballs. One thing I’m always conscious of doing for people who have never eating vegan and/or healthy food is to make a really good sauce or dressing.
I guess I do have a personal leaning on this. I love to make a nice savory and flavorful veggie burger (or loaf), served with spicy sweet potato fries and a creamy avocado dip. I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t loved that meal.
Thanks so much, Heather! I’m sure the DDD readers loved learning more about you, too! And now. . .
WIN THE ENTIRE SET OF HEATHER’S ONLINE COOKING CLASSES!
Heather is generously giving away an entire course–that’s 24 online classes of 45-60 minutes each–to one DDD reader!
The classes provide quick, easy meals that are made with nutritious whole foods, entirely plant-based–and are ready in 30 minutes or less. Recipes are divided into categories (eg, Soups, Salads, Dessert, etc.) and in each class, Heather demonstrates one recipe on video. I’ve been working my way through these over the past few weeks (come back tomorrow for Heather’s recipe for Spicy Black Bean Burgers!) and have really enjoyed her upbeat, approachable style, which I’m sure would set even a novice cook at ease in the kitchen.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, Heather also really knows her stuff. The videos are peppered (no pun intended) with useful information, tips and tricks about ingredients, cooking techniques and more; each video is accompanied by a print version of the same recipe if you’d like to print it out. There’s also a private members website where you can watch the videos any time, or as many times as you wish, or download them; see other tips and tricks with photos; or ask Heather questions directly about the recipes in a discussion forum. For a full list of all the recipes and all the bonus items you’ll receive in the course, go here.
Of course, if you don’t want to wait until the giveaway is over, you can head over now and purchase the entire series. Heather is offering a special price for DDD readers for
one week, starting todayuntil Friday, December 28th at midnight EST! You can get the full course for just $67 (that’s $80 or 55% off–be sure to use the code RICKI at checkout). Heather provides a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not happy with them for any reason. Wouldn’t that make a great Christmas gift for a budding cook? Or, if you’re just curious to find out more, here’s a set of three free videos Heather has put together with some of her best kitchen tips as a little gift for DDD readers.
This giveaway is open worldwide. Contest will remain open until midnight on Monday, December 24th, after which I’ll choose a winner at random.
To enter the giveaway for a FULL SET OF COOKING CLASSES plus all the bonus materials, do any or all of the following using the Rafflecopter form, below:
- Leave a comment telling me which recipe you think would make a great video demonstration;
- Follow Heather on Twitter, like her on Facebook ;
- Follow me on twitter or like DDD on Facebook.
If you’d like to subscribe to Heather’s site, you can do so here.
Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: I am an affiliate for Heather’s cooking classes. If you purchase the classes through a link on this site, I will earn a commission which goes toward maintaining this blog.
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Two Years Ago: Holiday Nog (Egg-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-free) (gluten free; ACD Stage 2)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs