In a time where it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, one Westman health and wellness business is helping people slow down, reconnect with whole food and bring joy back into their kitchens.
Living Simply Kitchen, based in Souris, Man., was created by nutrition expert and integrative health coach Elizabeth Cancade.
“When people reconnect with real food, and they have a bit of time in their kitchen every week with real food, it has this other benefit of creating time and space in their life,” Cancade said. “So it combats stress, it combats overwhelm and it combats busyness.”
With so much information available on diets and nutrition, it can be confusing. Often it is easy to grab the convenient, packaged foods, which may be advertised as healthy but can still have a lot of additives and unnecessary ingredients. Cancade helps people get back to basics and trust their instincts.
“I think it’s really hard for people to trust themselves and what they know, because they are getting so much information from food boxes and the online nutrition world,” she said. “I think it really takes people out of their self trust, and so I feel that my whole role is to bring them back, talk about ‘what works for you’, and showing them how they can move away from processed and packaged foods.”
Living Simply Kitchen has a focus on “Good Mood Food”, the nutrient-dense whole foods that support balanced blood sugar, healthy brain function and hydration, which help keep you feeling better throughout the day. Nuts, whole pastured eggs and leafy greens are a few examples.
“One thing we don’t maybe talk enough about is all food sends messages to our body through our hormone system,” Cancade said. Foods high in sugar, preservatives and additives will send a stress message to our body, which releases stress response hormones.
“Good mood food to me, is food that sends your body the ‘your safe’ message,” she said. “We’re safe here and we have energy to heal, we have energy for producing healthy skin cells, good nails, so your body gets the message, ‘let’s get back to good basic functioning’.”
Cancade helps with the practical skills, such as what foods to buy, recipes to try and setting a time in the kitchen to plan ahead.
“I try to dispel the myth that it takes an enormous amount of time, effort and skill,” she said. “Once you start building the capacity for it, it becomes so much easier and then it can become so much more joyful.”
Interest in nutrition has been a lifelong pursuit for Cancade, and she has taken courses in Integrative Nutrition and Culinary Nutrition which has led her to create Living Simply Kitchen.
“In Integrative Nutrition, we talk about how we’re nourished through good, whole food, and also through activities that kind of fill us up,” she said. “I had a sense…that it’s not enough to just know how to eat well or ‘healthy’…it really has to be connected to a balanced lifestyle devoted to well being.”
Cancade has offered group programs, one-on-one coaching as well as a virtual cooking club and live online demonstrations. Previous sessions have included topics such as meal preparation, one-pot cooking and sheet pan meals.
A main focus is to help her clients to figure out the foods and ways of living that nourish them individually.
“Everyone’s got a unique family, a unique week, a unique job—there’s no standard way, and so I think one of the best things we can do is reconnect to what works for us as individuals.”
Helping people re-centre themselves, slow down and eat nourishing food, not only helps the individual’s well being, Cancade said, but it may lead to them shopping for better, local food products, which in turn supports local growers and ultimately the environment and climate.
“When we do this in our house, we actually are investing in the health of our region, especially in a pandemic when we realized how important food chain was,” she said.
Souris resident Nicole Kempthorne has taken part in group and one-on-one sessions with Living Simply Kitchen. With Cancade’s help she has made positive changes in her life. It started with a family cooking session, getting tips on how to make the food they eat regularly even more nutritious.
“We made mac and cheese from scratch, rather than the processed stuff,” she said, adding her young son approved. “We did a more whole foods spin on pasta sauce, rather than the jar sauce.”
Kempthorne enjoys Cancade’s live how-to videos, such as making salad dressing from scratch. Seeing it done in real time, makes it easier to follow than reading a recipe, she added.
Last winter, Kempthorne decided to seek one-on-one coaching after feeling ill and recognizing she may have some food sensitivities. Cancade helped her with a personalized menu and shopping list, and worked through the issues.
“For me my body was screaming at me to make changes,” she said, adding the fact that Cancade broke it down into baby steps was a “game changer.”
“I have tried throughout my adult life all the diet fads and meal plans,”she said. But often she would find herself cooking a separate meal for herself than her family was eating, which was not sustainable. The fact that Living Simply Kitchen is “so much more than food” is what made it realistic and helped Kempthorne move away from “diet culture.”
Sleep, stress management, self-care and exercise are topics that Cancade incorporates.
Kempthorne is now making more mindful choices, plans meals ahead, has healthy snacks on hand, and is feeling great.
“I’ve told lots of people in the last few months, I’ve never felt this good in my body,” she said, adding its not just about weight it’s about overall well being.
“The best compliment I had, was ‘you look so healthy,’ which really stuck with me.”
This fall, Living Simply Kitchen will be offering online classes and programs on Whole & Healthy Meals & Meal Prep; Real Food Meal Solutions for Weekdays; stocking a whole foods kitchen & pantry; and a special topic workshop on stress resilience and mood balance. Find her videos on Instagram @livingsimplykitchen, and watch for program announcements.
— Jillian Austin is a Local Journalism Initiative freelance writer, and real estate agent with Century 21 Westman Realty.