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- Holistic Nutrition, School and Business Questions
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Holistic nutrition is practiced through intuitive eating, healing the body through wholesome foods, and approaching health on all three aspects – body, mind and spirit. In my experience, a healthy mind eventually leads to a healthy body. If we believe we deserve to be healthy, that our body is a temple, and that we owe it to ourselves to love our greatest asset, everything just falls into place!
What made you want to study nutrition?
My relationship with food was never a healthy one. I pulled myself through countless diets, struggled with disordered eating, and battled with deep and darn emotions surrounding my food choices. During my road to recovery, I realized that food played such a huge role in how my body functioned. Before this, I’m not sure I really understood the concept of food affecting the way my body felt.
I ended up working with a nutritionist that introduced me to healthy meals and intuitive eating and a year later, I was registered at CSNN.
It was never the plan to leave school and help others with their nutrition choices. I took the course for myself so that I could learn how to take care of my body but by the end of the course I knew helping others with their healthy living choices was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
What was the curriculum like as CSNN (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition)?
Here’s a link to the curriculum followed currently. When looking for a program in your area, make sure it’s with a school that has a governing body associated to it so that your clients can deduct your services to their health insurance companies. The ones here in Canada are IONC and CAHN-Pro. I am with CAHN-Pro and like them because they’re more engaged. I encourage you to do the research to decide which one is right for you.
Does CAHN-Pro require that you continue to upgrade your courses and continue your education?
As part of my board certification, it’s required that I do upgrade courses. I attend multiple online webinars and seminars with various schools and businesses throughout Canada each and every year to make sure that I’m up to date on the latest nutrition news.
Is the CSNN program full time or part time. Do you recommend I do it by correspondence?
I attended in-person part-time classes at the Calgary location. This location has condensed the 2 year program into 1 year. I’m not sure how they do it elsewhere or if you can combine the correspondence and in-class work. I took the course quite some time ago so things may have changed. The program had us at school 2-3 times a week for 3-4 hours each visit.
As with anything, if you have the passion and drive to study on your own, I see no reason why you cannot do this program via correspondence.
How did you find the classroom experience at CSNN?
I loved it. The environment was super relaxing and inviting. Students shared tables with one another which allowed us to spread our text books all over the place (very helpful). The owner of the school always had the kitchen stocked with delicious teas and we were allowed to eat in class which all of us loved!
How much time should one expect to dedicate to completing the course at CSNN?
I went to class on Monday and Wednesday for 4 hours each and spent about 3-4 hours on homework everyday with lots of studying on weekends too. The course I took was the 2 year class condensed down to 1 year so there was a lot of studying to be done on my own.
Does the program cover any kind of self-advertising/marketing education, assuming quite a few grads become self-employed.
Yes, there is a module that covers running your own practice and marketing yourself. At least that was the case when I took the program in 2007.
Are there other schools that are comparable to CSNN?
I’ve heard good things about Hawthorn University but cannot say for certain which holistic nutrition programs are best suited for those living in the United States. I have been told that CSNN is available to students residing in the US, so that may also be an option you could explore.
What sort of jobs can you pursue with a degree in holistic nutrition?
A lot of the women I graduated with work at health food stores, supplement companies, Chiropractic and Naturopathic offices. While I’ve explored these routes, private practice allows me to work directly with people and share my love of food and recipe creation with everyone I come in contact with.
Why didn’t you go the dietetics route?
I attended a couple of Dietetics classes at University and decided it wasn’t for me for the time being. Calorie counting, food guides, and structured plans to fit the masses isn’t how I wanted to be introduced to nutrition given my personal struggles with food. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, natural nutrition spoke to me more at the time.
How can one know if their city would be open to services from a holistic nutritionist?
Where you’re located plays a huge role in your success. I’m in Calgary Alberta where there is a strong hunger for living healthy.
There are places like Victoria and Vancouver that are a bit more challenging for holistic practitioners. The more healthy a community is, the more health food stores, holistic education centers, and lifestyle services they have, the less successful a nutritionist may be just simply due to competitive pressures.
Do you produce research in your field?
Yes, I’m part of CAHN-Pro, a group of Nutritionists across Canada that are working at getting our profession recognized across the country as registered massage therapists have in Canada. Part of this is participating in multiple studies and presenting them in front of the bodies that will later register our profession.
How did you build up your business to where it is today?
I wish I could say that there is a magic formula, but there isn’t. I just work at it day by day, set out goals for myself and chase after them as hard as possible. Some times my vision changes, fails, or is aborted, but I think the key to it all is to never stop trying and focus on one thing at a time before moving on to the next.
How has your life experience helped you in building your business?
I’ve held a bunch of different jobs in the 10 years I’ve been in the workforce. Previous to my current role as a senior marketing program manager, I’ve had the opportunity to build my marketing skills as a marketing program manager, targets and compensation analyst, account manager, quality control manager at a restaurant, and assistant manager at a weight loss company. All of these positions have helped me collect quite the variety of marketing, analytic, management, and business development skills.
On the education side, when I was finished with my holistic nutrition certification, I went to an IT tech school to learn website development. After that, I taught myself how to use a camera and the rest is history!
What are you doing for work now in Montreal? Did you find Calgary to have more or less opportunity for you?
I’m working primarily on my blog and other opportunities that my blog has opened up for me. About 5% of my time now is spent on holistic nutrition consulting. From a nutrition consultation practice perspective, I feel Calgary was a lot more open to it than Montreal seems to be. This could also be because my services are only offered in English. However, from a blog perspective, Montreal has been very supportive.
Are you often contacted for consults/meal planning etc?
Yes, quite often although I’ve limited my hours to meet with clients over the last couple of months so that I can focus on other projects.
What tools do you find most successful for self-marketing?
I don’t do a lot of self marketing, to be honest. I started this blog as a place to house my recipes and soon, random folks were contacting me to help them with their nutrition goals. I feel that the blog acts as a great introduction to my approach to wellness and if people feel they need help in that area, they already know what types of foods and recipes I’ll be using to support their goals.
I’m interested in starting my own practice, where should I begin?
- Believe in yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to tell your clients you will look into things and get back to them.
- Don’t plan too far in advance. I would meet a client and come up with all of our plans for every session in one weekend. Don’t do this! So many things can shift and change.
- Twitter is a great marketing tool.
- A blog will give you some great traction in the market.
- Offering skype consults is a great way to save money on renting space, secretary services, etc. and cuts down the time you’ll spend running to different appointments.
- Try to attend health events in your area and talk yourself up!
Pressured is not the right word by any means. I enjoy eating healthy because I know it’s what’s right for my body. Although each day varies greatly depending on what activities I’m up to for the day, I usually wake up and make myself a protein shake with water, protein powder, frozen banana and cinnamon. I eat it alongside 1 rice cake smeared with hemp seed butter and homemade jam. A couple of hours later, I have a bowl of Happy Tummy Breakfast Pudding topped with 1 cup or so of fruit. For lunch, I usually make a big salad with loads of veggies and 1-2 servings of animal protein. I generally have 1 cup of fruit in the afternoon with a handful of nuts, then a vegan meal in the evening, usually chickpea and sweet potato curry with a large side of steamed vegetables.
What type of protein powder do you use and why do you choose it over a whole food source?
I switch between Jay Rob’s Unflavored Egg White Protein Powder and Prairie Naturals Unflavored Sprouted Brown Rice Protein Powder. I switch between the two because I seem to have developed a slight sensitivity to eggs, so I limit my consumption to just 1-2 servings a week. I like the unflavored powders because they’re free of potential artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. I’d rather flavor them myself anyways!
I choose to consume protein powder because I’ve found that I have a challenging time ensuring I’m eating enough protein in the day otherwise. It’s quick, it’s simple, and my body seems to like it!
What supplements do you take?
What types of workouts do you do?
My current training plan and workout goals can be found on my fitness page here.
How did you heal your digestive problems?
Here are some things that I’ve found successful in helping my GI issues:
- Soaking 1 tbsp chia seed in almond milk overnight and adding to my cereal
- Start the day off with a tall glass of warm water before having breakfast
- Keep my first breakfast at a smoothie to warm up my digestion
- Try to avoid too many raw veggies
- Increase fiber by having flax, apples, and berries
- Meditation and relaxation
I read that you had Candida. How did you heal yourself from it, and what types of foods did you eat?
I struggled with lots of allergies, stomach pains, constipation, candida, etc. They lasted for 5-6 years, off and on. I’d usually wake up bloated and it would get worse as the day went on to the point where I’d be on the floor in sheer pain. I went on a candida diet for 3 months, supplemented with loads of probiotics, wild oregano oil, and caprylic acid. A typical day for me was a breakfast of nuts and seeds with a cup of non-dairy milk, snacks like homemade hummus and vegetables, a salad for lunch with animal protein and a dinner that was usually comprised of animal protein and steamed vegetables.
After that, I found that my pains were in direct relation to stress. As soon as I learned how to deal with stress, they went away! Other things that may help are fish oils, extra fiber (ground flax seed) and proper food combining.
While you’re struggling with candida, you’ll definitely react to ALL candida foods like sugars, fruits, vinegars, etc. Anything you react to (whether you’re really sensitive to it or not) should be avoided.
Post: Maintaining a Food Journal (will help determine your symptoms and what foods you’re reacting to)
I read that you overcame disordered eating. What were your challenges and how did you overcome it?
It started off as an interest in dieting as my Mom did, morphed into a hatred for my body, the people around me, and my life as I knew it. I let myself fall into a deep and dark hole that took me years to get out of. Fearing the safety of their daughter, my parents enrolled me in the Calgary Eating disorder program where they had counselors, dietitians, and specialists on site for eating disorder patients. The program focused on the anxiety, depression and self esteem issues that go hand in hand with healing yourself from an eating disorder. While this program may be beneficial for some, it only fueled my interest in harming myself.
I was given an ultimatum from my parents – stay in the program, or leave home. At 16, I chose to leave my parents house and live wherever I could, as long as it meant I didn’t have to go to that program any more. I dropped out of High School and lost myself for a couple of years.
6 months before my 18th birthday, I decided to go back to school and get my High School diploma. I was in the roughest shape I’d ever been, but something deep down inside of me knew I needed to do it. I got my own place, maintained a steady job, went to morning school, day school, signed up for correspondence, and managed to complete half of grade 11 and all grade 12 courses in the 6 months time. I graduated at 18 years old along with all of my previous classmates.
Another year or so passed before I decided that the path I was on wasn’t working for me. I knew what type of person I was and when I stared in the mirror, Leanne didn’t stare back. It was April 3, 2006. I was ready to begin my life and start living in the world again. I went to counseling, began doing yoga, meditation, mended relationships, worked on my self-image issues, confidence issues, you name it. I was on a path to get in touch with the beautiful person I knew was deep down inside of me. I wanted a change and I made it happen.
From my experience, healing yourself of disordered eating is vastly improved when you understand the impact healthy food can have on your body. Although it’s a long and challenging road, education was my strongest tool!
Post: Be True to You
What words of advice can you give someone who is struggling with an eating disorder?
I’ve been where you’ve been and can tell you that although the journey is extremely scary and overwhelming, pushing through the challenging moments to finally get to a loving place of self acceptance will be the best gift you will ever give yourself.
I’ve always dealt with feelings of inadequacy. I pour my heart and soul into what I do, eat well, have an active life yet, at times, I still find myself consumed by negative feelings about my body. Just the other day, one of my mentors asked me, ‘Fast forward 60 years, you are 86. What would your 86 year old self say are some of her proudest moments in her life?’
I began listing off things that I’m currently proud of accomplishing as well as some of the things I dream for myself for the future – finding the love of my life, creating a tight-knit family, building a successful business, completing my University degree, healing myself from disordered eating, surrounding myself with loving friends, moving out on my own, going to India, traveling to Africa, studying yoga, adopting a child, mentoring teenagers…
Surprisingly, none of the things I listed had anything to do with my body, how I look, or what the number on the scale reads. Accomplishing my goals, living my truth, being all that I can be has nothing to do with how I look, but everything to do with how confident I am with myself. The last thing on my mind at the end of my days on this earth will be whether or not I maintained my weight, but rather what I accomplished as a result of believing that I deserve to be happy, loved, and successful.
Enjoy your time in this life, be open to new experiences, believe in the gift you have to give the world, and love who you are, because you are worthy of everything.
What are a couple of other resources you would recommend?
Why are you gluten-free?
I went gluten free in the summer of 2007 after seeing a Naturopath about my inability to pay attention, intense stomach pains, and the slowest digestion known to man kind. He recommended I go off gluten. I had no clue what gluten was, but figured if this change could address my health issues, I was willing to give it a shot.
It was really challenging at first but the disappearance of my symptoms encouraged me to persevere. The change in my diet forced me to step out of my comfort zone, try new ingredients and get creative in the kitchen.
Why did you stop being vegan and how did you make the transition?
Meat had always been something I was afraid of eating because I thought it was going to “make me fat”. So, when I was still a teenager, I swore off animal products and started involving myself in as many animal protective projects and ethical groups as possible. Watching videos of the horrible things humans do to animals, the gross additives that are added to our meats, and researching the damages that pig and cow farms can do to our earth, were only ways to get myself to never want to eat meat again. Almost as if I was forcing myself to believe in something, to instil fear in myself to never want to eat meat again.
Unfortunately the vegan lifestyle became such a control issue for me. I began losing weight, it fueled unhealthy thoughts, and I stayed in this place for years. The vegan diet only fueled these feelings, it did not create them. Looking back now, I understand that it wasn’t so much the vegan lifestyle, but the label of saying “I am a vegan, and I am controlling what I put in my body, regardless of what my body tells me it needs”
I would experience waves of meat cravings, they would come and go, but I would ignore them. I worked at a rib restaurant from the time I was 15 to 20. It didn’t bother me until I was about 19. A couple of months after my birthday, I ordered a rack of ribs and ate them secretly in my car, as if I was hiding my shame. They were delicious. But again, I pushed myself to stop eating it. Not because it didn’t taste good, or feel good, but because I was afraid of what it would do to my body.
It wasn’t until I was studying to become a holistic nutritionist that I learned the real facts – how some of us are meant to have animal proteins in our bodies, the benefits to eating protein, and the dangers of avoiding it, that I finally built up the courage to bring meat back into my life. I began with salmon, moved to chicken, then to beef, and now I generally stick to wild game.
I’ve been eating it for awhile now and love it! I only eat the best meats I can find from local farmers, butchers, and the like. I’ve embraced listening to my body and have learned not to care about what others think. I go through “vegan” days and “meat” days but don’t label myself with anything and it feels fantastic.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that we shouldn’t have to justify our food choices to anyone. We should live for ourselves because ultimately, our body knows best. If you crave meat, eat meat. You can still make great, ethically sound choices when you eat meat. And remember that it will nourish your body and soul if it’s the right decision for you.
How do you feel about the Canadian Food Guide?
I was not taught using the Canada Food Guide as I went the holistic route.
My advice to anyone that feels that the recommendations in these guides may not work for them, is to explore holistic alternatives and define what healthy eating is for you. Then, when people ask you about it, or friends show interest, spread the word!
I launched Healthful Pursuit as a website for my private practice on October 31, 2010. It was originally intended to be a place where I could acquire new clients, share some of my favorite recipes, and write a couple of health articles here and there. I cut over to blog-style on January 3, 2011 and the rest, as they say, is history!
Why did you call it Healthful Pursuit?
I named the blog ‘Healthful Pursuit’ because I felt it was a good representation of the approach I’ve taken with my own health. For me, being healthy is far larger than just the food I put in my body, so I was very careful not to have nutrition or food be the only thing on my mind when coming up with a name. I felt that Healthful Pursuit was a great representation of my everlasting journey to improve my health, get more in touch with my body, and continue to evolve my thoughts around nutrition, fitness, health, and life.
Do you have a cookbook?
I do not have a cookbook but have always dreamed of publishing one! I promise, you’ll be the first to know when I do.
What camera do you use?
I currently use a Canon 7D with a 24-70mm f2.8L lens, sometimes I’ll switch out the 24-70mm out for my 50mm f1.8 when I’m at a restaurant and need the additional f stops.
Where do you take your pictures?
I have a table setup in our living room. It is against a north facing window, so I get good indirect sunlight.
Where do you purchase the props that are in your photos?
I like HomeSense, Pier 1, garage sales, antique shops, Value Village and my parents house. You’d be surprised how much random stuff they have over there! I’ve also started to get in to making my own props with random items from the hardware store.
Who does your hosting?
I was originally with DreamHost when I began the blog. It was a great service for me while I was starting out and had comprehensive plans that were inexpensive but were a bit difficult to work with when the blog began to grow. A year later I switched over to http://wphost.co . The intellectual property from this was sold into a JV with Copyblogger Media in late 2011 and shortly thereafter, I switched from HostCo and signed up with CopyBlogger Media under Synthesis Web Hosting.
Synthesis Web Hosting has been a fabulous partner over the last year and I highly recommend them to anyone. They have continued to be far more affordable than the other guys and are always willing to help out no matter what time of the day, weekend, holiday, or otherwise.
What WordPress Template do you use?
I use the Thesis theme from DIY Themes.
I’m thinking with the idea of starting my own blog. What advice can you offer to me?
I’m still trying to figure everything out myself, but some key things I’ve learned and remind myself of daily:
- Quality content is key. Think quality over quantity. If you’re not happy with it, don’t post it. It’s better to post content that people will jump all over, than content that leaves your readers with a bad taste in their mouth.
- Make sure to preview your posts before pressing publish. It’s not the end of the world, but make sure you give yourself some time to review your content. The content you post is all you have, so making sure it makes sense is important!
- Don’t get overwhelmed with scheduling your posts. Plan no more than 7 days in advance or you’ll confuse yourself and get overwhelmed, I promise.
- Take time to familiarize yourself with WordPress if it’s new to you.
- Believe in yourself, write down your goals, and stick to your plan. Don’t get discouraged. If you’re looking to build your base, just believe in what you’re doing, network with other bloggers, post good content, and the rest will follow.
- Write from your heart. Passion is key.
- Keep engaged with comments. I try to connect with everyone that comes in contact with me. It does take time, but each and every one of the people that visit your blog make it the success it is.
- Keep yourself open to opportunities that present themselves. Heck, my blog started off as a company website.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This is so hard to do. Even though I haven’t mastered it yet, it needs to be said. Just focus on what you have to offer and understand what your content says about you. Comparing yourself to others will only discourage you and make it difficult to find your voice.
I’ve been collecting recipe ideas since I was in grade school, helped my Mom in the kitchen as soon as I was able to walk, have collected over 100 cookbooks in my time, and have visited my fair share of restaurants all over the globe. All of these experiences have left impressions on me that I’ve translated into healthier, allergen-free recipes over time.
I also enjoy using store-bought or restaurant-purchased items to inspire me with my recipe development. There’s nothing sweeter than being told I can’t order something off of the menu because it has gluten, than going home and making it for myself, or getting to indulge in a second piece of cake just because I know it’s not packed with sugary junk, preservatives and other ingredients that I know will harm my body.
Post: Carrot Cake Protein Bars
Can I make substitutions to the flours in your recipes?
Substitutions are challenging with gluten-free flours. I usually have to go to great lengths with some recipes to make them gluten free. I add the starches (like tapioca, white rice flour, and arrowroot) to bind the gluten-free flours together. They generally aren’t needed when baking with gluten flours as the gluten is the thing that binds everything together. If you were to try adapting my recipes to use flours like whole wheat, pastry flour, or other gluten containing flours, an overall change to ingredients may have to be made. For instance, if one of my recipes contains coconut flour; which is quite dry, more gluten containing flour will need to be used to offset all the liquid in the recipe.
I encourage you to test things out and let me know the outcome!
Why do you cook with a microwave? I’ve heard microwaving is bad for our health.
There are varying degrees of healthy living. Many of the people that follow the blog are starting off on the road to healthier living. For some, going to MacDonald’s 6 times a week as opposed to 8 is a huge accomplishment. And hey, I agree with that!
I couldn’t agree with you more – microwaves aren’t the healthiest way to prepare food. However, if the microwave friendly recipes I sometimes post on the blog encourages someone who relies on a MacDonald’s breakfast to microwave a homemade breakfast, I feel I’ve made a difference. With each microwave friendly recipe I post on the blog, I include non-microwave instructions for people who no longer cook with microwaves but have chosen to leave microwaving as a preparation on Healthful Pursuit so that everyone, no matter what they have on hand, can make themselves a healthier meal.
Where do I find yeast-free, organic, gluten-free vegetable bouillon?
The company is called HarvestSun. You can purchase it from a couple of distributors, but I buy mine at the health food store and have never had to order it directly. Here’s the information of the distributor if you’re interested: Organic Horizons Inc. #9-685 Speedvale Ave. Guelph Ontario N1K1E6
If I don’t have coconut oil, will another form of oil work?
If I haven’t listed additional or optional oils in the recipe, I have not tested the recipe for that variation but you can always give it a whirl and see if it works!
Can I use gluten containing flours for your recipes?
I can’t remember the last time I cooked with gluten. Probably when I was 6 or 7 helping my Mom with Christmas baking! I’m sure some of my recipes would work with regular whole wheat, spelt, rye, or other glutenous flours, but I haven’t tried it.
What kitchen tools do you swear by?
Food processor: I use a Cuisinart Elite Collection™ 12-Cup (3 L) processor although if I had to do it all over again, I would have just held on to my Black and Decker Quick and Easy. That thing was a machine and made nut butters better than my current processor.
Blender: I’ve had my Vitamix since 2007 and love it just as much as I did on that first day.
Ice cream maker: We have a Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence ice-cream maker that works really well, so long as you just leave the bowl in the freezer at all times for quick ice-cream making when you need it most!
Saucepans: I love my MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel set. The benefit to stainless steel, is that it heats up quickly to cook food faster (maintaining more health benefits) and doesn’t transfer toxins to your food.
Frying pans: I purchased my first set of cast iron frying pans at Value Village when I was still in my teens. I’ve had the same set since. The great thing about cast iron, is that it is a clean cooking source and transfers iron into the food you’re cooking, so long as the food contains vitamin C.
What do you use as a replacement for powdered sugar?
Some of my older recipes use powdered sugar, but you can try to grind palm sugar in a coffee grinder until very fine. It acts just like refined powdered sugar without the corn, cane sugar, and high GI!
Where do you buy your groceries?
My favorite grocery store is Superstore. I purchase my kelp noodles and raw coconut butter from Upaya Naturals, and my stevia from Nutters Natural Foods store in Airdrie. Many of the ingredients on the blog can be found at your local health food store, or online on Amazon.com, iHerb, and Swanson.
What do you typically buy at the grocery store? How do I stock up my pantry so that I can make your recipes?
I always go to the grocery store with a list so that I stay on budget and focused with the task at hand. I generally stay along the perimeter of the store – the organics food isle, produce, bakery, and deli.
Post: Stocking Your Pantry
Post: Stocking Tour Fridge
What non-dairy milk do you like the best?
If I had my way I would drink Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla or Original for the rest of my days. But because allergies are so prominent in my past, I rotate my milks between cashew, almond, hemp, and sesame.
Are quinoa flakes the same as quinoa flour?
No, they are not the same as quinoa flour. They are more like quick oats.
Is there a substitute for quinoa flakes in your recipes?
I’ve been told by many readers that they’ve been successful in subbing the quinoa flakes in my recipes with rolled oats or quick oats. I haven’t tried it personally, but have heard that it’s worked great!
Where do you buy quinoa flakes?
I purchase my quinoa flakes at Nutters in the bulk bins. I’ve also found them at Planet Organic, Community Natural Foods, Whole Foods, and on Amazon.
Does coconut flour make things dryer?
Yes, so much drier! For every 1 oz. of coconut flour that you use in a recipe, you should add 1 additional egg… or so.
Can I replace the eggs in a recipe with flax eggs?
If I have mentioned that the eggs can be switched out for flax eggs, then yes, go for it! If I haven’t it means I haven’t tested it that way and cannot guarantee that the recipe will work out perfectly.