Rachel Bies is a local Culinary Nutritionist/CNP. She’s the founder of RachelBies Nutrition, a company that specializes in meal plans, food deliveries, recipe development and living with diagnosis. She’s a social media expert and a consultant to restaurants and chefs. Her goal is to get people back into their kitchens and help them fall in love with food. Her most recent projects include a food line for local gyms and partnering up with Rachael Hunt, founder of GlutenFreedomTO. Together they will be co-running the November version of GlutenFreedomWeek and are hoping to make it even bigger and better than the spring version.
SDTC: From juicing to going gluten-free, nutrition is becoming more and more mainstream. How do you help your clients discern the hype from the healthy?
Rachel Bies: I’m really impressed with the recent shift and efforts people are making to eat, feel and live better. My way of thinking is very simple and easy; eating everything as closely related to the original source as possible, as well as staying away from processed foods (middle aisles in most stores). This means including thoughtfully sourced, ethically-raised and hormone free meats, organic vegetables and fruits when able, limiting yourself to packaged items (pastas, crackers, cereals etc) and full-fat dairy items (when applicable). Also I’m very passionate about shopping as local as possible! We’re fortunate to have some of Ontario’s best markets all in and around our city, nothing better than getting to know your local farmers and building a relationship with them. I would also suggest to avoid jumping on a new diet/fad unless you’ve done research and there’s a reason behind it. All of our bodies are different, so someone that suits paleo may not work well with a raw diet and so forth..
SDTC: What do you think are some of the most wide-spread nutrition myths?
RB: The butter vs. margarine myth! It’s a personal favourite and also pet peeve. Regardless if you eat dairy or not, its really tough to understand how something so heavily processed, heated and damaged (margarine) can be favoured over one of the worlds oldest and most pure ingredients (butter). One ingredient vs. damaged vegetable oils will always win in my books.
Another is that gluten-free products are all created equal: With celiac and severe intolerances on the rise, GF brands are popping up constantly. What some don’t realize is that while there is no gluten (protein found in wheat and certain grains), there are often many synthetic binders and ingredients that leave these products hard to digest and void of nutrition. I recommend eating organic and corn free (GMO) items when able; organic lentil pasta/bread, quinoa crackers, etc. My favourites include Silver Hills and Mary’s.
SDTC: What inspired you to become a holistic nutritionist?
RB: A few years ago I was unfortunately in a small chemical/fire explosion. After taking months to heal (second and third degree burns), I broke out in a full body internal and external infection due to the chemical “cocktail” the doctors had me on. They refused to eliminate any prescriptions and said the swelling would go down in two-three weeks. I did NOT accept that. I went to a local market and bought an aloe plant. Did a small detox and stopped taking all pharmaceuticals immediately. Twice daily I used the natural aloe on all burns, bumps and rashes. Was nearly clear and feeling my best within days. I’d always been in the kitchen and obsessed with nutrition, but it took that experience to realize how powerful nature and nutrition are and can be. I enrolled into Applied Nutrition a few months afterwards.
SDTC: What are your three go-to summer recipes?
We should eat with the seasons, so I opt for 50-75% raw and cooking with some lean organic proteins!
1. Watermelon, olive, basil and feta salad with grilled fish of your choice or prawns. Super easy, toss everything in extra virgin olive oil and a white balsamic. Add some red onions and eliminate cheese for vegan option.
2. Gazpacho! Every time I make it, it tastes a bit different. My base is tomato and cucumbers, then add in your favourite herbs and colourful veg! Make a dessert one with some berries, mint and honey! Finish with some olive or nut oil. Cooling, raw and addictive.
3. A big salad with clean proteins. Chicken curry salad with mango and strawberries. Dressing is yogurt, curry (yellow), cayenne, chives, onions. Toss chicken or prawns in dressing and lay on a bed of slightly wilted kale or fresh spinach. Top with almonds, chia or pumpkin for an extra hit of omegas!
SDTC: How do you motivate clients to stay on track?
RB: This is a tough one. Naturally, people want quick results with minimal effort. That’s not realistic because usually this fad or “quick-fix” results in weight gain, energy loss, etc. as soon as you stop or implement the food you once eliminated. My approach is a lifestyle overhaul. It’s a state of mind and includes (not limited to) nutrition but mental improvements, stress reduction, physical improvements and more. Holistic nutrition identifies and works on you as an entire individual. Once my clients see results, that’s the natural motivation tool; whether it’s fitting into your clothes differently, improved mood or digestion to getting a full night’s sleep.
SDTC: What stands out to you as a truly rewarding moment in your career?
RB: That’s tough. Because I’ve only been doing this for less than two years, I feel like the rewards are constant and just beginning. That being said, once my company and brand starting growing, the reward for me is that people began approaching me for opportunities and projects. I’m fortunate to have worked with some great people and I’m super honoured for that! Also when Rachael Hunt (GFW2) approached me and asked me to come on board, that was a great professional moment! I’m now able to spread the local gluten-free awareness, be a part of a growing project and have a great new friend!
SDTC: What has been a challenge you’ve had to overcome? How did you do it?
RB: My biggest challenge was/is skepticism. I don’t think it even stems from a negative place but more fear of the unknown. It is hard to tell someone that they’ve been eating/living in not the most ideal fashion for 10-20 years. People are creatures of habit and I’ve had to let go of clients because they wouldn’t put forth effort, because they didn’t trust me fully or wanted the easy way out. I’ve since been more selective in the clients I take on, at the end of the day it’s my company and name so regardless if I’m doing my part, the negative spin will lead to me.
SDTC: What advice would you give to young women starting out in holistic nutrition?
RB: Keep your options open. When you begin school you may think that you know what path/direction you will be moving in. I started thinking I would do more clinical and ended up on the culinary side with lots of opportunities to write and develop. The great thing is that with food and nutrition, there really is no end to the possibilities!
SDTC: Where do you look for recipe inspiration?
RB: Everywhere! My main inspirations are: what is in season and who is my audience? If I’m teaching or making for clients, I keep them as simple, sexy and nutritious as possible because not everyone has the time to be in the kitchen all day! When I’m at home, my boyfriend is a chef by trade so we’ve been known to create some amazing dishes. It can get a little competitive, too!
SDTC: You’re cooking for your dream dinner party. Who’s on the guest list and what do you make?
RB: I’m often asked this and my answer changes yearly. Updated answer: Anthony Bourdain and David Wolfe. Two very influential people who I respect and adore. I would want to present to them a fusion tasting menu that is high in nutrition, sexy and elegant. Let’s say stacked tri-beet salad, seared scallops with sweet pea puree, hormone free lamb chops with roasted onions and fiddleheads, black bean and cacao torte with fresh mint & olive oil ice cream…I could go on for hours! Easting well and clean isn’t just granola, it can be a beautiful and glamorous thing! Art on a plate would be my theme!
Rachel Bies can offer cooking classes to corporate lunches, and everything in between. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Rachel on Twitter @rachelbies.