Why healthy?

            Sitting on my couch, recently unemployed, I thought ‘what am I gonna do now?’.  I took a step back and serendipitously thought: ‘What an opportunity? If I could do whatever ‘comes naturally’, what would it be?’  For context, I had recently been diagnosed diabetic, my kids were heavily into competitive soccer, and my parents are healthy but aging of course. 

I didn’t learn how to eat well until University.  I played Rugby for UNB and was training HARD.  I had a roommate who was a cross-country runner and taking kinesiology.  He and many of his athlete friends ate lunch together.  I started joining them and he literally stood beside me in the meal-plan line.  Here was his advice:

~‘Just avoid this whole first table’ (pizza-slices, fries, deep fried whatever), ‘take the veg they’re offering at the steam-table, ask for a second 12” plate’(don’t bother with the rice, mac ‘n cheese, potatoes or any battered protein they have)

~‘If there is a protein that is not deep fried, take it, but if not, skip-it’

~‘On the way to the table, grab 6 little glasses of water (they’re about 1-1/2 cups)- set that down’

~‘go to the salad-bar with the second 12” plate’

~‘stick to bright colours.  If you haven’t had it, try it.’ 

~‘Fill a whole 12” plate with the salad stuff. (Here’s my example:  Spinach, Spring Mix, Grated Carrot, Broccoli, zucchini, onion, olives, peppers, cheese, tomatoe, grated beet, mushroom, cucumber…) ‘Dressing’ is salt, pepper, lemon.

~‘come back to the table, cut up the meat from the line-up (above) and put it on the salad’ – enjoy.  If you have room after you’ve finished the salad with meat on it, finish the steamed veg.’

And that’s how the athletes had been taught to eat, for the most part, by their trainers.  I had never gotten that memo.  Pizza and Fries would have been my go-to, but they wouldn’t do me any favours.  Table after table you could pick out who had been told this secret.  We’d talk about how the people eating the cheap disgusting food (for the same price) were actually paying for us to eat the expensive stuff, since we all paid the same price per sitting.

I was trying to show the kids how to eat ‘like athletes’ because they were 12 & 14, growing like weeds, playing competitive soccer, and I wanted them to ‘know the memo’ by the time they went to live on their own somewhere.  Arming kids with information is a valiant goal.  Funny side story:  a ‘professional trainer’ in soccer told one of the kids how to eat and he came back to tell me…  He didn’t remember me telling him.  I have no cred!

I had time.  I was off work, temporarily, and thought ‘I bet there are other people who could use this type of nutritional support’.  I looked around and didn’t see anywhere local who could say ‘this is made from scratch’ Or ‘We make what you would make at home, with a little chef-twist’. 

For my whole career up to this point I had been working ‘on the road’ and constantly eating in ‘restaurants’.  Chain-restaurants make money by offering ‘consistent’ food.  Here is my observation:  The food is the part between the slices of bread on your sandwich.  The bread is just the mechanism to get it to your mouth.  The pasta, rice, or potatoes on your plate are ‘fillers’, and you don’t need them.

We decided to look around and see what we could do to help.  It turns out we were right about what was readily available.  Our town had a lot of ‘pizza’, ‘fries’, ‘potatoes’, but no amazing salads.  All of the available meats were being cooked ‘conventionally’ and only available at the restaurants, many soups were from a bag (premade by a food supplier), and the few small restaurants that could offer a home-made meal were concentrated on lunch. 

We planned on supper.  The flow of our day is to ‘get the meat in the smoker’ first thing in the morning and then we can prepare lunch combos, fresh salads, and sides for the rest of the day.  That’s why we can offer you fresh salads and meal combos each day, do a little improvising with some soups or interesting ‘concept foods’, and our meats are generally ready around 2:30.  That’s as fresh and healthy as we can make it.  That’s why.


Dan Corbett

Author Dan Corbett

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