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Meaghan knows you are what you eat

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Healthy ideals: Meaghan McKenzie with one of her home-cooked rice bowls (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Popping open a frozen pizza is so much easier than preparing a healthy meal.

Many people want to improve their diet but don’t have the time to learn healthy cooking.

Meaghan McKenzie may have the answer.

The 37-year-old is starting a holistic catering business offering home-cooked, wholefood meals and healthy cooking demonstrations.

“I think more people don’t cook healthy meals because of the convenience of what is available to us,” she said.

“Processed food and fast food are easy and quick.

“Changing your diet can be daunting. There is prep work involved and not everyone has that time. It can be overwhelming to think of changing something that is habitual.”

She got into holistic cooking in her twenties.

“I am originally from Toronto. Through my teenage years I had experienced different levels of depression and weight fluctuation. I didn’t really feel completely balanced. I don’t think I ever knew what feeling completely balanced meant.”

She loved high-carb meals.

“We’re Italian,” she said. “I ate a lot of pasta or bread, or pasta and bread. My favourite food was pizza. I never ate entirely poorly, we all indulge in things that aren’t good for us on a daily basis. Over time it impacts your internal condition.”

Everything changed when she joined a yoga studio linked to the Macrobiotic Centre of Toronto.

The centre catered to people struggling with serious illnesses and those recovering from surgery. She started helping cook and deliver whole-food meals. What surprised her was that even though it was mainly plant-based with no processed food and little sugar, it was delicious.

“I learnt a lot about cooking for sick people, diabetes, cancer or surgery recoveries,” Ms McKenzie said.

Her taste buds began to change within three days of taking up the centre’s way of eating.

“With family I’d try my old favourites like pizza and cake and they just didn’t taste the same,” she said. “I’d get a headache.”

She was so impressed she went back to school to study health sciences at George Brown College, and holistic nutrition at Alive Academy.

She moved to the island four years ago with her eight-year-old Bermudian son Michael.

“I have an aunt here and came here a lot as a child,” she said. “I am not a city girl. Bermuda is close enough to nature and action. It is the perfect size for me.”

She worked as a wellness consultant and spent a year building a cold-press juice business that never took off.

She decided to start a catering business after being made redundant this year.

Her hope is to cater to sick people, athletes and people just looking for a quick and easy way to improve their diet.

“Within the last ten years I have really been fascinated with how what we eat impacts us,” she said. “There are people looking to change their diets and I want to help them.”

Nutrient-dense foods such as soups can be particularly good for people going through cancer treatment, she added.

“I worked with one lady with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I would blend a soup for her every day. It was not as hard on the digestive system to break down. I also made her fresh juices every day. Our bodies are complex machines that are built to heal themselves if we give them the tools they need.”

•E-mail plantbasedbda@gmail.com or see her Facebook page: Plant-Based Living BDA.

Bowled over: Meaghan McKenzie with healthy rice bowls (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Hot pot: Meaghan McKenzie makes a healthy soup (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Nice as rice: Meaghan McKenzie cooking up some healthy rice bowls(Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Looks dishy: Dragon Bowls, containing brown rice, arugula, shredded cabbage, and other vegetables (Photograph by Akil Simmons)