By Elizabeth Nolan – Driftwood Staff
Canadians are set on becoming a whole lot healthier, and will even enjoy doing so, thanks to two island businesses inspired by one woman’s passion for food.
Food that is good for you and also tastes good is central to the upcoming launch of Annette Magled’s Vida Grains product and responsible for the growing client base at her food coaching business, Salt Spring Food for Life.
Over lattes and biscotti, Annette Magled explained that in her life, food has always had significance. She was brought up in a Jewish family in Israel and Toronto, in a culture that celebrates every important event with a special dish.
CEO of Vida Grains – Annette Magled
“Food is an essential part of that life. It’s a part of all celebration, religious or otherwise,”
Annette said, recalling the hours spent watching her grandmother in her tiny kitchen preparing pita breads, chicken and stews for up to 20 family members.
As a busy wife and mother, Annette’s adult life has seen a continuation of her passion combined with the everyday stress of the time constraints everyone feels. As a result, she’s become an expert at preparing meals “on the fly” and improvising with what’s on hand. Her three daughters have anywhere from four to six activities between them each week, while her husband works full time and also has a singing career. With her own business and volunteer activities thrown in, Annette knows how to feed a family with limited time and still make food that nourishes and tastes good.
“I like to feed people, and I like to feed people good food, because when I eat good food I feel a definite difference between that and what weighs me down,” Annette explained.
Her love of cooking for friends and family has led directly to Vida Grains, a product that Annette hopes to launch at Natureworks in June and then outwards into Canada. The mix of whole grains and fresh seeds is a “fibre food topping” that can be added to savoury or sweeter foods, from salads and stews to rice and quinoa, or yoghurt and muesli. Involving a mix of “superfood” fibres like hemp and flax, Annette has maximized the recipe’s ratio so that nutritionally it’s almost a complete food for its essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Annette with her family
Besides being tasty — Annette said it’s the only way her youngest daughter will eat rice — the topping has proven health benefits within her own family. She first learned the recipe from her mother, who used it to reverse a painful condition called diverticulitis, a blocking of the intestines by undigested food. Dismayed by her doctor’s suggestion of cutting out the blocked portion, and even more by his assertion that there were no preventative measures and that a second operation would likely be necessary in a few years, Annette’s mother took a nutritionist’s advice instead. Using a Vida Grains-like recipe, she completely solved the problem. Around four years ago, Annette served her version of the recipe to a friend, who told her, “Annette, you’ve got to share this”.
“I got all excited inside,” Annette recalled, “because there’s nothing like it. It’s unique, it tastes good, it has health benefits. I knew my kids would be in school, I was looking for something to do, and sales is such a strong component. So it all came together.”
In addition to Vida Grains, Annette Magled has added her own stamp to the field of personal coaching. Through Salt Spring Food for Life she combines her skills in the kitchen with her nutritional knowledge to help people change their habits to healthier ones. She entered the field around two years ago when Deb Leblanc of DEBFIT Lifestyle Fitness Company told her she wanted to concentrate on exercise training with clients and needed someone else “to wear the food hat.”
Vida Grains really is a “Superfood”
“It was a perfect fit for me, and it was like someone had given me a gift. It involved all the skills I had and she gave me some place to put them.”
In her coaching work, Annette said she works on a person-to-person basis, and starts by learning about an individual’s relationship with food. After a lot of talking, small changes rather than huge ones are introduced.
“It’s not necessarily about how to change, because that can be overwhelming and sets people up for failure. Instead, we just add good things: it could be just drinking one glass of water in the morning, or putting your fork down between bites, or chewing your food more times.”
Annette Magled also helps people learn how to shop, how to plan meals and how to make meals when there isn’t much in the fridge. Getting creative is her strong suit; where others see unconnected grocery items, she sees ingredients for a meal. At the same time, she provides the tools to make sure the ingredients that are hanging around are likely to be healthy ones acquired through “conscious” shopping. But perhaps Annette’s greatest gift is educating people that food that is good for you actually tastes better — the best reason to eat it.