Discover Joanna Steven’s secret to abundant wellness

Joanna Steven Interview

Today I had the opportunity to interview Joanna Steven, the lovely lady behind the blog www.joannasteven.com. Joanna’s blog shares mouth watering recipes plus health and wellness tips for busy mum’s. Joanna is passionate about nutrition and inspiring and nurturing women with her nutrient dense foods for the heart.

Discover Joanna’s journey to abundant wellness and her tips for living well on a budget. Plus, she share two of her decadent healthy chocolate recipes.

 

Joanna when did you first change you diet? What is your approach to healthy eating?

As a child, I ate the standard junk food diet, alongside other foods that are now becoming more popular thanks to the Paleo and Weston A. Price Foundation diets (bone marrow, liver, butter). I wasn’t at all healthy though, definitely because of all the fast food I was eating. I was pretty skinny, had acne, anxiety, heartburn. Nutrition was far from mainstream in the 80’s and 90’s though.

Several years down the road, I started to think that a vegetarian diet was probably healthier than any other diet, so I ditched all animal products. But, I still wasn’t feeling great. I still had acne, anxiety, mild depression, and didn’t sleep well. What I didn’t know at the time is that labels mean nothing. There are as many variation of a given diet as there are followers. You can be vegetarian and eat lots of greens, pastured animal by-products, pay attention to your B12, iodine, and zinc intake, drink pure water, etc. Or you could survive on doughnuts and sugary sodas. Both diets are, in essence, vegetarian.

Feeling that a lot of my problems were due to stress, I started taking yoga classes, and then enrolled in aerobics classes, and finally weight lifting (all at the same time). I loved it, and started feeling better, but things still weren’t great. We only live once, we might as well reach for the stars, right? So, I started looking at my nutritional intake.

That’s when I discovered raw foods. I’m not a raw foodist, or even vegan, but at the time, I badly needed to cleanse, and raw foods were just what I needed. That’s actually a recurring theme in the health and fitness community. You feel awful, you cleanse with a plant based diet like raw foods, and you then move on to rebuilding your body and making it stronger than ever. In 2006, I published my first raw food eBook, followed by as many as eight eBooks in the next eight years. Some of these books are now off print as my publications evolve with me.

From my time as a raw foodist, I still enjoy green vegetable juices, green smoothies, healthy raw fats like coconut oil, mineral rich seeds like pumpkin and hemp, cultured foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, and sea vegetables. I have also added new foods, like eggs (I raise backyard hens), full fat dairy (of course, always from ethically and humanely raised animals – my backyard is too small for a goat or a cow unfortunately!), and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. You can read all about my diet in this post. My husband is fully vegetarian, and has been since birth, but I believe that woman of childbearing age, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding (or both!), and growing children, have nutritional needs that need to be monitored more closely. I always make sure that my husband is getting enough omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and other important nutrients.

I think it’s important to look at ancestral cultures with vibrant health – some were meat eaters, some vegetarian (in India for example) – and use modern scientific findings and advances to our advantage. In this day and age, there is no excuse for not being vibrantly healthy. We have access to an astonishing amount of information, and I think we all know deep down what’s really good for us. We need to listen to our intuition. And if we’re wrong? There’s no shame in admitting it and adjusting our diet. We’re all learning!

What are your top tips for eating well on a budget?

Definitely make a menu and shopping list, and stick to it. You will save a ton of money when you don’t go to the store three times a week, or end up getting take out because you don’t know what to make for dinner. That’s my #1 tip for sure.

Also, don’t be afraid to buy in bulk. I get my lentils, beans, quinoa, etc., by the case or in very large bags, because they keep a long time and I’m going to eat them anyway.

And, if you can, grow some food. Leafy greens are super easy to grow. Kale for example is very sturdy and grows easily. You can throw a few leaves in smoothies to boost the nutritional content in seconds. The next best thing would be to visit Farmers Markets. I get amazing deals there, rarely spending more than $50 for bags filled with fresh produce!

And finally, if you’ve got freezer space, pick fruits in season and freeze them properly so they last you all winter. You’ll save a lot compared to buying organic berries at the store the rest of the year.

What are your store cupboard/fridge staples you always keep to hand?

In my fridge, I always have:

  • Sauerkraut or kimchi, to boost nutrition and make my meals more digestible
  • Butter, for added K2, vitamin D, etc. I always get it pastured.
  • Leafy greens, for salads and to add to green smoothies
  • Veggies that are sturdy and can be added to anything, like bell peppers, zucchini, ginger, cucumbers, celery
  • Raw cheese, to eat alongside soups in the winter
  • Eggs from my backyard hens
  • In my freezer, I always have frozen strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, etc. to add to smoothies. I always have bananas on the counter.

In my cupboard, I always have:

  • Lentils (red, or French green)
  • Beans (black, pinto, red, white)
  • Tomatoes (perfect to add to soups and stews)
  • Coconut milk (for soups, gluten free waffles, etc)
  • Coconut flour and almond flour for amazing gluten free baked goods
  • Chocolate! Can’t be without it.

And since I’m breastfeeding right now, I often have oatmeal to boost my supply. I make plenty of milk but right now I’m also pumping for a friend’s premature baby.

With these foods, I can make green smoothies in the morning, and eggs with veggies for lunch. I can make huge pots of soup for dinner, and we always have a bunch of fruits to snack on.

What advice would you give to people trying to eat a more plant-based diet?

First, I would tell them that a plant based diet isn’t just a diet that eschews meat. It’s a diet that gets an abundance of nutrients from plants. The problem is that plant foods are nutrient dense by weight, and since they’re pretty light (think spinach etc), you can’t eat a bunch of refined foods like pasta and think you’re eating well because you’re having a salad as a side dish, or some steamed broccoli. You really do have to think about what you’re eating at first. The good news is that once good habits are established, it all becomes second nature. I spend very little time planning my meals now.

I would also tell them to look at ancestral cultures which thrived on plant based diets. None of them were vegan, but there were some vegetarian ones. In India, for example, cows were sacred, and from them, many life giving foods were derived. Ghee, or clarified butter, is a long lasting, nutrient dense, golden oil with which you can safely fry food with. With the milk, you can also makes cheeses including the ultra fast to make, super easy paneer cheese. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look for people who got it, who did it right, and then learn from them!

Lastly, do you have a favourite healthy recipe?

Yes! Because I require a lot of protein (it may not be true for you, but I definitely do better with lots of it, about 70 g a day), I make protein shakes almost daily. This recipe is from the Nourished Village cookbook (volume I).

Protein and Iron Smoothie

This recipe provides over 30% of the FDA’s daily protein and iron requirement, as well as more than 300% of our vitamin C needs, thus enhancing our body’s ability to absorb iron. It is full of fibre and provides 25% of our daily folate requirement. Folate is an important nutrient for pregnant moms. Last, but not least it’s creamy and delicious!

Ingredients (Serves 2 )
  • 1 10-oz bag frozen strawberries, partially thawed
  • 2-3 large bananas
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water
Directions
  1. Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

Avocado chocolate pudding

Also, I love avocados. They’re so nutrient dense, and rich in healthy fats. The pudding below is creamy and delicious, without any junky ingredients!

Feel virtuous while you indulge in this decadent chocolate mousse. Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, your energy levels will soar with every spoonful! It is also from the Nourished Village cookbook (volume I).

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • Pinch Celtic sea salt
  • 1 tsp. lucuma powder (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. water
Directions
  1. Blend the avocado in a small food processor until smooth.
  2. Add the other ingredients, and keep blending until you get a uniformly coloured and fluffy mousse.
  3. Spoon the chocolate mousse into a bowl, and refrigerate for about an hour.

Connect with Joanna

Joanna Steven is the fearless, bliss-seeking mama behind The Nourished Village – a nurturing community for Moms and their families. You can connect with Joanna on her website joannasteven.com and her Facebook page. Her popular eBooks are available on Amazon.

 

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This Breakfast ebook is perfect if you’re looking for:

+ 20 gluten-free & dairy-free recipes
+ Nourishing smoothies, Juices, Breakfast & Brunch
+ An overview of smoothies vs juices
+ Time saver tips to set you up for success
+ A bonus printable shopping list to get you started.

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