Good-for-you food options abound
Sample on-trend eats
Jay Quinn used to be like a lot of people: tired, overbooked and quick to grab fast food.
He’d started his career as a chef, but found the long hours weren’t worth the pay. Then he went to school and worked as a paralegal at a law office, which didn’t solve his problem of being too busy. “Being in a car all day, sitting at a desk all day” meant it didn’t take long for his health to suffer the consequences.
“I found that my eating habits and general overall health and motivation were definitely declining,” said Quinn, who launched Fork & Lean out of the Kitchen Collective in August. “I looked forward to crappy food choices. The easiest thing to eat is just really bad for you. I felt lethargic. I didn’t have time to prepare meals myself.”
Fork & Lean cooks upscalelooking meals that don’t have any gluten, dairy or added salt, and are ready for pickup twice a week — perfect for customers living like he once did. And he’s one of several new business owners in Hamilton who say healthy food has hit prime time as people look for faster ways to eat well.
“(Our society has) so many health and weight issues,” Quinn said. “More and more, people are realizing the root of it is food.”
Several other businesses touting healthy food options have opened in the area lately, including a Freshii outlet in Jackson Square, Glow Juicery on Locke Street and Pure Love, a juice and smoothie bar attached to the Lettuce Love vegan café on John Street in Burlington. In downtown Hamilton, The Second Bowl vegetarian café and two-in-one concept Little Big Bowl/Eatwell (offering “healthy, delicious bowls”) are opening soon.
At Glow Juicery, part of an Ed-
monton-based chain, the menu features a vast slate of cold-pressed juices incorporating fruits, vegetables and spices, as well as smoothies and vegan, raw food.
Hamilton location owner Lina Cannella believes there has been an evolution among people who typically eat out and have realized they can do that in a health-conscious manner.
She says her clients do include people following all-juice or exclusively raw-food diets, but many others work around Locke Street and are looking for a healthy lunch, or are shopping in the area and drop by to grab a juice.
“People always ask me if I’m vegan, and I’m not,” said Cannella, who was trying out veganism for one month when she spoke with The Spectator in early May. “I just believe in giving people more healthy options.”
Kelly and Ken Childs, who run Pure Love and Lettuce Love, discovered earlier in their hospitality career that people who eat vegetarian or vegan diets were an untapped market. While running the Black Dog in eastern Toronto before moving to Burlington, Ken — an omnivore at the time — says Kelly convinced him to change his menu to about 30 per cent vegetarian dishes.
“It was an immediate success,” he said. “We were going after a market that was brewing.”
They opened Lettuce Love (initially called Kind Food) in 2010 after moving to Burlington; Pure Love launched last November. Kelly also runs Kelly’s Bake Shoppe — which offers gluten-free, vegan and peanutfree baked goods — with her daughter Erinn Weatherbie.
Ken is now vegan, but says it takes more than just adopting a label to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“Vegan doesn’t mean healthy — Oreo cookies are vegan,” he said, laughing. “You can fill yourself with candy and pop and say you’re a vegetarian.”
Dr. Janet Pritchard, who teaches nutrition to life sciences students at McMaster University, stresses the importance of eating a balanced diet, saying most dietary trends haven’t been studied enough for their effects to be truly understood.
“Rather than changing our diets to include all raw foods, foods from the Stone Age or juices, we should be thinking about adopting a dietary pattern that is more sustainable and scientifically sound.”
She recommends following Canada’s Food Guide or the Mediterranean Diet, saying both are backed by scientific evidence. That said, she notes it’s hard to compete with health advice from celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and the Kardashians, whose thoughts on health and wellness often get more attention than those of the scientific community.
“That’s why I do this ‘Fad Diet Friday’ section in my courses. Let’s take what’s out there and debunk it.”
Top, John-Michael Quinn prepares some of his premade meals available from his company Fork & Lean. Customers can order their meals on line and pick them up at the Kitchen Collective, where he prepares them.
Left, Lina Cannella, owner of Glow Juicery on Pine Street, with its vast slate of cold-pressed juices incorporating fruits, vegetables and spices, as well as smoothies and vegan, raw food.
Above, Fork & Lean’s salad and sandwich with roasted red pepper, pickled red onion and chick peas.
Michael Rennie, general manager of Lettuce Love Cafe in Burlington, which offers a variety of gluten free and vegan food options.
From the top: Hawaiian Bowl, Sweet Potato Burger and Power Bowl from Lettuce Love.