About Melanie Brown Preston
One day,when my eldest daughter Gisella was in her second year of chiropractic college, she phoned me, completely out of the blue. She wanted to thank me. She was grateful, she explained, for her healthy body and perfect immune system. She was grateful for the healthy food I had always fed her and the exercise I had always encouraged her to do. She was grateful that she had only been on antibiotics once in her entire life. This is the phone call that I remember when I contemplate my life experiences and how they inform the mission of the Food Reconnection. I simply think about my thriving, successful, happy children and it all comes into sharp focus. Allow me to explain by telling you a little bit about my life.
I was born in the U.K. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was two. At the age of ten, during a very cold, wet visit to the U.K., my parents took the family on a cheap holiday to the sunny, sleepy Spanish island of Ibiza. Within two weeks, my parents had bought a piece of land and arranged for our new home to be built. What a shock! Everyone in Ibiza spoke nothing but Spanish or Ibicenco. There were no supermarkets. Sugar was a grayish colour and it was sold loose in bins. Noisy animals lived just outside the butcher’s shop. Fresh milk was left daily at the end of our dirt road for pick up. My family became accustomed to picking fresh fruit off the trees, searching for wild mushrooms and asparagus in the woods, and eating whatever was fresh, in season, and locally available.
Eventually, I met my husband Juan and we brought three beautiful children into the world. My parents purchased a small hotel in Ibiza and I ran its kitchen for many years before taking over the entire hotel. My Ibicencan mother-in-law lived nearby and provided us with traditionally-grown, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables year round. The abundance of the land and a caring network of family, foodies, and farmers fed my family and my business—both literally and figuratively!
When my family made the decision to move to Canada, it was a big adjustment. I found a job cooking right away, but I was horrified that the food I was asked to prepare wasn’t ‘real food’. There was a very limited amount of fresh produce and barely anything was made from scratch. Everything came out of a packet! I worked in three different places, but the food and the preparation were all the same. It became more and more difficult for me to cook food that I knew was making people sick, if not killing them. So one day I simply made up my mind that I would never cook that kind of food again! I decided to study what I was so passionate about, so I attended the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Vancouver and became a holistic nutritionist.
Now my mission is to help people connect with the power they have over their own health. I guide people in making nutritional choices that will unlock optimum health. I teach people how to fall in love with simple, fast, delicious cooking. My services are geared towards designing joyful, easy, and rewarding lifestyles that my clients want to stick to for the long-term. I know what the connection between good health, happiness, and good food is, because I’ve lived it—and so have my husband and children. It’s now my pleasure to teach as many people as I can what I’ve learned, so that one day they can look back and feel gratitude for the gift they gave their children.
Wishing you health and happiness!
Mediterranean Cooking – The ‘Real Food’ Lifestyle
The Food Reconnection approach to holistic nutrition involves following a Mediterranean-inspired or—as we like to call it—‘real food’ diet.
While there’s no single ‘Mediterranean diet’, it generally involves eating lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil; as well as small amounts of meat dairy, and red wine. This lifestyle also encourages daily exercise, sharing meals with others—and enjoying all of it.
‘Real food’ is the sustenance we humans have been thriving on forever: home-cooked soups and stews, home-raised meats, eggs with bright orange yolks, cream, butter, seasonal fruits ripe off the tree, and veggies so fresh you can taste the earth in which they grew. These foods don’t have a shelf life and they go bad if you don’t eat them fairly quickly. They are alive.
For me, Mediterranean food truly is ‘real food’. It is clean, fresh, local, seasonal, traditional and extremely nutrient-dense. The flavours reflect the sun and soil it has received.
Finally, it’s important to note that eating this way is not a ‘diet’, it’s a lifestyle—one that promotes well-being, leaves us deeply nourished and contented, feeds the local economy, and supports the health of our planet.
Simple Tips for Living the ‘Real Food’ Lifestyle
- Get rid of all the junk in your pantry. Stop eating and buying processed foods today.
- Eat what your great-great grandmother ate. Get back to basics.
- Eat seasonally. Food is your best preventative medicine so use your meals as an opportunity to cultivate your own strength and wellness. Visit your local farmer’s markets or sign up for a CSA farm box. Ensure that you are consuming local, seasonal foods that provide the right nutrients at the right time of year. For example, in many locales, citrus is in season in the winter when our immune systems can certainly use a vitamin C boost. Eating with the season not only good for your body but it will save you money too.
- Get to know your local farmers. Talk to them about what they do. Ask them what their animals eat and how they are raised. Ask them how they deal with pests on their fruit and what the best veggies this season are. Most will be happy to answer your questions, and you will truly understand the source of your food.
- Choose quality over quantity to prevent overeating and reduce your food bill. When you eat nutrient-dense foods instead of modern convenience foods your body can actually get everything it needs from much less food.
- Limit your sweets, and use minimally processed, nutrient-rich sweeteners such as raw honey or grade B maple syrup.
- Don’t fear (real) salt – Choose a high quality sea salt. It’s full of essential minerals and does not contribute to health issues like everyday table salt does.
- If you eat meat, know your source. Factory-raised meat and poultry should be entirely avoided, which means passing on meat at most restaurants. Choose fish that are wild and sustainable.
- Enjoy what you eat! Really taste it and become conscious of it. Make mealtime a happy affair!