Gosh, there are so many inspiring and passionate individuals that I want to interview for this #healthspotalk. I have some more in the pipeline already and can't wait to share them with you soon! In fact, I've been getting so much excitement from these collaborations that I haven't had much time for other type of posts. I do hope that you enjoy them as much as I do and that you are equally inspired by Elle, Jesse and Co.
Today I want to introduce you to Chloe Elgar from Chloe's Countertop. She's originally from Canada but currently lives in my oh-so-beloved Dubai (slightly jealous!). She works for EssentiallyUAE, a Dubai-based detox company much like Fit 'n' Tasty (if you haven't yet noticed, I work for them parallel to my studies). I have never met her in person, but from our conversations, what she shares on her blog and this interview I can sense that we have a lot in common. I think that people who have experienced eating disorders have a lot of similar qualities, personality traits and thought patterns. Everyone has her/his own story and healing journey, but in the end we can all relate and our stories resonate with one another. That's why it's so beautiful to reach out and connect and be part of this strong community of support. One interesting aspect is that Chloe's journey has been much more spiritual than mine, and I know for a fact that I can learn one or two things from her. But judge for yourself!
What was the catalyst that turned you into a healthy foodie?
It’s an interesting question. There are a few things that brought me to where I am today. It’s all about timing. I truly believe that. There have never been any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decisions in my life, and I am so grateful for every experience I have endured up until now and believe that I will continue to have this gratitude for the rest of my life. Much like you, I grew up with quite severe and painful eating disorders. I always am reminded of that phrase, ‘you either have a painful childhood or a difficult adulthood; it’s one or the other’. I mean, there are definitely people who don’t ever evolve out of their pain and stay in victimhood forever. However, if you are willing to learn and grow from your pain- I believe that you can open yourself up to a beautiful life.
That’s what happened to me. I am forever grateful for my eating disorder. It brought me holistic nutrition; it brought me to psychology and most of all- it brought me to where I am today. My passion is very much about helping others and encouraging and inspiring spiritual, physical and emotional growth- as one. This is all a result of my own evolution.
Things really began to change for me once I graduated from University with my Bachelors in Pscyhology and English. Suddenly without any understanding of what was about to happen- I found myself at the front-steps of the school that would change my life forever, the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. From there, many things changed. I began to truly make strides in my recovery. I began to seek the support of alternative therapies (energy healing, spiritual coaching, Ayurveda, naturopathic medicine, sangha) and lifestyles that I had resisted for many, many years. My relationship of 7 years ended; a painful but incredibly necessary event. I found my ‘people’ and my community. I would say though, of all things, without my eating disorder- I probably wouldn’t have had such a keen interest in food and health. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Our pain can end up being the invitation to true, everlasting happiness. Pain is the opening to truth.
Where exactly did you study?
I completed my Bachelors in Psychology & English Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Upon graduation and after further recovery of my eating disorder- I made the choice that would change and define my life forever, and decided to go back to school to study Holistic Nutrition at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.
You work for EssentiallyUAE. Can you tell us a bit about your job with them but also you as a nutrition consultant and personal chef?
With Essentially, I lead the development of several programs including: the Bespoke Nutrition Program, Recipe & Product development, Client Health & Wellness Support as well as Marketing, Communication and Social Media. My focus within Essentially is to build an effective, comprehensive and intuitive program for Essentially clients in order to offer an abundance of support, communication, education and awareness beyond the products. The health and wellness industry here in Dubai is super interesting right now; it’s really taking off and a lot more people are becoming interested, excited and involved in their health! It’s a great time to be here. (little input from me: When I lived in Dubai four years ago, this was NOT the case. It was quite hard to find healthy restaurants/café's etc. and hearing Chloe talk about these changes really makes me want to go back and check it out for myself!)
Before moving to Dubai I founded and ran Chloe’s Countertop Nutritional Consulting and Holistic Catering, in Vancouver. It was through this platform that I helped clients regain balance in their life through Orthomolecular medicine. Prior to becoming a Holistic Nutritionist, I was incredibly interested in going to culinary school and that is still in my vision for the upcoming years. Needless to say, it was an intuitive direction for me to become a Personal Chef and Holistic Caterer in Vancouver, where I did meal plans and deliveries for VIP clients in the film industry as well as catered specific events including retreat enters, equine therapy centre clinics, open houses for Naturopathic clinics and Advertising Agency events.
From my experience in Vancouver, I was able to really recognise what I am drawn to and what I’m not. I have found that I get most bliss from working with people in need of spiritual, psychological and nutritional guidance towards to a place of self-love. My ideal client is someone who experiences lack of self-confidence and self-love and is searching for a way to develop a healthy and happy relationship with food. As the slogan goes, a conscious rediscovery of love for thyself through food.
Why do you eat the way you eat?
I am incredibly passionate about nature, health and the environment. I have always been slightly obsessed with food and health- and once I was able to loosen up the strings a bit and allow myself to enjoy food without fear, guilt or anxiety- the doors opened and my love and passion for food truly blossomed. I have experienced both spectrums of eating (and not eating) and I appreciate beyond belief how good real food makes me feel. I have witnessed the effect that natural and wholesome food has on my physical, emotional/mental and spiritual health and seen this happen with others too.
Also, I am really passionate about animals and the environment. There is nothing I love more than to be with animals or in nature. Nature is the most simple way of connecting to your true self. Thus, I am dedicated to doing my best to help nourish and protect nature and encouraging others too.
Describe your day on a plate.
My day varies throughout the year. Although I am big on having a routine- I also think that its’ important to listen to your body. For instance, some weeks I wake up every morning with a big appetite and am excited for breakfast while on other days I am satisfied with a big glass of water followed by a green juice. At the moment, I am going through a breakfast moment.
- Without fail I always start my day with a large glass of water (500 mL) and I will usually add fresh lemon or lime juice (depending on how I’m feeling: if I feel out of balance I will go for lime (pitta pacifying) and lemon if I am feeling good and balanced.
- I will then whip up breakfast, usually chia pudding or overnight oats with fresh fruit & nut mylk. I will also sometimes do a savoury breakfast like avocado toast or quinoa/mushrooms/greens/leek sautéed in coconut oil & garlic.
- My morning snack is always a green juice (parsley, spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger, apple), followed by herbal tea (licorice/mint, green tea, dandelion root) & lots of filtered water (I use a kangen water system).
- Lunch depends on whether I am at home or at work and if I prepared ahead of time. I usually will go for a green salad + grain or avocado on toast. If I’m still full from breakfast I will simply enjoy a green smoothie or hummus & veggie sticks.
- Dinner… one of my favourites. I love unwinding after a day of work in the kitchen, sometimes with a glass of wine but always with music, while I create something delicious. My favourite go-tos’ are buckwheat noodle stir fry or salad, lentil daal, soup, pilafs, or chickpea curry.
- Herbal tea post-dinner almost always… I like to brew up a digestive tea like mint, dandelion + licorice.
- Water, water, water. I tend to end the day with another large glass of water and make sure to rink about 3 litres of water throughout the day. This does sometimes mean that I wake up in the middle of the night for a washroom visit, but- I really don’t mind.
What are the 5 things we will always find in your fridge/pantry?
Avocados: I go through obsessions with avocados and regardless, they always tend to be in my kitchen. The most delicious and nutritious fast-food out there— satiating, delicious and so nutritious. I tend to recommend for clients to include an avocado every 1-2 days, especially if they are dealing with hormonal imbalances or sugar cravings.
Apples: My favourite fruit, by far. Again, nutritious fast-food- versatile and so delicious. There really is nothing better than finding your favourite type of apple in the produce section of your market. The key with apples is whether or not they are in season.
Chia: I have been called the Chia Queen more times than one. If you have a look through my Instagram you’ll quickly realise why. I started eating Chia Pudding when I was just out of my recovery phase from my eating disorders- and they really became a safe food for me. Not only are they a complete protein, they’re an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibre- and they are so easy to prepare. I highly recommend trying them for breakfast, if you haven’t already.
Tahini & Tamari (can they count as one?): When I’m not the Chia Queen, I’m the Sauce Princess. I love making sauces. I am most definitely an intuitive chef, meaning that I tend to stay away from measuring cups and teaspoons (unless I am recipe testing/developing) and go by how it feels. I stopped buying packaged sauces and dressings several years ago and have never looked back. There is nothing better than topping a dish with your own creation of flavours- and you can eat it knowing exactly what is in it and how it will effect your body. Another major step that I share with clients almost immediately- to make their own sauces and dressings. So crucial and taste-wise, completely worth it!
Garlic & Ginger: This basically goes along with tahini and tamari. I LOVE ginger and garlic and try to add them to most things I make, especially dinners. When it comes to garlic, if you are crushing/mincing/cooking it fresh- you won’t be getting the famous ‘garlic breath’ we always hear about. The nutritional benefits of garlic and ginger are so incredible- I argue that they are one of the most powerful superfoods out there. I basically won’t have a juice/smoothie without fresh ginger.
What’s the biggest nutrition misconception you are always having to clear up for people?
I would say that biggest one still is that you can’t get protein from plant-based foods. It is quite frustrating that this is still such a misconception, globally. When it comes to nutrition- the most important thing is to have a variety of foods that are whole, natural and fresh. My biggest foodie lessons that I like to share with others is:  practice non-restriction, don’t label foods as ‘bad’ &  there is no ‘one size fits all’ or right way to eat- every one is different and every single person requires different foods at different times.
Tell us about your workout routine.
I am all about working out with a trainer. Exercise and movement has always been a part of my life since the younger years. It took me a while to figure out my preferences, but I eventually realized that I prefer to work out one-on-one. Thinking about it now, I've always been drawn to one-on-one sports such as cross-country, badminton, track & field and swimming.
This one-on-one emphasis is relevant for many aspects of my life. I love working with clients one-one-on for my job as a xxx. I like the intimacy of working in small groups versus large groups.
When it comes to types of exercise, I love high-intensity exercises such as boxing, HIIT or resistance exercising. I have a pretty strong build and have always been strong and grounded - any movement that supports this, I am in for. I also love to be competitive and have someone push me when it comes to exercising.
What does living a wholesome lifestyle mean to you?
Wholesome living means living your truth. Not practicing comparison, resistance or having expectations. Identifying what your passions are, listening to your heart and intuition and trusting yourself. There is no ‘answer’ on how to live or how to find happiness- the picture looks different for each person and it’s about creating the path that feels best for you.
You absolutely must check out Chloe's Instagram account, where she shares mouth-watering dishes ranging from stir fries to smoothies and juice creations. She was so kind to share her Banana and Berry Chia Pudding with us for this talk, here it is:
Chloe’s Banana, Berry Chia Pudding
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
½ cup filtered water
¼ Cup organic coconut mylk
½ cup cashew mylk
¼ cup blueberries
1 frozen banana
2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
1 Tbsp dessicated coconut
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medjool date
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 Tbsp cacao nibs
The night before, combine chia seeds & filtered water along with 1 tsp of cinnamon in a jar, shake and place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, combine frozen banana, coconut mylk, cashew mylk, date, vanilla, Himalayan salt, 1 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, ¼ cup blueberries- and blend in Vitamix/blender for 20-30 seconds.
Combine chia seed mixture + mylk in a bowl & mix.
Split into two serving bowls. Top with fresh blueberries, desiccated coconut & pomegranate seeds.
Thank you Chloe for this great interview! I hope that you all once again enjoyed this #healthspotalk and make sure to head to Chloe's website again soon as she is in the process of revamping the entire design.