The Inside Scoop on Lush Earth
When our Founder and CEO Christine Carlton sampled Amanda Franko and Robbie Foti’s food at a silent yoga retreat, she knew they were on to something – so much so she hired them to become her personal chefs. “As a busy mom, entrepreneur (and lousy cook) I hired Amanda to feed my family amazing nutritious food,” says Christine. Here, we chat with Amanda about her revolutionary company Lush Earth, her easy healthy food hacks and more…
Catering is often thought of as something decadent that’s reserved for special occasions. Tell us how Lush Earth is changing that notion.
In this busy day and age, everyone needs a little help, whether you’re a single mom or just don’t have the time and energy to expend preparing nutritious foods. As we all know, food is the fuel that drives us. You are what you eat. Everyone deserves to be eating fresh, vibrant and delicious foods that will enhance their energy and, as a result, life.
Was that the inspiration for you and Robbie to launch your company?
Yes! We also wanted to show the world how absolutely delicious healthy eating can be. There is a big misconception that healthy eating is bland and boring or extremely time consuming in its preparation and creativity. The truth is, it does take time and effort to prepare and creativity is necessary to keep it exciting. But there’s also beauty in the simplicity of these foods and ways to subtly train your taste buds to not constantly need a large amount of sugar or salt. Everything is so overly processed these days. Our mission is to bring food back to the roots, to encourage a “whole” way of eating.
Were you always interested in healthy eating?
For the most part, yes. I grew up in the countryside with large fruit and vegetable gardens which would provide for me and my family. I’m very thankful for my holistic up-bringing. I know, however, that not everyone has this privilege; this further motivates me to share this knowledge.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Of course! I am human after all! I’m a sucker for a few things, chocolate being one of them, baked goods and pizza. Luckily, I have found ways to recreate all these foods in a wholesome, nutritious manner.
What’s your most requested dish?
People absolutely love my raw vegan cheesecakes. Yes, that’s right! A cheesecake that is raw (no baking required) and vegan (no dairy!). They also happen to be gluten-free and completely delicious. They have an assorted nut and coconut base and can be made in almost any flavour.
Your services extend beyond “regular” catering. Tell us about your retreats and Yoga Gourmet.
One of our absolute favourite things to do is cook for yoga/wellness retreats; the honour of providing the sustenance to fuel such an impactful weekend of bliss. The food is so important in these experiences and the connections we get to make after feeding everyone for an entire weekend is remarkable. That’s how I met Christine after all! We also offer a few other services, such as a personal nutritional chef, cooking-class dinner parties and Yoga Gourmet, a yoga class followed by a three-course gourmet plant-based feast. What’s better than that?!
Best business advice you’ve received.
Simple: don’t give up and honour your uniqueness. No one else can do it like you can. That’s how you find your niche, your true authenticity.
Best healthy eating advice you can give.
Listen to your body. If you’re not hungry when you wake up, don’t eat. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Chewing is the first stage in digestion and it takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you’ve eaten enough. The more you practice listening to your body and trusting it, the stronger the relationship will be.
Your dream meal.
A colourful variety of veggies steamed or baked in coconut oil, a pile of tender greens splashed with lemon, a fresh piece of protein, perhaps grilled salmon, something tangy and fermented on the side, perhaps sauerkraut or pickled veggies (gotta have me some probiotics!) and fresh sourdough bread with ghee and olives and goat cheese! Fresh, colourful and light but nutrient dense, rich and flavourful!
Is there one “food hack” we can to do every day that’s easy and healthy?
Yes, many! But if I must list only one: eat seasonally and focus on foods that are available at your local farmers’ market. For example, here in the Canadian springtime, the earth is popping up with dandelions. Dandelion greens just so happen to be one of the most abundant liver-cleansing foods. In Ayurvedic terms, springtime is prime for cleansing and purging the body of winter buildup. Sprouts, fiddleheads and rhubarb are also in season, which are all foods high in cleansing properties and digestive enzymes. In the winter months, seasonal eating includes heavier, grounding root vegetables, warming spices to fuel our “digestive fire” and more animal fats to insulate our bodies. Following a seasonal diet keeps your body in sync with the natural cycles of the earth and its fluctuating seasons.
Do you have a secret ingredient for transforming meals?
Oh many, but some of my favourites are fresh herbs and a lot of them! Fresh basil, rosemary, thyme… all those delicate but impactful aromatics that just take your taste buds to heaven! Also, I don’t hold back on a good dose of healthy oils like good-quality olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil. Fats are so incredibly good for your health and many people are still afraid of them! Fat does not make you fat, sugar does! Quality artisan salt like Celtic sea salt or even Herbamare sea salt (salt infused with herbs) totally makes a difference and adds a dose of yummy earthly minerals!
What’s it like cooking for our Founder & CEO?
Christine is absolutely lovely! She is so easygoing yet devoted to her health. I absolutely love witnessing people invest in their health and the nutrition of their family.
How would you describe Lush Earth?
As a trusted source for nutritional and culinary inspiration that keeps life juicy, colourful and fresh. Lush Earth is a commitment to humanity and our planet and to shining a light on clean eating, environmental awareness and living in sync with the earth. The only way we can heal the planet is by starting the healing with ourselves. Lush Earth can remind you how exciting this can be!
What’s next for you and Robbie?
We’d love to have a retreat centre up north with a Bed-and-Breakfast, holistic café and movement studio: the ultimate wellness centre. We’ll grow our own food, live off the land as much as possible and teach others to do so as well. We want to continue to educate and nourish our community but do it while surrounded by forest!
CHIA POWER PARFAIT
Chia: A wonderful and powerful seed that transforms into a gelatinous pudding when soaked in any liquid. Packed full of nourishing essential fatty acids, fibre and plant-protein, this seed aids digestion, increases body hydration and is a true superfood. Chia parfaits make a brilliant snack or breakfast
INGREDIENTS (Makes 2 Portions)
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
- 3 drops vanilla
- Handful of berries
- Dash of cinnamon
- Any nuts, seeds or dried fruit (walnuts, hemp hearts and goji berries are some of my favourites)
- Drizzle of honey or maple syrup
- Dollop of organic yogurt, coconut cream or kefir on top.
After soaking the chia with milk or water for at least 15 mins (stirring a few times along the way to break up chunks), mix in remaining ingredients, then dollop your favourite topping.