We are happy to introduce you to Mia Harris, who is a registered holistic nutritionist. Her approach to nutrition is grounded, and focused on how you feel rather than how you look. Keep reading to learn what she thinks about seaweed, and one challenge people face when switching to a plant-based diet.
Please start by telling us a bit about yourself, and your business.
Hi! I’m Mia Harris, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist living in Victoria, BC. I currently work at a naturopathic centre and also run an online nutrition program for women struggling with food and body image.
I have a passion for all things health and wellness. If I am not at the clinic, you can find me exploring the outdoors on Vancouver Island, sipping oat milk lattes at local cafes and trying out new workout classes in town.
What first sparked your interest in nutrition?
I have always had an interest in nutrition and health since I was young. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I really started delving into my own health journey. I thought I had known a lot about nutrition but realized I had a lot to learn. I was starting to get sick all the time, I experienced extreme fatigue at times and started to notice that certain foods were making me not feel so good. I decided to take the jump and enrolled in a nutrition program and never looked back!
The phrase, “you are what you eat,” is often used to describe how food is a determinant of health. However, both humans and food are much more complex and nuanced than that. So, what does the phrase, “you are what you eat,” mean to you?
I think this can be a number of things. Of course food has a direct affect on the body and contributes to how we look and feel, but it often goes deeper. Our food choices depend on so many things, such as habit, culture and social interactions.
What is your favourite plant-based protein?
I love tempeh, which is a fermented soy product. I find it easier on digestion than tofu and it’s so easy to throw into stir fries or veggie bowls for a hit of protein.
What do you think is the biggest challenge when switching to a plant-based diet?
Ensuring that you have a balanced plate and that you are getting all your key nutrients is really important. Do your research or ask a nutritionist for some guidance (hi!).
What food do you think is most underrated?
Seaweed! I sometimes forget about it but it is so healthy, loaded with vitamins and minerals. It makes dishes super flavourful.
Is there a recipe or dish that changed you?
I tried sashimi for the first time about 4 years ago in a little Japanese restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. It was so fresh and I really went out of my comfort zone and tried a few different things, like jelly fish soup! It was quite an experience and one I’ll never forget.
Are there cookbooks or books about food you are currently enamored with and/or often revisit? What are they, and why do you love them?
I love “Oh She Glows” by Angela Liddon. I find myself going back to that one for her glow bars and brownies all the time!
What is your comfort food?
I love Italian food so pizza or pasta with a rich glass of red wine is my idea of perfection.
What is your earliest food memory?
Being at my grandmother’s house when I was a kid. She was the best cook and the house always smelled delightful whenever you walked in. We would usually have a big family dinner with all my cousins and aunts and uncles around. It was fun, comforting and delicious. I think food is about bringing people together, which has a whole component of nourishment in itself.
What is your fondest food memory?
Sitting in Malibu, California in this quaint little restaurant that was right on the beach. The sun was setting and we indulged in decadent seafood and good wine. It was dreamy.
When you cook, you are ________.
Dancing with a wooden spoon and some good tunes going.
Who would you most want in your kitchen? Are they cooking for you, are you cooking together, or are you cooking for them?
Probably either of my grandmothers! They were the best cooks and I used to steal so many recipes from them. I loved how their cooking always brought everyone together. I would be cooking with them for sure.
Do you have a food goal or cooking aspiration?
I want to get more creative in the kitchen and try out some different cuisines. I want to play around with different curries and spices!
What is your staple dish for a potluck? What do you love about it?
I always make a big tabbouleh salad with quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, goat or feta cheese and tons of herbs. I usually bring homemade hummus to go with it as well. I love how easy both recipes are and you can make them in advance.
What is on your grocery list?
I usually have a few staple items I can’t live without: avocados, apples, dark chocolate, fresh greens, sweet potatoes and nut butter!
What do you feel like eating for dinner tonight?
Well now I have pizza on my mind! Maybe a flatbread pizza with pesto and tons of veggies!
What is your most memorable meal? Why?
Oh wow, I tried to pick but too many to choose from! My best food memories involve being with people I love, relaxing, enjoying the atmosphere and eating something incredible.
Where do you love to eat in Victoria?
As a way to connect with others, and celebrate food, we decided to organize a recipe exchange of your favourite sweet treats.
COVID-19 has illuminated many of the existing problems in our society, including food insecurity. We wanted to learn more about who is most affected, and discuss why these conversations are necessary, especially in the health and wellness world.
Ariel and Jess Reyes Barton are the creators of Palenke Greens, which is a burlap sack gardening initiative aimed at assisting people of African descent facing food insecurity. Not only do they provide all of the supplies to create a burlap sack garden, they also help to install it, and have exciting ideas for the future.