Photo: Vanessa Heins
Hey! You’ve landed on Spicewell’s popular series 5 Questions With…, so I’m guessing you’re curious to hear from expert voices in the plant-based food and medicine space.
5 Questions With introduces you to world-class chefs, writers and nutritionists from around the world all of whom, like us, align with Ayurvedic, a 5000 year old science of wellness from India.
Each of our experts have answered 5 questions (the clue is most definitely in the title!), revealing their go-tos for health, wellness and (most importantly) comfort foods.
Here’s our vegan vlogger hero Lauren Toyota.
Lauren Toyota is the author of the bestselling cookbook Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes To Feed Your Face. She's been named one of Canada's Most Influential Vegans (Impact Magazine) and has appeared on many national television programs sharing her expertise for making vegan food fast and fun. Lauren's YouTube channel, Instagram, and site hot for food have amassed millions of views and devoted fans.
1. What's in your pantry right now? What are some of your go-tos for wellness and for flavor?
I always have a variety of salts like Maldon Flaked salt, pink Himalayan salt, grey sea salt, kosher salt and black salt. There is a reason to use different salts for different recipes, techniques, and garnishes! I always have nutritional yeast which is not only a source of B-12 but a great flavor enhancer. Ground whole flax, and ground golden flax meal might be the healthiest thing in the pantry. I use it in smoothies and on top of bowls and salads and then the golden flax is for egg substitutes when baking. I have a variety of nuts and seeds like raw cashews, pecans, walnuts, shelled pistachios, roasted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. I have lots of flavor boosters like soy sauce, vinegars, chili pasta, curry pastes and of course a whole lot of spices!
2. What's your favorite comfort food? No judgments!
Mac and cheese hands down! My whole brand is about comfort food, but if you know me you know that it’s always mac and cheese above all else. Vegan, of course!
3. What is your go-to home remedy using spices, foods or herbs? Be sure to tell us what ailment you use it for!
Ginger is probably the most used food for ailments like immune boosting. I use it raw in juices mixed with citrus and celery. I also cook with it a lot for flavor, but then get the added benefit of it. I also boil it to make a tea when if I'm under the weather. Sea salt is probably another thing I use a lot — mainly gargling with it. If you have cankers, sore throat, or any abscess on the gums, it’s a healing mineral for that.
4. Tell us about one experience where nutrition changed your life. Or any Ah-Ha moment you have had where food or plants played a role!
It was definitely going vegan. I did it for nutrition and health reasons. I had a lot of digestive issues eating animal products and ignored it for most of my life. Once I started eating entirely vegan I noticed a huge shift not just to my physical body, but also emotionally, and spiritually. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and I only wish I had made the change sooner. The message was to always listen to your body. It’s constantly sending you messages!
5. What's one health or nutrition tip you would recommend to our readers?
Definitely eat more plants! I understand going entirely vegan tomorrow might not be realistic, but if you’re experiencing digestive issues, skin issues, sleep or hormonal issues, eating way more plant-based will likely help in a big way. This is not always the case, and of course, I'm not certified in nutrition. But anecdotally I have heard plenty of stories where this helps immensely or can at least start you on the right path if there is more to diagnose and discover and take those actions with your health professionals.
Want more from Lauren?
Superfood Salt and Pepper is also perfect as a healthy gift option for curious foodies and loved ones that might need a helping hand.
Better health and wellness await. Who’s in?
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We have a vision of everyone eating more healthfully, and we hope you’ll join us. We would love to be a small part of that journey and help your pantry become your medicine cabinet. Thank you for your support as we are just getting started!