Nourishing Friendships

There are many layers and nuances to living a healthy and vibrant life. Healthy body-loving foods are certainly high up on the list of must-haves, but having a friend, or group of friends, who lift your spirit, charges up your energy, and keeps you accountable to your health is equally as important on your path to living well.

Studies show that if your closest companions eat healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself.  When we spend time with those closest to us we begin to adopt the same eating patterns. We feel a closer bond with a person with whom we can share and support similar lifestyle choices. When you invest energy into your health, and you have someone to help motivate you to reach your full potential, you’ve got a friendship that nourishes you holistically.

This is the kind of friendship I have with Jully Black. Jully is a Canadian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress. She has collaborated with, and written for many artists, including Nas, Saukrates, Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, Destiny’s Child, and Sean Paul.

She was chosen by CBC Music as one of “The 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever” and has been dubbed “Canada’s Queen of R&B.”

Jully originally hired me to be her vocal nutritionist to support her powerhouse voice and increase her energy and strength. It didn’t take long for her to adopt a new style of eating and living, as the intensive plan I created supported her voice and her body in ways she hadn’t experienced before.  It also didn’t take long for our relationship to turn into a fulfilling friendship where our excitement for in depth discourses regarding all things health and wellness would motivate and inspire each other daily. 

Jully’s performances are dynamic and require a tremendous amount of energy. She burns over 2,000 calories during her concerts, therefore I created a program that involved her eating more anti-inflammatory and hydrating foods along with an increase in protein. This has helped to provide her with the energy she requires in order to bring her best during her concerts and fuel her post-performance recovery. I chose to include a variety of protein sources including many plant-based options. It’s often overlooked that plants or plant-based foods can provide a great source of protein.  These superfoods are always on the menu for her super soul-singing voice, but the benefits reach far beyond her vocal chords. I deem a food “super” when it offers a variety of nutrients that give to the whole body, so the body can give as much as it can on a daily basis.  Consider adding in these plant-based superfoods this fall to help increase your energy and holistic health.

BARU SEEDS

Baru seeds don’t last long when Jully and I are snacking on them. These delicious peanut-tasting ancient legumes have fourteen grams of protein in one third of a cup, five grams of fiber, the perfect ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats, and minerals including magnesium, zinc, and potassium. In addition to having a handful for a snack, you can chop them up in a salad or puree them into a baru seed butter to spread on fiber rich toast or crackers.

SPINACH

This leafy green is always on rotation in our salads, steamed as a side, as a pizza topping, or thrown into an omelet. Research suggests that people who eat one to two servings per day of spinach or other leafy greens have the cognitive ability of a person eleven years younger than those who do not incorporate any leafy green into their diet. It also has more protein than most other vegetables with five grams in one cup of steamed spinach. To help keep leafy greens fresh for as long as possible, add a paper towel into the bin or bag of greens to absorb moisture.

CRANBERRY BEANS

Cranberry beans (also known as borlotti beans) are smooth, oval shaped beans with a gorgeous red speckled cranberry color. These beans have a sweeter taste than many other varieties. They pack a whopping twenty grams of protein in a half a cup. The additional B vitamins make this plant-based protein a fabulous addition to many recipes. Our favorite way to utilize this mighty bean is to add it to vegetarian chili.

JACKFRUIT

Jackfruit is a unique fruit with a meaty like texture, a versatile neutral flavor and three grams of protein in one cup. That’s considerable for a fruit! It can be shredded and diced as a vegan substitute for tacos, curries, and in sandwiches. You can find it in all year round in the packaged foods aisle at your local grocery store.

BLACK SEASAME SEEDS

Black sesame seeds are among the most ancient seeds and can be traced back to ancient Egypt and possibly even further. According to Assyrian legend, the gods met to create the world and drank wine made from sesame seeds. This little seed has a staggering amount of essential nutrients, including five grams of protein in three tablespoons, as well as properties that offer anti-aging, immune boosting, and digestive health benefits.

PEA SHOOTS

When I first met Jully, her cravings for salty snacks were responsible for derailing her healthy eating efforts. This was another reason I added more protein to her diet. Consuming protein throughout the day helps to balance blood sugar and reduces cravings. Increasing pea shoots and other micro greens into her salads or vegetable sautés helped to reduce her cravings significantly. Pea shoots contain 69% of high quality bioavailable protein in a 100 gram serving, along with rich antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.

In the same way that these powerhouse proteins play a key role nourishing our bodies, friendships play meaningful role when it comes to achieving health goals. Jully and I encourage and motivate each other remain committed to our health goals, but also provide accountability – a key ingredient in a nourishing friendship  Keeping each other accountable helps us to stay on track physically  stay committed to nourishing our bodies with superfoods like those mentioned above. There is no greater feeling than the deep level of nourishment that comes from having a friend who cares about you, encourages you to live your best life, and spurs you on to achieve your health goals.