“Eco-intelligent eating” isn’t a term as mainstream as vegetarian or even vegan, but removing chemicals from your diet and reducing your own environmental footprint are improvements that could benefit any lifestyle. Candia Lea Cole first became aware of holistic healing when her mom joined a non-profit organization focusing on non-toxic therapies for diseases. Cole was a teenager at the time, and became curious about using food as a way to enhance health. “I was thrust into this world,” Cole says about her immersion in holistic healing. “My house was like a bed and breakfast. I got to meet all of these doctors, supporters and mentors.”
After years of living with a genetic condition that caused her to be ill when toxins and chemicals were in her food, water or products, Cole began reading about the connection between food and health. She started to think about using food as a way to promote healing. "I began creating my own recipes, detoxing with juice and using acupuncture," says Cole.
Cole then began sharing her way of living by sharing recipes and helping others listen to their bodies.
“There’s no one diet for everybody; we all change and adapt. We have to listen to our body’s wisdom,” Cole says. Cole spent much of her life as a vegetarian, but started adding fish and organic chicken to her diet. “I really believe in colorful, nutrient-rich foods,” she says.
Some of Cole’s “eco-eatables” include whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables and grass-fed meats.
Two main components of the lifestyle are buying locally grown products and protecting organic standards.
In addition to healing her own body, Cole has been mindful of healing the Earth by using products free from chemicals and toxins. “It’s about making choices,” Cole says. “We have to question ourselves when we’re buying. Is it healthy for my body? Is it healthy for the Earth?”
Cole has also been able to create educational tools for individuals and families. For people new to eating the eco-intelligent way, Cole recommends her product Tabletop TUTORS, which teaches about the different ways people can engage in the lifestyle. An important part of choosing the best diet is achieving balance, according to Cole.
“Sometimes vegetarians get so passionate about the environmental effects of eating meat that they don’t realize their body needs another kind of food,” Cole says. “I’m not trying to discourage anybody from eating vegetarian—you just have to combine foods and make sure your body gets what it needs.”
Cole’s eco-intelligent lifestyle that reaches beyond food choices includes continuous education on protecting the earth and our bodies from pollution, as well as giving plants and animals a voice and social equality.
“I like to encourage people to stop, pause and think about the relationship between personal health and planetary health,” Cole says. “There is a direct link between the health of our Earth and the health of humans.”
Now she’s hoping to educate young people on how to stop the cycle.
Creamy Banana Date Walnut Milk
This is a delightful eco-friendly, dairy-free beverage! Nut milks are a great source of protein and fatty acids that nourish the body and brain, and they don’t contain the hormones and antibiotics commercial cow’s milk does.
1/3–1/2 cup of fresh, organic raw walnuts (or try a mixture of pecans and walnuts)
1 Tbsp. golden colored flaxseeds; grind to powder in a coffee bean grinder
1 tsp. sunflower seed lecithin granules (optional)
1/2 cup fresh ripe banana; cut in chunks
2–3 dates (soaked overnight)
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (adjust as desired)
3 cups hot water (or try 2 cups water and 1 cup organic coconut milk)
Note: Nuts, flax seeds and lecithin are available at nuts.com or at natural food coops. Always keep nuts and seeds refrigerated for freshness.
Preparing Nut Milk in Five Easy Steps
1) In a one-quart saucepan, heat 3 cups of water. If using other accent liquids (such as coconut milk) you don’t need to heat that liquid.
2) Using a coffee bean grinder, grind your choice of nuts. If you can’t grind all of the nuts finely, without taxing the motor, do two batches. Transfer your ground-up nuts to the blender. Repeat the grinding process, using flaxseed and transfer them to your blender as well.
3) To your blender, add lecithin granules, the sweetener of your choice, spices and flavoring extract, and fresh or rehydrated fruit, if specified.
4) Using a glass measuring cup, scoop 1/2 cup water from your saucepan and add to your blender. Begin the blending process so ingredients form a cohesive mixture. Slowly add the remaining liquids and blend on high until creamy.
5) Using a small mixing bowl with a hand-held strainer resting over the top, pour 1 cup of liquid at a time into strainer. Stir the milk as it goes through the strainer until nut fibers accumulate in the strainer. Press any remaining liquid through strainer. Repeat until you have emptied the blender. This should only take a couple of minutes.
Pour contents of blender into an airtight quart-sized bottle. The drink stays fresh for up to three days in the refrigerator. Drink warm or chilled.
Quinoa Parmesan with Savory Green Beans and Tomatoes
In this meatless main dish recipe, delicate quinoa morsels are accented with a colorful vegetable medley, and seasoned with pesto and parmesan cheese. Eating one meat-free meal a week goes a long way in protecting and sustaining the planet’s resources.
3 cups cooked quinoa (cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water or chicken broth)
1 lb. fresh green beans (cut in 1-inch pieces)
1 medium white onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
2 patty pan squash or zuchinni, sliced
5 cups cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. prepared pesto sauce
1–2 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
Sea salt and lemon pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Pine nuts, lightly toasted
How To Prepare
1. Cook quinoa and set aside.
2. Gently toast pine nuts and set aside.
3. Steam green beans but do not overcook. Rinse in cold water to preserve color. Set aside.
4. In a large nonstick skillet, saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil, until onions are golden.
5. Add in vegetables and sauté tender, but not overcooked. Stir in tomatoes and green beans. Turn off heat. Add in the pesto sauce and ghee.
6. Add in quinoa and toss gently. Stir in Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and lemon pepper to taste. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
Note: Pesto sauce is usually available at Costco or Trader Joes. Ghee is available online and at Whole Foods Markets.