When fall settles in we immediately start dreaming of all the yummy, warm things we can start making in the kitchen. And who better to ask for a savoury autumnal recipe than Toronto's own Non Diet Nutritionist Fran Allen! This week, Fran chats with us about body positivity, kitchen essentials and shares the ultimate seasonal recipe.
You share a similar food philosophy to us at HH. How has letting go of restrictive eating positively impacted your relationship with food and your body?
For me, changing my relationship with food and my body has been a game changer! Not monitoring my meals or constantly criticizing my body has saved me so much time and mental energy to pursue things that bring me joy! It lets me be much more open and creative in the kitchen too.
It’s Friday night and you’re cooking for friends: what’s on the menu?
I love a big snack spread with dips, cheeses, fancy tinned fish and really nice bread. Everyone can eat what they like and talk all night over a nice bottle of wine.
How does food & community intersect for you?
Creating a sense of community around food is such a passion of mine. So many folks have complicated relationships with food and I love the opportunity to offer support, whether it’s improving body image, learning recipes, sharing my favourite local farms and shops or providing access through grassroots organizations like Foodshare and CFTO. All of these things work together to make sure everyone has access to the resources they need.
What are your best tips for those who’d like to start cooking more at home, but don’t know where to begin?
I say start by getting curious! Carve out some time and dive through a few cookbooks or blogs. Find out ways to make cooking work for you; would make breakfast fit better into your schedule or maybe doing some meal prep on the weekend. Take a few shortcuts like buying pre-cut veggies or a rotisserie chicken. There are no rules! Do what works best for you :)
Must-have kitchen staples for novice cooks?
A sharp knife, a cutting board and a heavy bottomed pot.
What’s currently playing in the background while you’re spending time in the kitchen developing recipes?
I am currently obsessed with the Maintenance Phase podcast. Each episode the hosts dive deep into common wellness trends and debunk common myths and misconceptions, it’s great! Very funny and informative.
Five items that are always in your fridge?
Greens (usually way too many), lemons, something pickled (currently its my favourite dandelion kimchi from Live Organics, not for the faint of heart), an easy snack like Midday Squares or Babybel cheese and sparkling water from Lark.
I also always have diamond kosher salt, olive oil, garlic and these smoked chili flakes on hand. This combo can make anything delicious.
Your favourite body positivity accounts to follow?
I really love @marielleelizabeth, I find her work on clothing, sustainability and anti-fat bias so powerful! She’s an incredible resource and takes the most beautiful and romantic photos. @selfcarespotlight is always such a joy to see on my feed. Really sweet drawings with gentle and important reminders to check-in while scrolling. I really love Abbey Sharp and think she’s doing amazing work as an Anti-Diet Dietician, her TikTok is hilarious. I love @thenutritiontea. She's hilarious and approachable! Great for people wanting to break up with diet culture but not sure where to start! I think a really important part of body positivity is diversifying your feed and seeing all body types represented.
We know you are a lover of green beauty! What’s your current skincare routine?
My current skincare routine is quick and simple but effective! I don’t have much time so I need to make it count, haha! I start with the Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser, then massage in the Province Apothecary Invigorating and Balancing Toner and Custom Serum then finish with the Tata Harper Fortifying Moisturizer and of course some sunscreen (I prefer SuperGoop Play). I do this morning and night and add in some extra balm if necessary. If i’m feeling like an evening of self care, I’ll use the Wildcraft Bath Soak and light a few of my favourite beeswax candles from Stone Tulip Goods. I also love using the Living Libations Baby Oil on my daughter after a bath, it keeps her skin so soft and smells amazing.
This or That
Oil or Cream cleanser? Cream
Salty or Sweet? Salty!
Cook or Order in? Cook!
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Binge-worthy series or Movie? Series!
City or country? Both, lol!
Paper or computer? Paper
Bath or shower? Bath
Drake or no? nah
What is your current feel-good…
Binge-worthy show? Succession
Toronto eatery? Manita or Sugo
Local Shop? Health Hut and Eastwood Wellness
Evening snack? Honey’s Ice Cream
Song? Anything from Jennifer Castle
Ritual when you get home? Big glass of water and straight into comfy pants
Activity to wind down? Deep breathing, walks or a warm bath
Warm beverage? Coffee
Self-care practice? Meal prep, good talks with friends and ceramics classes to get creative
One Pan Creamy Squash and Kale Orzo By Fran Allen
This meal is super easy and satisfying, made with only a handful of ingredients, one pan and about half an hour, it’s a weeknight winner on cold, busy evenings.
2 Tbsp butter (or dairy-free alternative) divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp thyme
½ small butternut squash grated (about 1 ½ cups)
½ small butternut squash chopped ( about 1 cup)
1 ½ cups orzo pasta
1 L chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups of kale shredded
The zest of one lemon
Pepper and parmesan cheese to serve
In a large heavy bottomed skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of butter and olive oil over medium/ high heat, add your onion and garlic and spices and cook until translucent.
Add your squash, orzo and stock to the pot and turn the heat down to medium/low.Stir the mixture and let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash and orzo are cooked. Keep stirring to avoid any burnt bits on the bottom. Feel free to add a bit of water if the dish feels too thick or is sticking too much, you are looking for a nice creamy consistency here like risotto.
Once the orzo and squash are cooked through add your kale, lemon zest and remaining butter. Remove from heat when the kale is bright green. Taste and check for seasoning, you may need to add more salt here depending on the stock you use.
Serve warm and top with grated parmesan and fresh cracked pepper.
photos: Fran Allen