You Can Make a Healthy Lifestyle Work Anywhere!
Christa King, Founder Fitlandia
When I started Fitlandia it was with the passion to help people create permanent, healthy lifestyle changes – starting with the mind.
As a hypnotherapist I saw the deep need to re-pattern the brain to prevent slipping into old patterns. It wasn’t until I became a nutritional therapist that I started to truly appreciate the connection between mental health and food. The link between sugar, refined carbs and alcohol to depression is real.
So when I learned about Soul River Inc. and the work they were doing to help veterans and inner city youth heal in nature, I was inspired to become a partner to bring the nutritional component into their work.
Preparing the Impossible
I started preparing the menu about 2 months previously. That might seem like obsessive planning, but I was undertaking what I thought was the impossible. Here’s what I was working with:
- $500 budget for 35 people for 350 meals total! That equated to $1.43 per meal
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, SUGAR-FREE
- Big batch cooking using a large camp stove – not a commercial or even residential kitchen
And most important, Chad said it had to still be “fun” even though healthy – something the kids would enjoy eating.
Ok, so now you know what I was up against – LOL! But we had a mission and in the ever immortal words of any Fitlandian – Yes We Can! And so we did.
Fitlandia and Fred Meyer came through with a few food donations, which were incredibly helpful and eased the burden tremendously. We had $240 in food covered. I also enlisted the help of Brain Chou, health coach to help me create the menu.
Together we came up with these gems:
- Scrambled Eggs with Veggies
- Tofu Tikka Masala w/Millet
- Gluten-Free Pasta w/Salad
- Oatmeal with Banana & Oranges
- Mexican Ground Turkey w/Rice & Veggies
- Thai Chicken Curry
- Snacks were made up of whole fruits, veggies with hummus, chips and salsa, and rice cakes with peanut butter
The Shopping Trip
The day before departure, my husband and I headed out to Costco to tackle this amazing feat and somehow we managed to complete it in 1 hour. I credit that to my often times annoying attention to detail and doing a pre-shopping planning trip 2 weeks prior. It saved us in the crowds!
So we packed up the coolers and headed out.
All told $750 and 10 hours of planning prep were spent. The best part, I can do it all for $500 and in 4 hours now. WOO HOO!
The True Test of Success
On June 16th, 2016 a group of veterans, youth, and Soul River Inc. set out to the Owyhee Canyonlands for an incredible deployment full of connection, conservation, healing, and education – oh yes, and of course – fly fishing!
But the true test for me was going to be what they thought of the meals. Yes, I wanted a successful fly fishing/conservation deployment, but selfishly, I wanted to teach this group that healthy eating, even with obstacles IS POSSIBLE!
I intentionally didn’t mention the menu was gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy free. I didn’t want old biases to kick in.
I’d also worried about pulling off prepping and cooking such large quantities, but we had team helping with each and every meal so this awesome tent kitchen setup became a beautiful place of organization, cooperation, and community. I could not have done it without my teams!
Meal after meal, they loved it. And my heart sang.
It was such an honor to do what I feel is a nurturing, intimate act of love in cooking for anyone, but especially the vets and youth. To be a part of such a memorable trip and have comments like “I’ve never eaten this good while camping before” brought me immense joy.
I was terrified that the next meal would disappoint. Every cooking experience left me anxious until the first bites came in. In fact, to manage my nervousness, I just keep telling myself – “you’re making sure no one starves and it’s better than what they may be used to.”
There were a couple flops in my book. The tofu dish was a bit of a stretch for some folks. I don’t blame them – it wasn’t particularly good – HA!
And my girl Jada (in the photo to the left) thought I was pulling her leg when I had to answer her question repeatedly that there were really no s’mores. I get it. I’d never been camping without s’mores before either! But I was hell bent on bringing smiles without an ounce of sugar in the menu.
I’d say from this picture of Jada, vets, and volunteers, we did ok getting through it together!
So Happy. So Honored.
This was a trip of a lifetime for many of us. The connections we made together were like none other. The joy I felt from having the privilege of feeding this group was indescribable. I’ve been affectionately called “Chef” before when cooking for family and friends, but coming from the vets and youth, it blew my heart up to the heavens.
I can’t wait to be a part of the next adventure…sans the tofu
To support Chad and his mission to serve our veterans, youth, and our Earth, please visit Soul River Inc. today!