Wellness guru Sarah Britton wants us to connect with our bodies, and enjoying her healthy food is a great place to start.
From the street, Sarah’s Northumberland-area home is of its time, but inside, with sunlight pouring into the sleek, open, white, minimalist rooms, this place is Command Central for her successful venture and the home she shares with husband, Mikkel, and son, Finn. It is also an oasis of calm. On days such as this, the only indication that wheels are industriously turning – and this life and lifestyle business is in constant motion – are her over 380,000 followers on Instagram, close to 160,000 on Facebook, 54,000 on Pinterest, about 500,000 hungry readers of her blog, two popular books in print, art prints of her photos, and her subscription-driven platform Grow.
Welcome to Sarah Britton’s world.
Originally from Toronto, Sarah, a holistic nutritionist and certified nutritional practitioner, has taken a zig-zagging path of travel, adventure, love, and experiential learning. Her journey led her from studying fine arts to practising holistic nutrition and then on to blogging, cooking professionally, writing her books, and hosting wellness retreats world-wide.
“My work centres around gratitude,” she says. “I’m grateful for the sun on my face, for the orange I’m eating, for this moment playing Legos on the floor with my kid.”
“I was in a restaurant and watched as a woman at the next table was served,” she recalls. “As her plate was set down in front of her, she bowed her head and took a moment before picking up her fork. I had to ask her what she was doing, and she told me she was expressing gratitude for the meal she was about to eat. She was being fully in the moment.” This was revelatory for Sarah, because a reverential attitude to food wasn’t part of her childhood.
“I was raised in a loving, but busy family. My dad worked long hours, and my mother was a painter and stay-at-home mom who didn’t love cooking,” recalls Sarah. She remembers the day her mother came home with a box of President’s Choice frozen lasagna. “She raised it over her head and proclaimed, ‘I’m never making lasagna again!’” But despite her mom’s disinterest in cooking, they always ate together as a family.
“Family dinners weren’t about the food. It was about sitting together, making time to catch up with each other, and it wasn’t just a Sunday thing; it was every day of the week,” says Sarah. “When you’re sitting across the table from one another, you can’t help but make eye contact and conversation. Our nightly dinners would last for hours, often evolving into card games.” This is where she discovered one of the central tenets of her life and her philosophy: “Food connects people.”
“Food – what we eat – has the biggest impact on our bodies,” she says. “Movement comes second, so I make my body a priority. I love moving – all forms of it – from hiking, yoga, and cycling, to weight lifting, dance, and seasonal sports.” In February, an Instagram video of Sarah skating on a frozen creek at Carr’s Marsh garnered over 100,000 views. It would seem her fans enjoy watching Sarah move as much as she enjoys moving. But stillness is also vital to her well-being.
“Making time for meditation is also very important to me,” she says. “But it doesn’t have to be sitting in silence. I make space for it every day, but it might be walking or cooking; it’s about being present in the moment and putting away all the distractions and the noise.” “Our culture has a tendency to numb – with technology, substances, or unhealthy habits,” she continues. “My meditation is about gratitude and being present, because being in the present allows the gratitude in. Food is a great vehicle for that; when we eat, we drop down into our bodies. We get out of our heads and into our physical selves.”
Food and cooking are what launched Sarah Britton on her current trajectory. Following her heart and her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Mikkel, Britton found herself in Copenhagen in 2008, where she soon learned her accreditation in holistic nutrition wasn’t recognized. She had to find something to do, and as fortune would have it, the Nordic food scene was beginning to take off, with Chef René Redzepi’s NOMA. The foraging and fermenting appealed to Sarah, who first started working at the smallest, most “unknown cafe in the world”, putting in long, hard hours and gaining more experience until she got a job working in Claus Meyer and Redzepi’s Nordic Food Lab. And it was in Copenhagen – in the early days of food blogging – that Sarah began posting her recipes and lush food photos.
She was onto something. Readership grew, and soon the publishers came knocking. Her two books, My New Roots (2015) and Naturally Nourished (2017), published by Penguin Random House, have gone into multiple printings and have been translated into eight languages. As each book was released, she went on multi-city book tours on both coasts of Canada and the US, packing in as many events in each city as she could, to spread the gospel that one small change in the kitchen can change your life.
Her newest way to do just that is Grow, which Sarah sums up – tongue firmly in cheek – as “The Netflix of Wellness.”
Grow, an offshoot of Sarah’s website, My New Roots, is a multifunctional platform featuring cooking classes and workshops, nutrition lectures, movement and meditation, exclusive recipes, and interviews with experts in the food and wellness world. Viewing is by subscription – monthly or yearly – and scholarships are in full swing.
“Members receive new content weekly, access to live events, and all sorts of other goodies,” says Sarah. “My goal with Grow is to curate a space where people can come and learn how to look after themselves on all levels, as deep as they are ready to go. Learning not only how to cook or develop their skills, but how to ignite the joy of cooking, the joy of growing food, the joy of reconnecting with the nature inside of them, and outside of them, forever becoming their own teacher.”
Grow is a family venture, as Mikkel recently left a job in Toronto to come and work full time at My New Roots. “We love working together,” says Britton. “We make a great team. He knows all that back-end website stuff; he’s a creative and a computer genius. We worked together for five years in Copenhagen. In fact, he built the Grow platform for me six years ago. ‘Here you go,’ he said, ‘now fill it up!’”
Despite the incredible success of her business model, Sarah still has a simple ethos and goal. “I’m trying to reconnect people to their bodies. There is so much innate intelligence in our bodies.”
Sanity-Saving One-Pot Pasta
The brilliance of this dish, besides the fact that it is so fast to make, is that it’s cooked in just one pot! Although it differs from the one-pot pastas I’ve seen online where everything is cooked together from the beginning, my version requires a little bit of timing on your part, adding the asparagus and peas about three minutes before the pasta is cooked. Theoretically, you could toss everything together in the same pot from the get-go, but this produces overcooked veggies, and no one really digs that.
- 200 g. (about ½ lb.) dry legume-based pasta; (I used mung bean fettuccine)
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus; about 1 bunch
- 2 cups fresh or frozen shelled green peas
- Sea salt for cooking water and garnish
- 4 tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
- Zest of an organic lemon
- 3 tbsp. capers, drained
- A large handful fresh mint, leaves only
- Put a large pot of water on the stove and heat over high heat.
- While the water is heating up, wash, trim, and chop the asparagus. Shell the peas, or take them out of the freezer. Wash and roughly chop the mint leaves.
- Once the cooking water is boiling, salt it generously – it should taste salty.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and set a timer for about 3 minutes before the package’s suggested cooking time.
- Three minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus and peas; cook for three minutes.
- Drain well and place back in the pot. Add the olive oil, lemon zest, drained capers and a few pinches of sea salt to taste.
- Fold in the fresh mint and serve.
- Serves 4-6
Zach and Luhana Littlejohn
Once upon a time, agritourism was a novel idea offered through a few storybook farms in Europe, but thanks to County folks such as the Littlejohns, enjoying a taste of rural life and farm-to-fork cuisine for many Ontarians is now only a drive away.
On just under four acres of verdant land in Picton – featuring several vegetable and herb gardens, a fruit orchard, bees and farm animals – sommelier and chef, Zach Littlejohn and his wife, Luhana, offer workshops in many traditional culinary arts: sourdough bread-baking, pickling, charcuterie, and cheese-making. Taking a class here is an opportunity to learn a new skill, experience a taste of country living, slow down and truly understand where our food comes from. In fact, the Littlejohns have created a space of mindfulness around food, consumption, and making better consumer choices. The Littlejohns have hosted Sarah Britton on several occasions. “This magical place reconnects people to the earth and the food on their table,” says Sarah. “Both Luhana and Zach are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable farmer foodies, creating an unforgettable experience at every visit.”
Adnan and Suhaila Mustafa
Papa Ghanoush and Momma Hummus
Adnan and Suhaila Mustafa are Papa Ghanoush and Mama Hummus. In 2016 the couple and their four kids – Ahmad, Hwaya, Abudi, and Nasr – fled war-torn Syria for a better life in Canada. They chose to make Wellington, Prince Edward County, their home, and with the help of support group Syria PEC, the family is well on their way, learning English and finding their new community. They thanked their sponsors and new friends by laying out spreads of the traditional foods of their homeland. Word spread like smooth hummus on a fresh pita, and soon the whole county was asking for a taste, Sarah Britton included. “This inspiring family settled in the County and brought their incredible culinary talents with them,” says Sarah. “Specializing in Syrian dips, spreads, and breads, the authentic flavours and textures of their delicious offerings never disappoint!”
A family business, the couple and kids make everything the old fashioned way – from scratch – in their certified home kitchen. When weather and COVID allow, they are at the Wellington farmers’ market with the huge line-up for crunchy, hot-from-the-fryer falafel.
Sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut. That’s what business partners Jenna Empey and Alex Currie did after a combined 13 years in the entertainment business. With Pyramid Ferments, they took a giant leap from music to microbes.
It was 2012 when Jenna moved back home to Prince Edward County from Halifax. She settled in Northport, on the Bay of Quinte, setting up their fermentation shop; Alex followed soon after. For the duo, creating Indie music and fermented foods isn’t all that different; both require endless curiosity, a love of experimentation, some risk-taking, and faith in the creative process.
Pyramid Ferments is an award-winning brand, with a unique line of small-batch, handmade fermented foods and beverages – sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kvass, and their signature Gut Shots – all designed to promote a healthy microbiome. They pride themselves on using Old World techniques.
Sarah Britton is a fan, “I love the wide range of products they offer, all with super creative combinations of flavours, and I appreciate the high-quality ingredients they use as well!”