In a world where fast food restaurants are more commonplace than health food stores and dining out with friends is a social ritual, it can be tough to maintain a balanced diet.
Allow me to read your mind. You’re thinking something along the lines of, “I want to improve my health, but I have no idea where to start.” If that’s the case, you’re in luck! Angela Russell of Green Dreams Detroit is here to help.
Russell, a Detroit native, developed Green Dreams Detroit in 2010. Initially, it started off as a blog, a creative outlet where she could track recipes and nutritional information. A year later, she began helping a family member make healthier diet choices, assisted him with grocery shopping, and helped him prepare sustainable meals. It was then that a light went off—Russell was inspired to share her knowledge with the world, and the concept of the Green Dreams All Natural Kitchen & Home Makeover was born.
“Ultimately, the driving force for starting my small business was to make more healthy connections in Metro Detroit,” Russell said. “To give, to share, (and) to inspire others to feel as good as I do.”
While the All-Natural Kitchen & Home Makeovers are what kicked Green Dreams into gear, Russell offers plenty of other services to get your healthy lifestyle up and running. She conducts live demos (including a Fermentation Demo, Raw Food Demo, Vegetarian Demo and Locavore Demo), and offers both grocery store and farmers market tours.
As for the kitchen makeovers, they involve a detailed intake of the client’s current diet, lifestyle, shopping, and cooking habits. How does Russell accomplish this? By digging through your cabinets and looking for areas of improvement.
“What I do is more about education of how to incorporate more nutrition, rather than telling people what not to eat or what not to use,” Russell said.
The grocery store tours are a great add-on to the kitchen makeover, because Russell goes out and shops for healthier replacements with the client, while teaching him or her about grocery shopping strategy.
Russell enjoys cooking demos and has been hired by local organizations like Yoga Shelter to present recipes ranging from a raw vegan diet to paleo-esque fare. One of her favorite Green Dreams services is the Healthy Girls’ Night In, where she demos several dishes for a group of women while they socialize, enjoy a few cocktails and bond over nutrition.
For those of you eager to start living a “greener” lifestyle but don’t know where to start, Russell has some great advice: ease into it, and be patient with yourself.
“For me, it’s about enjoying the journey of learning—the more I know, the more I don’t know… Come from a space of love in wanting to make the changes, and little by little, you’ll find yourself naturally replacing old familiar products with gentle, eco-friendly alternatives,” Russell explained.
It may seem simple, but becoming more health conscious starts right at the grocery store. Russell suggests shopping the perimeter of the store for the healthiest options, and don’t be afraid to purchase something that doesn’t come in a box or a bag! Fill your cart with nutritious snack foods, such as apples and real cheese or celery and peanut butter. If you’re in need of further advice, check out Russell’s four-week blog series on shopping at Detroit’s Whole Foods on a budget.
While you’re there, don’t forget to take a look at one of her best recipes: Vegan Tempeh Ginger Cashew Stir-Fry. It’s colorful, plant-based, and will hit the table in only 15 minutes!
When it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle, it’s all about what you put into your body. Russell stresses the importance of a varied diet that is both balanced and nutritionally complete.
“If a diet isn’t varied, we are missing out on critical vitamins and minerals… Many times, it’s because (one’s) palate was never developed as a child,” Russell said.
She suggests trying foods you have an aversion to as many as seven times to acquire a taste for them. If good-for-you foods like broccoli or radishes taste off-putting or startling at first, try and try again!
“I strongly believe that food is medicine,” Russell said. “Medicine doesn’t always taste delicious, but if we only choose salty and sweet, we’re missing out on variety and overall health.”
Russell’s next public event is a Fermentation Workshop at Detroit Gypsy Kitchen on Monday, November 11. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., she will teach participants how to ferment vegetables like kimchi and turnips. The workshop will be very hands on, and there will, of course, be samples. Participation costs $20 and you can sign up for a spot on the Green Dreams Detroit website.
Hands down, the coolest aspect of Green Dreams Detroit (and a “dream come true” for Russell) is the Puerta Verde retreat, which will occur in May. The eight-day, seven-night holistic spring break will be held from Friday, May 2 through Saturday, May 10, when participants will head to Costa Rica for a self-exploration voyage of fresh, organic meals, tropical weather, yoga classes and relaxation. Personally, this is something I’m highly considering participating in, and if you have any sense of adventure, you will too. Details on the retreat can be found on the Puerta Verde retreat section of Green Dreams’ website.
Overall, Russell describes Green Dreams Detroit as being mindful.
“That’s really the bottom line: choosing to make healthy choices amidst all of the temptation and convenience around us,” Russell said.
For more information on Green Dreams Detroit, and to contact Russell, visit the Green Dreams Detroit official website.