Let’s get right into the serious stuff — your favourite vegetable, and why?

Easy! That would be sweet potatoes. I love them baked with coconut oil and cinnamon. Sweet potatoes are my favourite vegetable because they are sweet, loaded with immune boosting beta-carotene and they fill you up!

What vegetable has some of the best health benefits, but perhaps gets neglected from people’s grocery list more often than it should?

Cauliflower. It is often overshadowed by its green cousin broccoli but is so much more versatile than broccoli! You can mash it and substitute it instead of white potatoes, use it as a based for soup to make a ‘cream’ base and even make a gluten-free pizza crust out of ‘riced’ cauliflower and cheese. (Yes, you read correct — pizza!)

We know that cauliflower was the vegetable of 2014 — what are we looking at for 2015?

The ‘it’ vegetable of 2015 is hands down beets. Not only are they delicious, but also beets are nature’s Viagra- seriously! Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. Beets also contain tryptophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to the calm feeling one feels when eating chocolate.

"The ‘it’ vegetable of 2015 is hands down beets. Not only are they delicious, but also beets are nature’s Viagra- seriously!"

Beets are also a great blood purifier and excellent support to the liver. Of particular benefit to pregnant women as the B vitamins and iron in beets help replenish iron in a women’s body and is beneficial to cell growth during pregnancy.

On the Celiac front, when did its onset creep into your life? How did it influence your career outlook?

Celiac crept into my life as a child when I was diagnosed with celiac disease at 12 years of age. (I am 37 now — eek!) Celiac disease influenced every aspect of my career outlook because as a young child I made the connection between the food you ate and how it would make you feel. It influenced me to help others make the connection and realize that if you change what you eat, you can change your life!

How have gluten-free choices for Canadian consumers improved over recent years?

Gluten-free choices for Canadians have improved immensely as now gluten-free products are readily available at your regular grocery store, and you have an increased choice of products and companies to try.

I remember the day when my mom and I would have to travel over an hour to a health foods store in a nearby Ontario town to buy a freezer burnt loaf of rice flour gluten-free bread that was only edible toasted. Now a celiac can find fresh gluten-free bread, pasta, muffins and even menu items that are gluten-free. That was unheard of 20 years ago.

As a celiac, how do you navigate the difficulties that can be associated with impromptu social engagements: drinks, dinners, restaurants, etc.?

I stick to as close to nature as possible. Meaning, there is usually always vegetables, salad and proteins that are readily available. I typically will also eat a little something or carry emergency food in my purse just in case.

Do you have any advice for celiac readers that accidently get “glutened”.

Absolutely! This recently happened to me when I was presenting in Bali.

  1. Take a good quality probiotic that you can find at a health food store. It must be bought and stored in the fridge. Take 1 capsule at every meal for 3 days. This will help support your digestive system while it is under distress.
  2. Take L- Glutamine which is an amino acid that will help to repair intestinal damage in a powder form. Take the powder for seven days according to the instructions on the bottle.
  3. Rest. Rest. Rest.
  4. Minimize stressful scenarios to allow your body a chance to heal for 48 hours.
  5. Avoid alcohol, as this will only stress your body further.
  6. Smile — this too shall pass! :)

What advice do you have for celiac and non-celiac readers for optimizing their digestive wellness and leading an overall healthy life?

For our celiac and non-celiac readers there are two ways to optimize their digestive health and overall health.
Stick as close to nature as possible when eating. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and fresh proteins are gluten-free in their natural state. Back to the basics for optimal health and digestion and stick as close to nature as possible.

Chew your food. We live in such a fast paced society that often times we rush meals and barley chew our food.  I am totally guilty of this too, and I find that when people take the time to slow down and chew and enjoy their food, it improves their digestion. As humans when we begin the chewing process it releases saliva that contains digestive enzymes to help break down our food.

Chewing also breads down your food to enable that food to be easier digested and it is more optimal for your intestines to absorb those nutrients. Slow down; chew your food and live life delicious!

Kathy Smart was recently awarded by Parliament for International Women’s Day for her tireless work to educate others on health and gluten-free living as a Canadian Health Icon and North America’s Gluten Free Expert.

Learn more about Kathy at www.LiveTheSmartWay.com and www.LiveTheSmartWayExpo.com

Join over 160 exhibitors and over 10,000 people who want to learn how to eat smart, move smart and live smart.
Get your print version of this article and more at Sobeys Live The Smart Way Expo — the Canadian Premier Health event taking place in Ottawa, Ontario on April 18th and April 19th, 2015 at the Shaw Centre.