Favourite Desert Island Foods from Our 2022 Program Coaches

What food would you take with you to a desert island? You can only choose one desert island food – and it’s a tough choice! Do you opt for something practical, or a food you really, really love?

The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program begins on September 15th and our program coaches live in cities across North America and Europe. We are excited to introduce them to you! Today, they’re sharing their favourite desert island foods. 

Our coaches are all honours graduates of our program and support our students through the 14-week guided curriculum, ensuring no one is left behind. If you’re still thinking about joining us, it’s not too late! Registration closes soon, so hop on over here to find out more.

Favourite desert island foods from our 2022 Program Coaches

Sondi Bruner

Sondi BrunerCity: Vancouver, British Columbia
Year Graduated: 2012
Favourite Desert Island Food: I’d take dark chocolate with me. Chocolate is packed with nutrition – but honestly, that’s not the reason why it’s my desert island food. I would miss it too much, and I don’t think I’d be able to make it or find it on most islands. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that my desert island also has some foods I can forage!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: Digestive health and allergen-friendly cooking. I aim to inspire others to focus on abundance, not deprivation.

Lora Appleby

Lora ApplebyCity: Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Year Graduated: 2021
Favourite Desert Island Food: If I had to choose a single ingredient to take to a desert island, it would be Romano beans. Beans have always been a big part of our family meals growing up, as they are super nutritious and delicious. We’ve always grown and preserved our beans from our family farm, specifically the Romano bean variety. In addition to being rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, they help us feel full and satisfied. 
Culinary Nutrition Focus: My culinary focus to date has been to help support the healing and prevention of digestive cancers. Through educational workshops, I focus on balancing inflammation and improving digestion through cooking from scratch with gluten-free, dairy-free, plant focused ingredients. 

Jaclyn Beaty

Jaclyn BeatyCity: Clarksville, Tennessee 
Year Graduated: 2017
Favourite Desert Island Food: From a survival standpoint, I would bring grass-fed beef tallow to my island. I’m hoping I would be able to forage enough wild plants and berries, but would need a stable, nourishing, calorie-dense fat to sustain me since that would be harder to find. I would use the tallow for sautéing my fresh-caught fish and foraged greens over an open fire. Beef tallow is also a great skin barrier to stay protected from the sun! 
Culinary Nutrition Focus: My culinary nutrition focus is pre- and post-natal nutrition, pediatric and family nutrition, and digestive health.


Nicole Benson

Nicole BensonCity: Brantford, Ontario
Year Graduated: 2014
Favourite Desert Island Food: If I’m being practical, I would choose dates. They keep well without spoiling, are great for a little boost of energy, rich in fibre, full of nutrients, and would satisfy my sweet tooth. I know I can’t live without salads and veggies, but I’m hoping this desert island has some plant life I can work with. 

Culinary Nutrition Focus: Inspiring others to create healthy and delicious meals at home, with a focus on plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free foods.

Melanie Connolly

Melanie ConnollyCity: Quakertown, Pennsylvania 
Year Graduated: 2013
Favourite Desert Island Food: If I were stuck on a desert island, and I got to bring one food with me, I would bring a chicken so I could have unlimited eggs. Eggs are such a nutrient dense food full of protein and healthy fats. Then I’d hope that I could round that out with other foods that could possibly be found on a desert island, like maybe some tropical fruits or coconuts
Culinary Nutrition Focus: Aging optimization for active midlife women. 


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Theresa Diulus 

Theresa DiulusCity: Seabrook, Texas
Year Graduated: 2014
Favourite Desert Island Food: My favourite desert island food is strawberries because they’re sweet, taste delicious, can be eaten alone, and used in other dishes such as salads (sweet or savory). They also look pretty in a bowl as a decoration. I even use the discarded tops in water to infuse the strawberry flavor into my drinking water to use all parts of the berry. Strawberries are also low glycemic, fitting well into balanced blood sugar focused eating.
Culinary Nutrition Focus: Blood sugar balance. I focus on helping moms with prediabetes learn to plan and prepare delicious meals for their families by teaching them recipes, skills, and tips to save them time and energy and balance their blood sugar.

Laura Hearn

Laura HearnCity: Markham, Ontario
Year Graduated: 2017
Favourite Desert Island Food: Cashews! What I love about cashews is that they are such a versatile cooking ingredient. Due to their naturally creamy texture, they can be used to make cheese, queso, creamy dressings, soups, sauces, and even ice cream and vegan cheesecake! Cashews are the magic ingredient to any dairy free dish!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: I help busy families gain confidence, joy and ease in the kitchen by teaching simple and practical ways to cook, meal prep, and meal plan.



Caitlin Iles

Caitlin IlesCity: Quispamsis, New Brunswick
Year Graduated: 2012
Favourite Desert Island Food: My desert island food is high quality chocolate because of the antioxidants, magnesium, and theobromine. And because I can’t go a day without a little square!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: Female hormone balance, digestive healing, and adrenal support.

Suzy Larsen

Suzy LarsenCity: Kelowna, British Columbia
Year Graduated: 2016
Favourite Desert Island Food: Kimchi is it! In the past I’ve made sauerkraut nearly a daily habit adding it to omelettes, salads, nut burgers, soups and snacks but this last year I upped the game by making kimchi instead. It’s as if sauerkraut decided to get dressed up and go to a ball. Basically you add seasonings and more veggies to sauerkraut and you get a yummy zip you can add to so many meals. So off I go to my island with my caseload of kimchi in tow and a big smile on my face. My digestion will be thanking me too since this delicious nutritional recipe is loaded with vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and probiotics to keep help keep me regular. 
Culinary Nutrition Focus: My focus happens to be the area that I have personally struggled with and overcome: insomnia. Because of this I feel I have specific insight on the food and lifestyle changes a client needs to follow to have an optimum and satisfying sleep. It usually comes down to managing blood sugar levels by eating enough protein, fat and fibre at each meal and snacks to avoid the emotional rollercoaster which may have a hand in preventing us from falling asleep or waking us up during the night.

Gillian Macgregor-Spurr

City: Toronto, Ontario
Year Graduated: 2018
Favourite Desert Island Food: My favourite desert island food would have to be coconut, although, depending on which island I’m on, there may already be an abundance of coconuts! Not only are coconuts packed with nutrients and antioxidants, they are so versatile. They can be used for sweet or savory dishes, in solid or liquid form, and can be consumed raw and cooked – so, what can’t a coconut do?!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: My culinary nutrition focus is supporting runners with pre-, during, and post-running nutrition for optimal performance and recovery.

Lizette Marx

Lizette MarxCity: Moraga, California
Year Graduated: 2017
Favourite Desert Island Food: It’s hard to pick one desert island food but if I have to settle on just one, I would pick avocado. I love that avocado is such a wonderful source of healthy monounsaturated fats. It is filling and delicious with a sprinkle of sea salt and to me, one of the most perfect foods. If I was on a desert island, I might forage a little and find some wild herbs or seaweed. I’d dry my herbs and sea vegetables in the sun, mash the avocados with it and have a desert island guacamole! I’d also try my hand at fishing and if I’m lucky maybe I’d have a complete meal with my catch of the day! 
Culinary Nutrition Focus: I focus on making healthy food worth savoring and teaching my students how to do this for their own clients. Seasonal, organic, unrefined and local foods are abundant with rich and vibrant flavors and when you can harness the power of healing foods in this way, your food will be transformational because it will not only be healthy, it will be unforgettably delicious.

Sylvia Ng

Sylvia NgCity: Boulder, Colorado
Year Graduated: 2021
Favourite Desert Island Food: If I was going to be stranded on a desert island, I would want something delicious and hydrating to sip on all day long to keep cool and feel light but energized. So I would make a Coconut, Pineapple, Berry & Kale Smoothie with all the fixings, then share it with my friends while we spend a day hanging out on the beach and taking a dip in the water. That kind of sounds like my dream life, cheers!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: Fun. Organic. Open-hearted. Delicious. Simple FOODS you can grow in the ground, cook in the kitchen, and eat with enjoyment. I love cooking and teaching others how to batch cook nourishing meals with simplicity and sustainability in mind: plant-forward, no-waste, local and seasonal.

Veronica Jean

Veronica QubrossiCity: Kitchener, Ontario
Year Graduated: 2014
Favourite Desert Island Food: You might not believe it, but my absolute favourite food is cucumber! I love the hydration it provides, the fresh flavour, and the rich minerals contained within. I definitely wouldn’t want to go a week without enjoying cucumber!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: In private practice, I work with a few different populations, all of which I am (or have been) a part of. My focuses include pre-conception, prenatal, post-natal and pediatric nutrition, hormone balance, autoimmune thyroid conditions, and brain and spinal cord injuries. I also host a global community of nutrition professionals called Networking Nutritionists.

Wendy Rose

Wendy Rose City: Tilbury, Ontario
Year Graduated: 2014
Favourite Desert Island Food: Hemp hearts would be the ultimate food item to have on hand if I ever got stranded on a desert island. They are rich in healthy fats, protein, fibre, and vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc. I could add them to the food I forage to sustain me throughout the days. As someone with digestive issues and an allergy/sensitivity to meat/poultry my options are already limited on what I can eat. Having hemp hearts would help ensure I stay healthy.
Culinary Nutrition Focus: Digestion, as that is where I have the most issues with my own health. Brain health, inflammation, children’s nutrition, and allergy-friendly cooking are always on my mind as a parent/caregiver. What you eat matters, and there’s no reason why you can’t eat healthy foods that taste good too!

Culinary Nutrition Expert Program

Heba Saleh

Heba SalehCity: Springfield, Virginia
Year Graduated: 2020
Favourite Desert Island Food: If I could only take one food with me, I would take canned cod livers from wild-caught cod (canned in their own oil). These are shelf-stable, unprocessed and delicious. Of all foods available, liver is by far the most nutrient-dense food, packed with an incredible amount of Omega-3, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin E; as well as a number of essential nutrients including iodine, copper, iron and choline. These combined are very important for optimal brain function, a robust immune system, and healthy cellular function. Cod liver is a new discovery for me. Unlike what one would expect, it tastes fantastic. Plus, it can be enjoyed entirely on its own without any condiments or supplementary foods. 
Culinary Nutrition Focus: My culinary nutrition focus is optimizing meals to complement fitness goals and introducing anti-inflammatory ingredients and cooking methods to prevent lifestyle diseases. My interest lies mainly in preventative medicine.

Nicola Solomonides

Nicola SolomonidesCity: Limassol, Cyprus
Year Graduated: 2017
Favourite Desert Island Food: My desert island food has to be some good quality dark chocolate. Far from being just a sweet treat, dark chocolate is actually a bit of a stealth superfood! Rich in antioxidants and key minerals, it can absolutely (and deliciously) support our wellbeing. It’s also incredibly versatile to use. You can eat it just as it is of course, but you can also use it in a myriad of ways, whether as chocolate chips/chunks in cookies, melted and drizzled over nut and seed bars or over nice cream, combined with hazelnuts to make your own delicious spread, or even turned into a delicious drink (either warm or cold). And if it melts on this desert island? Just dip some fresh fruit in there and you have chocolate fondue!
Culinary Nutrition Focus: My culinary nutrition focus is helping those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) learn how to eat in a nutritious, health-promoting way, working with their personal food tolerances, and making the most of the food that supports their gut and overall health, so they can feel their best!


Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay TaylorCity: Mississauga, Ontario
Year Graduated: 2017
Favourite Desert Island Food: My desert island food would be eggs – well rounded nutrition and an easy pairing to island plant foraging! Even better, I’d just bring a hen – fresh eggs and an island companion. 
Culinary Nutrition Focus: I specialize in preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum nutrition.

Nicha Petrakos-Willcox

Nicha Petrakos-WillcoxCity: Newport News, Virginia
Year Graduated: 2021
Favourite Desert Island Food: I cannot not live without turmeric root or ground turmeric. It is one of those ingredients that I can feel working wonders in my body every time I ingest it. I make turmeric tea or a turmeric tonic every morning and then I feel ready to take on the day. I also have it before bed, and it helps to relax me so I can sleep soundly.
Culinary Nutrition Focus:
My focus is near and dear to my own heart as it is a disease that I have personally struggled with for many years, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. This is a complex disease, and every person responds a bit differently to it. I love helping people to find freedom amid dealing with this restrictive condition. Using a whole-foods diet and meal planning techniques I help my clients find their path to optimal health, and give them the opportunity to take their lives back.

Is the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program Right for You? 

Registration is closing soon for the 2022 Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. Learn more about how you can join us, explore new career opportunities, hone your cooking and recipe development skills and support your personal health. And maybe discover a few new foods you’d take to a desert island!

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