The Game Changers: Making a Difference
These South Floridians don’t just talk about healthy eating. They inspire others by teaching, demonstrating and spreading the gospel of the benefits of fresh, healthy foods.
THE PRACTICAL TEACHER: AMBER ANTONELLI, THE NAKED BITE
Chef Amberis on a mission to promote eating more fresh fruits and veggies and less processed foods through her cooking demos and classes. “We give our kids a squeezy pop of sugar-laden yogurt and a frozen waffle to begin their day and wonder why they cannot focus in the classroom.”
ON GROWING UP HEALTHY
My parents were hippies in Northern California and it was all I ever knew. I used to long for the Oreo cookies in the lunchbox next to me – turns out my whole-grain cashew butter sandwiches were paving the way towards my future. I didn’t truly start dialing in on purity, sustainability and the whole food production process until I returned from living in Thailand and Peru in 2011. It became so clear how broken our food system is and how poorly the majority of the public is feeding themselves. It was a natural progression for me to help change that.
VEG, VEGAN, CARNIVORE?
Miami has such a meat-driven culture, and providing people with simple and fast ways to prepare plant-based foods fills a void. I do not tell people that they need to be “vegan” or “vegetarian.” I simply support them to make plants the focus of their diet and then add in a bit of the other stuff.
Start in the produce section. Fill your basket with fruits and veggies (local, organic if you can), then items from the rest of the store or farmers market. Third: Read the ingredients. Steer away from items that you cannot pronounce or have no idea what it is.
THE VEGAN EVANGELIST: ELLEN KANNER, THE EDGY VEGGIE
Author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost, Miami Herald syndicated column is and Meatless Monday blogger for The Huffington Post, Kanner is an ardent advocate for sustainable, accessible food and a passionate vegan: “Moving to a plant based diet benefits the environment, your health, your karma, it affects the whole world.”
VEGAN MEANS FEWER CHOICES, RIGHT?
Vegan doesn’t mean less, it means more – a more sustainable planet, more nourishment for you, more color on your plate, more flavor in your mouth. Just think of the food–sumptuous chili–sparked Indian curry, Asian stir-fry with soy and ginger, rich, simple but soothing soups, creamy dips, crusty breads, great, grainy dishes full of fresh South Florida produce. And yeah, there’s vegan chocolate, too.
FOR THE COOKING CHALLENGED
Stop relying on processed food and get in the kitchen. You don’t have to be a chef on “Chopped” or spend all day in the kitchen to create a meal that nourishes and pleases.
ON FOOD AND COMMUNITY
From outreach and education to distribution and rocking food, South Florida has been closing the loops between our local farmers who provide the best food on the planet and consumer demand. The area I’d like us to focus on is accessibility. Health and great food is a human right – for everyone, regardless of income, education or ethnicity. I’d like to empower more initiatives advocating food justice – and I’d love to be part of them.
THE KIDS’CHEF: RAY NEWLANDS, SHORT CHEF
Since his first job as a busboy at his grandfather’s Brooklyn restaurant, Newlands has worked in the food and beverage industry. His own heart attack and open-heart surgery got him fired up about obesity and, more specifically, childhood obesity. Short Chef uses humor to teach kids about healthy eating at farmers markets, local events, schools and camps and for Common Threads Miami.
WHY THE OUTRAGE?
I’ve seen parents buy 32- oz. sodas and put it in baby bottles. I wanted to make a scene. I have a piece of duct tape with 20 packs of sugar on it – that’s how much sugar is in one soft drink. Some kids have never tasted carrots in their life. I hear “We don’t eat carrots. We don’t have them in our house.” My eyes opened.
SOME RECIPES, PLEASE
I make a salad in a swimming pool and toss it with boat oars, add mandarin orange, hearts of palm. My hot dog is a banana on a whole wheat bun with peanut butter and jelly.
WHAT MOVES YOU
I’m driven to teach kids how to eat healthy. We are past baby steps. We have to make eating healthy a main subject. Let’s teach parents. Bring the subject to the forefront. I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it any more.
THE EVENT PLANNER: ALISON BURGOS, SEED FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
Successful South Florida event planner Alison Burgos, along with her business partner and wife Michelle Gaber, launched SEED in 2014 as the best way to educate and enlighten others about the benefits of a plant-based diet. SEED returns Nov. 18-22, bringing top vegan and vegetarian chefs to South Florida for events to raise health awareness.
I come from a Latin family and food is the center of conversation. I was stressed and obese, working my way to an early grave. I had a wake-up call by getting sick with rheumatoid arthritis. I ended up in a wheelchair, feeling defeated. When I became vegan I went into remission.
WHAT’S SEED 2015 LOOK LIKE?
Very exciting! Yoga. A5K run in Wynwood. An outdoor yoga experience. Ayoga brunch. The best veggie burger competition with a celebrity panel and a fan favorite. Craft beer. Farm-to-table dinners. Sprouts Kids Day.
SPREADING THE WORD
We don’t want to preach. We believe eating plant-based food makes you feel better. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring or limiting. This is about people’s lives. If you can educate people and give them the opportunity to make a better choice, we’re proud of that.