Oasis Institute for Healthy Living provides industry services, education and training, and group/ individual consultations on nutrition and healthy cooking; as well as design, development and facilitation of seminars and workshops emphasizing healthy living and sustainability of a healthy environment.
I got to chat with Astrid Muschalla about the very unique and broadly ranged services that her business offers.
You guys do so much awesome stuff. How can we explain everything you do?
Helping people, families, communities…we are a network of Home Economists and other professionals. In Ontario the OHEA is a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promoting high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life. In the case of Oasis Institute for Healthy Living Inc. the work encompasses relationships with the environment from a holistic perspective.
How did this whole company start and how long has it been around?
It was a vision that started in 1998 with work done for the Canadian Coast Guard on nutrition and healthy eating…..you can’t look at that without looking at how we eat. And that’s all about relationships – with self, family, community.
Who creates the recipes on your website?
I am a chef with Red Seal certification and develop recipes that are first off – just plain delicious. It starts with looking at what’s fresh in season and using lots of natural flavourings instead of fat, salt and sugar for taste. It’s also about planning great meals for nutrient density rather than calorie density.
I hear you also have Yoga. Tell us about that.
This is Hatha Yoga which focusses on particular stretches that work the energy meridians of body – hence the name Acu-Yoga. Yoga is basically meditation in motion and the ultimate goal is balance: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.
The food services that you do sound great. Why do companies approach you and what do they take home from it?
Cooks rarely get time for professional development and yet they have a lot of power if you consider that they feed people. So what they prepare matters! Not just that it tastes good but it must have nutritional integrity also. Studying to become a chef in school requires only one basic nutrition course. I have taught nutrition to students for many years and I know that it’s just a beginning. The training and consultation that we do on and off site with cooks is a practical application of nutrition – to be better at menu planning and incorporate healthy cooking techniques. There’s always room for improvement. One of the best tools is when we use nutritional analysis to do recipe modifications. Chefs will take their favorite recipe and improve them nutritionally and even making them taste better (everyone hesitates to mess with a ‘perfect’ recipe). The resulting numbers speak for themselves…it’s such an eye opener for a cook to see the before and after and to go through a proper recipe development process.
What kinds of gardening courses do have and who should take them?
The courses are about organic horticultural practices – everything from growing and preserving foods, herbs. But it’s also about the natural garden and planting for biodiversity to preserve our native plants. Homeowners have a tremendous impact on what they choose to plant. So, home owners who want to learn to garden or people who want to garden professionally would benefit from these courses. Organic Horticulture Specialist course is quite involved and prepare you to take the certification exam for SOUL – the Society of Organic Urban Land care which sets the standards of practice for organic horticulture in Canada.
What is coming up? What are your plans for the future? New ideas?
More and more home owners are getting into gardening – growing food in small city gardens is becoming very important to people. There is a growing concern about taking more control over what we plant around our yards for beauty but also for maximizing gain from every inch of our properties. Even if you rent – city boulevards and parks can have garden spaces that inspire, help people de-stress, help keep the air clean and cool. Plant more trees! (especially because our Ash trees are being decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer). I’m also finding that young people want to learn to cook for themselves instead of feeling dependent on questionable convenience foods. Our approach is very realistic and practical and working with people in their own homes seems to be a trend.
See their website for more information on courses.