Well-known radio host, wellness enthusiast and founder of The Conscious Folk, Tracy Fowler graciously invited Cooking Sense into her home (but we were really interested in her bohemian-inspired kitchen!) to talk about all things food, wellness, and family. After all, these three things form a fundamental part of her identity.
Christmas is a big production for Tracy and her family, and along with her partner Andre, they have found ways to integrate their own traditions into the mix. It starts with decorating the tree as a family, where her mom’s bakes are readily available for everyone to munch on. Then, during the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve, they keep their notifications on for THE message: “ham is ready!” Mom’s famous ham cutters are a must: fresh, toasted salt bread and melted cheese.
“It sounds simple, but those simple moments give me that ‘Ratatouille’ moment,” she says, with her infectious laugh.
Though she loves to cook (cook very well, we might add) and does it during the season, don’t expect to find Tracy planning and prepping for the holiday table this year. She declared her hand quite early: “I don’t cook on Christmas Day; I eat on Christmas Day!” The mothers and grandmothers of the family’s cooking take centre stage at the annual Christmas gatherings.
However, Tracy is contributing her famous salad (romaine lettuce, plum or cherry tomatoes, red onions, red and yellow sweet peppers, McCormick Garlic-Herb Mix or fresh garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper). “I think a nice, big, amazing colourful salad should also take centre stage,” she posits.
She’s also thinking of bringing her roasted Brussel sprouts and squash with cranberries, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, drizzled with maple syrup. For sure, though, she’s bringing her banana bread. What’s so special about banana bread, you may ask?
Tracy moonlighted as a gourmet baker, dreaming up all kinds of delectable desserts for corporate clients and children’s parties. But, of course, there was always a wholesome twist to it: lots of fibre, real cocoa, etc., but always delicious.
“I know my family loves it. Recently, I’ve started using local bananas, which are sweeter than imported ones, and there’s a chocolate chip that I like called Hu, which is sweetened with coconut palm sugar. I also add walnuts or almonds. It actually reminds me that we don’t need to use that much sugar,” she shared.
The flours for the banana bread varies — whole grain, gluten-free, spelt, and even breadfruit and cassava for a local twist.
Tracy’s approach to food came through watching her mother make changes to the family’s meals. Even though they weren’t vegetarians, she encouraged a love for plant-based meals and vegetables in general.
Now, Tracy’s own kitchen is carefully curated to suit her wellness goals. She must have chicken, first things first. And she swears by the Garlic-Herb Mix by McCormicks, which we are curious to try.
“If I go through breakfast to dinner — berries, almond milk, and oatmeal are needed. Broccoli, zucchini, garlic, sweet peppers, pita bread, pepper jellies, onion jam, balsamic vinegar, lemons, brown rice and basmati rice, feta cheese . . . I must have olive oil and coconut oil —I love coconut oil for my popcorn.”
“Does Andre cook?” we ask. “No, he doesn’t. He cleans and does the laundry, but he makes a mean tuna sandwich!” she retorts in a fit of laughter.
Eagerly anticipating Christmas and her brother’s arrival from Washington State, Tracy tells us that this year’s family gathering, which was initially up in the air, will be held with special provisions for social distancing.
And, no, she isn’t depriving herself of the traditional Bajan Christmas spread.
“I will definitely have my mom’s macaroni pie because it is the absolute best. It comes out once a year, maybe three times, but I have it once a year,” she says. “I’m gonna have that big beautiful salad, I’m gonna have ham, I’m gonna have chicken, maybe baked pork. There’s a lot of meat on my plate. I don’t carb-load my plate. I don’t have pie AND potato salad AND rice . . . I can’t get it done. My mind won’t let me do it,” she says, shaking her head.
After the dishes are cleared away, and it’s time for dessert, Tracy looks forward to a nice, rich slice of black cake. And because she no longer consumes alcohol due to preventative health concerns, she is looking forward to her mother’s sorrel, her father’s lemonade, and the family speciality— coconut water mixed with Frutee.
From Tracy’s kitchen at home to her parent’s kitchen, to the kitchens of her extended family, one thing is clear: food is the thing that connects them all.
Shop Tracy’s Kitchen Helpers
Knife Set Block
Coffee Milk Frother (Aeroccino 3)
West India Coffee Co., $392
West India Coffee Co., $112.80
Oster PRO500 Paddle Blender
Bamboo Fruit Plate/ Chopping Board
Iridescent Decanter Set
Stone Mortar and Pestle