Theresa Nicassio | Vancouver based psychologist and a gourmet raw food chef is launching her first book inspired by her passion for food, life and love. YUM: plant-based recipes for a glutenfree diet features 180 delicious and easy to make, refined sugar-free easy to make recipes the whole family can enjoy.
The launch event will take place at Shaughnessy Heights United Church from 2:30 – 5:30 pm on Saturday September 19th. “My life’s journey forever changed when my personal health crisis began in 1997.
Since then, I’ve been on a mission to live more vibrantly, mindfully, and healthfully in every way possible and offer my insanely delicious recipes and health discoveries with others.” YUM is the first book of its kind that truly attends to the psychological implications of living with dietary restrictions and preferences.
Bringing the psychological perspective into the discussion of helping individuals make dietary changes, YUM provides “the missing piece” that has been overlooked far too long.
YUM utilizes this understanding and holds the reader’s hand, while educating and empowering them to successfully change their lifestyle habits in a way that they can confidently and easily sustain.
As a seasoned psychologist, Theresa has personally been touched by the debilitating effects of gluten and other food sensitivities. “It is wonderful to be able to use my experiences and expertise to help others navigate these challenges with greater ease and joy.”
Q & A with Theresa-Nicassio
Theresa you are a sought after psychologist and a raw-food chef with a cookbook out soon. What inspired you to write YUM: plant-based recipes for a gluten-free diet?
That is a great question. The word “inspired” is the critical word here since writing a cookbook was certainly never on my bucket list. The conception of YUM came as a result of two really big things happening in 2010, coincidentally, right around the same time.
The first of these was the discovery that the primary underlying cause of my twelve year health crisis (that began after the birth of my first daughter) was my body’s reaction to gluten. Surprisingly, that little protein had wreaked havoc on my immune, respiratory, neurological and articular systems and had led me to be debilitated all those years.
The second of these was my then twelve-year-old’s sudden decision to live a completely plant-based lifestyle, after watching Alicia Silverstone’s interview on an Oprah Winfrey Show. The journey to find, and then later create, delicious food that our whole family could enjoy (given the special needs and longings of our bodies and souls), became the five year gestation of YUM. This book was intended to be the resource that I longed-for and couldn’t find.
As it evolved, I realized that it could be something that I could pass along to my children as a healthy resource for them to benefit in their lives and be something they could also share with their families. Ultimately, as friends we shared the recipes with got super excited and happy about the creations, I realized that this book could be much more than I had previously thought it could be a gift that I could offer others who also suffer, to bring more pleasure and ease to their lives, regardless of their health circumstances.
With the rapid rise in obesity and diabetes, YUM also became a source of hope to reverse this trend. Watching my own dad suffer from diabetes, enduring the worst of the worst that disease can cause, my passion to offer easy lower glycemic (yet really yummy) alternatives, has become one of my biggest aspirations for YUM.
What is YUM Living?
YUM Living is the soul of this book. It is a psychologically-based philosophy of living that embraces and celebrates pleasure-seeking in a mindful and responsible way that I call “responsible hedonism”. As a species, we love pleasure and prefer to avoid discomfort and effort as much as possible.
This is our nature. So, instead of judging ourselves and others for these longings, why not accept and dance with them, and find ways to creatively weave them into something wonderful, healing and life-giving? Life is here to be lived joyfully and freely, yet many of the mental and societal constructs that we have co-created as a society get in the way of joy and individual expression.
As a psychologist, having offered therapy for over 29 years, I have come to realize how much emotional suffering is caused by the way we think about ourselves, each other and the world. YUM Living offers a simple paradigm with nine general principles that can help prevent or even reverse much of this unnecessary suffering, replacing this suffering with freedom, connection and joy.
You decided to publish the book yourself. What was that process like, and what led you to make that decision?
The process of writing and publishing a book is a very interesting journey. In many ways, the writing itself is largely a very personal and internal process. This decision was multi-faceted, because of many factors. Basically, YUM was “discovered” even before I was even thinking about seeking a publisher. So, about three years into the writing, unknowingly, we had a publisher over for dinner who was blown away by the food and by the story and vision for the book.
The year working with the publisher and editor was fantastic, where amongst other things, independent test kitchens in the U.S. & Canada tested many of the recipes and gave feedback and ideas about the recipes. To make a long story short, unfortunate health circumstances resulted in the need to pursue another route to publish. With the book so far along, this became a difficult decision, since there are benefits and drawbacks around the both the option to work with a publisher or to self-publish.
I had a very big vision for YUM, wanting it to be a paradigm-changing and high-quality book, large and filled with an inordinate amount of beautiful full-colour, full-page photos (all factors that are very costly). What I discovered was that this wasn’t likely to happen with either the conventional publishing or standard self-publishing model.
Feeling compelled to also ensure that the integrity of my vision of this book would be ensured, I ultimately decided to create a third and unconventional choice the decision to start a new and vibrant independent publishing company that would represent my vision and mission to inspire minds and empower lives.
As a bonus, I already have other books that have been brewing in me for years that would be perfect under this label as well. So, in many ways, not only is the book YUM being launched right now, but the start of this new publishing company is also being launched at the same time. This is a very big deal.
For a busy professional on the go, what are some little changes they can make in their diet to deal with stress and assist with overall health?
I love questions like this! It is really important to be practical and realistic and not expect perfectionism. Three little changes that can help with both stress and also be beneficial are:
- START SMALL | Learn one or two quick dishes that you can make in a flash that are delicious and easy-to-make. It is amazing how much your stress can go down once you have just one such dish in your back pocket to call upon when you need it. As you gradually start to bring more healthy food into your life, the less healthy options begin to get squeezed out. This is especially great because it requires almost no effort!
- MAKE LARGE BATCHES | When you have favourite recipes that can be stored in the fridge or freezer for a few days in meal-sized containers, make large batches and use the leftovers for lunches or pulled out to be used for quick suppers. Tabbouleh and bean or lentil salads and soups are some of my favourites for this purpose. Sometimes they can even be used in other dishes such as wraps or over pasta, quinoa, or cooked grains.
- ENJOY MORE WATER DENSE FOODS | When we eat foods with a high water density (such as fresh greens and other fresh fruits and vegetables), our bodies tend to be very happy. What many people don’t realize is that while hydration is super important, water-dense foods also offer a plethora of nutrients and tend to fill us up faster. When our bodies feel full and are provided with the nutrients that they need to thrive, we also tend to crave the less healthy foods less. It’s really a win-win-win.
With the temperatures dropping, what would you recommend to add into our existing diets to help the body transition for fall/winter weather.
Not being a physician, I cannot speak about the physiological effects of food in this way. It is important to also consult with your doctor about your unique health needs and propensities as you seek guidance around your health. That said, I know that the types of food that I personally enjoy when the weather starts to feel chilly are foods that are inherently warming.
For example, while I enjoy eating a lot of raw food (especially in the summer months), I find that in the colder times of the year, my body enjoys more cooked foods, especially soups and stews. Of course, there are foods that are thought to have “warming” effects as well, such as ginger and hot and spicy foods like peppers, mustards, horseradish and the like. A word of caution, though, is that as with other foods, we need to all eat those foods that our bodies uniquely love. Also, for those with certain food sensitivities or other health conditions or for those who are taking medications that can cross-react with certain foods, it is always important to work with your healthcare professionals for guidance around any dietary changes that you might be considering. It is amazing how many seemingly benign foods, such as grapefruit, can be a concern for some individuals. It’s always best to first consult!
Is it true you took all the bright, colorful photos seen in YUM?
I know it is pretty crazy, but yes, I took all of the food and garden photos in YUM, except for the photo of the Chia Chips (which my wonderful author and lifestyle photographer Alejandra Aguirre photoali took). Ali took all of the photos of me and all but four of the lifestyle photos. Colour, light and balance entrance me. It was wonderful to be able to share the world as I see and experience it through my own lens.
Particularly special was being able to do so, even in those most quiet and sacred moments, such as when communing with nature, including my intimate encounters with the bees. This is something special that I am particularly happy to be able to offer to my readers not just the sound-bytes of my words or the food-bites of the yummy recipes, but also the sight-bytes of the visual sensual experiencing.
Pictures can express what words can only attempt to communicate. Images can take our breath away in awe, soften our inner world, and even calm our other senses and physiology, in a mere moment. Beauty transforms us and I believe is an under-tapped vehicle for emotional healing.
You have been receiving a lot of praise for YUM. Are there any plans for more books in future?
Oh yes! I have some other beautiful books in the making and gestating within me. The next book will be a book of reflections for living. Another that has been percolating is about connecting with the beauty that resides within each of us. There is a more provocative one I’ve been contemplating, and of course, this will not be the last of the YUM recipe books!
We hear there is a launch party for YUM coming up! Can you give us some details about that.
Oh my goodness, yes! This is going to be the party of parties a free family-friendly community festival celebrating living, great food, each other and our planet. Inspiring artists, non-profit organizations, local business, and health and wellness professionals, all committed to healthy living, humanitarian- and earth-friendly initiatives will be there.
In addition, there will be food demonstrations, speakers, yummy samples, a great kids craft corner, henna for teens, door prizes and fantastic musical performances by local musicians, featuring singer-songwriter Tessa Mouzourakis, throughout the main event. After the main event, there will be a free Disco lesson and a dance party to follow.
The launch will be at Shaughnessy Heights United Church, located at 1550 W. 33rd Avenue (at Granville St) from 2:30-5:30pm. $1 per book will be donated to the charity of your choice of the four that D&D Publishing and Distribution is sponsoring for the year (Canadian Celiac Association, the Suzuki Foundation, American Autoimmune and Related Diseases Association, and The Master Shift.
We would love to get your favourite smoothie recipe and breakfast ideas that we can share with our viewers.
I have so many! However, in the spirit of finding the easiest healthy tips and tricks, I would love to share with your viewers my Peach Banana Green Smoothie that my daughter Alex created that has only 3 ingredients, plus ice and water! (p. 55) Another dynamite breakfast recipe that is super delicious and seriously packed with nutrition and can be made to be a convenient on-the-go meal that is one of my favourites when I travel is my Flax & Chia Raw Power Breakfast. (p. 60)
YUM took 5 years in the making. Where can we purchase the book?
The best place to purchase YUM if you are unable to attend the launch party is on the YUM website: yumfoodforliving. When you order from this website, $1 per book will again be donated to the charity of your choosing of the four sponsored this year by D&D Publishing and Distribution. As a special deal for our loyal customers, through September 20th, you can get the special book launch 25% discount for all books purchased on the website.
After the launch promotion ends on September 21st, YUM will also be available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. Locally, Gardenworks is also carrying YUM, and it will soon be available at many other stores. Inquire at your favourite stores to ask whether YUM is available in their stores. If not, feel free to give them the contact information for them to order YUM at firstname.lastname@example.org or they can phone 604-445-MIND (6463).
If you would like to make a large purchase of YUM books or you have a charity or business and would like to make a large order of YUM (e.g. for fundraising efforts, corporate gifts, etc.), you can contact D&D Publishing directly for information about discount pricing available for large case orders.
Thank you for your time.