Michelle Connelly is a food guru with a passion for healthy eating
By Terrance Gavan
There is an air of comfort and serenity in this place.
A lot of that has to do with the enchanting presence of Earthway’s Café owner, Michelle Connelly.
But there’s more. Entering the neat and compact premises, one is confronted by a feeling that there is more here than ‘first blush.’
Entering Earthway’s Café (50 York Street) one is met by a big comfy couch, surrounded by a tasteful display of local art, jewelry, reading material, music and scents.
The overall aesthetic, and Connelly’s reassuring smile puts one at ease, almost immediately.
And, of course, that’s the point, because this new shop onYork Street– adjacent to Curves and across from the Library – is no ordinary café.
“It’s a wellness kitchen,” smiles Connelly. “We offer self help books, music and meditation.” And of course there is food on hand. Fresh food, salads, fruit plates, and usually a daily special. “People can come in here have a cup of tea a smoothie, or a salad,” says Connelly. “Everything is vegan, so we cater to vegans and those who might like a change from their normal diet.”
Yes they have a Facebook Page. And it advertises “wonderful holistic nutritious food. This is a café that Haliburton has been waiting for. Great food, housed in an environment that lends itself to rest and serenity.”
Connelly is chief facilitator, chef, barrista and a very interesting person, with a deep understanding of and insight into the benefits of healthy food choices and the subsequent affect that those choices have on a healthy lifestyle and one’s overall outlook.
She began to immerse herself in dietary studies soon after she had her first child. “I started to become more of a label reader, and I started to make choices,” says Connelly. “In the course of that, my interest in nutrition grew and I decided to go back to school. I went toCanadianSchoolof Natural Nutrition and graduated in May, 2004, and it really opened my eyes.
“I thought I already knew a lot about food, but the course taught me much more. Like symptom-otology which is really important. A lot of the times our body is telling us something, but we don’t realize it. I found that we can learn a lot by how our body reacts to certain foods.”
Indeed she also offers to bring that same knowledge to her patrons who wish to investigate their own dietary needs. So she will provide comprehensive wellness consultations.
She gained a lot of experience in counseling while working at a wellness centre and juice bar, Nature’s Emporium inNewmarket. She believes that there’s a similar interest here in theHighlands.
“I would love to see more of this nutritionist study grow here in Haliburton, because where I come from, at Nature’s Emporium inNewmarket, they had a juice bar, but they also had a lot of classes,” says Connelly. “I did a class for patrons there that was called Lighten Up.”
She smiles. The class actually had little to do with ‘losing’ per se, but was more about eating a balanced diet.
“This was not just about losing weight,” smiles Connelly. “We wanted to ‘Lighten Up’ the attitude about having to lose weight. Accept your body for what it is and eat smarter and eat more consciously… It’s not so much the things you eat that are bad for you; it’s the attitude you have toward healthy eating. Also what are you neglecting in the way of foods that are good for you? The attitude that one has greatly affects everything else in your life.”
She offers packages and sessions for people and patrons that are interested in learning more about what’s bad in the food and why we still eat so much of it. In short, it’s something we all know only too well. Your diet could be making you sick. In fact? Your diet just might be killing you.
“That’s what the Wellness Kitchen is all about,” says Connelly. “It’s about conscious management. Everyone is unique and everyone has different needs when it comes to dietary choices. I have been doing one-on-one counseling ever since I graduated. The most important part of the counseling is teaching people how to take care of themselves.”
That would be after the wellness plan and the consulting is done. Connelly is a firm believer in the “teach a man to fish” paradigm, and her goal is to make her students self sustaining and not reliant on diets or further counseling.
“We go over all their symptoms and I have them do a food journal, and by the time I’m finished with them, they will know about as much as I do, when it comes to their unique needs,” says Connelly.
She says that the Earthways Café is a bit of a gamble, but she thinks that there is room in this marketplace for a vegan friendly café that also offers holistic dietary support.
And, hey, she’s not alone in this gambit.
“It’s actually become a family run thing,” laughs Connelly. “My daughter Miranda (graduated from Hal High last spring) is a strong worker and supporter and she’s helping me out this year while she decides where to go for school.
“And my husband Dave (Connell) helped put all of it together.”
It’s a nice spot to mingle and nosh.
And it’s also a great place to sell art work apparently.
Within one week of its February 10 opening, the local paintings on the walls already had sold signs on them.
Making Earthways… a little more than your average café.
Visit Earthways Café at 50 York Street, next to Curves.