Islander nominated for Small Business B.C. Awards

Rich Ralph, a holistic nutritionist who focuses on helping clients with food, environmental or pet allergies, has been nominated for a People’s Choice Award and a Community Impact Award through Small Business B.C. Ralph also recently received second place in The Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver Best Nutritionist category.

Ralph launched his business six years ago. “When I graduated as a nutritionist, I was working full-time for an Internet company and intended to build my business slowly,” he says. “Then, the company laid off my whole department and I was faced with the choice of looking for a new job or diving in and starting my business. My wife Crystal and I decided that the second choice was the better option.”

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He says that his business grew quickly, in part because he worked with kids. “I think that among mothers, word spreads really fast,” he says.

Moving to Bowen three years ago was a challenging transition and one that is on-going, he says. “I was nervous about setting up shop here, because it is such a small community and in a way, the goal of my work is to make it so that people don’t need me any more,” says Ralph. “But I’ve put that behind me and I now work out of an office in the Cove every other Saturday alongside seeing clients in the city three days per week.”

As Ralph is a nutritionist and loves to cook I’ve thrown The Undercurrent’s “kitchen questions” his way and asked for a recipe. See below!

Question: What’s your comfort food?

Answer: Strangely, I don’t really have a comfort food! If I had to choose my favourite food it would probably be my homemade pizza. I make a delicious sprouted spelt crust and my favourite toppings are pesto, raw milk cheese, prosciutto, pear and kale (recipe below).

Question: If you could only have one cookbook…

Answer: In all honesty, I haven’t read too many cookbooks. With technology at our fingertips it’s hard not to scroll through food blog after food blog. And why not? The Internet is full of incredibly creative ideas! If I had to pick just one website, I might choose AllRecipes.com. I look there for inspiration and then modify the ingredients to make the 

recipes healthier.   

 

Question: Who’s your biggest culinary influence and what did they teach you?

Answer: My mom. This may sound cliche, but she influenced me in a different way to develop my love for cooking.  My mom didn’t enjoy cooking even though she did it for our family every night. She did her best and I’m thankful for her efforts. She was also not very adventurous with respect to food. I didn’t get my first taste of sushi until I was 19 years old. I think that my lack of exposure to a wide variety of foods fostered my curiosity in the kitchen. Thanks mom!

 

Question: When did you realize you loved to cook?

Answer: My love for cooking evolved over time. I can’t really pick a moment when I realized I loved it. My first real experience cooking for others was when I was 20 years old living in Australia. I was hired by a scuba dive company to cook on a boat for passengers. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I sure learned a lot (I even had to learn to bake apple pie on a barbecue since the boat didn’t have an oven!)

 

Question: Tell me about a culinary challenge, and how you overcame it. For example, when you had to adapt to a particular diet or allergy, or when you had to learn a totally new cooking style.

Answer: My wife used to be severely intolerant to gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar and several other things. Although I don’t have any food sensitivities myself, it was necessary for us to have a completely gluten- and dairy-free kitchen. It was challenging to learn alternatives to many of these cooking staples, but once the changes were made and the kitchen was stocked with proper options, it became quite easy to make just about anything. Six years ago Crystal completely healed all of her allergies and sensitivities. This experience led to me becoming a registered holistic nutritionist, where I specialize in helping adults and children overcome their allergies.  

 

Question: How has living on Bowen influenced your cooking?

Answer: In some ways it has made it easier, and in some ways it has been more challenging. Before moving to Bowen, my family lived in Vancouver’s West End. Everything was easily accessible any time of day. Out of an ingredient at 9 p.m.? No problem. There’s a store open with my needs. I’ve had to learn to plan ahead more but living on Bowen has also given me the opportunity to have a larger kitchen. I enjoy the extra counter space to prepare daily meals for my family.

 

Rich’s spelt-crust pizza:

1 1⁄2 cups sprouted spelt flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (non-aluminum)

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

1⁄2 cup filtered water

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the liquid ingredients and start kneading. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for five minutes. Set aside in an air-tight container while you prep the pizza toppings (10-15 minutes).

On a floured surface, roll the dough out (I like mine quite thin). Now use your favourite sauce and toppings. A few of mine were listed above.

Cook at 400 for about 20 minutes. I usually check it at 15 to see if the thin crust is brown and crispy.

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