Hi! My name is Amy Symington. I am a nutrition professor and plant based chef in Toronto, Ontario. I have a Masters of Science in Applied Human Nutrition and a big heart. I grew up on a small farm in South Western Ontario with my mom Sharon, a local school teacher and feminist, my dad, a farmer, chemical engineer and Canadian fastball legend, and my brother Jeremy, goaltender and comedian extraordinaire. My family farm, Gala Bank, has been in our family since 1834 and I am of the 7th generation. I spent a good portion of my youth outdoors, building rafts for the creek, biking without a helmet, catching cray fish and then promptly returning them, practicing the perfect pitch with Dad, and picking green beans with my grandmother. The other portion of my childhood, I spent watching Canadian cooking shows and my mother making everything imaginable. My grandparents lived directly across the road from us and everything I learned as a child about growing your own food, cooking and baking I learned from my grandmother. I now teach nutrition and culinary arts at George Brown College, am the culinary nutrition program coordinator at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, work for various magazines, publications and private businesses doing recipe development and nutrition focused food writing, and I am in the midst of writing my first cookbook that focuses on cancer nutrition. I am also a mom to a beautiful boy and wife to a man who also has a big heart. I like to leave people happier than when I found them and hope to inspire the reduction of cancer rates in Canada with good, whole plant based fare.
As mentioned, I have always been a fan favourite of Yoso, not only because it contains ingredients that I can get behind health and ethics wise, and not only because their products taste amazing and are actually good for you, but also because it is a family owned business who’s owner has a big heart!
We asked a few questions about her dairy-free lifestyle as part of this series, Living Dairy Free:
Why are you dairy-free?
I have a threefold answer to this – for my health, for the environment and for the animals.
Top five favourite dairy-free products?
Yoso’s dairy free unsweetened yogurt line (and I am not including this for the sole purpose of being featured, Yoso has been a pioneer in the dairy-free business and I have been a long time fan!), every one of Nuts for Cheese‘s products, Zengarry‘s aged cumin cheese, Natura‘s organic unsweetened soy milk, and honestly any organic full fat coconut milk.
Favourite local spot to eat that accommodates dairy-free?
There is a quaint middle eastern restaurant in our neighbourhood called Delina, that is family owned, and in my opinion makes one of the best falafels in the city. It is a staple in our household. We hold the yogurt sauce and ask for extra hot sauce and tahini in lieu. Much further away from our neighbourhood, but worth the drive, is Awai. Their food is on another level in comparison to what the city has to offer in the way of plant based food.
Favourite place to shop for groceries?
Carload! Again another small, family owned business, that has unbelievably fresh, reasonably priced, organic produce and all the Asian staples you will ever need! Next would be The Big Carrot and then Farm Boy.