We’re delighted to welcome Maddy Willis from Toronto as our first watercress ambassador from Canada. We’re keen to spread the word as far and wide as possible and you can’t get much further from our HQ in Dorset than that - but we’re willing to try! See here how to join our family of ambassadors.
Here’s Maddy with her watercress adventures……
I’m a 23 year-old resident of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Known as the most bustling and high-energy city in all of Canada, it’s home to Drake, Justin Bieber and the CN tower.
Top 10 Toronto Attractions:
Royal Ontario Museum - From crystals to dinosaurs, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) covers it all, making it an essential stop on any kind of traveller’s itinerary.
Art Gallery of Ontario - Immerse yourself in art and culture at one of the city’s most intriguing architectural landmarks. From Canadian artist collections and European classics to interactive workshops and classes, the AGO is a must-visit for any art loving adventurer.
Aga Khan Museum -this breathtaking building is a welcome cultural and educational institution, dedicated to teaching about the heritage of Muslim civilizations around the world
Ontario Science Center - Welcoming curiosity and creativity, this family-friendly attraction is dedicated to making science fun and promoting exploration and learning.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada - The beautifully designed aquarium is home to species from all over the world and offers visitors an up close and personal view of the majestic, finned friends.
Toronto Islands - a short ferry ride away from Toronto’s bustling downtown core sits a cluster of small islands, commonly known as Toronto Islands. Consisting of a quaint amusement park, sandy beaches, shady knolls and biking trails, the Island is a great day-trip destination.
Kensington Market - Kensington Market perfectly captures the city’s melting-pot cultural make up. Vibrant and diverse, it is home to eclectic vintage boutiques, bars, cafés and restaurants that fill up the area’s colorful streets, making this an ideal destination for exploring
The Distillery District - comprised by the cluster of restored Victorian buildings that once operated as the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, the area has undergone one of the city’s greatest urban transformations, creating a unique European-esque walking district packed with restaurants, cafés, boutiques, galleries and more.
High Park - Since the late 1800s, High Park has been a destination for locals and tourists alike, offering plenty of picturesque vantage points, hiking trails, waterfront views, activities and more—there is even a small zoo within the park
Scarborough Bluffs - Stretching across 15 kilometers along Lake Ontario, the Scarborough Bluffs offer turquoise waters, sandy beaches and cascading cliffs. Photos from the bluffs seem exotic and almost tropical, yet they are found right in the city’s east end. For adventurers and hiking enthusiasts, the Bluffs are a gorgeously imposing geological attraction.
Back to Maddy…….
I have a hospitality background as I went to school at George Brown College for their Culinary Arts program, but afterwards, I stayed on to study Nutrition.
I have more of a history with nutrition than just a school program, however, as nutrition has been an important part of my life since I was in my teens. Growing up, my parents always encouraged us to eat a wholesome diet and provided us with great guidance and advice. We were all athletic and so having a balanced diet and eating foods rich in nutrients was critical. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains were always a part of my diet and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
Growing up and seeing how much impact what you eat has on your body made me want to know more. That’s when I decided I wanted to take a Nutrition Management program as part of my post-grad after Culinary School. This program deepened my knowledge and provided a closer insight into vitamins and minerals and how everything works once it’s inside your body.
Today, I’m proud to announce that I follow a plant-based diet; this means no meat, eggs or dairy - really nothing that comes from another living creature. This is because those foods don’t make my body feel good, and I believe everyone should listen to their body.
However, I accept it is my personal choice and I don’t believe it is my right to tell others how to live. I just want to encourage everyone to eat whole foods versus processed foods and to pay attention to what goes into their body because ‘you are what you eat’.
Even if you don’t follow a plant-based diet, I challenge you to try to eat at least one meal a week this way. And I hope here, through my blog posts, you can find inspiration for that meal and just know that no matter what - it will taste great! Here’s a fabulous watercress salad with sliced orange in an orange, lime & shallot dressing just to get your taste buds going!
So, you can see why being accepted as a watercress ambassador means so much to me.
If you live in Toronto, and a fan of watercress like me, you’ll know just how difficult it is to find some. Usually, I’ve purchased watercress in Kensington Market but it’s still just not that fresh and it’s usually soaking wet and doesn’t look very appetizing.
Another place I have stumbled across it is Whole Foods. Here it is slightly better, because you can purchase it as a still living plant. The only downside to this is it’s a small portion at a steeper price, and just for one use. Either way, the choices are slim and not really the greatest. I can’t speak on behalf of all of Canada, but from my experiences I can only assume that there isn’t much of a selection elsewhere either. It’s unfortunate because watercress is such an amazing super food, and is more nutritionally complete than the rest of its salad friends (arugula, spinach, mixed greens.)
I stumbled upon The Watercress Company through social media, and am I ever happy that I did! I took the plunge and reached out to them to see if I could be one of their ambassadors. The main reason I was so drawn to them is the fact that they follow traditional watercress farming and produce it organically. Major kudos to that!
It was so exciting to finally have the opportunity to try watercress in its fullest and freshest form. Let me just say, I was not disappointed! I couldn’t believe how much of a difference there was, not only visually but also in taste. I’m seriously never going back.
You would be surprised though, by how many people still don’t know what watercress is. When talking with friends and co-workers I got a lot of “Is it those clear crunchy things in Chinese food?” which are actually water chestnuts. I want to be able to share this super food with as many people as possible. It was exciting to find out they were open to trying it, and not surprisingly, they loved it. The great thing about it is it has a mild taste, and can be used in so many different dishes. It can also be prepared lots of different ways: fresh, stir-fried, boiled, etc. The options truly are endless, and I’m working on putting together a list of recipes that I will be able to share!
For now, here are some other ideas: Watercress salad topped with maple tempeh in a maple dressing, and brown rice pasta sautéed with tomato and watercress topped with nutritional yeast.
And chow mein stir fry with zucchini (courgette in the UK), tomato, watercress sriracha and green onion!