Eating healthy and local in Spokane: A conversation with Donell Barlow

Healthy Eating Tuesday, November 27, 2018 Written by

She’s a Spokane native, a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a holistic health coach. She’s an author — her memoir’s called “Medicine Tracks” — an educator and a public speaker. And she’s a busy mother of a six-month-old baby girl.

She is Donell Barlow, and she’s as passionate about food and the idea of food as medicine.

Actively Northwest recently connected with Barlow to talk a little bit about the food scene in Spokane, where she likes to shop for seasonal produce and healthy foods and what local means to her. (Hint: it involves stinging nettles and elderberries)

How would you size up the healthy eating scene in Spokane? I think we have a few great options for healthy eating, but it could use some work. The farmers’ markets in the summer are terrific, I just wish this could be applied all year around.

What are your favorite places to shop for fresh, seasonal produce and healthy foods? I do enjoy the Kendall Yards Night Market on Wednesday nights, and the downtown farmers’ market on the weekends. I buy produce in season to get the best cost, and it’s when you should be eating these foods. We are far from having something like Pike Place at our fingertips, but I’m hopeful we will get closer to that in time. I really love Boots Bakery & Lounge downtown. It’s vegan and delicious. I love getting fresh salads at the Main Market Co-op or My Fresh Basket. Poke Express just opened another location, and they have some really great options for healthy eating. I do love Method Juice located downtown and on North Division. They offer fresh juices, smoothies and bowls. Everything is gluten-free as well.

When you think local, what comes to mind for you? When I think local, my mind comes to traditional foods of this area. I like to gather elderberries at the Palisades Park and Riverside State Park for making medicinal syrup for the flu season. Huckleberries are amazing and I gather them at Mt. Spokane – and stinging nettles are everywhere.

What are some easy ways for people to shop, eat and cook healthy? I think most people shop where they can offer convenience for location or factor cost. We don’t have all the same options when it comes to purchasing foods. I saw this issue and the limited resources for healthy options all the time on the reservation, where I worked as the Project Director of the Special Diabetes Program of Indians grant. Supporting farmers’ markets cuts out the middle man and tends to be cheaper. I always advocate growing some foods if possible and doing exchanges with others. When you buy in-season, you will get a better price, and you’re eating within harmony of your environment. Supporting local grocery stores, like Yokes, will also make this easier.

What are some favorite easy meals you would recommend based off fresh fall produce? Spaghetti Squash is perfect for fall, and I love making it with a red sauce or a pesto using nettles. I have some recipes on my website for this. I just started making baby food for my little one, and I really enjoy that as well.

What are your tips for eating healthy in your neighborhood? Let us know on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!