Pasta, popcorn, toast and chocolate. That's what Amelia Golden ate during
her days as a law school graduate articling at the Ontario attorney-general's
Not surprisingly, she developed a chronic digestive disorder in 1993. She says the disorder was most likely linked to her junk-food diet, and possibly also to a prolonged use of antibiotics to treat an ear infection during childhood. The disorder caused her to have allergic reactions to many staple foods including bread, wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, sugar and honey. She lost weight, tired easily and had to take a leave from her job.
So what's a sick lawyer to do? Amelia first had to learn to cook for herself the foods she could tolerate - mostly green and white vegetables. While she didn't eat red meat before her illness, she did eat chicken and fish. However, when she got ill, she gave up all animal and dairy products. As she began to eat better, the effects of the disorder lessened and she was able to eat more foods. Today, she is a healthy vegan who enjoys cooking for herself and others.
So much so, that she gave up law to start her own vegan meal delivery service, In Her Hands. The name refers to two things - leave your food concerns in her (Golden's) hands, and the supply of food from Mother Nature.
On April 5, 1997, she celebrates her third anniversary. She got her first customer by putting an ad up at an allergy testing service and received a call the next day. Today, she has more than 40 steady customers, of whom at least 20 to 30 in any given week call to request her four-dinner plan. An example of a week's offerings: Soup - split pea, borscht; Vegetable - queen yam casserole, bokchoy with pumpkin seeds; Grain - lemon rice and peas, millet burgers; Legume - lima bean succotash, ful medames (black-eyed peas).
Golden offers a five-week rotating menu and frequently adds new recipes to maintain variety. Her recipes are 40% personal concoctions, with the rest from cookbooks she uses as inspiration and modifies to suit client needs.
Meals are either delivered Monday evenings, or can be picked up Tuesday mornings from the kitchen she leases on Eastern Avenue in downtown Toronto. She charges $40 for the four-meal package, or $75 for eight meals plus delivery charge. She also caters weddings, parties, special events and conferences.
Her weekly clients range from doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers to people with chronic illnesses who are too sick or busy to cook for themselves.
Kevin Simmons, a medical sales rep, says he's got a demanding job and just doesn't have the time to cook. Although he's not totally vegetarian, he has been ordering Amelia's meals weekly for more than a year. Kevin says the psychological benefit of knowing you're eating high-fibre, low-fat meals is a bonus. "Her meals taste excellent. I couldn't do it on my own, and it wouldn't be worth it for me to cook all that variety for just one person."
Another steady client, Mike Carter says he and his wife Eileen have been customers since August 1996. Eileen has been a vegetarian for the past 20 years, while Mike is not a "hard-core" veggie. But there's no meat in the house, and both their sons, Samuel, age 5-1/2 and Russell, age 2-1/2 are being raised vegetarian.
In Her Hands can be reached at (416) 778-1888.
Additional source: The Toronto Star, Aug. 12/96, article by Robert Burg