Heartland's Michelle Morgan
Pictured: Michelle Morgan and husband, Derek, celebrate their daughter, Mara's birthday. 'Mara helped me (sort of) bake this birthday cake from scratch!' says Morgan. 'Instead of using candies and icing, we used a simple whipped cream and fresh fruit decoration. It's supposed to be a butterfly.' (Courtesy Michelle Morgan)
People are often shocked that Mara loves beets, asparagus and broccoli...
Michelle Morgan stars as older sister Lou Fleming in CBC's hit family drama series, Heartland. The fourth of six children from a Chilean-Canadian family, Michelle was born in Calgary and grew up moving between Vancouver and Toronto. CBC's Live Right Now chats with Michelle about the importance of family, her favourite meal and how she gets her daughter to eat her veggies.
Why is eating together important to you?
Sitting down and eating supper with the family is important to us because we get the chance to slow down and catch up with each other. Also, food tastes better when you share it!
Along with Heartland, Morgan's acting credits include the lead role in George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Other notable television appearances: Stargate: Atlantis, The L Word and The Smart Woman Survival Guide.
In Toronto, she has performed sketch comedy at the Laugh Sabbath and The Last Comedy Show.
For many years, Morgan has volunteered with women's shelters across Canada.
Live Right Now
Our goal: share 100,000 meals.
Growing up, dinner was always a time when everything else was put away, the TV was turned off and we sat together and enjoyed each other's company. Some of my best childhood memories were around the table.
Who sits with you at your dinner table? Tell us a little about your family.
Me, my husband, Derek, and our two-year-old daughter, Mara. Mara is a very good eater and is learning to use chopsticks! The rule at our house: the more the merrier; and we often have house guests and friends stopping by to eat with us.
How do you find time to eat with your loved ones?
You don't need much time to eat together. Even if we're in a rush, there is always time to whip up a quick dinner and sit down to eat. If we're really short on time, I'll pick up a roast chicken from the grocery store.
What do you love to cook with your family?
We love making stir-fries with vermicelli noodles. We make quinoa salads a lot and a baked salmon is a weekly tradition. Lately, we have been experimenting with the slow cooker, trying out chilies and beef stew.
You have a young daughter. How do you plan to get her interested and involved in meal preparation?
She loves helping in the kitchen. I don't see the need to get her fake plastic kitchen toys when we have the real thing! I give her a cutting board and a butter knife, and she practices cutting soft things like avocados. Last week, we baked a banana bread, and she did all the mixing.
You love food and music. Do you sing while you cook? Do you listen to music? What do you sing/listen to?
Lately Mara has been on a Disney princess kick so we sing a lot of musical numbers from Beauty and the Beast! In the mornings on weekends, we like listening to funk and soul music like Stevie Wonder and singing along.
Is there a favourite food/dish in your household?
Annie's macaroni and cheese is the yummiest [Annie's is an organic brand. It's like comfort food for Michelle and family when they're in a hurry].
My favorite meal is when Derek makes me peach pancakes for dinner on my birthday.
What advice would you give to busy families who say they can't find the time to eat together?
I come from a family of six kids and we always ate together. Obviously, sometimes one of us would be at sports practice or a friend's house, but we were often all together. It helped that my mom had an open-door policy so if we wanted to invite a friend to eat, we didn't need to ask permission; we would just bring them over.
It seems like these days children and parents can be overloaded with activities at the expense of quality family time. I think it's more important that toddlers eat and spend time with their families than go to yet another gymnastics class.
Do you have any nutrition advice or food tips? Do you avoid any particular food?
We eat a well-rounded diet that includes lots of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, grains and protein. But we're not afraid to make our food taste good. People are often shocked that Mara loves beets, asparagus and broccoli, but I'm not afraid to add a little oil, butter, salt, soy - whatever the meal calls for. Everything in moderation.
Oh, and my tip for parents with kids who won't eat spinach or kale: put it in the food processor then mix it in with your rice! Mara loves her green rice.
The only foods we avoid are over-processed foods. We don't drink sodas.
Who would be your dream dinner guest?
Ghandi for the inspiration, Jamie Oliver for the food tips, and Dolly Parton for the entertainment!
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