Get to know...
Aleks Malkin, model, holistic nutritionist and mom to Shai and Cruz. Aleks, recently featured in a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography, talks to us about all things motherhood, nutrition and so much more.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges?
A: Motherhood really exposed a vulnerability, humility and selflessness in me that I didn’t know existed. To love someone so deeply and to constantly worry for their wellbeing, happiness and growth in an overwhelming way. Motherhood really magnifies all of your individual weaknesses and strength, and forces you to really evolve and grow out of a sense of duty for your family. I find myself saying “I have no idea what I’m doing” daily but I force myself to tap into my maternal intuition and it somehow it always works out. Watching them evolve into their own little sassy characters is so rewarding. The other day I was getting really frustrated with my daughter and my 4 year old son reached over, grabbed my hand and said “mama, just breath in and out, and you will feel better”, I nearly MELTED! He was right – and the fact that he used a tactic that I try and practice with them both when they are upset on me was BEYOND rewarding.
Q: What have you learned about balancing motherhood with your career?
A: I don’t really believe in “balance”- I feel like it’s a never ending game of compromise and prioritization. However, I found that schedules and lists really help me keep my sanity. Time management is crucial for a healthy family/work and it’s a skill that you have to practice daily- I know I have to or else I forget everything!
Prior to having kids, I never wrote down or planned anything and was super proud of my spontaneous life..NOT anymore lol. I lose my mind if I don’t have my weekly routine visually laid out in a planner- quite frankly I find my weekly Sunday evening scheduling to be quite soothing. I also have learned to say “No” to a lot of things that come my way if they aren’t truly important to me- I would way rather spend that time with my family.
Q: Talk to us about being a holistic nutritionist- do you find you are even more focused on health and wellness now that you have kids? Do you follow any particular diets or health trends?
A: I was always very interested in alternative medicine and the healing power of food. It wasn’t until I got really sick in my early 20’s that I started to take holistic nutrition really seriously. It also really helps that I genuinely love food and cooking which makes my profession to be much more enjoyable.
I was 9 months pregnant when I completed my certification in holistic nutrition which worked out well because I was able to apply all of this incredible information on my growing little family before taking on any clients. Being a mother of two young children really forced me to get creative as a holistic nutritionist. My son is a very picky eater so I’ve had to try MANY different recipes and tactics to encourage healthy eating with him. As far as trends and diets go- I really don’t like labels. We try and eat as plant based as we can and really focus on whole foods and minimal processed foods. I also really encourage seasonal and sustainable eating in my household and we try to frequent farmers markets with both kids to teach them the importance of supporting local. We do eat meat but it’s is not a major part of our “diet”, and if we do- we try to source grass fed and local animals when possible.
Q: What are some of your go-to super simple weeknight recipes? Your husband (Adrian Niman- owner of Food Dudes, Rasa, Pantry) is a chef- does he do a lot of cooking as well?
A: Everyone always says, “you’re so lucky! Adrian probably cooks all the time!” And I laugh because if you are a hair dresser, the last thing you want to do is come home after work and cut hair. I do most of the cooking but I’m so lucky to have him as a cooking resource. I message him often and ask him how to cook “this and that". I've learned so much about the art of cooking from him while being together. I can’t think of a go to off the top of my head but we make broths (bone and vegetable based) weekly. It’s the easiest way to reduce food waste (we use all the scraps at the end of the week) and I add a ton of nutritious produce such as onion, mushrooms, leeks, garlic, celery, bay leaves, parsley, carrots, high quality salt and let it simmer for a full day. Then I strain it and freeze in silicone bags for later use. You can cook rice/quinoa on that broth to make your grains that much more nutritious or serve it to your kids with their favourite noodles. It’s the only way that I can trick my picky eater into drinking a nutritious broth ;). I also love one pot meals like stews etc. using a slow cooker- its easy and you really cant mess up.
Q: Any amazing products- beauty, food, nutrition that you can't live without?
A: I’m a huge beauty product junkie. I love experimenting with oils, potions and all sorts of non toxic products. I love me a good cold pressed sea buckthorn oil for my night time skin care routine or an oil blend serum- it just makes me feel so hydrated. May Lindstorm skincare line has one called “the youth dew” and it’s a beautiful product.
I also love a good cold pressed coconut oil! You can cook with it but also use it as a moisturizer, tackle a frizzy hair day, remove makeup at the end of the day, or use it on your baby’s bottom to avoid diaper rashes. Also, “weleda skin food” has been a lifesaver for my dry lips, hands and elbows this winter. I also use it as a highlighter on tops of my cheekbones.
Q: You are so fit!! What are your favourite workouts that keep you in shape?
A: Thank you <3
Prior to having kids my idea of a good “workout” meant heavy weights and an hour long cardio gym session. After my first pregnancy I suffered with a 4 finger diastasis that came with a load of back pain and I've had to learn to be much more mindful and kind to myself. I am finally getting back to a reasonable workout routine and it's always very gentle and centred around MOBILITY versus VANITY. My trainer @roydianchan really opened my eyes to mobility centred exercises that focus on core strength and mindful movement. I also follow @Melissawoodhealth and subscribe to her workouts. They are great for mamas and mamas to be – they range from 15-45 minute workouts that are challenging but FEEL so damn good!
Q: How did you come up with your kids' names?
A: I wanted unisex names for both of my children partly because I wanted them both to have an equal opportunity when a future agency/employer evaluate their resumes. I grew up in Israel and “Shai” is a very popular Hebrew name and I thought it would be a beautiful homage to my Israeli roots. Cruz was a name that I always loved and although it took some convincing for my husband, he now admits that it is the perfect name for our little girl.
Q: Go-to family restaurants in Toronto?
A: We love Terroni’s on Yonge. The patio is beautiful and they are very child friendly and lets face it… you can't go wrong with pizza, pasta and a good grilled fish. We also love dim sum brunches. We are at “Dynasty” for Sunday brunch almost every other week- it helps expose the kids to other cultural flavours and traditions. We definitely want to continue to expand their palettes by bringing them to all kinds of restaurants with us when they are a bit older.
Q: Fave family vacation?
A: We are all water horoscopes (my husband and I are Pisces and both of my kids are Cancer)- so give us the sun and the ocean and we are all in our element. We love Miami because it has the best of both worlds, the restaurants, nightlife, family friendly spots and the beach! It’s also a quick flight from Toronto- as mamas we all know the shorter flight the BETTER.
Bahamas is also a great one since there are many child friendly activities. We travelled to Europe this past summer and although I was extremely skeptical and nervous for a 7 hour flight with 2 small children and jet lag- they truly ended up surprising me at how well/ quickly they adjusted. It was a lot of fun exploring Spain as a family.
Q: How do you find time for yourself? What's your ideal girls' night?
A: I love staying in with a good movie or listening to a good podcast. However, “girl nights” are crucial because my girls really help ground me and remind me not to forget myself. I think that there is a magnificent power in the collective female energy and even though it's sometimes difficult to do so, I try not to forget to nurture those relationships.
We love exploring the Toronto restaurant scene and trying different places- we can chat all night long- in fact we are often the last ones to leave/politely get kicked out of restaurants.
Q: With the power and influence of social media, how do you draw the line about what you think is appropriate to post of your kids? As a mom, do you enjoy and/or find it beneficial to share photos and videos of your family?
A: Such an important question! To be honest, I struggle with posting too much about my family. I am a very private person and I always consider their privacy and ask myself “would Shai and Cruz approve of this post/share when they are older?”. That question usually really helps me filter out the appropriate content and what I want to share with the world.
It’s important for me to stay really honest and real with my followers, and my family and kids are a huge part of that honesty. I try not to solely rely on my kids for social media posts and stories, and I never share our locations and too much personal information in the present moment for their safety and mine.