Health on the Prairie 6

With Mary Battista

There’s something about your health you’d like to fix this year. Weight, sleep quality, endurance, balance or your blood work report card. Protein powder isn’t a magic bullet. Neither are cutting carbs or “shredding” muscles at the gym. A smart woman in our own back yard offers a realistic, educated and holistic approach to wellness, delivered with the promise of delicious food.

The perfect health coach should be smart and fit. Eden Prairie’s Mary Battista, the owner of Prairie Health Companion, embodies those traits and more. She’s a chef with a science background who can orchestrate a delectable four course luncheon and lead lively conversation debunking the latest nutrition fads, comparing Eastern medical philosophies and explaining melatonin cascades. She seasons her teaching with a dash of humor and a pinch of genuine understanding for those of us who are a little less adept, disciplined and informed. Impressions from Mary’s kitchen include pans well-seasoned with family recipes, gem-toned vegetables, the scent of apples baking and a vibrant woman concocting a sumptuous meal while inspiring us to live our best lives with convincing knowledge and a flair for relaxed entertaining.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Wisconsin, Mary worked with cardiac and stroke patients, reinforcing her interest in a healthy lifestyle. She was further motivated when her doctor recommended a prescription to manage her own cholesterol. Mary has a history of heart disease in her family, but she was determined to normalize her blood work with nutrition. She achieved and has maintained healthy levels for years without medication. She became an expert in multiple aspects of her field and earned certifications as a personal trainer, a health and wellness coach and a holistic health coach. She’s studied with numerous internationally recognized thought leaders and her insatiable appetite for learning keeps her on the cutting edge of health trends – she continually researches the latest diets that might throw us off balance if we lend them credence. 

It’s refreshing to meet a health guru who doesn’t start coaching with a list of restrictions, calories counts and macronutrient guidelines. If you can accept that you should consume primarily whole, natural foods, get plenty of sleep and exercise more, Mary can teach you how to cook and live more healthfully.

Mary believes that understanding cravings and identifying motivation help us change to reach our goals. She says “foods are the antidote to the seasons” in Minnesota. Eating light salads in the summer cools us down. Cozy meals with spicy flavors in the winter warm us up. Mary also says that “colors are cues for health,” meaning that different produce pigments indicate the presence of various antioxidants. She recognizes family heritage in consulting with her clients, believing that traditions and DNA are important elements to tailoring healthy eating plans for different individuals. In Mary’s kitchen, “we fill up with conversation, not just food.”

The depth and breadth of her knowledge is impressive, but Mary’s nutrition advice also rings true because she loves good food and makes cooking it accessible. She teaches cooking classes in her cozy kitchen and takes clients on instructive grocery shopping tours.

She’s also realistic. Lots of diets take cheese off the menu. Mary suggests choosing full-flavored, grated cheeses, optimizing flavor with smaller amounts. She enriches soup with leftover Parmesan rind. She recommends “meatless Mondays,” but doesn’t expect clients to give up meat entirely. She even acknowledges that breast milk naturally programs us to crave sweet foods. A fan of leafy greens, whole grains and plant based proteins, Mary chooses to “crowd out” less wholesome foods rather than listing taboos.

Mary customizes plans for clients, but also coaches Prairie Health Companion’s universal truths. “Stick with it.” Pursuing your best self is a life-long process. Learn to “fit-out” rather than fitting in. You may be an outlier when forgoing French fries or taking the stairs when your coworkers opt for the elevator. “Find your own personal reasons for change.” Understanding your motivation helps you stay on track. She also suggests finding a role model who inspires you.

Mary coaches people out of her home office and teaches cooking classes in her own kitchen. She also consults with clients via phone. Doctors’ referrals may qualify for FSAs. Check out her web site at for details, cooking classes, Mary’s blogs, recipes, to sign up for her free monthly newsletter and to request a free introductory consultation.