"Give Thanks" provides me with a platform to showcase and to express gratitude for companies and people who are making living well easier. We all know that staying on track can be extremely difficult, especially in the case of eating out in restaurants and in sharing social occasions with friends.

This is why I chose the perfect place to start - and that is with Toronto's very own, very popular, Live Food Bar.

I spoke with Tara Thomson on behalf of the company, and asked her the following questions:

Why is eating clean and whole foods so important these days?

TT: "Eating clean, whole foods is so important these days due to the fact that we are being bombarded with a multitude of pollutants in our earth, water and air. We need all the energy and nutrients available in organic, whole foods to stay healthy. We don't seem to have any authorities who are fully protecting these elements on a large scale so we must protect ourselves. One of the most important ways to do this, and the way we have control is through the food choices we make. Our foods must NOT be processed, genetically modified or have chemical residue from pesticides. Each stage of processing that an ingredient goes through robs it of its essential nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are in most cases delicate and require a Raw approach, or a somewhat gentle cooking approach during preparation in order to preserve all the benefits. Most fast foods have little to no vital nutrients left for maintaining daily life, and eating 'empty' calories will definitely catch up with most. Of course stress plays a huge part when it comes to the creation of health issues. But, eating properly to include dark green leafy vegetables and to complete the rainbow of vegetables in your diet is essential.

We are told that there are "acceptable levels" or PPM (parts per million) that are acceptable by our governments health protection organizations for the various chemicals and other matter in our water, earth and air. If, however, someone has a compromised immune system, it's not acceptable. Everything we consume creates build up upon build up of toxins which a normal healthy body can usually deal with. If the immune system is not high-functioning, that person could be compromising their health if they're not eating properly, exercising and managing their stress levels. That seems to be the formula for onset of illness. In the case of obesity from fast foods, the liver is working so hard to digest all the over-eating, how can it possibly have energy to rid the body of all the toxins? If there are no real nutrients in the food the body will tell you it's hungry when its not, and you will overeat."

What are ingredients that you try to stay away from both cooking with and from serving your customers, and why?

TT: "As you know, Live is a Vegan restaurant and we are gluten free as well. Although gluten is a protein composite, its stickiness can slow down the entire system. Many people are allergic or sensitive to gluten, and these sensitivities can arise with a depression in the immune system at any time in your life. The idea of health is to get the food in an out of the body quickly while absorbing the maximum nutrients from it. Gluten slows and inhibits this process.

At Live we also stay away from refined sugars. We use sugar sparingly in its natural forms; coconut sugar, agave and maple syrup for the non-raw dishes. When you eat too much sugar you depress your immune system. If you're eating processed food with lots of sugar (as most has), it's like a time bomb. Another major problem with sugar is that it increases insulin levels, inhibiting the release of growth hormones. You can especially see how bad it is for children because of this fact. In the case of illness, cancer loves sugar and hates oxygen. So when we are sick, we need to eliminate all sugars and increase the antioxidants. There are so many illnesses that favor an acidic environment and sugar is acid. This is why Live uses natural, unprocessed sugars and we try to use it sparingly. All sugars should be eaten in moderation. Processed sugar should be avoided at all cost."

Tara, thank you so much for your passionate answers about holistic health. Thank you, Live, for creating such a huge movement toward a better standard of living for all of us. Your business sings about integrity, social and environmental responsibility, and compassion toward keeping us all healthier and happier as a global community. Finally, thank you for your food - bounding with colour, nutrition, creativity and SO MUCH FLAVOUR!

Check out Live's website here, follow them on twitter here, like them on facebook here, and drool over their photos on Pinterest here. (Better yet, go drool in person! 264 Dupont St., Toronto, Canada)

*If you are not in Toronto, not to worry. Live will be launching a new website, www.liveorganicraw.com, whereby you can purchase its food products that are currently only sold in select stores (a list of retailers is avail on their current website).