My relationship with food dates back to my childhood. When it came to the food on the family dinner table, my mother was far ahead of her time. While she taught cooking classes with the first food editor of Bon Appetit and prepared elaborate dinner parties, I was always nearby playing with pastry dough. Her interest in all things food, from trussing poultry to turning vegetables, led me to a career in the culinary arts. By 21, I had cooked in the home of a famed New York restaurateur, and by 26 I landed in the life of restaurant kitchens.
I cooked through my culinary boot camp working for Cindy Palwcyn at Mustard’s Grill in Yountville, California. At Mustards, I cultivated the baking skills that led me to lead pastry kitchens for Joachim Splichal at several of his Patina and Pinot restaurants and for Pino Luongo at Coco Pazzo.
The lifestyle of a professional chef leaves room for little else and only the immortal survive. I retired to take on the new challenge of cooking for my husband and two discerning young children. From the day I first picked up raw dough, I have never stopped thinking about what that next meal will be.
While I have always strived to be well informed about healthy eating, I met a new challenge with a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. My doctors encouraged me to follow an anti inflammatory diet with a focus on being vegan as well as avoiding gluten. Many people ask me, “What’s left to eat?” Incorporating all of these restrictions into our family meals has actually reinvigorated my interest in cooking by compelling me to use only the most wholesome ingredients available.
With the Conscious Kitchen, I aim to help you cook healthy and delicious meals with an understanding of their nutritional benefits. I will be focusing primarily on the foods that fit within my own dietary restrictions while still being able to satisfy the needs of the non-vegans in my life. I cannot expect everyone to give up dairy, wheat, and all animal proteins. However, I can help you make thoughtful and responsible choices for you and the environment, provide you with current information about nutrition, and share recipes that I have tested on my own family of critics.
À votre santé
My personal journey with disease management, a plant-based diet, and how I am helping others.
He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician. -Chinese Proverb
It all started around March of 2011. I thought I was suffering from seasonal allergies. Some days were better than others, but days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. I felt achy, tired, out of shape, and so puffy that I could not wear my watch or wedding ring. By the end of June, I was starting to feel defeated by the incessant lack of well-being.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over 5 years ago, a condition which I have kept under control mostly due to diet, supplements, and exercise, and decided that a visit to my rheumatologist might be in order since I was in a great deal of pain. The aches were not new. After all, I was used to living with a condition that made my muscles ache like I had the flu. But I was experiencing pain in my joints as well. My doctor explained to me that the joint pain was not connected to the Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia affects muscles. Arthritis affects joints.
I got a call from my doctor as we were entering into the 4th of July weekend informing me that my blood work indicated a 96% chance of having Rheumatoid Arthritis and a prescription for a heavy medication to be delivered in the form of a weekly shot. Even though the diagnosis was confirmed by a second reputable opinion, I did not want to accept it. I decided that I had to do something to change the way I felt in conjunction with the medication. My general physician is a specialist in integrative medicine and has encouraged me to stay away from sugar, dairy and eggs for years. Aside from having a conclusive diagnosis at that time, it was clear that there was a great deal of swelling in my hands and knees. He had suggested an anti inflammatory diet without gluten, and to consider a vegetarian or, better yet, a vegan diet since I already try to stay away from dairy and eggs.
Within a few days, I began a new adventure with food when I embarked on a 30 day all organic vegan cleanse. I jumped in headfirst and gave up caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, alcohol, and all forms of animal proteins. I had made a sacred commitment to myself to stay the course without fault. I succeeded. I feel like a different person, and will continue on this remarkable journey indefinitely.
With The Conscious Kitchen I focus primarily on the way I cook and eat now. I share the changes I have made in my own kitchen, how I integrate them into meals for my family, and the reasons why I choose quinoa over chicken, raw agave nectar over sugar, and garnet yams over yukon golds in the satisfying recipes that I share.
My continued personal inspiration and success with a plant-based diet led me to become certified educator of nutrition for the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Food For Life program. The PCRM is a non-profit organization specializing in the research and advocacy of preventive medicine, good nutrition, clinical research, and higher ethical standards in research. The classes that I teach empower people to achieve healthy weight and disease prevention through a plant-based diet.