I’ve always been fascinated by food. As a child, I adored being my mom’s sous-chef, manning my station on a stool pulled up to the stove. My mom and my Italian grandma, Nana, loved to create elaborate meals highlighting the freshest ingredients. When I recall my fondest memories of Nana, I remember family gatherings filled with delicious, rustic, real food. These meals shaped the foodie I am today. Just like most kids though, despite the fresh food put on the table at home, I had a dirty romance with processed dairy and sugar.

During my childhood, I was asthmatic. I was the kid who had severe asthma attacks at school and on the sports field. Slightly traumatizing? Ah, yeah, definitely. Little did I know that my diet was the culprit. After years of paralyzing attacks and pockets full of inhalers, I finally connected the dots between health and diet. In my late teens, I started hearing about the tie between asthma and dairy products. How could an entire food group, whose supposed goodness had been drilled into us in health classes and school cafeterias, be the root of my childhood challenges? Determined to kick asthma out of my life, I broke off the romance and eliminated dairy products from my diet. Within six months, my asthma disappeared. This was my wake-up call, my a-ha! moment, the reset button that made me hungry for more answers and led me to a diet that revolved around plant foods.

As a young adult, I started exploring the world, traveling far and wide to work, study, and seek the guidance of leaders in plant-based medicine and culinary arts. My vagabond tour of duty took me zigzagging across the country and to different parts of the globe. From the mystical redwood forests of California to the rural villages of the Philippines, I experienced life and culture through real, honest food. As a result of my extensive travel, life-schooling, cooking, and now teaching, I have learned that you don’t need to sacrifice outstanding taste for health.

By eating animal-free, whole foods, I’ve experienced a level of vitality, energy, and health that continues to humble me today. I’ve seen firsthand the remarkable results that my friends, family, and clients have experienced with the plant based lifestyle. As we all begin to discover through eating clean, our forks are our greatest tool for activism and there’s no better way to take a stance than to learn how to triumph in the kitchen, one bite at a time.

Cheers to your health!