My love affair with food began at a young age. I was in fourth grade when I did a report on slaughter houses….this was back when my presentation involved a projector and those clear printed pages you had to use. I decided then that I wanted to go vegetarian. I didn’t know anybody who was plant-based (that term really didn’t even exist back then), I didn’t know where to begin, there weren’t any alternative options other than soy, and my mom definitely wasn’t thrilled at having to make more meals to accommodate my new, self-proclaimed diet choice.
My mom told me that if I wanted to eat vegetarian, I had to educate myself and cook for myself. I remember going to the public library with my dad, researching all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals I needed to sustain the lifestyle. I started cooking, and learned the basic skills and techniques I needed by watching my parents.
Fast forward to freshman year of college, when a sudden change of major (due to some unrealized anxiety) led me to pursue an education of food and nutrition—I never felt like I wanted to become a dietician, which was unusual for the peers and teachers I worked with. I muscled my way through all of the organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, and dietetics classes, but felt all that time that maybe my love affair with food had to come to an end. Maybe it had led me down the wrong path. Nevertheless, I graduated, and was immediately hired as a nutritionist and recipe developer at a nearby food manufacturer. I loved the creative aspects of the job, and experienced a renewed sense of passion for food. But I was aching for more.
I came home one night with a map of the US and told Troy, my boyfriend at the time, to pick a place and we were going. We landed on Colorado. It was soon after, that I met an entrepreneur from Fort Collins at a produce show in Chicago, and pretty much convinced him to hire me as his recipe developer and nutritionist for the juicery he was planning to open. Troy and I packed up everything we owned and made the cross-country trip with nothing but our cars and a 5×8 uhaul trailer.
I worked the next year and a half creating the entire juicery menu from scratch. It was incredible. I was introduced to the raw food and vegan lifestyle, and was surrounded by fellow food lovers. I even got to develop and implement the first-ever HACCP plan for a raw food restaurant in Fort Collins! A few months after opening, I moved on to a marketing position with a local hummus company. I learned SO MUCH about the food industry, the community, and all aspects of social media marketing. I was also given the opportunity to explore my photography passion, and honed in on my food photography skills.
I’m technically no longer a vegetarian since I use collagen, but my meals are all plant-based, and I love experimenting with vegan and dairy-free recipes. Although the path to where I’m at was longer than I expected, and different than I had originally planned, I’m so happy with where it’s led me. I have a deeper understanding and knowledge of food and health than I ever had previously, and am so grateful for the opportunities that fueled this passion.