the nitty gritty. . .
I am an educator, natural chef, recipe collector and explorer of ingredients. I love anything related to the kitchen and have a border line obsession with gadgets and cute dishes. I am a wife of 31 years and mother of two grown children. I love early morning power walks with my sister and my family’s annual cross country skiing trip. In all aspects of life, I like to keep things simple. My passion is helping people connect with their food. This can easily be done by using simple strategies while grocery shopping, preparing and serving your meals. Eating healthy does not have to be complicated!
What I believe. . .
Born and raised on a farm in the Midwest, I have a strong connection to the land and the hands that work it. My firm belief is that we can no longer ignore our food’s origin. Organic IS important. Local IS important. The same principle applies to packaged food. You should not need a degree in chemistry to understand what you are eating. If you don’t understand it, don’t eat it!
I also believe in the importance of cooking at home. The whole process, from putting on your apron to getting dinner on the table, allows us to engage with our food in a way that simply is not possible otherwise. There is much discussion today on the significance of eating together – and for good reason! As we sit around the table together, we build relationships, ease our minds and rejuvenate our hearts.
My journey. . .
My love of cooking began with my Easy Bake oven, which I still have all these years later. I keep it in my office as a reminder to keep things simple. Even as a small child, I found empowerment in putting ingredients together and creating something new.
I can recall one afternoon when I was nine, experimenting in the kitchen- pan fried apples in butter, tossed with cinnamon and sugar. I thought I had created something unique and special. With a great pride and exhilaration, I asked my dad to be my taste tester. As he sampled, I noticed a tear in his eye. “Is it that bad?” I wondered. He told me that his grandmother, someone he had been very close to, had fried apples in the same way. It was then I first realized how powerful our connection with food really is. Food is entangled in our memories and relationships, embedded like photos in a worn album. This simple recipe connected my dad to his grandma and me to him.
After many years of 4-H AND recipe testing, I found myself in college without much of a plan. I didn’t recognize my interest in cooking as a valid career path. After a year or so of struggle, I was about to call it quits when an insightful advisor persuaded me to give Home Economics a second look. With nothing to lose, I half-heartedly gave it a try and, much to my surprise, fell in love!
Once I graduated, I taught high school and community culinary classes, dabbled in being a chocolatier, a caterer and then eventually landed a gig as a food broker. After several years, I began to feel flat; unfulfilled by the business of merely selling a product. In 2008, I left my career in the food industry to explore my options. How could I combine my professional experiences with my love for cooking and my growing passion for a natural, simple, healthy lifestyle? My research led me to study at The School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado. There I was able to expand my knowledge of clean eating and hone the skills I had already developed during my years in catering and home cooking. When I returned home, I started a cooking school in my kitchen. I was amazed at the response it received and the immediate impact these new methods had on people’s lives. I knew I had found my path.
In 2012, I began working with Kishwaukee Health System as part of their Healthy Eating program. I teach cooking classes, in conjunction with a dietician, addressing dietary concerns related to disease management as well as implementing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
It is my intent to provide class participants with blue prints for healthy cooking. It is not about “my way” or the “right way”. It’s about working with what you have and making the best choices possible. Choose fresh ingredients, keep it simple enjoy what you are eating.
Now, let’s get cooking. Shall we?
Education and Certifications:
BS in Education, Northern Illinois University
Certification in Natural Cooking, The School of Natural Cookery
Certification in Plant Based Nutrition, eCornell; T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies
Staff member – Cooks on Call at the Center of Mind & Body, Food As Medicine founded by Rebecca Katz, MS., author of “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen” and Catherine McConkie, Natural Chef Instructor creator of thecaregiverstable.com
Culinary Comforts Educator – Living Well Cancer Center, Geneva IL. A culinary program designed to teach cancer patients and care givers healthy food choices and preparation while undergoing treatment.
Guest Instructor – DeKalb County Community Garden. Monthly cooking demonstrations for DCCG volunteers on incorporating seasonal produce into daily cooking.
Panel Member – Creative Therapeutics, Dekalb, IL. A live Q&A forum “Integrating Medicine and Alternative Therapies for a Healthy Life” discussing the importance of whole body wellness.
Recipe Contributor, “The Healthy Mind”, Rebecca Katz