Igrew up in a home where everyone loved food. Raised on my Granny’s home-cooked meals, handmade from produce and fresh herbs grown in our own garden, we all ate very well – only, we just ate too much!
The first time I traveled to the north of France in the 1990’s as an exchange student, I learned about portion size. Desserts were smaller and enjoyed on a weekly not daily basis, wine was sipped in moderation, and caloric sodas were looked down upon. I saw the same trends as I traveled throughout Italy for the remainder of that summer.
I thought of my friends back home, whose lunches consisted of chicken nuggets, a can of soda, and a handful of cheese doodles. When I returned home from France, I began researching healthier preparations for my favorite dishes in my impossibly small kitchen near the University of Pittsburgh where I was enrolled as a freshman.
During college, I read countless articles on health, diet, and the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. I began dancing, walking and running, and becoming more interested in the effects of exercise on the body.
Learning about food was on par with my studies in languages, though most nights were spent in the library rather than working at the stove. I learned why it was better to avoid the cafeteria, fast food restaurants, and pizza parlors. But the greatest lesson I learned happened when I changed careers by entering the food business. For some reason, I was deeply connected to food and I realized that there was no use in denying who I am.
So instead of over-eating, I decided to share what was on my plate, that is, my deep love of cooking and the idea that food is linked to health and happy living. When I graduated from culinary school, I continued to explore my food lust by working in restaurants, writing recipes for cookbook authors, magazines, learning the ins and outs of food styling and photography, only to land up in the world of food TV.
Food – when treated with respect – is a blessing, providing us health, energy, beauty and all the vitality we need to enjoy life.
The Skinny on Fast Food and American Living
When I think of food in the context of American culture, I see it as a universe of extremes. We are a nation where most people are raised on fast food while the media bombards us with the idea we should be healthy, tan, slender, active people.
If you haven’t read the amazing exposé on the fast food industry in America, I highly recommend the book, “Fast Food Nation”. I admit that some of the facts and pictures are hard to swallow, but it certainly opens your eyes to how the fast food industry operates and how it is affecting the minds, bodies and lifestyles of millions of people who consume their products on a regular basis.
Now, I won’t lie, I have consumed fast food in the past. But I can no longer enjoy food that is completely processed with heavy fats, salts, and fillers, food that is put together without love or concern for the people who are eating it.
I know that most families out there are literally afraid to cook and do not know where to begin with their insane schedules. But let’s think small, ok? Starting small, with healthy baby steps, can make all the difference for your future and the health of your family members.
Before you know it, you will be ready for the next step and even bigger and better strides towards healthy eating and feeling good!