Heather’s Personal Journey to Raw Foods
Plant the Seed and Watch it Grow!
One of my earliest childhood memories is a scene in which my father would completely gross out my grandmother by saving the tastiest morsels of every meal for his children. He would lovingly hand us the most tender, flavorful bites of dinner as my horrified grandmother muttered something to the effect of “Wouldn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches do?” My father balked. “Open your taste buds!” he would bark. He knew that developing an appreciation for good food was not limited to adults.
I grew up traveling the world and tasting local cuisines. My dad was right; I grew to love food—and not just eating but exploring and cooking through the world of culinary arts.
I took my first formal cooking class at the age of 10 at a Rec Center here in Oakland. We were taught to make “pigs in a blanket,” and I was completely confused. Hotdogs rolled in packaged pastries were considered “food”? And I was encouraged not just to eat it myself, but to make it for others? To me, pre-packaged and preservative-laden muck just did not seem like something delicious to eat. I knew there had to be something better.
As a teenager, I shifted toward vegetarianism and took up wholesome cooking in earnest. I wanted food that tasted great and that also made me feel good. I got jobs in restaurants and cooked for my family at home, experimenting with recipes, forever trying out different ingredients and seasonings. In college worked in catering companies and lived in a co-op where I happily rustled up meals for 30 roommates and friends each week.
In Search of Optimal Health
In my search to feel great and love life I discovered yoga, and by my mid-twenties, I had turned my own diligent practice into becoming an instructor. I thought I had achieved optimal health, but despite good eating habits and exercise, I found that my pants were uncomfortably snug.
Then I looked around. My father and I were still tickling our taste buds with mouths wide open. We were happy, but both of us were overweight. Our health was in jeopardy. Dad suggested we go to Weight Watchers, so we went. He didn’t stay. I did.
Weight Watchers is a holistic and nurturing program, and I quickly reached my goal weight, but I had a very hard time staying there. Even after several years my weight was bouncing around more than I wanted. Where was I going wrong? I had been eating vegetarian for years and avoided junk foods. I exercised plenty (in addition to my yoga practice, I am also a master’s swimmer) and was able to manage stress in my life. So what was the problem? And where was the solution?
I did not want to go on any diets. I wanted life habits that would nurture my spirit and support my personal goals. I continued to look to my eating habits as a source for optimal health.
I knew that vegetarian or vegan diets did not necessarily equal healthy eating. Once I went to a vegetarian cooking class where we were taught to make “healthy” recipes – and most of the ingredients were vegetables in a can. Again, I was shocked. “In the Bay Area we are surrounded by nature’s bounty and the best we can do is eat vegetables from a can?” I asked myself. “There has to be something better!”
Introduction to Whole Foods – Raw and Living Foods
After a curious experience in the deserts of the Holy Land, I learned about raw foods and their positive effects on the human body. I realized that I was not relying enough on whole and living foods as my main nutrition source. Right there in the desert—on New Year’s Day 2007—I made a commitment to whole foods as my main source of food.
There are so many benefits to eating whole foods in their natural state. I have written about some of them here. Raw foods, when lovingly and thoughtfully prepared, can taste BETTER than cooked foods. And you feel better afterwards!
Try out the simple recipes — all you need is a blender. Today, as both a raw food chef and instructor—and as an Iyengar yoga teacher (view complete yoga schedule). I am dedicated to helping others find a holistic and well -balanced life. With my “cooking” classes, – I offer my students outrageously delicious recipes and accurate nutritional information that they can incorporate into their everyday lives.
I do hope to see you in class!