02/21/2012 06:07 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2012

My Pastel Journey to Conscious Living and Eating

My favorite place to be is in my kitchen, on a Saturday morning, with rain and wind outside, and me inside, warm in my candy-striped knee-high socks and bathrobe. It's on days like these where my creativity seems to be at its highest, with my motions and potions melding together over boiling and simmering pots, coming together to form something unique and delicious. Slowly, I am learning that a dash of this and a pinch of that can add depth of flavor, color and a smell so amazing that the entire apartment complex is knocking on my door asking me what's for breakfast. And what a fun and inspiring process it is to learn about all of these different ingredients and how they all relate to each other and then as a result, how they relate to me. In so many ways, I am learning a lot about myself just through my new relationship with food and healthy eating. The healing that happens through healthy food isn't just in the process of eating it, but in the process of cooking it. It's through cooking that I have learned what exactly I can offer to people in the form of healing and how it all stems from me and what I have to offer to myself, deep within my soul.

I didn't always have a passion for cooking healthy, and in fact, I spent many years eating in ways that I didn't realize were harming my body. Then one day, when I was in my early 20s, I picked up a healthy living book and read it, cover to cover, in one afternoon. This was the book that changed my life. I realized in one six-hour sitting that in order to feel as great as I always yearned to feel, I needed to be conscious of what I was putting into my mouth. All of a sudden, my world turned upside down and I wasn't sure what was going or where to start. And this was almost eight years ago, when "gluten-free" and "dairy-free" options weren't as readily available as they are now. So I began my process, one step at a time, with days where I didn't seem to be moving forward at all. I began reading labels and looking things up and asking questions about where things came from. I wasn't always welcomed on this journey, and I realized that a few months into it. A lot of people, even my family, couldn't quite figure out why I wanted so much information about what I was eating. I told them that though I couldn't really control the air that I breathe or the water that I drink, I can control the food I choose to put in my body. And so my journey into conscious living and eating began. There I was, a young 20-something girl from the suburbs of New Jersey, where I was raised on pizza, hamburgers and ice cream -- asking for rice milk in my tea and sneering at any sweeteners that harbored certain offensive words, such as "hydrogenated." I wasn't entirely sure where I was going at that point or where I would end up, but I did know that I was going to keep on going until I reached a place that resonated with my heart and my deepest desires to be healthy, fulfilled, successful and happy. At this point I have gotten used to the questions and the strange remarks about how I choose to live my life. But more and more, as time goes by, I have many more people stopping me in grocery stores and farmers' markets and marveling at my bunches of purple kale, asking me what on earth I am going to make with "that." It's these moments that I take advantage of because it's one more person that I can help educate about food, and then maybe that person will tell one person, and so on. Good health is contagious and spreads just as fast as any disease -- it's just a matter of getting to a point where I can spread my healing and food around faster than it takes someone to catch a cold. Now that's a challenge!

So maybe that's why I love to be in my kitchen so much. It's the one place where I can be with myself to create and express what's inside of me. In the same way that an artist needs his or her easel, or a dancer needs his or her studio, a chef needs a kitchen and a safe place to be free to create. It's in my kitchen where I don't have to think or explain myself or even have a reason to be there. I can just be in my own silence and creativity and acknowledge myself for the things I have accomplished and where I am now in my journey. It's a place where I can feel nothing but love, not only for myself but for the things I want to share about what I have learned. And then it's from that place inside my heart that I am able to extend to others in a way that helps them to connect with their own hearts. So really, my kitchen is my own personal lab where I mix and match and connect with myself, while surrounded by shades of magenta and turquoise, reflecting off spatulas and ceramic frying pans while I sing my lovely little heart out, with my chihuahua at my feet, just waiting for me to drop a crumb of gluten-free muffin. It's in those moments where I am truly at home in my heart and fully accepting of who I am and who I have become and my sincere devotion to spreading the love and healing I have to others.

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