Here are some fun facts about myself: My name is Liz, I am married to my high school sweetheart, I have a brilliant little 3-year-old, I teach first-grade in Northern California, I LOVE reading and I HATE mean people (cliché, I know, but it’s true!).
My passion for food began young–I seriously think my first words were tengo hambre (“I’m hungry”), and my passion for food has LONG been an inside joke with family and friends. My Mexican grandmother really bears all the blame. Everything she creates is delicious and her kitchen is a place where magic really does exist.
I grew up in a very urban area and moved to a smaller community for college–one with a slammin’ farmer’s market! I shouldn’t have been surprised since Cal Poly, SLO was known for their Ag department. I quickly became addicted to farmer’s market Thursdays and realized how much better FRESH food tasted AND how much cheaper it was to buy directly from a farmer!! However, I didn’t realize the flip side of that discovery was ALSO the need to give up processed food. So I ate good food, and a lot of bad food and got up to 200 lbs by my senior year.
I worked at Trader Joe’s after graduating to save money for grad school. This was when I began to learn about terms like “organic and “fair trade.” I became a very verbal advocate of both, much to the chagrin of my manager. It’s also when I began eating more than ever before and lost TONS of weight…by eating more real food and less processed crap. But I was 23 so I didn’t put two and two together– I just figured my metabolism was finally doing it’s job and “working.”
In 2003, I moved to a rural town (population 16,000 or the equivalent of 3 of my high schools as I often joked) for graduate school and was introduced to new concepts. I discovered co-ops and learned about grass-fed cattle (from the 9-year-olds I was teaching!). This was in Humboldt County, California (A.K.A. precipitation central), so the spring/summer harvest was UNBELIEVABLE! I once bought an onion the size of my head!
Surrounded by these resources, I began to cook from scratch again, mostly because we were flat broke. Packaged and pre-made foods were WAY out of our budget.
When I returned home in 2005 for a teaching job, my paycheck (and long work hours) got the better of me. After years on a shoestring budget, my husband and I were living the food high life—eating at restaurants 3-5 times week, preparing packaged food for dinner because I didn’t get home until 7 or 8 at night. I loved my job, but being a teacher meant the first 3-4 years would be comprised of 12-14 hour days M-F, at least 3-5 hours Saturdays/Sundays). During the week, I lived off frozen meals for lunch (10 for $10! Great for the budget but toxic for your body).
So… care to guess what happened? I gained 30 lbs! I was sick every month, I lost my voice like clockwork every year, suffered from insomnia, and couldn’t lose weight no matter how much I worked out!! The longer this went on, the more “normal” my ill health became. The weight became an issue as my husband and I looked toward becoming parents. I knew I needed to “tone up,” so I started jogging and became a hard-core calorie counter…AGAIN! Luckily, I also reaffirmed my Humboldt County mentality and sought out organic and pesticide-free foods. I knew animal products should have had priority, but they were also the most expensive organic options! Calorie counting did result in my weight loss, but I know I impoverished my body’s nutritional reserves in the process. It still saddens me to think of how I chose wine over butter on my mashed potatoes because I only had “110 calories left” for the day.
In 2010 I gave birth to little boy who changed how I viewed EVERYTHING. I had been “pretty good” about organic, but knew NOTHING about fat (except that saturated fat was “bad”). I was still eating (organic) packaged/processed food (although now, it was less than 50% of my diet) and the result was the consumption of vast quantities of oxidized vegetable/seed oils heavy in Omega 6s, MSG, and other toxic additives and preservatives.
I was in shock when my son developed acid reflux at 3 weeks old and eczema at 2 1/2 months. His colicky symptoms ruined the experience of being a new mom and he was usually in a state of perpetual agitation (and so were my husband and I!). I knew something was wrong but had no idea how to fix it. This wasn’t surprising since my husband and I had been battling digestive and immune system issues for years. When my son was nine-and-a-half months old, I gave him a wheat teething cookie and it was the WORST episode of explosive diarrhea I’ve yet witnessed and the most heartbreaking 3 hours of painful crying I’ve encountered with him. The idea of a gluten allergy entered my mind, but our pediatrician said she, “wasn’t comfortable diagnosing a wheat allergy so young.” I wish I would have gone with my gut instinct, because we now know my whole family is gluten intolerant and my son and I both have a soy allergy.
The month after the teething cookie disaster, I was walking in a bookstore and ran across a beautiful pale yellow cookbook with the LONGEST name I’d ever seen–the short title? Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (president of the Weston A. Price Foundation). This chance encounter was the first step of a 3-year journey that has led me to where I am today–lighter, happier, stronger, and as rested as a mom can be! I cook 99% of what my family eats and we are reaping the benefits of returning to a diet that has nourished our species for millennia; REAL FOOD! New terms I can’t believe l ever lived without: raw milk, pastured pork, sprouted/properly prepared grains, fermented/ferments, oleic acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids, coconut oil, bone broth, pastured eggs/chicken, rapadura/sucanat, and probably a million more.
I started my Facebook page to spread the knowledge I have learned and to have other nutrition nerds to talk to and learn FROM. That page grew into an official blog, a venture that is both scary and exciting for me. Welcome to my passion for REAL food! I am so glad you found me!