Contributing Monkie Heather Pace
Published on July 1, 2010
Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved food, particularly the sweet stuff. I come by it honestly, since my mom’s favorite food is chocolate. I grew up on a pretty “Standard American Diet”. You know, cereal with milk for breakfast, peanut butter (fortunately the natural kind) & jelly sandwiches for lunch, and chicken/veggies/potato for dinner. My favorite treat was ice cream and my mom’s freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!
When I was 14, my mom gave me the book Fit For Life to read, after incorporating some of the principles into her life. I’m not sure what prompted her to give me the book, but I devoured it – and became a vegetarian over night! Not only that, I gave up most dairy products too. Imagine a teenager eliminating 70% of the foods they’ve grown up on?! While everyone else at high school was eating burgers, chocolate bars, soda pop, and ice cream, I was eating my perfectly combined meals most of the time (although I was a candy-aholic on weekends). Fresh fruit for breakfast, fruit/veggies/or homemade soup for lunch, and veggies with either rice, squash, or pasta, for dinner. For a while I just ate fruit – I thought, “why eat anything else when you can eat healthy sweet stuff all the time?” (NOT a great idea as I learned later on). Remember that Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…” Ummmm yeah, I felt like an outcast.
With a hunter father and a mother who isn’t exactly a fan of cooking, I started cooking for myself. I constantly experimented with new recipes, watched food shows, and came up with healthy substitutions for my unhealthy favorite foods. Desserts were always my favorite things to make, and I think I used that as an excuse to OVER indulge even though these were “healthy” alternatives.
I stumbled upon a raw vegan cafe in Winnipeg, when I was 16. I tried my first savory green smoothie, raw pizza, and raw pie! I thought it was totally cool and I wanted to know more! I checked it out on the net and tried a few recipes, but didn’t take it any further at the time.
After graduating high school, I took a spontaneous trip to Ojai California for a one month raw food retreat hosted by The Garden Diet people. I learned how to prepare raw foods and sat in on lectures given by the “bests” in the field: David Wolfe, Fred Bisci, Paul Nison, Victoria Boutenko, Nomi Shannon, Elaina Love, Doug Graham. I was enthralled…I wanted to be all raw, all the time! This was “it”…. buut when I returned home to an excruciatingly cold Canadian winter, lacked support, and had no glorious fresh farmers market goods, I was back into cooked food – not only that, but cooked JUNK food! So while I had good intentions, the raw food lifestyle went by the wayside… for a while.
Despite looking into natural cooking schools, I settled on attending a two year conventional culinary school program. Again I was the “weird” vegetarian chef, even though at the time I had reluctantly started eating fish due to strong recommendations from a naturopathic doctor. For me, the best part of school was pastry class – I could never avoid temptation and always sampled what we were creating. I even thought about going to actual pastry school, but couldn’t bring myself to do it based on my knowledge of the artery clogging ingredients in those “goodies” (shouldn’t they be called “badies”?)! Instead I went on to work in a bakery, several restaurants, as a personal chef, and as a summer camp cook, but wasn’t passionate about any of them…
For me, food is an experience, food is love, and food is a creative outlet. In the past 5 years, I’ve gone from eating 100% raw vegan diet, to a low percentage of raw food, and everything in between. In more recent years, Im flexible in my mindset, but I do eat raw vegan 95% of the time. I’ve come to a place of eating only what I desire, and yes, green spirulina seaweed salads are what I truly desire… with daily raw dessert and chocolate too, of course! I’m extremely passionate about sharing the benefits of raw food with people, and teaching them (via hands on classes and my blog) how to make this wonderful food that is not only healthy but looks and tastes delicious too! My serious sweet tooth, drove me to release Just Desserts ebook a year and a half ago, which is full of raw vegan dessert recipes. Recently I did two mini raw dessert ebooks in conjunction with online raw dessert challenges, and they were such a blast, and so successful that more dessert challenges and books are in the works!
My other two passions are yoga and travel. I became a certified Kripalu yoga instructor 4 years ago, and really enjoy teaching. My passion for travel has taken me on adventures around the world – usually in search of tropical fruit, beaches, and hot weather. I have vowed to eventually settle down in a warm climate – I want to eat the most fabulous mangos, coconuts, and papaya all year around!