Why on Earth did I become a Paleo/gluten-free chef? Well, here’s my surprising story.
I come from a long line of nature enthusiasts, artists, and foodies. I’ve done many creative things in my life – this may be my 9th career – I lost count (Chef, healer, Chief Financial Officer, costume designer, author, accountant, restaurant manager, business owner, Venetian glass importer, MBA, opera diva, yogi, jewelry designer, broker, property manager, world traveler, qigong teacher). As a child I was very robust and healthy. However at the age of 30 I began to feel seriously challenged with adrenal exhaustion, allergies, digestive problems, and the deep emotions that are involved.
It takes most people decades to figure out what they are passionate about. I on the other hand, knew what held my heart at an early age – music, (real) food, and spirituality.
As a girl I travelled all over the country playing the viola in various orchestras, which eventually led me to earn my degree in opera at Indiana University. Singing was a true expression of love for me. Imagine the pleasurable sensations, feeling beautiful sounds flow through your own body… Continuing on this path brought me to discover mediation – which opened my heart and caused my life to take a jolting turn. I made a surprising decision to throw myself passionately into spiritual practice at the Rudrananda Ashram, and I ended up living there for 30 years. Our teacher, Swami Rudrananda, affectionately known as “Rudi”, suggested we start a restaurant and a bakery. My first job was desserts chef at our Tao Restaurant. After I got my MBA I became CFO and one of the first partners of the original Rudi’s Bakery. Our restaurant-bakery complex turned into something very special. Eventually we sent emissaries to study with the finest chefs and visit top eateries in New York and Paris. We worked incredibly hard to put spirit and love into the food, and that authenticity was proven as people came from far and wide to taste our cooking. Our food was made with the very best ingredients, and most importantly our love was palpable!
Rudi’s Bakery still thrives under new ownership, and our recipe book The Tao of Cooking is still available after 30 years.
My emotions towards music brought me to spirituality, which lead me to learn that diet and food is a big part of that – I consider myself lucky to have lived so long already with those 3 things in my life.
My life has been an interesting series of surprises, one at a time.
As CFO of Rudi’s Bakery for 10 years, I enjoyed plenty of whole wheat bread and cream cheese danish. The only problem was that I began to suffer from severe bloating, weight gain, and digestive problems. My body has always steered me in the right direction. The first sacrifice I had to make for my health was to give up gluten – 30 years ago. That was hard! No more bread, cakes, cookies, sandwiches? But I felt so much better! My sinuses cleared, my energy was balanced through the day. I slept better and lost weight. I assumed gluten would be all that I’d have to eliminate, so I created a recipe file of quick and delicious gluten-free meals. Constant work stress took its toll, and soon after I had to give up coffee. That withdrawal period was pretty tough, as coffee is highly addictive. My body WANTED its caffeine every morning. I moved over to green tea, and later had to completely give up caffeine for pure water and herbal teas. My stress level went down, my jangled nerves relaxed, and my health improved.
In my next surprise career I lived in Venice, Italy and sang opera.
I learned to shop “Venetian style”, which means every day of the year is a farmer’s market. What fun! I just scanned the array of fresh fruits and vegetables picked that very morning using my subtle eyes, to find the perfect elixir for my body that day. Whatever was shining with the most delicious light and life, I bought that. And my health improved! This taught me the importance of freshness and life force in the food we eat. It showed me that listening to my body’s desires each day, as opposed to my unhealthy cravings, would lead me toward optimum health. I learned a lot and – Oh, was it fun! Click to hear me sing opera. And an aria from La Boheme. Or this duet with myself.
I traveled the world singing opera, and ate mostly in restaurants.
I noticed my food reactions were much less in other countries. Yet every time I returned to the USA, my digestive problems flared up again. Why was that? So I began to search out the myriad other factors contributing to intolerances, such as pesticides, farming methods, preservatives, molds, and hidden ingredients in packaged food. Soon after, I eliminated GMO corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and all genetically modified foods from my diet. I felt a huge improvement in my equilibrium on a cellular level, and my endurance came back. Each change was a radical re-adjustment in my diet and daily life. I began to see a pattern of refinement in my body, so I was more willing to accept and embrace it. Soon after I had to eliminate dairy and cheese, except for fermented goat products. Without dairy, my colds stopped altogether and my edema, or water retention, disappeared completely.
With each dietary change, my recipe file had to be re-written.
I’m an experienced chef, and this was no small task. Slowly over a period of 3 decades the pile of original recipes grew to fill several noteooks of delightful treats, like Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling, Blueberry Pancakes with Berrylicious Sauce, and Instant Chocolate Mousse. These recipes taste just as satisfying as the standard formulas, but the ingredients are quite different. Some would say my diet is “very limited”, but I certainly don’t feel deprived. My diet is limited to healthy foods only. Every day I enjoy delicious – no – incredibly luscious – gourmet meals that are quick and easy to make. I’m 64 now, and I eat 3 meals a day. You can do the math and that’s a lot of recipes. This is a really fun job.
By far the hardest thing for me to give up was sugars.
I mean ALL sugars. Since I crave sweets, I moved to so-called “natural sugars”. I bought granulated fructose by the case, indulged in date sugar, coconut sugar, agave, and maple syrup. But eliminate all sugars? No way. I love sweets, and I resisted this change for many years. My naturopathic doctor kept mentioning fructose, fruit sugars, and the complications sugar causes with bacteria in the intestines. She showed me undeniable evidence that sugar destroys the metabolic balance in the body and accelerates aging. It robs calcium from the bones to maintain a life-sustaining ph in the blood, leading to arthritis and osteoporosis. She showed me proof that sugar exacerbates food reactions. Sugar cross-reacts with gluten, grains, coffee, and yeast, creating a vicious cycle of metabolic ups and downs. She showed me that fructose, natural fruit sugar, is actually far worse for the body than table sugar because it is digested in the liver, causing arteriosclerosis and high triglyceride fat deposits that are an invitation to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
I became very ill with chronic fatigue, total adrenal failure and almost died.
At that time I owned a successful jewelry design business using hand-made Venetian glass. The stress was enormous. I was also diagnosed with 2 frozen shoulders, total digestive failure, and cancer. During that critical period, each moment and each breath was about healing my body. I lay very quietly in bed and felt the light pulsing inside me. On my good days, I studied every healing modality I could find, including traditional, modern, and energy medicine. Finally I gave in to overwhelming evidence and stopped eating all sugars. Since sugar is highly addictive, it was like getting off a drug. All the bacteria in my body rebelled. The withdrawal period was a slow process of re-orienting my body and reminding it who is in charge. For six months every afternoon was a battle of wills. I survived the transition with a fitness routine, yoga, qigong, and lots of unsweetened chocolate. Now my metabolism is balanced once again, and that’s a miracle.
When I gave up sugars, my health took a quantum leap forward.
It was immediate. I’ve been off sugar for 10 years now. I avoid all sweeteners that are high in carbs, such as agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, and even honey. But I still craved sweets! I bought every sweetener I could find and studied them all. THAT was exciting – my kitchen was filled with odd packages, strange names, and my body was the laboratory. You can find my research here: What are the Best Paleo Sweeteners? and 325 Sweeteners – Which is Best? Well, the final result was that there were precious few natural sweeteners that resonated well in my body, and hard to find them in a pure, unadulterated form. One was pure stevia leaves (which have a strong aftertaste). However refined stevia drops and powders did not register well. My top three natural zero-sugar sweeteners are Lo Han Guo, Non-GMO Erythritol, and Chicory root. Chicory root? What’s that? Well, it is a delicious natural sweetener called Just Like Sugar Table Top, which has zero calories, zero carbs, and zero glycemic index. It feels like winning combination to me. My metabolism is now in balance. Hooray!
Then something amazing happened.
When I was thin, weak, and wasted down to 105 pounds, a miracle. I fell in love with Will. A weight-lifter and fitness enthusiast with a great big heart, Will was 6′ 5″ and could bench press 300 pounds. He loved to eat, and well… one thing led to another. Will introduced me to the Paleo Diet, and we shared many simple meals. He loved my cooking and we enjoyed fresh, nutrient-dense, high-protein, low-carb, unprocessed foods. I sat across the table and just loved Will with my cooking. All that good eatin’ and lovin’ somehow healed my body. It somehow re-learned what it had forgotten. Within a year, my weight returned to normal and my metabolism was in balance. How about that?
I recently had another surprise – I’m intolerant to nightshades! That’s the solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. So now I’m developing a line of delicious Italian menus that are nightshade-free. Such as Paleo Pizza, Paleo Lasagna, and Spaghetti with No-Tomato Sauce. Like I said, this is a fun job!
My first cookbook is “Paleo Desserts – 125 Delicious Everyday Favorites Gluten and Grain-free”. It re-creates all the classic desserts everyone craves, but in a Paleo, or hunt-and-gather version. These desserts are low carb, truly delicious and healthy for most everyone. My second book is “Good Morning Paleo – More than 150 Easy Favorites to Start Your Day, Gluten and Grain-free”. It’s all about luscious flavor and real food breakfasts that are low in carbs and sugars. I get to invent amazing recipes – and taste everything. Ooooh, yes! It’s a fun job.
Another surprising life change. I sold my Venetian glass jewelry business, got certified in the healing modalities that had been instrumental in restoring my health, and discovered that my true calling is to be a healer. I am a certified BodyTalk and Accunect practitioner, 3rd degree Reiki Master, certified MogaDao Qigong Guide, MogaDao Sacred Sexuality Instructor, EFT trainer (Emotional Freedom Technique), and AFT practitioner (Attractor Field Therapy). I developed the Dietary Reset Method (DRM), a testing system to ascertain anyone’s optimum personal diet and deficiencies. Energy Medicine is powerful, because it goes right to the source, without being distracted by the symptoms. Energy Medicine can be harmoniously integrated with any other medical protocol. It has the capacity to find and resolve chronic issues sometimes not seen by allopathic medicine. I practice at Blue Lotus Integrative Healing Arts in Santa Fe specializing in:
- Energy Medicine, to find underlying health issues and resolve them.
- Consulting and mental repatterning around food
- 2-week Seasonal Cleanse, including herbs and detox foods
- Gluten-Free Diet Re-Patterning
- How to Lose Weight and keep it off, reframing self-sabotage habits
- Deep Skin Beauty Program, herbal masks, diet and lifestyle for clear skin
- DRM – Dietary Reset Method, a comprehensive test for optimum diet, best & worst foods, and deficiencies
- Qigong healing
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the site. Buy my books. And contact me anytime: jane (at) janeshealthykitchen (dot) com.