I have been fascinated with the idea of vegetarianism since I first discovered the concept at summer camp when I was about 8 years old. A nutritionist told my parents that I needed to eat meat because I was anemic. (I later learned the power of the second opinion.) I became a vegan in 2005 after reading The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann. Over the past decade, I have experimented with different levels of veg lifestyles, from PETA veganism to brief stint as a pescatarian when I lived in Paris. Through my self-experimentation, I have learned that a plant-based lifestyle focused on sustainability and optimal nutrition is what it takes to be true to myself. I discovered raw veganism 4 and a half years ago. I saw amazing results in my skin, energy levels, mood, and overall health. Since then I have experimented with different raw ratios and have settled on flexible high raw veganism.
When I went all raw in 2012 I also haphazardly went gluten-free. At the time I attributed my amazing health results entirely to raw veganism. I unknowingly reincorporated gluten into my diet and saw negative health effects for months before realizing that gluten was to blame. I consciously completed a gluten elimination diet in 2014, which gave me the unequivocal answer that I am sensitive to gluten. Since riding my body of gluten I feel happier, healthier, and smoother.
My 2 daughters, Mo & Chri, who have red hair (the Gingers) and myself, Mama Rita (the Spice!), created Gingers and Spice to share recipes and our experiences as a gluten-free and plant-based family. One of my favorite things is creating recipes that convert our favorite foods into their vegan, gluten-free versions! I am also a consultant in the oil and gas industry, a mom, and a grandma. In taking on the role of caregiver for my parents and their failing health, I began to see most of their health issues were exacerbated by their food choices. Even though I tried, they didn’t seem interested in making changes. The only person I knew I could change, was me. Researching my personal symptoms (inflammation, digestion, body aches, etc.) I found sources recommending to give up meat, dairy, and gluten. At first, it was a short-term decision for me and I let myself eat fish twice a week and eat eggs 4 times a week. The more I got into living a plant-based lifestyle and the more I learned though, I gave up fish and eggs also. Changes came in steps.
My daughters and I began sharing our experience on Instagram mainly because we were having challenges in finding restaurants and products to support our food requirements in the Midwest of the United States. We wanted to help others with the research and information we were discovering. We find we need to prepare most of our food at home especially staying gluten-free. My daughters had been vegetarians and vegans, even raw vegan for many more years than me and they were ahead of me in knowledge on this topic. For almost 10 years, thinking myself progressive, I had made sure to have both traditional meat and dairy dishes and vegetarian/vegan options on the table at family meals. Now, I realize I shouldn’t have been putting the meat and dairy options on the table at all.
Last year, armed with my decision to give up meat, dairy, and gluten, I headed to the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in San Diego and immersed myself in their raw food, optimum health education program and received their certification in 3 weeks. I lost 21 pounds and was feeling so much better.
We will continue to share our journey with you!