These past six months have been just the teensiest bit crazy. Back in January, I graduated from the Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE) program with a ton of nutritional know-how, some mad skills in the kitchen, and the unshakeable sense that adding a daily green smoothie to my routine just wasn’t going to cut it.
I didn’t just need to change my diet. I needed to change my life.
Those two nights a week I had spent cooking up a storm in Meghan’s kitchen had kept me healthy and kept me sane, but they couldn’t entirely make up for the hours I spent hunched over my desk at my corporate job, totally panicked about the latest work-related crisis. (And as many of you out there can probably attest… there’s always a work-related crisis.)
The weirdest part? It’s not like I hated every moment of the eight (or 10 or 12) hours I spent working every day. I actually loved it. I enjoyed being the person who was awesome at her job, the one who knew all the things and worked all the time.
My body didn’t agree. It started to rebel, first with the kind of tension headaches that only heavy-duty muscle relaxants could relieve, then a rather alarming stress-induced inability to eat. I lost 20 pounds and even picked up a shiny new anxiety problem and some depression for good measure.
After those months of hard work in the CNE program, I knew how to develop recipes, how to choose foods for their healing properties, and how to make a meal so delicious you’d never imagine it was actually good for you.
The biggest lesson I learned was that my health and happiness were within my own control. If I was going to start feeling better, I needed to integrate what I’d learned in the program into my whole life, not just the kitchen.
When deciding what to eat, Meghan recommends asking one question: “Will this food promote my health or build disease?” I found myself asking that question every day, and not just about the food I was eating. I started questioning everything I did. What was working? What wasn’t?
Not surprisingly, my job wasn’t working for me. Through a bit of magic and serendipity, I landed an amazing gig here at Meghan Telpner Headquarters, put in my notice at work and started dedicating my life to my own health and the health of those around me.
These days, I spend my time working in the pink kitchen, writing about health and nutrition and cooking delicious and nutritious food. And this fall, I’ll be T.A.-ing the first-ever online edition of the Culinary Nutrition Expert program.
To those of you considering enrolling: At the very least, the CNE program will help you change your diet. But if you really need it to? It might even help you change your life.
- 1½ cups quinoa, uncooked
- 2 blocks tempeh
- 1 red onion, diced
- ½ red cabbage, shredded
- 1 head broccoli, chopped fine
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1½ cups tahini
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ - 2 cups water (depending on how thick you like your dressing)
- sea salt to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste
- Rinse quinoa and place in pot. Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat. Let simmer covered until quinoa absorbs all the liquid, about 15 minutes.
- Add olive oil, sesame oil and tamari to large pot over medium heat. sauté tempeh pieces until golden brown. (Make sure you don't poke at the pieces too much or else they'll fall apart.)
- Toss veggies in with tempeh and sauté for 5-10 minutes.
- Add cooked quinoa to the pot and toss together. Set aside.
- Blend tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1½ to 2 cups water together.
- Add salt and cayenne pepper to dressing to taste.
- Dress each bowl individually just before serving. Yum!
Jaclyn Desforges is a recovering workaholic, a health writer and a culinary nutrition expert. You can check out her website for more recipes and nutrition ramblings or follow her on Twitter for the same, only shorter.