Growing up on a farm in a small Iowa town, eating was truly a farm-to-fork experience. My mother told me that by the age of three, I would stand on a chair at the kitchen counter so I could help her prepare family meals. By 10, I was preparing French toast for my four siblings and making roast beef with potatoes and carrots, all from our farm, for dinner.
Even though the meals have changed since then, what hasn’t changed is my passion for really good food and the pleasure that comes from cooking and sharing meals with family and friends. I’ve dedicated my life to empowering people through Smart Eating. Healthful and great tasting food sustains human life, and my goal is to help people with their own wellness journey – to help them understand and make changes to improve their quality of life and well being.
As a teen, I had an after-school job cooking dinner for the local Catholic priest. Father Joe had diabetes and needed home cooked meals, which was right up my alley! Working with his dietitian, I decided I wanted to become one, too.
After obtaining a degree in nutrition from South Dakota State University, I continued my education with an internship at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.
After graduation, I worked as a clinical dietitian. A familiar refrain from my patients was “if only you could come into my home and show me what to do in the kitchen to change my eating.” So I developed an in-home nutrition makeover service. I educated families in their living rooms, cleaned out their cupboards, took them to the market, taught them to chop vegetables and make healthy desserts.
It was this passion for convincing people that healthy food could be simple to prepare and taste great which became the topic of my first book, Fast Food at Home, published by Simon and Schuster. Happily, from this, I was able to purchase my first home.
From there, I established a private practice in Beverly Hills. The ongoing work with patients and the memories of my experience with Father Joe back in Iowa led me to my second book, Simply Gourmet Diabetes Cookbook.
The birth of my son sparked a whole new interest in raising healthy eaters, involving children’s eating issues, including picky eating, preventing obesity and having a positive relationship with food and body image.
When I’m not seeing patients, I consult for food companies, including Quaker Oats, Egg Nutrition Center, Planter’s Peanuts (I once went ice skating with Mr. Peanut!), Taco Bell (I rated their bean burrito healthiest fast food at the time) and Starbucks, among many others.
These days, I mostly work with children, teens and adults in my office with issues such as weight management, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, anorexia, bulimia, to name a few.
Cooking meals for friends and family remains a life passion. I love to entertain. My latest venture is my SmartEatingShow series on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. By subscribing to my channel, you can get the latest in nutrition research, practical guides to changing eating habits, including cooking tips from my kitchen–everything you need to keep on track with healthy eating.
I hope you’ll come and take a look, and I look forward to seeing you there.