That First “A Ha!” Moment

It was 1996

… in Berkeley, California, studying at the University, witnessing the daily protests on animal rights, meeting healthy happy “vegans” for the first time……it was time to dive into being a vegetarian! (I was not quite ready to give up cheese and eggs though)

So where do I start? Well, the infamous Mac n’ Cheese delight of course! After countless attempts at creative versions of mac n’ cheese, bean n’ cheese burritos, and salad with ranch dressing, I was feeling bloated, tired, bored, and frustrated. Wasn’t I supposed to feel better as a vegetarian? Little did I know at that time, that to transition into vegetarianism, I needed to be educated on proper nutrition in order to receive the protein, vitamins, and minerals needed for my optimal health.

So yes, I admit, I went back to eating meat with my tail between my legs. Living in Spain for a semester abroad definitely influenced this transition back to eating meat. I remember a part of me feeling like I gave up and like I had to hide a part of me that truly felt called to be a vegetarian, yet I chose to ignore that feeling….a product of my emotional and spiritual maturity at that time. I recognized my light and I recognized my block, yet I did not have the tools quite yet to remove that block and fully embody that light.

It wasn’t until I moved to Maui, Hawaii in 2004 that I discovered Quinoa, “A Ha!”, my ticket back into vegetarianism! I had been searching for some type of inspiration that would lead me on the path towards who I truly felt I came here to be and when I was introduced to this seed called quinoa, all the hairs stood up on my body because I knew that this was the beginning of a new series in my life and I REMEMBERED a part of me that had been hidden in the dark. Inspiration took over!

As simple as quinoa is, I consider it my gateway food towards conscious eating. Here’s a bit about this superfood and a simple recipe that I created back in 2004 yet still use today…..



 … a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. It is pronounced KEEN-wah. It is basically a “seed” which is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain.

Quinoa was an important crop for the Inca Empire back in the day. They referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it only became trendy and reached “superfood status” a few years ago.

~Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including Quercetin and Kaempferol. These are potent plant antioxidants with numerous health benefits. The antioxidant quality is increased even further after the seeds are sprouted.
~Quinoa is much higher in fiber than most grains, with 17-27 grams of fiber per cup of uncooked Quinoa.
~Quinoa is naturally free of gluten.
~Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plant foods and contains all the essential amino acids that we need.
~The glycemic index of quinoa is around 53, which is considered low. However, it is still relatively high in carbohydrates.
~Quinoa is very high in minerals, but the phytic acid can partly prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking or sprouting quinoa degrades most of the phytic acid.
~Quinoa can improve metabolic health. This includes lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels.


Quinoa Tabouli (serves 2)

1 ½ cup sprouted quinoa (soak quinoa in water for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight)

1/8 cup extra virgin cold pressed olive or flax seed oil

½ teaspoon Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt

15 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

¼ large red onion, minced and rinsed

½ green onion, minced and rinsed

½ cucumber, finely chopped

1-2 sprigs of mint, coarsely chopped

1/8 cup minced parsley

1/8 cup minced cilantro

juice of 1 lemon

4 slices of avocado

handful of pomegranate seeds

a couple handfuls of spinach

Preparation                                                                                                                                                                      In a bowl, mix the quinoa, oil, and sea salt. Stir well. Add in the cherry tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. Mix in the mint, parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Leave for a few hours in fridge to marinate in order to infuse flavors. Serve on a bed of spinach, lay avocado slices on top with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.