I’m Natalie, and this is my tiny little piece of internet real estate. I live in Denver, CO with my amazing husband and our two giant Great Danes. My husband is a 6’3″ Army veteran and both of our dogs weigh more than I do – so I frequently refer to our adventures as “my life with giants.”
Originally, this blog was just intended to be a place for me to store all the crazy things I come up with in the kitchen, but after meeting so many people and having so many great conversations through the community on this site and its social media accounts, I’ve realized there’s room for it to be so much more. We’re all on a journey, and I’m happy to share with you a little bit more about mine!
I also think it’s so important to be honest and REAL. Anyone can make their life look flawless on Instagram or Facebook, but *NEWSFLASH* no one’s life is actually flawless – and pretending that yours is, and glossing over all the trials and struggles that actually make you who you are, is boring as hell. I’m all about full disclosure (you know, to the extent that it makes sense to share super personal details with strangers on the internet).
From the Beginning
I didn’t know it at the time, but this blog has kind of been in the making for the last decade. Ever since I was a teenager, I have suffered from various cardiovascular events that have sent me to the hospital and puzzled doctors across three states. After several surgical procedures and hundreds of tests, they determined that while the cause of these events remained unknown, despite having a murmur, my heart ultimately was still very strong and healthy. Then, 10 years after my first hospital trip and one month before I was supposed to get married, I found myself spending the night in an emergency room in northern VA being poked, prodded, and scanned thanks to sudden debilitating chest pain and difficulty breathing.
The following weeks were filled with appointments with cardiologists and gastrointestinal specialists (and last minute wedding planning in the little time between). An upper endoscopy revealed the presence of eosinophilic esophagitis, a disorder that is still relatively new but is already being held responsible as a major cause of many digestive issues. I kind of shrugged off the diagnosis at first; I had never really suffered from acid reflux or other common gastrointestinal issues, so it just seemed like it wasn’t a big deal. However, the following day I met with a cardiologist who speculated that, actually, thanks to the vagus nerve and it’s proximity to the esophagus and heart, maybe all of my cardiovascular problems were actually related to these esophageal problems. Several months and tests later, I discovered that I was allergic to basically everything I was eating on a daily basis and had been eating for most of my life. In coordination with my doctors and an allergist, I was put on a pretty extreme elimination diet: so long dairy! bye soy! see you later tomatoes, legumes, and corn! adios peanuts! I didn’t even get a trendy allergy that everyone is used to catering to, like gluten – haha. Literally, my entire diet had to be completely revamped.
Making a Change
Unlike people who might happily choose to give up these food groups on their own, I was NOT pleased about suddenly having to substitute all of my favorite foods with “alternatives” that didn’t actually taste anything like the original food (I’m looking at you Daiya “cheese”). How was I never going to have real pizza again?!?! What about stir fry?! Oh my God – What about Mexican food?! And so on and so forth.
Along with some help from my incredibly supportive husband, we spent months scouring the internet for recipes that met all of my suddenly very strict dietary parameters. Every time, however, we were left having to piece together a vegan recipe from this site with a soy-free recipe from that site with a corn-free recipe from some other site, just to make one meal! It became increasingly frustrating trying to come up with ideas of what to eat. Don’t even get me started on eating out! I’ve become one of those people who has to carry a LIST of allergies to hand to the chef when I go out to eat! (I was a restaurant manager for years – I know just how much the staff judges me when I do this!)
Somebody Feed Me!!!
Fortunately, however, my husband and I both happen to be pretty decent in the kitchen. So, after months of experimenting and playing around with modifying our favorite recipes, we came up with some pretty delicious new ways to make some of our favorite foods. Once we had a little arsenal of recipes built up, my husband suggested writing all of them down in a book with photos so that we don’t forget how to make them. That’s when it occurred to me that maybe there were other people like me out there, browsing site after site trying to find a recipe that could meet their dietary needs without tasting like cardboard and without them having to pretend that it tastes just as good as “the real thing.” I may not be a culinary genius (definitely don’t ever try to copy my knife skills!), but I do think I have a pretty good idea of how to tell when something tastes amazing and when it tastes like cheap imitation. My guess is that you do, too!
So, if you’re just here for the food, AWESOME! Hopefully you find something that lights up your taste buds! If you’re here because you want to read the neurotic musings of a twenty-something woman, GREAT! Either way, WELCOME!