I am originally from Lorain, Ohio – a city that prided itself as a melting pot. Although most nationalities were represented, there was a high concentration of Eastern Europeans like myself. I am mostly Slovak and just enough Polish to make me fun. I am Byzantine Catholic of the Slovak Ruthenian Rite – a part of the Catholic Church that belongs to the East.
Growing up in a family of funeral directors, I was exposed to death and the grief stricken more than most. I saw what happened to people when they passed and how it affected the loved ones that were left behind. I regularly heard of various medical conditions and probably knew more about basic anatomy and physiology than most kids my age.
I found myself intrigued when I heard someone had passed because of a deficiency or someone else due to an over abundance and this planted a seed that would eventually drive me to want to understand the root cause of people’s health conditions, including my own.
My family ate snout to tail, leaving nothing out. We enjoyed produce from our garden and local farmers and had a variety of traditional ethnic dishes regularly – both from our own customs and in celebrating others from our diverse community.
My parents were “foodies” before it became popular. When my dad would go into Cleveland on business, he would often stop by the West Side Market and bring home all sorts of unconventional foods and “surprise” my mother. The two of them would figure out what to do with them – all without the benefit of the internet. They never made a bad dish!
Meals, especially those from different cuisines, were a way of identifying with people, relaxing, experimenting, healing, comforting and celebrating. It was never boring at the dinner table – a true culinary adventure – where we traveled across the world with every bite. There were common phrases like “eat this, it will put hair on your chest” and “drink this” for a particular ailment. Funny as it may have sounded, this, too, always fascinated me that we could impact our bodies and health with food.
When it was time to think about college, I was very interested in music (my parents met in a Byzantine Catholic choir and singing and music has been an integral part of my life) and I also considered being a nurse in the Navy. A full, four year scholarship to attend Duquesne University as a featured soloist and dancer with the Tamburitzans won out. I studied Media Arts with a double minor in Eastern Thought and Religion and three styles of Vocal Performance all while celebrating Slavic cultures on stages throughout the United States and in to Canada.
As our children entered school, I ended up taking whatever job would fit our family’s needs and hopefully (if remotely) complement my skillset and education. I worked as if it was my first, my only and my last. Throughout the years, however, my enthusiasm for food and nutrition – that was so much a part of my upbringing – only grew. This passion was fueled by my desire to provide the healthiest meals for my family while searching for holistic ways to solve the root cause of symptoms that I, and others dear to me, had been experiencing.
I began researching programs that supported a functional approach to nutrition and finally found a course through the Nutritional Therapy Association that complimented my interest and philosophy. I graduated with flying colors in 2018 as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and am excited to help people heal and look forward to vibrant health one delicious, adventurous bite at at time.