Plant-Based Chef. Kitchen Coach. Foodie. Old Soul, Introvert. Yogi. Daydreamer. . . . just cooking my way through life.
I started cooking at 17, and honestly, the rest has kind of been a blur. What I do remember, is that at some point I made the decision to nourish my body with real food, free of preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and all that other junk. Also, in Spring 2011 I decided to turn my cooking hobby into a career. A terrifying decision (I hate change!) but ultimately a blessing that I believe saved my life. I have always searched for an outlet for my crazy, intense, nonstop creativity and I have found that preparing food is the most rewarding form of self-expression for me.
Although my days in culinary school were nowhere near perfect, I have truly emerged a better cook. I always had the motivation and creativity that is necessary for this profession, but the classes I took instilled in me technique, organization, a sense of urgency, and a passion for customer service. As I was nearing the end of my schooling I walked into a little volunteer-run non-profit raw vegan cafe in Lockport, Illinois, and as fate would have it, the place changed my life. Five weeks later I was the first hired employee, and I was given a opportunity to heal people through raw living food. I always dreamed of having a career that allowed me to give back to charitable foundations, combine my love of health, nutrition, and culinary artistry, and work aside amazing inspiring people. I had not even graduated culinary school and my wish was granted. A true gift from God!
Despite my love for Chicago (a truly amazing city, fit for a foodie ;), my most inspiring experience with fresh, local ingredients was the two weeks I spent at the International Academy of Italian Cuisine in Lucca, Tuscany in June cooking with Master Chef Gianluca Pardini. In a short time, I discovered a new appreciation for simple cooking techniques and locally grown food. And . . . so many experiences were checked off my bucket list in only 14 days!
Since leaving the café in October 2014, life has been quite a ride. I’ve had a lot of personal and career epiphanies, including starting my own personal chef and coaching business inspired by this blog.
My hope is for The Naked Food Life to become a brand that reflects the beauty and bounty of plant-based ingredients. My mission is to share the message that plants will heal and energize our minds and bodies when they are the basis of our meals. I am inspired by the growing community of plant-based chefs and bloggers who constantly push the boundaries of exciting, delicious, and playful food that just so happens to be nutritious.
Although I am not a raw vegan, nor is this blog solely raw vegan, my former experience at the cafe exposed me to wonderful raw ingredients and has been extremely formative in my cooking adventures. In addition, you will find some posts on raw vegan food (mostly desserts) because honestly the raw recipes I include are just as delicious as the other meals featured here. Although plant-based, the recipes on this site are adventurous and non-restrictive. My philosophy: eat pure, eat simple, and listen to your body, because when you nourish your body . . . you nourish your soul!
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Working with Ashley as a kitchen coach has heightened my awareness of my eating habits and helped me be more intentional as I honor myself with time to eat and love foods that satiate me. I am grateful for my new journey.
Kitchen Coaching Client
I’ve really appreciated Ashley's experience as plant-based chef in helping me broaden my horizons. She's exposed me to new wonderful raw ingredients and has opened up endless possibilities in making healthy (and delicious) meals that my whole family will eat . . . I also have to say it's brought me a greater sense of satisfaction about the foods I'm preparing and eating. Ashley’s simple-to-follow recipes have made cooking fun again for me (and even a little adventurous!) . . .What I like most about Ashley’s Kitchen Coaching Program is that it concentrates specifically on foods that will improve your skin, energy level and digestion. Each week I receive new recipes, the corresponding ingredients lists (to help me grocery shop) and have access to a private Facebook group where I can ask questions. It's been a great learning experience!”
Kitchen Coaching & VIP Day Client
It took one VIP day with Ashley to shatter that overwhelm and create ease in our food prep - and now I feel excited about cooking on a daily basis! Ashley is a wealth of culinary knowledge and adapts so well to what we need to learn from her, and I've honestly never been so inspired to experiment with plant-based cooking. I now feel the pleasure of artistry is back in my kitchen, and I have Ashley's guidance to thank.
VIP Day Client
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