What is Oh, Holy Basil?
Thanks for asking! Oh, Holy Basil is a place where I share my love of plant-based, whole, simple, seasonal food. I share my perspective on health and holistic living, weaving in the philosophies that inspire me: Macrobiotics and, most of all, Ayurveda.
What is holy basil?
Holy Basil, also called Tulsi, is my favorite herb. I drink it as tea almost every day. It is an important herb in Ayurveda, and in India it is seen as the holiest of all plants. It has a staggering list of health benefits ranging from cleansing the respiratory tract to balancing hormones. It is adaptogenic, meaning it literally adapts to fight different kinds of stress, and balances different systems of the body. Amazing, right?
What about me?
I am a plant-eater, at-heart-yogi, and toddler-mama. I started watching the effect food had on my body a long time ago, trying to find the perfect diet, and have come to realize that there really isn’t one. I feel the best when I eat nutrient-dense, plant food, and so I end up eating mostly vegan. I sometimes eat high-quality goat or sheep dairy, or an egg from a friend’s back yard. I live in Taos, New Mexico flanked by my Leo boys and Taurus dog.
My fondness for food comes honestly. My parents were always serious about cooking, but they were also covert hippies. Hippies in a we-shower-daily-but-our-conditioner-is-brown kind of way. They got into organic food and macrobiotics in college. Growing up we ate mostly vegetarian. Therefore my ultimate comfort foods are dark leafy greens and these tofu burgers that my mom would make from Laurel’s Kitchen. They were fragrant with curry powder and dredged in sesame seeds. Back then we would smother them in cheddar cheese and ketchup. I still smother them in ketchup. My parents had an almost magical ability to create community and connection through food. I witnessed that cultivation at every meal, dinner-party, christmas-party, we’re-all-snowed-in party, and drum circle (kidding about the drum circle… kind of.)
I started cooking when I moved from my home state of New Jersey to Hawaii to study with my spiritual teacher. It happened organically, as I was called by the perfumed papaya, the enormous, perfect avocados that grew outside our door, the citrus trees, the abundance of free coconuts, and constant, season-less harvest. My teacher held retreats for his dedicated group of students. They came from all over the country to the charmingly rickety plantation house in which four of us lived. I started to cook for these retreats, and as I cooked, a flood of joy and purpose began to flow through me. I had found my thing. I stopped eating wheat, and digestive issues that had been labeled Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), started to subside. After a year, it was time for our little constellation to disperse, and I left the island filled to the brim by the experience and clear on my next step: culinary school.
I went to the Natural Gourmet Institute in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. There I studied food and healing, and fascinating dietary theories like Macrobiotics, Ayurveda, and the Weston Price school of thought. After graduating, I worked in the pastry department of Mas (farmhouse), a Michelin-starred, farm to table restaurant in the West Village. It was an incredibly sweaty education in food at the highest level. While I was being schooled in the art of New American elegance, my body was suffering. My sleep and eating schedules were weird and I started eating wheat and lots of sugar. All of my IBS symptoms came back, but I didn’t want to be limited in what I could cook or eat, so I chose to suffer and bear it. Stubborn, eh? It wasn’t until I had left New York, and was living in Colorado that I decided to turn back to my diet for healing, and boy was it a relief. I had been immersing myself in the health and culinary worlds, respectively, but now I was able to blend them. I found that each was increased by the other. And that has been my exploration ever since. I have spent the last five years working as a pastry chef, private chef and cooking for small retreats. I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2015.