I have a passion for food. Actually, that’s an understatement. I am die-hard about food.

I learned early in life that a simple way to show someone you care about them is to cook them a great meal. As the youngest of five children, with a father who retired while I was in elementary school, I was lucky enough to have two parents in the kitchen each week creating amazing homemade dishes. From the Italian “long sauce” (which took 6 hours to make) filled with pepperoni, sausage and meatballs and “quick sauce,” to rustic minestrone and lentil soups, my father Jack handled most of the entrées in our home. It was common to have homemade fresh cinnamon pecan rolls (with dough that rose for 12 hours the night before) on Sunday morning for breakfast, and biscotti and Madeline cookies for dessert during the week. My mom, Barbara, was famous for her apple and pumpkin pies with her secret crust that was always buttery and flakey. My family did not dine out much when I was growing up because my Dad always said, “I can make it better at home, for less.”

Fast forward 10 years.

In my late twenties, I found myself in an unhealthy pattern of living. I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that I needed to make a big change in my life. I knew deep down that I was not living the life that was intended for me. In 2008, I picked up my running shoes. I began exercising again. I started off with a couple of laps around the neighborhood which turned into my first half marathon in June of 2009. In the fall of 2010, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and finished in 4 hours and 33 minutes.

In 2011, I met my future husband Justin. We bonded over mini-golf - I won, but later found out that he let me win. Afterwards Justin asked me what I wanted for dinner, and he said that he knew he loved me when my response was that I wanted a pepperoni and onion pizza.

One winter, I made room in my closet for another pair of shoes: spin shoes. I began taking spin classes at my local gym in Annapolis. I loved the feeling of a high-energy, heart pumping class that left me drenched with sweat when the 60 minutes was up. It was then that I realized that I would love to LEAD that class of gym-goers and motivate them with the same feelings that drew me to class each day. I got certified to teach RPM, a Les Mills cycle class, in September of 2012, and I now teach packed classes five or six times a week. I am also certified in INSANITY and teach it outdoors in my own boot camps each spring and fall. I run the annual Cherry Blossom 10-miler each April with Justin and usually try to sneak in one other long distance race each year. I also weight train four times a week, lifting heavy weights, and continually refute the misconception that lifting makes women bulky.

My love of exercise reignited my passion for food. With such a high activity level, I was constantly hungry and looked for sustainable food to fuel my level of activity. I started reading. A lot.

I couldn’t believe all I was learning about the sugar epidemic and GMOs in America and the link to food and cancer. My father died of lung cancer in 2005, and with the rampant spread of this disease in America, I couldn’t help but wonder how food and cancer were linked. For this reason, I eat mostly organic and recommend organic products whenever cooking. I realized that I was a lot like my Dad. I often thought too when I was eating out that I could make the dish better at home. I began cooking more. Sundays were devoted to soups and meal prepping for the week. Justin was very pleased with this new hobby that I had developed and was happy to be my guinea pig – except when it came to quinoa burgers. He was not much of a fan.

My focus is lightened up versions of your favorite meals. I follow a mostly dairy-free diet, not because I have a dairy intolerance, but because I always feel lighter and leaner when I stay away from milks and cheeses. You will also find some Vegan dishes on this site and many recipes without refined sugar.

My love of fitness coupled with my obsession with food led me to start this blog where I can share both recipes and fitness tips with those of you who LOVE to eat and LOVE to sweat. Thanks for joining me on this delicious ride…