Ann Hickey, MPH
Health and Wellness Coach, Chef
I love to laugh, I love to cycle, I love to watch hockey, I love to play tennis. BUT, I am driven to create, assemble, bake, cook, saute, braze, chop/toss food that is bursting with flavor and feeds my body what it craves – fuel to live and enjoy all of those other things that I love to do. It’s a self-serving cycle, I admit, but it’s a joyous one, and I simply can’t see living any other way.
I certainly didn’t start out this way, in fact, as a child, I refused to eat salads or even help my mom (of seven kids) in the kitchen. Apparently, I would calmy explain “it gives me a headache to reach under the cabinet and get the salad bowl out, sorry mom”. What a little worm I must have been.
As my mother’s job of turning out army style meals transformed to smaller meals (less kids to feed as they moved out), she read Gourmet and Bon Appetit religiously and taught herself how to create some amazing meals. And I paid attention. I went on to work in about 10 or so restaurants in college days and I paid attention there as well. Formal school didn’t happen for years to come. I first finished under and post grad at CSUN In Public Health and worked at USC as a Health Education and Disease Prevention Specialist for nearly 10 years, while cooking on the side for friends and family. Two kids later; I needed to stick closer home – enter Culinary School. Thereafter, I went on to be a personal chef and catered for a few years. Learned a TON. So much so, that I had the confidence to say “hey, I think I’ll make a food item, package it and sell it!”. So, I started a hand-crafted marshmallow business. Eighteen years later, I sold it and turned back to my health and wellness roots. After a wonderful short, but intensive program from Dr. Sear’s Health and Wellness institute, I am back to my passion.
But why healthy food? And why now? Like many people, it started with a story of a health crisis. Back towards the beginning of that wild marshmallow making chapter, I was the unlucky recipient of adult mononucleosis. Yikes. No fun. Suddenly sugar is an issue, a big issue. Due to being IN that business, I fought it for as long as I could. But managing some new giant customers (Starbucks/Panera Bread), a back injury, shoulder surgery, and raising two kids (one with special needs) proved to be just too much for my health, all of it, mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. Fast forward to a reset. A serious reset. Purge the sugar, cut the gluten, no more (bovine)dairy and healthy fats only. I’ve re-educated myself and I’m still learning, but what a beautiful surprise it has been to find that cooking and eating whole, unprocessed, colorful, mostly organic foods is so much more thrilling than I ever cold have imagined!