First, a note from me. This is not a sponsored post, review, or any other type of paid advertisement. As much as I’ve enjoyed writing about me for the last five years I’ve missed dabbling in journalism. I decided to stop contemplating adding interviews and just start doing it. That said, in the years since I last worked in journalism my writing style and the type of journalist I want to be has changed. I’m in this story too.
I should maybe also mention that I’ve known Paige for a while now. We became friends through a mutual friend and I often see her at weekend brunches or costume parties.
Here’s a scary thought: We have to eat more fruits and vegetables because the soil that feeds the roots has been overworked. In order to eat more we have to grow more. Which will make the soil increasingly exhausted of nutrients. Then, as the cycle tells us, we’ll have to eat even more. And grow even more. Until an end is found…or reached.
That’s the horror story from me. It doesn’t sound so scary when Paige Semich Moreno, owner of Prevana Wellness, tells it. People might describe me as a petite brunette, but I think she perfectly meets the description. Her pale blue eyes get round when she speaks — all eyes do — but her’s really do. People listen when she speaks. I know because the elderly couple sitting near us at another of Quickie Pickie’s tall tables was listening in.
“What’s a nutrition coach?” the man said to the woman he was eating with.
Paige had been contemplating ideas on what to make with the goat sausage and fennel she’d been tempted into purchasing from HOPE Farmer’s Market and talking about her job. If he continued to listen in he would have heard more about how Paige expanded her massage therapy practice into a whole body wellness program by adding nutrition coaching. A significant part of that includes being a sales rep for Juice Plus. Juice Plus is the brand and company name of a whole food nutrition supplement.
“We are talking about food that grows from the ground,” Paige explains. “It’s kind of the idea that it bridges the gap between what you already are eating and the amount that you should be getting into your body.”
As she talks about it I can’t help but think of science fiction stories where capsules the size of a fingertip provide all our nutrition. The spaceship image is emphasized by another product — Tower Gardens – tall tubes that can grow an assortment of herbs and leafy vegetables. They’re trendy enough that restaurants at Chicago O’Hare have an in-airport garden.
Conversations about what to eat have a way of bringing out the defensive, the angry, and the skeptical sides of people. The overheard question and mumbled response from the table next to us gave me the impression the elderly couple thought the idea of nutrition coaching an absurdity. Eating is an intensely private and public activity. That sentence helps me to understand these responses – to understand my own responses.
Paige is more positive. Part of her positivity seems to be about doing something rather than getting discouraged by the problem. Ignoring the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ for the time I’ll say that I doubt there is any respected research showing a balanced, plant-based diet is bad for a person. Even a lifetime of homemade meals doesn’t prevent us from adopting the Standard American Diet on occasion.
Paige encourages setting monthly goals — such as drinking more water or taking more walks — to improve one problem.
“You don’t get overwhelmed with a program that you feel like you have to change your whole life in a day and then follow for thirty days. Then you feel like you failed half way through – you quit.”
“Like New Year’s Resolutions,” I suggest.
“New Year’s Resolutions! What do you want to do? I want to do this…I want to do this…I want to do this.” She asks and answers this rhetorical question before giving her answer, “Pick one. And focus on it.”
The thirty day challenge is certainly another trend. It’s also a simple process of action and reflection. It’s moving one more step — see a problem, work on a solution, recognize success, next problem. Paige is interested in the reflection on success.
“You hear all these stories about people — their lives start improving. It’s not just for looks. It’s like the quality of life starts shifting for the better. And the stories are pretty cool when they start coming back to you. That’s why I do what I do,” she adds.
Paige speaking passionately about her job is not why I asked her to participate in my project. She and her husband like to cook in a simple let’s eat dinner way. It’s a different idea from we have to eat dinner. One is a goat sausage and fennel frittata and the other is a bowl of cereal. She is also one of those home cooks who have mastered the knack of having confidence in her tastes.
I think it’s an ability you only get after choosing not to be afraid of food — understanding recipes as a guide, adding in flavors you have on hand or know you like and being eager to try a new ingredient. Or, as she and her husband do, being willing to think inside the CSA box…
“I love CSA’s because you get what’s seasonal,” Paige says as we discuss cooking habits, “but also foods you would never pick up from the grocery store. It makes you start branching out as a cook and with your own personal preferences and tastes.”
Breaking away from what we like I ask her one of my most dreaded questions, “What’s your favorite dish to cook right now?”
Actually, I rambled on in a not really asking kind of way for so long that she had to clarify the question. I apologized for it and excused her from answering, and even gave her less scary variations. Paige answered anyway:
Recipe: Rainbow Chard with Crispy White Beans
“One of my favorite things to make, especially during the fall and winter, is rainbow chard and white beans. I have a recipe that is one of my favorites. It’s crispy white beans and chard. You just use a skillet and get warm ghee and saute some onions. Add your beans and make those crispy and cooked. You throw in your chard, a little bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and that’s it.
“It’s delish. It goes really well with lots of fish or any kind of meat if you want. You could put that on top of quinoa if you want. It’s a really versatile dish. You can eat it just straight up, as is, as a meal. You could have leftovers with that and eggs for breakfast in your omelet. That’s my number one love. The ghee is really the secret sauce.”
You can contact Paige Semich Moreno at prevanawellness.com | email@example.com | 512-661-8382