I am so delighted to be featuring the exquisite Julie Morris, executive chef and face of Navitas Naturals. It is the perfect month to celebrate Julie, with our Navitas Naturals Giveaway in full swing, and the launch of Julie's incredble new book, SUPERFOOD SMOOTHIES. You can read my full rave about Julie's book here, but just to recap: this fabulous book contains 100 delicious, nutrient-dense superfood smoothie recipes, as well as tons of information, hints, tips, and tricks for incorporating superfoods into your daily smoothie-making regime. A must read!
Julie is one of my favourite chefs, not only because she is sweet and down-to-earth, but also because she is one of the foremost authorities on superfoods cuisine by experimenting for many years and walking the talk! I have learnt much of what I know about using superfoods from her. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember some of Julie's wonderful recipes: the maca macaroons, Winter warming juice, cookie dough smoothie, and mint chip smoothie. Julie's recipes are always packed with nutrition and mouth-watering flavours.
I became a Julie Morris devotee after reading Brendan Brazier's FABULOUS book, THRIVE FOODS, where Julie contributed many of the delicious recipes. I then began reading her blog, and following her on the Navitas Naturals You Tube channel. I was so excited when I finally met her in person at the SUPERFOOD KITCHEN launch. This lovely lady is so stunningly beautiful with glowing skin, hair and eyes, vibrant energy, and a loving warm nature, that she is the natural poster girl for superfoods.
Read Julie's inspiring personal story of how she transformed her health with the power of superfoods, and how you can too! Take it away Julie...
It certainly wasn’t silver, but I was pretty much born with a spoon in my mouth. I’ve always loved food, loved to eat, loved to cook. I was the kid who would watch Julia Child cooking shows instead of cartoons. I was the kid who would prance out of bed in on Sunday mornings to make muffins with my mom. I thought grocery shopping was fun (still do). For birthdays, my family came to realize that if they really wanted to put a smile on my face, all they had to do was get me a pasta maker, a juicer, a new cookbook, or a even just pastry bag.
Needless to say, I grew up cooking, much to my non-foodie mother’s bewilderment, and much to my sweet-tooth father’s delight. When I became a vegetarian at 14 after watching a video on factory farming in school, it only further propelled my exploration in making food, as I became enthralled with the new adventure of making things in the meatless realm. By the time I went off to college (for advertising and graphic design), I had a cookbook collection a mountain high and a cooking skill-set that could have been confused for pro. I really thought I knew food.
The funny thing was, I didn’t “know” anything about food … or rather, I didn’t know anything about nutrition (big difference), until I was about 20. While at college, I developed something of a tragic coffee habit, which soon turned into a coffee and energy drink habit, which soon turned into a major case of chronic fatigue as I unknowingly burnt out my adrenals. I was in a bad way: exhaustion, low immunity, and constant allergies. For someone who was so young, my body was doing a great job of acting much, much older. I was frustrated with the way I felt, so I turned to the one thing that I knew best: food. I thought to myself, “there has to be something I can eat that will give me energy.” A ridiculous statement when you think about it, but my naive epiphany nonetheless.
I began researching “energy foods,” and stumbled across the strange concept of these things called “superfoods.” The idea very much excited me: foods that had been used for thousands of years, renowned by cultures all around the world, long celebrated for their abilities to provide strength, rejuvenation, and yes, energy. Technically speaking, superfoods are often described as the most nutrient-dense, benefit-rich foods on the planet. Though this class of foods includes every day edible heroes like spinach, strawberries and quinoa, many of the foods I had never even heard of before … and I decided to give a couple of these specialty “superfoods” a try.
The first superfoods I experimented with were goji berries and maca. I didn’t really know what to do with them (there weren’t really any recipes out there back then), and a friend suggested I make “energy balls” made out of nut butter, a sweetener, and my superfoods. So energy balls I did. For several weeks, I cut out the stimulative beverages I was consuming, and instead focused on incorporating the most nutrient-dense foods I could get my hands on, energy-balling it all the way. The results were amazing. Within a couple of weeks, not only did I feel more energized, but more importantly, I felt more balanced – no extreme highs, and no extreme lows. Simply, “good.” And for the first time in my life, I experienced food in a way that wasn’t just limited to how it tasted, but rather, how it made me feel.
Because I came to realize that the structure of so many of the recipes I had grown up making was so thoroughly antiquated (white flour? Cane sugar?), I became impassioned to create bank of new recipes out of the incredible, powerful foods I was now discovering. I switched my career path to work in the natural food industry, to get better acquainted with the business, products, and people from the “inside,” and started to work as an educator and recipe developer.
By true kismet, I was offered a job as the executive chef at Navitas Naturals – yes, a superfood company! Talk about dreams realized. With Navitas, I had the opportunity to work with this special class of foods every day, and the more I was exposed to these power foods and learned about them, the further impressed I became. But as I continued to work with Navitas, one fact came to light: most people I came across were interested in the concept of superfoods, yet still had no idea how to actually use them. Having started out myself in the same recipe-less boat, I completely understood, and decided to see if I could be of help.
Within a year, I wrote my first book on how to use superfoods in the kitchen. Since I couldn’t find a publisher that wanted to take a chance on the subject, but desperately wanted to get my information out, I initially self-published a small run of very homegrown books: self-written, self-photographed, and self-designed. Within a few months, the book was picked up by a wonderful publisher and re-released as SUPERFOOD KITCHEN: Cooking with Natures Most Amazing Foods. Featuring 100 superfood recipes and a thorough explanation of how to build a superfood panty, I’m thrilled at the way the book has been able to serve as a helpful tool for so many people motivated to live a healthier lifestyle.
Superfood Kitchen quickly gained such a following, that I wrote my second cookbook soon after on one of my personal favorite subjects, SUPERFOOD SMOOTHIES. Now watching it get displayed in premium cooking stores like Williams Sonoma – the same stores I idealistically lingered in for inspiration so many years ago -- it is profoundly thrilling to be able to see such a once-quirky subject like superfood smoothies, gain mainstream momentum. Needless to say, I’m currently writing a third book.
At the end of the day, I’m just a cheerleader for living healthfully and eating amazing food. I so understand, from my own experience, both sides of the plate… and I know how much of an impact eating awesomely can have. I'm grateful, everyday, for the honor to be able to explore and share my superfood discoveries, all in the realm of creative, delicious, and fun new ways.
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