We’re thrilled to introduce our newest contributor Anna Zulaica. She’s a talented chef, a driven entrepreneur, published author, and an all-around fun lady. We know you’ll enjoy hearing her stories and trying her recipes as much as we do. Welcome, Anna!
Hello all! My name is Anna and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share with you my experiences, stories, and most importantly, talk about food!
I love food. I grew up in a Mexican household near the border of Mexico and would cross the border to Tijuana to visit family almost every weekend. In Tijuana, nobody is afraid of eating. Taco trucks are to die for, offering a plethora of choices of meats, toppings and quesadillas. These taco trucks, the ice cream stores, the lobster restaurants near the coast, and of course, my grandmother’s house, were some of my favorite places to visit as a child. I have always been adventurous when it came to food and I was the kind of kid that would try anything, alive, wriggling or just nasty looking. I grew up very active but eating all kinds and the worst kinds of foods with no concept of portion control whatsoever and, due to my habits, I was always the chubby kid in the family.
Everything changed when I moved to the Bay Area for college. In middle school, our mother had packed us up and moved us from San Diego to Las Vegas to finish high school, a hell hole in the middle of nowhere. So, once I left Las Vegas to come here, the culture shock hit me like a train. I had to face difficulties, and found myself saying, “Ew, I have to ride a bus?” “I actually have to walk places and can’t drive everywhere?” “I actually have to spend 20 minutes looking for parking?” And worst of all, “What’s a farmer’s market?” I had never been to a farmer’s market and my knowledge of cooking was a bit limited, coming from a home where my mother cooked for us every day.
At that point, the only organic produce I knew of existed in some store called Whole Foods, which our family couldn’t afford to shop at, so we had no reason to ever go inside. Once I saw that restaurants and cafes in the Bay Area pride themselves in using organic and local produce, some even changing their menus on a daily basis or when certain fruits or vegetables are in season, I started to realize how important health was in the Bay Area.
I decided that that was it for me. It was time for a change. What would I lose if I added one more change to my list? I started jogging four miles twice a week and hitting the gym every day. I started watching the Food Network 24/7, reading health magazines for ideas on how to cook healthy, and I starting cooking for myself every day. After eight months or so, I had dropped 40 pounds and was half my size. I felt incredible.
This lifestyle change and my cooking were what did it for me. Cooking became a passion for me and after I graduated college, I decided to go on a six week backpacking trip by myself in Europe. I signed up for a culinary course in Florence, Italy and arranged a week’s stay at a farm in Tuscany, providing my labor in their onsite vegan bakery in exchange for food and stay. Upon my return, I was inspired to start my healthy catering business, Presto! Catering and Food Services, in order to spread my love of fresh, organic and healthy foods to the community and here I am! I hope you all can enjoy my articles, recipes, and stories about my journey to a healthier life.