Who is Ashley?

IMG_6578 copy(Salinas, CA – August, 2013 – Photo by Johnny Diaz)

Hi there.

I’m Ashley Pardo, and I cook every. single. day.

The amount varies. I’m private chef here in Miami, FL. Usually, I spend hours chopping, cooking, and making. Other days, I austerely roast vegetables in my pajamas with hair so tangled it’s a nest. Either way, my hands transform food into what it should be: delicious, fresh, sustainable, and simple.

I want you to cook, too. Because cooking is a lot of things, but it’s not hard. If you can read, (which you can; seriously, i just caught you red-handed) you can cook. You can follow directions. You can maneuver your body around a bit. Most importantly, you can eat. Who am I kidding, you love to eat. You must, or else… uhhhh…surprise! you’ve just said sayonara to being alive.

I grew up with ethereal cooking made by my grandmothers and mom. But once I started to cook on my own, I found it complicated, emotionally draining, tear inducing (what? you’ve never cried from a failed recipe?), and warranting 87 ingredients.  My food-life began to change when I quit my corporate job and got a Masters in Gastronomy plus certificates in the culinary arts, wine, and cheese from Boston University. It made a 180 when I moved to Piedmont, Italy to work on two organic farms. Religious-like, best-food-of-my-life lunches and dinners were daily occurrences, took 10 minutes to prepare, and rarely had more than 5 ingredients. This stupefaction left my mouth agape for two months, solidifying the only truth I know about good food: it’ll make you close your eyes from deliciousness (obviously the best marker) when you have real, whole, honest, unfussy and unprocessed ingredients that are allowed to speak for themselves.

My relationship with food has evolved over the years. I was always a “voluptuous” child who loved to eat. Eight years ago, I was 50 pounds overweight. I got there by not knowing what to eat and then eating too much of it but mostly, I wasn’t connected to myself. At all. I dieted myself back to a normal weight, fluctuated a bit more, then discovered intuitive eating, which I believe is the only sustainable way to maintain a healthy relationship with food.  I believe diets are a futile, hateful black hole and although they might work in the short-term, they do not address the real reasons we eat when we aren’t hungry, the true hungers of our hearts. I say this due to my past volatile relationship with food, and because I have gone through it all. There is a way out.

I believe our relationship with food equates to our relationship with life. There are real reasons we eat when we aren’t hungry or eat foods that don’t work for us and as we begin to work through them, we discover the most important parts of ourselves. Through my own investigation, and trying EVERY SINGLE diet known to man, I have discovered that I do not tolerate most of what I used to eat. Paleo eating is what works best for my body and mind. If you aren’t familiar with the paleo diet, please check out this post here. I used to pride myself on being able to eat and experience everything this world has to offer, and thought people on restrictive diets didn’t know how to live; but when that was stripped from me for health reasons, it forced me to discover what truly does work, which is real food.

This blog used to be a baking blog (oh, the irony) and those posts are still here because they were part of my life, but going forward, this blog will focus on gluten-free, dairy-free, legume-free, and sugar-free recipes. That might make you think WTF do you eat but trust me, I am not starving. It took me two years to get comfortable eating this way; but I value the way I feel above than anything else.

But this is a lot more than a food blog. I am compelled to share my thoughts about body image, connectedness, psychology stuff, weight loss, habits, fitness, health, and mindful eating. The relationship with food tells all. Mostly, I want to help other people feel comfortable in their bodies and minds.

I am also a trained Wellness Coach (through Wellcoaches), and am certified in Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT). I am currently registered to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association and will be licensed by June 2016. My own eating struggles paired with my education and experiences provide me a with a unique perspective. This platform will be used to help others. If you are interested in working with me, please visit this page.

We all have a purpose. A significant thing we must accomplish during life. I believe eating well and taking care of ourselves is the foundation for uncovering what it is. I feel connected to that source every day; it gives me inspiration and allows me to express myself through writing, painting, drawing, and of course, cooking.

16 Comments

  • Reply Loretta and Santiago August 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    We love your kitchen. Mom and Dad – – from Berlin, Germany!

  • Reply Tere August 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It all looks exceptional!

  • Reply thegrizzlykitchen August 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you, Tere!!! I hope you follow along and that you’re doing great! :)

  • Reply Stephanie "Smalls" Gaines September 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    very very nice, I’m proud, isn’t taking that leap of faith the most amazing feeling?

  • Reply Larry d November 20, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Ashley,

    I love your kitchen. Don’t forget… If it’s goya, it has to be good!!

  • Reply Jill January 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    We will welcome your goodies any time, day, or place! Adrian mentioned you could teach us how to make baby food?! Can’t wait :)

  • Reply SANTIAGO PARDO February 9, 2012 at 1:27 am

    LOVE IT SWEETHART

    • Reply thegrizzlykitchen February 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      I love you, Daddy! You’ll always be my #1 recipe tester.

  • Reply luminousvegans March 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Can I ask what lens you use on your Canon T2I? Your photos are beautiful.

    • Reply thegrizzlykitchen March 2, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Wow, thank you so much! I’m still a beginner but I’m lucky that my best friend is a photo journalist. I use the basic lens, 18-55 mm. I am going to get a macro soon, though, since I tend to lean towards up-close, in-your-face images :)

  • Reply Rachel Dudkiewicz March 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Ashley,

    I had to find a recipe for a project in my computer skills class, and your website was the first to come to mind. As I went on it, I fell in love with everything. The pictures were as if it was right in front of my face. Love you and take care.

    • Reply thegrizzlykitchen March 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Rach! :D:D that means so much to me! I hope you visit often. Tell your friends about it! Love you too hun. Miss you, see you at the end of May xoxo

      • Reply Rachel Dudkiewicz March 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

        I did tell my friends that were sitting next to me and they were almost drooling from how good the food looks, especially the desserts. See you later. :*

  • Reply SANTIAGO PARDO July 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    HEY SWWETHEART HOW ARE THINGS IN TORINO
    LOVE DAD

  • Reply john diaz March 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Ashley.. your Grizzly Kichen and Life is amazing. Can’t wait to try more receipes. Keep the great recipe’s and photos coming!!! Jd