As a busy mom with an endless to do list, I was dependent on processed food.
By the time I reached 25, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and prediabetes. But one day, as I watched my 2-year-old daughter play, I knew if I continued down this path, she would follow in my footsteps. I needed to create a new family legacy - for myself and for her.
Growing up, I didn't know what "healthy" meant. I equated it with extremes, exercise gurus and trendy diets. Considering my family’s history of heart disease, I wasn’t sure where to start. We loved food and flavor, so food had to be tasty. All of the diets I had tried over the years were making me sicker. The food was terrible. I knew I had to go a different direction. I began studying cultures around the world where people were the healthiest and lived the longest. The common thread among them was they ate real food.
I began by clearing out my cupboards, by eating real food. I focused on a healthy lifestyle, not a number on the scale, and I "accidentally" lost over 100 pounds. I finally realized healthy could mean balanced, and I developed a passion for cooking and nutrition. I knew it was my mission to help others.
I'm now a mom to two children with a rare genetic health condition, and I am a living kidney donor. I am also a fierce believer that food is medicine. I wanted to make products in alignment with that and make it easier to live a healthier lifestyle.
My journey led me to becoming a personal chef to professional athletes (including several Super Bowl, NBA and WNBA champions), appearing on the Food Network, the cover of Woman’s Day and Woman's World magazines, radio shows, and more.
Being so busy, and working with so many people, I began to notice how inconvenient, not to mention expensive, it seemed to achieve balance between healthy eating and living the full, beautifully chaotic lives many of us live!
"I knew there was a way we could have it all: exciting global gourmet flavors, convenience, ingredients that boost flavor AND nutrition, versatility, and above all GREAT taste. I just had to go out and create it for us!" Chef Kirsten Helle Sandoval
Prior to studying cooking, and the vibrant cuisines around the world where many of my clients came from, I used to rely on salty, dried packet spice blends, or sugar, salt (and often chemical) laden sauces to achieve the global flavors I loved and admired.
I found that to achieve the flavors I wanted in a healthy, authentic way, I often had to prep tons of ingredients, and spend a small fortune on pure spices and herbs. I had been perfecting my Latin sofrito, not only to flavor my dishes, but also to sneak more nutrition into some of my picky players.
I found the natural balance provided by fresh vegetables and fruits, combined with pure spice blends really allowed the flavors to bloom. I had created something quite special and delicious.
My clients agreed. I tailored the spices and vegetables around their individual cultural backgrounds. Now, I bring them a taste of home and honor their culture, while continually meeting their healthy needs.
After a day of cooking for others, I longed for these healthy cooking sauces and flavor bases in my own cupboard. How amazing it would be to have something quick, healthy and flavorful on hand to make dinner for my own family! I knew I couldn’t be the only one with this need.
And thus, Mesa de Vida was born.
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