The idea of making and selling high quality salsas, sauces and preserves first came about in response to the needs of my family. I had always cooked for my two daughters. After they left for college, I wanted to continue to be doing what I liked the most, teaching and cooking. As a teacher and self-taught chef who also mentored Le Cordon Bleu chefs in training and a lifelong lived experience in culinary creativity and nutrition, marketing my foods and training people to cook with them in a healthy way seemed like a good way to begin.
The Antelope Valley consisting of twenty-six (26) cities was/is an area ripe for natural health, given all the local farms and the need for healthy options. There was/is a demand for quality, gluten-free and dairy-free dishes, natural sugar and vegan alternatives, although I do cook with fish, poultry and meats. I wanted to embrace dietary conditions. The challenge was to satisfy a wide range of demands with wholesome food, cooked with integrity, quick and easy. As time progressed, I developed recipes with no sacrifice in taste or texture. This step further influenced the format of NOW, CHEW ON THIS! as I have been able to include vegan and gluten-free options, giving a wide range of flexibility for cooks to be creative and serve their friends and family healthy flavorful dishes.
Also important was the responsible use of consumer power in making food purchases, an ethical benefit we pass on to our customers. We choose locally sourced fresh seasonal ingredients when possible from local suppliers. An important benefit of nutrient-dense ingredients is you eat less therefore, it is more cost effective.
On any given Thursday, Friday or Saturday, I can be found at Farmers Markets or grocery stores around Southern California promoting health and nutrition, and selling my products. It brings the greatest joy to have customers return to say how their health has improved and how they love the unique, tasty flavors of my foods.
This book could not have been written without the tireless painstaking efforts of my partner and friend, Marion Young. We met at a business seminar to learn how to grow our businesses. Much to my delight, Marion’s area of expertise is in teaching and writing, with an informal knowledge of nutrition. She is also a 20-year US Naval Reserve veteran. Having a health scare 10 years ago, she learned the causes of most illness and disease is due to diet. She has fully recovered from her conditions of arthritis, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma and recurring bacterial infections through the use of organic foods, gluten-free, natural alternatives to sugar, and especially herbs. A good percentage of this book was written and edited while Marion was recovering in bed. Yes, she was totally committed to making sure the book was finished and released that she did her part in bed. I am so grateful to have her as a committed partner.
Family, friends and customers are always asking: when are you writing that recipe book? I can finally say, here it is! The recipes in this book and the principles applied to cooking can and will improve your vitality and quality of life, if applied on a regular basis.
— Charmène M. Vega
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