My name is Denise Houchin and I’m originally from the Mountains of Arizona, and after living in California, Northern Arizona, Southern Illinois, and Oklahoma, I currently call Sioux Falls, South Dakota home. I am a Lifestyle Nutrition Educator, Coach and Counselor. After many life changes, I found myself overweight, with multiple health issues. It was my pain that pushed me toward changing my lifestyle. After adopting a Whole Foods Plant Based Lifestyle in early 2010, I was able to lose 45 pounds, get off medication and reverse all of my health issues, such as High blood pressure, anxiety, digestive issues, prediabetes, insomnia, and regain the energy of a teenager!
Who inspired you with cooking?
My mom allowed me to help her in the kitchen at a young age. By nine, I was in 4-H, learning to cook, participating in cooking demonstrations and competitions. She inspired me to cook without recipes. My mom would add a little of this, and a little of that, taste it and add more of whatever she thought it might need. This has been my greatest asset as a chef! There is something to be said about being intuitive in the kitchen. I can follow a recipe, but I love creating my own recipes with ingredients I enjoy.
Why do you enjoy being involved with So Many Cooks?
The Food For Life Program is an excellent way to help many learn how easy it is to change their way of eating for ultimate health. I’ve enjoyed working closely with Food For Life Instructors from all over the world, and gleaning much from each cook’s expertise and professionalism, as we share the wealth of health with thousands of people.
What is your ultimate goal / dream for your cooking?
I’ve been teaching cooking classes for decades and began teaching plant-based cooking classes in 2010. My desire has always been to help people make better choices today, so tomorrow can be their best. I owned a Raw Food Restaurant for a couple of years, and sold grab and go food items in a couple of local grocery stores. I would tell people, they could come to the restaurant and eat healthy food, or go to the store and purchase my food, but if they opened their fridge at home and couldn’t make a healthy plant-based meal, then this wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle for them. My passion is to help people learn how to make a plant-based lifestyle a sustainable one, so they can obtain optimum health and vitality.
What does the plant-based community need more of?
The plant-based community needs easier access to great produce and healthy shelf stable plant-based foods, like lentil pasta, crackers, etc. Many small rural communities, or economically challenged communities do not have the same access to a variety of fresh produce and other healthy plant-based alternatives as do larger, more economically fluent communities. Plant based eating can be done anywhere, but I believe more would venture out to add more plants in, if it was easier to obtain what was needed.