Chef embraces childhood passions for nourishing lifestyle

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KABC) -- Growing up in an often chaotic environment, Denise Portillo always found comfort outside in her backyard garden.

Whether it was gardening or simply the flowers, Portillo always felt connected to things of the earth, especially home-grown food.

It was during young adulthood when Portillo began taking a slew of medications to cope with anxiety attacks to needing even more prescribed medicine to address side-effects caused by the anxiety medications.

"I had a chaotic childhood, then in my twenties I went from bad to worse... I felt dead inside," Portillo said.

Spiraling out of control emotionally, Portillo says she woke up one day and made some big changes, fast.

First, she got off all the medications. Next, she returned to her childhood passions -- gardening and flowers.

Portillo was able to turn her life around, and now she's helping others make small changes with big results.

She's a health-conscious chef who loves teaching others to make better food choices and how to embrace plant-based diet through nutritious foods.

We went shopping with Portillo at the Farmer's Market held at Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park. Along the way, the chef gave us easy, quick tips on how to eat better and cook meals that are both good-for-you and delicious.

"Roasting your produce is a big one when it comes to eating healthy," Portillo said.

Using only vegetables and fruits bought at Farmer's Market, Portillo made a yummy plant-based taco, a "Peas in a Flower" soup and a smoothie topped with some green apple.

She feels that if people eat better, then they feel better and will treat people better.

www.chefdeniseportillo.com
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