Food photographer, stylist, recipe developer, content creator


 

Hi! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m José, a food photographer and stylist, recipe developer and the creator of the food blog – Swoon Food – a recipe site dedicated to inspiring healthy eating and living.

I’m a passionate foodie on a quest for ultimate health & longevity, and I love to help busy people nourish their bodies from the inside out.

Originally a medical research scientist, I followed my lifelong passion for all things sweet to become a pastry chef, and then a food stylist/photographer, recipe developer and healthy food blogger. I’m also the co-founder of Halo & Swoon – an organic, plant-based, allergy-friendly baking mix company which you can check out here.

Below is my story of how I came to eat a whole foods, plant based diet. I hope it is of help to anyone else who’s found themselves in a similar situation and is looking for answers.


My Swoon Food Philosophy:

I believe food is the ultimate key to health, and prevention is the best kind of medicine.

By nourishing your body with a plant-rich, nutrient dense, whole foods diet, you’re well on your way to a happy, healthy life!


 

I created my food blog, Swoon Food, when I started to eat dairy and gluten-free as a way of sharing my recipe creations. Swoon Food recipes are now predominantly whole food, plant-based, because that’s the way I eat now – and this is my story of how I ended up here.

As a 1 year old I was constantly sick, allergic and asthmatic. After extensive allergy testing they discovered I was allergic to everything – dust, grass, dogs, cats, horses… and dairy. Ironic when you live in NZ. So my parents were told to stop feeding me ice cream for dessert every night.

As a 5 year old I can remember coming home from school every day with a terrible headache, which often developed into a migraine. Despite some basic food intolerance tests, no one could figure out the cause. Because the headaches appeared to start in my neck, I was sent to numerous physio’s and later chiropractors, but nothing seemed to work.

The headaches continued into my 20’s, until I eventually saw a holistic naturopath. After documenting all the additional ailments I had, such as digestive issues and peeling nails, she told me I needed to stop eating dairy, gluten and sugar ASAP. I didn’t listen to her at first because I didn’t believe food was the cause (plus I loved sweets and chocolate way too much). But I did cut back on dairy and gluten and started to notice the headaches reducing. Around the same time I started work as a pastry chef, so eating completely dairy, gluten and sugar-free wasn’t a realistic option.

By the time I left my pastry chef work I was so allergic to wheat flour, I merely had to touch it and I would come out in hives. I also realised I was a serious sugar addict. This was one of the main driving forces behind my love for all things sweet, as well as my bold career change. I knew it wasn’t healthy or sustainable long term – at least not without some serious consequences of which I was beginning to get a taste.

I realised I had to get serious about my health, and made a huge effort to cut dairy, gluten, soy and sugar. I started to see positive changes pretty quickly, which inspired me to start this blog to share my new dairy and gluten-free recipe creations.

With the guidance of my naturopath I also put myself through a complete sugar detox. Almost immediately I saw changes. Brain fog, dizziness, tingling in my fingers, migraines and digestive issues all started to clear up, and the positive changes continued to multiply the longer I continued. I went 8 weeks completely sugar-free and during that time I ate no sugar, simple carbohydrates or alcohol, and felt so amazing I didn’t want to stop! The only reason I relaxed my sugar-free diet was because we went on our honeymoon and I couldn’t bear to miss out on all the delicious Vietnamese food.

Despite all these efforts though, my headaches didn’t completely disappear. So I started looking at other inflammatory foods that could be contributing. I wasn’t eating any red meat, so I gradually started reducing the remaining animal products (chicken, eggs and fish), as well as processed foods wherever possible.

Still looking for answers as to why I couldn’t tolerate all these foods while so many other people can, I had my genes profiled. I discovered I have a LOT of inflammatory genes and none of the anti-inflammatory genes. This means it doesn’t take much for my body to initiate an inflammatory response, and when it does it’s hard for it to turn it off. Suddenly it all made sense. The good news is you can change the expression of your genes by your behaviour (what you eat/drink, how you exercise etc) and your environment – thanks to the study of epigenetics.

I’ve been so inspired by how what we eat can impact our health in such a hugely positive way, I want to help share this message with as many people as I can. I’m continually researching this topic and the more I learn, the more I’m inspired.

 

When I’m not creating or photographing food, you can usually find me eating out, working out, or walking with my husband Nick and our extremely large Alaskan Malamute Chewbacca (left; Chewie sadly passed away in November 2020 at a grand old age of 11 1/2) and our highly spirited pup Sadie, an Airedale Terrier (right).

I love to travel (albeit only within New Zealand at the moment), and share many of my foodie adventures on Instagram where you’ll also see many of Sadie’s crazy antics.

 

instagram

@swoon.food

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
Swoon Food
Swoon Food - Sadie
Swoon Food - Sadie
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
Swoon Food - Sadie
Swoon Food
Swoon Food - Sadie

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