Julie Anne Schwarz

My relationship with cooking and baking dates back to my childhood. When it came to the meals on the family dinner table, my mother was far ahead of her time. While she taught cooking classes with the first food editor of Bon Appetit and prepared elaborate dinner parties, I was always nearby playing with pastry dough. Her interest in all things food, from trussing poultry to turning vegetables, led me to a career in the culinary arts. By 21, I had cooked in the home of a famed New York restaurateur, and by 26 I landed in the life of restaurant kitchens.

I cooked through my culinary boot camp working for Cindy Palwcyn at Mustard’s Grill in Yountville, California. At Mustard’s, I cultivated the baking skills that led me to lead pastry kitchens for Joachim Splichal at several of his Patina and Pinot restaurants and for Pino Luongo at Coco Pazzo.

The lifestyle of a professional chef leaves room for little else and only the immortal survive.


I retired to take on the new challenge of cooking for my husband and two discerning young children. From the day I first picked up raw dough, I have never stopped thinking about what that next meal will be.

With The Conscious Kitchen, I aim to help you cook healthy and delicious meals with an understanding of their nutritional benefits. I will be focusing primarily on the preparation of plant-based and unprocessed foods as they are best for us. My goal is to help you make thoughtful and responsible choices for you and the environment, provide you with current information about nutrition, and share recipes that I have tested on my own family of critics.

À votre santé

My personal journey with disease management, the benefits of a plant-based diet, and my path to wellness.

He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.
Chinese Proverb

It all started around March of 2011. I thought I was suffering from seasonal allergies. Some days were better than others, but days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. I felt achy, tired, out of shape, and so puffy that I could not wear my watch or wedding ring. By the end of June, I was starting to feel defeated by the incessant lack of well-being.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over 7 years ago, a condition which I have kept under control mostly due to diet, supplements, and exercise, and decided that a visit to my rheumatologist might be in order since I was in a great deal of pain. The aches were not new. After all, I was used to living with a condition that made my muscles ache like I had the flu. But I was experiencing pain in my joints as well. My doctor explained to me that the joint pain was not connected to the Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia affects muscles. Arthritis affects joints.

I got a call from my doctor as we were entering into the 4th of July weekend informing me that my blood work indicated a 96% chance of having Rheumatoid Arthritis and a prescription for a heavy medication to be delivered in the form of a weekly shot. Even though the diagnosis was confirmed by a second reputable opinion, I did not want to accept it. I decided that I had to do something to change the way I felt in conjunction with the medication. My general physician is a specialist in integrative medicine and has encouraged me to stay away from sugar, dairy and eggs for years. Aside from having a conclusive diagnosis at that time, it was clear that there was a great deal of swelling in my hands and knees. He had suggested an anti inflammatory diet without gluten, and to consider a vegetarian or, better yet, a vegan diet since I already try to stay away from dairy and eggs.

Within a few days, I began a new adventure with food when I embarked on a 30 day all organic vegan cleanse. I jumped in headfirst and gave up caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, alcohol, and all forms of animal proteins. I had made a sacred commitment to myself to stay the course without fault. I succeeded. I felt like a different person, and continued on this remarkable journey with great passion and no end in sight.

After two years of being a dedicated vegan, I started to include poultry, fish, and even a bit of eggs and dairy into my diet. I have learned to embrace healthy moderation and flexiblity with my food choices and have learned that the occasional enjoyment of small quantities of my favorite cheese or a fabulous homemade dessert is not a criminal offense. The reintroduction of such foods has not interfered with my health or well being. In fact, I am happier for making the choice to bring them back into my diet in the way that I have.

I am a baker at heart and feel so happy to be in my kitchen making some of my old favorites once again. Our family continues to enjoy vegetarian meals at least three days a week, and with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruits, we also sit down to meals that include fish, poultry, and even a few treats. I hope that these recipes of health and comfort that I share with you through The Conscious Kitchen will bring vitality and joy to your family table.