If you haven’t heard yet, on Wednesday, January 23 from 7:00-8:15 pm I will be at GreenStar Cooperative Market co-presenting a crash course on cleaning up your diet, finding clean ingredients and stirring it all together with delicious samples of dishes you can make at home! Check out the event details for “Clean up your Diet in the New Year, Starting Now! and register today!

In the spirit of Clean Food, I wanted to share Dominick Hiddo’s story (founder of project: Clean Food), which is one that resonates with my own journey through food and so many other friends out there. This is a story of living with a full heart, the travel bug and aspiring to find balance through food and yoga. 

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Favorite food: Raspberries, turkish figs, avocado, and a banana. Love it. I’m such a dork!

Favorite restaurant in NYC: I have so many! It would either be Chennai GardenCaravan of Dreams orMimi’s Hummus.

Hey there! I’m Dominick Hiddo. I live in the amazingly vibrant New York City! I managed to weave my way through the worlds of retail, fashion and commercial modeling, real estate, finance, nightlife, and landed smack dab on a yoga mat practicing and teaching vinyasa yoga. In addition to teaching, I’m also an artist, and the founder of project: CLEAN FOODwhich is an online resource dedicated to promoting the benefits of eating and living that pure and healthy lifestyle we strive for!

“I would like to say that I have always been a healthy, clean food-eating New Yorker, but that would be a bunch of hogwash.”

I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Brooklyn. I grew up in the Flatbush section, a neighborhood widely known for its eclectic mix of cultures. I was immediately exposed to all sorts of foods, diets and belief systems. But to be honest, even though my environment ranged from Caribbean flavors to Middle eastern delicacies (and everything in between), I had no desire to eat anything other than Cocoa Pebbles, boxes of Hostess doughnuts (yes boxes), brownies, cookies and cheesecake. Thanks to a good chuck of my Jamaican family, I naturally gravitated toward heavily curried and spicy foods. It seemed completely fine for a kid that just wanted to read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, draw and sketch cartoons, write poetry, and play with toys and video games all day.

Although my family never cared much about healthy eating, I’ve come to realize that my great-grandfather had a very big impact on my lifestyle. He was of Scottish and Indian parentage; born in Jamaica, and well traveled by the time he became a veteran of the British Royal Army in WW II. He ate in small portions, rarely going back for seconds, and was always a light drinker. He claims to have only been drunk twice in his life. I can safely assume his eating and drinking habits could be why he is now over 100 years of age and still active in his house and garden work. I revere and adore him.

When I took to traveling myself, not only did I come to understand my great-grandfather more, but also discovered the cultures and foods of Brooklyn in a new light: from sipping Nescafé on the boat docks in Greece, to eating in beautiful brasseries along the river Seine in France, to drinking tea and eating shortbreads in London tea shops: all before the age of 18. Most importantly, I had to travel far from my own city to learn the basic concept of simplicity. Very little is needed to enjoy life!

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As a teenager my friends introduced me to vegetarianism, and traditional and indigenous healers in my family exposed me to new medicinal practices. But I saw no benefit or gain to “healthy and unhealthy eating.” I was more concerned with being a teenager: eating crap, chasing girls, and cultivating my various artistic endeavors. As I got older, like many of us, I started to experience and battle the stresses of the world. My diet became rather disorderly and quite sloppy. I ate more and more fatty and oily foods. The poorer my diet became, the worse I felt. As things spun out of control in my early twenties, I started to remember my vegetarian friends.

I began practicing yoga on the recommendation of a family member. I started experimenting with vegan and raw food diets. I was trying to find the right balance of eating that made me feel good but wasn’t as strict as a vegan or vegetarian diet. I found it. project: CLEAN FOOD has blossomed into an online resource with tips on how to cultivate a pure and healthy lifestyle of eating and living. It was born because I felt that the information I was finding on the internet was either too complicated or too watered down. The project: CLEAN FOOD diet is mostly vegetarian, with a bit of room for indulgences like sweets, meats and other cravings.

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“It’s not just a diet and lifestyle for me; its a diet for everyone, everywhere.”

My life came full circle. I embraced simplicity when I was a boy, then rejected the simple beauties of life when I was a young adult, yet only to embrace and revere them again as I got older. I have to give lots of love and respects to the friends, family, teachers, and mentors along the way that have helped me to find my own way towards this pure lifestyle of eating and living. I’m not sure project: CLEAN FOOD would have been born without all those unique life experience, each one preparing me for the next!

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