Welcome to Hokto’s new website! My name is Leslie Kay and I am a registered dietitian, author and frequent presenter on the various topics of food and nutrition. My specialty area is working with clients and patients that want a more natural approach to better health by increasing foods in the diet that contain unique properties that help to prevent or manage an illness or disease. For example, adding enough fish oil to the diet can help lower triglyceride levels; increasing fiber can help manage glucose levels, and adding the right combination of nuts and plant foods can help manage high blood pressure and heart disease.
My passion for food and nutrition began at an early age helping my European grandparents gather vegetables from their garden in Illinois. My paternal grandparents were restaurant owners and my maternal grandparents were farmers, so there was a lot of emphasis on food in my family. Meals were made from scratch, and nobody skipped a meal, ever!
Influenced at a young age to use herbs and natural medicines to heal, I decided to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition. I received my Master of Science Degree in Human Development and a Bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition from Southern Illinois University. Southern Illinois is WAY different from the Chicago metropolitan area where I grew up. It was here in the “deep South” that I had my first experience tasting grits, biscuits, okra and even pork rinds! As a cook in a pre-school, I learned the proper way to cook okra –with tomatoes to cut the sliminess—after a not-so-pleasant experience serving them to the children!
Following my conventional training and education in food and nutrition, I pursued my passion for herbal medicine and medicinal foods, attending botanical medicine conferences, working as a production manager for a nutraceutical manufacturer and visiting China to study the use of medicinal herbs and plants. If you’ve ever been to China, you soon learn that anything that grows (plants), moves (insects) or wiggles (gecko) has some medicinal value…
Currently, as an active member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), I provide technical support for numerous position papers, and serve as an Executive Board member of ADA’s dietetic practice group, Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine. I also have written articles for Today’s Dietitian magazine, as well as writing two course books for health and fitness professionals on the topics of herbal supplements and alternative nutrition therapies.
So why am I here? My interest in Hokto and their delicious mushrooms is two-fold. First, Hokto is a company that grows a sustainable product – very important in today’s global market. Secondly, mushrooms are emerging as a food that contains numerous compounds that may help to manage blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, improve immune function and maybe even lower risk for allergies! Plus they taste good, which is an important selling point in getting people to actually eat foods that are good for them!
In my next posting, I’ll talk about how to get started with Hokto’s Japanese mushrooms.