The Brazilian Naturalist represents my journey from a suburb of Rio de Janeiro to the United States and from eating anything to truly understanding the meaning of healthy food.  Growing up in Brazil, fruit, vegetables, rice and beans were the staples of life, most likely because they were plentiful and inexpensive.  In my twenties after I met my American husband, I always wanted to try the “exotic foods”, to me that ranged from fine French cuisine to that American favorite, bacon cheeseburgers.  Over the years I was lucky enough to experience many fine meals from Michelin star restaurants in cities like Paris, New York and Los Angeles to good ole mesquite grilled barbeque in Llano, Texas. And now I realize that the truly exotic foods are the ones I started with in Brazil. Taking all the beautiful fruits and vegetables in the world and blending them with vibrant dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach and fresh fragrant herbs such as cilantro and parsley, you can truly create an exotic, flavorful and healthy diet.  I started coming up with smoothies and vegetarian dishes that not only appealed to my taste buds but also were beautiful to look at. Take for instance, the intense almost neon color from the green smoothies or a basil leaf pesto when tossed together with gluten free pasta and halved grape tomatoes. The vibrancy of the dark green contrasting with the deep red from perfectly ripened tomatoes to me, is poetry in a dish. But wait until you bring that first bite to your mouth and squeak in delight and almost in disbelief that something that tastes so delicious is actually good for you and will nurture your body with nutrient rich ingredients.