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Fit For You: Vigoa Cuisine

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Aug. 08, 2018.

Food is one of the main pillars of health. But the kinds of foods we eat can counteract the positive effects of other healthy habits, like getting sufficient exercise and sleep. And there is a lot of conflicting information about what is good for you and how you should determine the best diet for your circumstances.

For more than 20 years, Kristi Linebaugh and Miriam Vigoa were co-owners of a health restaurant in Winter Haven, Florida. Vigoa’s seasoned olive oil family recipe quickly became a staple of their dishes.

Credit Vigoa Cuisine

Instead of using the many ingredients that could adversely affect her customers with diabetes or high blood pressure, Vigoa began using her seasoned olive oil.

"I've always been a health advocate and I've always enjoyed clean eating, so I created something that would substitute the sodiums and the artificial ingredients and GMOs," Vigoa explains. "It's very simple, very clean, and it gives you the flavor besides the benefits."

The restaurant closed due to a flood, but the women now travel the country helping others eat well and feel better through Vigoa Cuisine. "We started something that had no idea what path it would take us, but here we are," she says.

Linebaugh notes that many people have no idea what they're putting in their bodies when eating out, often overloading them with salt and harmful chemicals. "You don't realize because you would never use that much sodium at home, so there's no way people can even comprehend how much chemicals and sugar and salt are in the food," she says.

They key to fixing many ailments that Americans face, such as high blood pressure, extreme inflammation, and even the misdiagnoses of gastroenterology issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is to change our attitude toward food.

"[People] are so enthralled in the now, that they're not really paying attention on the health benefits that they could achieve if they would change their diet," notes Vigoa.

While grocery shopping, Vigoa and Linebaugh recommend buying as much whole food as possible and paying close attention to ingredient lists, not pricing first.

Credit Audrey Nowakowski
Miriam Vigoa (left) and Kristi Linebaugh want to help people learn to eat healthier by using simple recipes.

"We been kind of trained to look at the prices because everybody wants to save money, but we're not thinking why there is such a big difference. Not thinking because it's not actually even food," notes Linebaugh.

She admits it's difficult to change lifelong habits, as she notes her own weight loss journey while running the restaurant.

"Shockingly simple recipes is really how we started doing it at the restaurant because it took the fear out of it," she says. "I think that's a huge thing, because you start talking about changing the way somebody eats, the way that somebody's done something their entire life, their fear comes in of 'I don't know how to do it' or 'I don't have time to do it.'"

Linebaugh and Vigoa argue that small choices really can make all the difference in a person's life. Changing the American attention span toward food and encouraging cooking at home might take a little while, but they believe serving people across the country in their new capacity as traveling chefs can help encourage happier, healthier lifestyles.

Vigoa adds, "I want to serve [everyone] some of the knowledge that we have, that we have learned, and that we know works."

Credit Audrey Nowakowski
Canary Island Bruschetta, which you can learn to make below.

Canary Island Bruschetta Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons Canary Island garlic herb olive oil (original)
  • 2 tablespoons Canary Island garlic herb olive oil (hot)
  • 1 medium vidalia onion
  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium squash
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 4 mini sweet peppers
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Honey (optional)
  1.  Drizzle the original Canary Island garlic olive oil in an electric skillet or pan on medium heat and add chopped fresh garlic.
  2. Add chopped onions, yellow squash, zucchini, and mini sweet peppers followed by the portabello mushroom and tomatoes. Drizzle the 2 tablespoons of hot Canary Island garlic olive oil over all veggies and let cook 3 minutes.
  3.  Add 1/2 ounce of Braggs Liquid Aminos diluted with 1 1/2 ounces of water. Add the capers and raisins (a drizzle of honey, optional), turn the heat slightly. Let cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve on a sliced baguette. For a wheat and gluten free option, serve over brown rice.

Kristi Linebaugh and Miriam Vigoa are the founders of Vigoa Cuisine and Olive Oils and co-authors of There's No Food In Your Food. You can find them in the Expo Center in Booth 1647 at the Wisconsin State Fair through Aug. 11. They will also be at the Jaycees Venetian Festival in Lake Geneva and the Cranberry Festival in Warrens Wisconsin later this summer.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.