Meet our Instructors
Thrive’s Instructors are people who have aligned intentions inside of our mission statement, and are willing to take on being responsible and accountable for the fulfillment of Thrive’s mission. Instructors are people who have an extraordinary commitment to making a difference in the health, fulfillment, and satisfaction of our customers and the community we serve.
Betty Peralta, MIT
BETTY is a former international school teacher, a current graduate student at UMass Boston’s MS in Mental Health Counseling Online program, and a student facilitator in Byron Katie’s Institute for The Work. Betty began eating raw 9 years ago, both as a way to eat more mindfully and less compulsively, and to prevent a reoccurrence of the ovarian cancer she had been diagnosed with two years before. She has lived this lifestyle throughout the world, while living in the Dominican Republic, Kuwait and Tanzania. She specializes in helping people discover fun and delicious ways to prepare whatever happens to be available wherever you are.
Jesse Spivack, Culinary Instructor
JESSE graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Psychology and an emphasis in the sciences. She was raised in the country with a large, bountiful garden! Therefore, her whole life she was lucky enough to eat the best, local food, straight from the garden. At age 16, her interest in diet, nutrition and fitness began to grow. Some of her favorite summer days consisted of eating solely out of the garden, picking and eating the food before she could take it to the kitchen. Now in Seattle and away from her rural upbringing, Jesse tries to find new ways to stay connected to the outdoors and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Jesse loves creating healthful meals from whole foods, writing recipes, foraging, and spending time in nature.
Renee Blair, Culinary Instructor
RENEE is a registered nurse and self-taught natural foods cook from New York who brings her love of food and nutrition to the kitchen. She believes that food is our best form of medicine. She is the writer, food photographer, and recipe developer for her vegetarian food blog, Nourish Your Roots. She also teaches private vegetarian and vegan cooking classes. In her spare time, she loves to cook, hike, garden, go berry- picking, and smell flowers.
Jamie Wagener, Culinary Instructional Assistant
JAMIE has an immense passion for natural foods and holistic health, is a certified health coach, a certified raw foods chef and was most recently a doctor of naturopathic medicine candidate at Bastyr University. She has an inquisitive heart, finds people and places truly fascinating and gets especially jazzed up over eclectic little shops, local markets and the creating, tasting and sharing of deliciously wholesome of-the-earth food. Jamie believes health is not just about the body, but in fact achieving true optimal health requires the balancing of the mind, body and spirit. Jamie’s mission in life is to inspire others to live their happiest, healthiest life by sharing her joy and positivity with the world – we all have the right and ability to live the life we’ve so imagined!
HANDS-ON INTRODUCTION TO RAW FOODS, BEGINNING
Renee Blair, Culinary Instructor (See Culinary Program)
Jamie Wagener, Culinary Instructional Assistant (See Culinary Program)
Raw Foods 101 – Audrey Benton
“Native” to the Pacific Northwest, AUDREY grew up in the grocery industry working in Olson’s Food Stores for her step-father Morrie Olson, beginning at age fourteen. She worked her way through college and graduated from the UW in English with a writing emphasis in 1995. In 2002, she completed her Project Management Certificate, also through the UW. It was during the completion of her project management certificate thatAudrey felt drawn to train to teach Bikram Method Hatha Yoga. From 2002 until 2012, she’s simultaneously taught yoga and meditation, while being an Agent at The Pike Place Farmers Market. Audrey’s been vegan or vegetarian most of her adult life and raw since February of 2012. She believes that Bikram Yoga, raw foods, and intensive personal coaching combined is where it’s at! She believes that everything and everyone is connected. It was the opportunity to contribute health-based projects that inspired Audrey to apply for a position at Thrive. Instructing raw food classes is a natural fit for Audrey.
Dehydrated Foods – Jesse Spivack (See Culinary Program)
Make the Most of your Vitamix – Mia Dalene, MA
MIA is an internationally known Raw Food Chef, instructor, and inspirational speaker. She is a Raw Food pioneering Leader who is always on the cutting edge.
Mia came to raw food in 2006, as an experiment to see if she could get any of her brain back after a traumatic brain injury reduced her life to constant pain, neurological overwhelm and a debilitating existence. Within a few days on raw food, the depression was replaced with Joy (the depression she was told would be with her the rest of her life), at about month 5, she gained access to “big words [she] learned in college, some problem solving skills and an abundance of creativity. It was at that point she was able to look at a cooked recipe and immediately convert it to a raw vegan version. Within the year on raw food, she had removed 64 pounds of toxicity… a pleasant side benefit of clean eating.
The spirit of her beloved restaurant lives on in a series of recipe ebooks, a DVD – dalene’s Smart Raw Food Method (available also on Amazon), and a series of food preparation classes including, her own Certified Raw Food Chef Program. She has inspired many into a life of Smart & Tasty through her compassionate, creative, and fun teaching style. She has taught at Bastyr University, and several locations along the west coast and online.
You can follow Mia at www.SmartRawFood.com, and www.StrawberryHillNutritionFarm.com
Always on the cutting edge, Mia currently lives near Spokane, WA were she is Farm Manager at Strawberry Hill Nutrition Farm on Greenbluff in Mead, growing awareness of healthy eating along with enzyme rich, nutrient dense produce. Please stop by in person or online and visit.
Basic Desserts – Jesse Spivack (See Culinary Program)
Getting Into a Raw Routine – Irina Sabini
Chef IRINA is a graduate of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, where she received her certification as a Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor. She has appeared on stage as a chef-on-staff and Manager of Volunteers Program for the past six years at David Wolfe’s Prime Event – The Longevity Now Conference demonstrating some of the best ever raw recipes for vitality and energy. In addition, Irina is finishing a program at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a Holistic Health Counselor. She is currently accepting new clients.
Chef Irina’s resources and tools can help you prepare and eat delicious REAL foods – fresh, organic, vegetarian, and maximally raw – the food your body was designed to assimilate. She believes we can all achieve radiant health, ageless longevity, a sharper mind and boundless energy with plenty of fresh air, regular exercise, deep forests, green plants, eating the full spectrum of colors in real food, and the knowledge that in the loving light of the Sun all good things are meant to thrive. She is passionate about sharing the living foods lifestyle with others and now teaches raw culinary arts classes in Greater Seattle area. She is very excited about sharing her knowledge with you!
Free Water Clinic – Carlos Gonzales
Carlos is an educator for the medical manufacturer, Enagic. This company produces Kangen water machines, the technology that is responsible for delivering this revolutionary new water to the U.S. Carlos’ mission in life is to share this heath tool with the masses. He has 12 years of exercise science and nutritional training experience, and in his opinion, Kangen water is the single greatest health tool discovered. Carlos feels passionate that everyone should drink Kangen water, and backs up his belief with a powerful, visual presentation that you a must see to believe. If you are committed to providing your body with the healthiest nutrition, consider this class as a way to optimize everything you are currently doing, and take your wellness program to the next generation and level.
Cuisine of the Month
AMERICANA :: Raw 4th of July Celebration – Rita Chavez
Rita began exploring diet in high school, starting with becoming vegetarian. She moved to a strict vegan diet when she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart where the possibility of a heart transplant loomed in her future. When she was not seeing much of a change with all that western medicine had to offer, she began to research and experiment with her diet. Her energy level changed, her vital signs all began to improve significantly, she started going off of an array of medications, and today there is no longer a likelihood of a heart transplant. And the best part of all is she has found foods that she craves and that are really helping her body stay healthy and happy. She adds, “I feel like I am doing my part for the earth as well as for myself. Eating has never been more satisfying.”
Professionally, Rita has used her B.A. in art to teach painting classes, her paralegal training to teach continuing legal education classes for Washington State, and her love of cooking to teach vegan cooking classes for the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Program.