Naturopath, nutritionist and owner of Ascension Kitchen, Lauren Glucina chats with FQ on how she ditched the stresses of a 9 to 5 and followed her passion.
Career path to date
I worked for just over 10 years in the advertising industry, in the creative department. It was a high-stress environment which appears to have been a trigger for an auto-immune condition coupled with severe adrenal fatigue. After a little soul searching, I decided that I needed to change direction in order to truly heal. I left for Bali and re-trained in raw foods, then began studying natural and nutritional medicine as it had always been an area of great interest.
On launching Ascension Kitchen
Amidst all of the study, I started my website, Ascension Kitchen. It was a place to share my wellness journey and all the wonderful new healthy recipes I was experimenting with. This evolved into hosting raw food ‘cooking’ workshops in Sydney where I was living at the time, followed by two recipe apps. I received such great feedback on the desserts I was sharing that I decided to explore commercialising them. Almost three years and 200 recipe iterations later, LIVELY™ Desserts was finally born – a range of raw, vegan desserts that are made without common allergens. They are stocked in select New World supermarkets (in the freezers) and various speciality stores nationwide. Today I split my time between running my food business with my partner and working as a naturopath and nutritionist – both of which I love!
What do you love most about your job?
I love inspiring people to make healthier choices via my website and recipes, talks and cooking demonstrations. I get to bring plant-based to the masses with my delicious vegan desserts, and I get to support people back to health in clinical practice.
What is your biggest accomplishment at work or a moment you’re most proud of?
Graduating from my degree as a mature student was pretty special, it is no easy feat and came with so much sacrifice. That, and seeing my product in the freezer of the supermarket for the first time – that was a moment I will never forget – all that hard work finally come to fruition.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your career or industry?
Breaking into the food industry with no prior experience and launching an innovative product to market has put so many challenges in front of my partner and I – from sourcing quality ingredients to up-scaling the recipe to securing a suitable production facility. With a little bit of creative thinking and a side of hustle, we’ve been able to figure it all out.
With a little bit of creative thinking and a side of hustle, we’ve been able to figure it all out.
The biggest challenge has been having the inner strength and courage to stay on course and pursue that dream even when other people say no, close a door, or try and put you down. If you can do this – then there really is no stopping you!
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
I’m going to say good old fashioned hard work. There have been no shortcuts in any part of this process, just pure roll-your-sleeves-up and get-stuck-in hard work.
On family life
I have a wonderful partner but we haven’t quite set a date for our wedding yet, much to my Nana’s dismay! She has already bought two different frocks and a pair of shiny red shoes for the occasion, and has gifted me a frilly garter! I’m also Aunty to three beautiful kids.
What is your life motto?
If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
How do you relax away from work?
I love a good bush walk, some gardening, reading tarot cards.
Which blogs / magazines / websites do you check religiously?
I’m more of a podcast girl, I spend enough time online. Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown are favourites. I also have a few good herbal and functional medicine podcasts I tune into for work.
Who do you turn to when the going gets tough?
I go and visit my Nana. She’s been through much adversity in her lifetime, yet she never complains, and is the happiest and most positive person you will ever meet. She always reminds me to be grateful for everything I have, and to look on the bright side and keep moving forward no matter what.
What’s the one beauty product that keeps you looking fresh?
Sleep (sorry, that’s a naturopath’s answer!)
What are your favorite traits in people you work with?
I love working with people who look at things differently, say yes, and give things a go. Even if it doesn’t work out – there’s always a learning.
Do you have any advice for someone who is new to a plant-based diet?
Start with the basics – add a wide variety of fresh and lightly cooked vegetables to your diet. Aim for eight servings if you can, and two of fruit. I know it sounds a lot, but the latest studies are suggesting that this is optimal for preventing disease and reducing all-cause mortality. This is why I love green smoothies – it’s an easy way to sneak an extra cup or two in there! If you do this, you’ll naturally start to crowd out the things that aren’t serving your health.
Start with the basics – add a wide variety of fresh and lightly cooked vegetables to your diet.
What are your favourite recipes at the moment and why?
Now we’re heading into summer I’m liking lighter meals and salads. I love Ceres Organics quinoa and it’s a staple for many of my dishes, it’s so versatile and a great source of plant-protein, but most importantly, I trust the brand. I love that Ceres are locally owned, ethical and certified organic so I tend to use their product a lot in my cooking. A favourite for me would be fluffy quinoa with lightly steamed asparagus, sliced radish, fennel and fresh herbs, pulled together with a tangy dressing and a sprinkling of toasted nuts and seeds. It’s also lovely as light breakfast porridge. I also have a soft spot for homemade tacos, and have a fail-proof recipe for a creamy raw cashew aioli on the blog, which pairs beautifully with nori-guacamole (good old smashed avo with torn toasted nori strips throughout – also Ceres actually, so delicious!). And for dessert, a slice of LVIELY™ Desserts Dark Mint, of course!
You have already achieved so much, but what’s next for you?
I would love to get LIVELY™ Desserts off to Australia, and longer term, introduce some entirely new products.