By Claire Harlin
At the age of 8, Anna Allen endured having her back and knees broken when a gate support beam fell on her head and spine, and doctors told her she would have to take medication the rest of her life and never be able to walk normally.
It was only a few years later, at age 11, when Allen endured a severe car accident, and in the years after that she experienced another car accident, a severe case of bronchitis, chronic migraines and walking pneumonia. She also developed fibromyalgia and anaphylaxis, a condition that almost killed her at age 23 when she consumed lobster that she didn’t know had been cooked in milk.
These incidents and health issues are diverse and span more than half of the 36-year-old’s life, but she said they all have one overarching thing in common — they were healed independently without medicine and with meditation, lifestyle changes and, more importantly, diet.
“I wanted to prove to everyone the doctors were wrong,” said Allen, remembering the attitude she had nearly 30 years ago toward her first tragic accident. Raised in a vegetarian family that encouraged meditation, she said she learned early on that the mind could not only help her escape pain, but it also had the power to heal her injuries when she was physically unable to walk.
“Through breathing exercises and meditation I could visualize the exercises I couldn’t do at the time, and I was reprogramming my brain to think my body is not broken, and changing the storyline of my brain made me able to recreate my cellular memory structure,” Allen said.
Allen has coached locals through the same practices, and her story of an outer body experience during the two minutes her heart stopped after that dairy scare more than 10 years ago is published in the best-selling book, “Defining Moments of Courage.” But most San Diegans have come to know Allen as a celebrity chef. Better known as Anna Naturalista, Allen has for more than two years been holding healthy dinner demonstrations at private parties and big fundraising events in Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla and other areas. She’s even led her clients on health food field trips through the aisles of Jimbo’s in the Del Mar Highlands.
The local resident is the star of Naturalista TV, an online channel set to launch next spring on Sony BlueRay TV and on her website, www.AnnaNaturalista.com. She was led to that role after winning the title of “top chef” in May at the statewide Orange County Tastefest Celebrity Chef Challenge, a competition to create the best tasting healthy cuisine that’s replicable at home. Not only did she get the top honor, but she raked in first place awards in almost every other category — best appetizer salad, best entree and best dessert. Unlike the other competing chefs who wore white chef coats, Allen and her team of “chefettes” wore lacy, handmade aprons, putting a smile on the face of the judges panel, which included two chefs from Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, as well as Chef Josie Smith-Malave from Bravo’s “Top Chef.”
Allen mainly spends her time, however, assisting her clients through private lifestyle and diet coaching, as well as holding private dinners. She’s taken on clients with various debilitating conditions and adapted diet and exercise plans for them to turn their health around. She also gives classes and is working on two books, a cookbook and a wellness guide that touches on topics such as personal care, keeping a healthy home, pet health, food, gardening and sustainability.
Allen wears many hats, but there’s a central source of inspiration in everything she does — healing.
“I became my own living example,” said Allen. “My career naturally happened by way of people watching me and saying, “Oh my God, what did you do? You don’t have your cane or your neck brace anymore.”
And she said her mission to heal means shifting consciousness from conventional, processed decision making to healthier, more sustainable living.
“I’m not trying to convert anyone to raw or vegan or anything like that,” she said. “I’m trying to get people to understand that healthy nutrition is absolutely delicious and that you can enjoy health with ease and grace.”
To see Anna Naturalista in action, visit her next event, on Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. at La Jolla’s Harvard Cookie Girl (7441 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, 92037; www.harvardcookingirl.com) or for more information, visit www.AnnaNaturalista.com.