By Elizabeth Liberatore
Photos by Mark Morgan
Simple and sophisticated sustenance is the pulse of Conscious Dining – a company that provides organic boutique food services and educational support in Phoenix. The mastermind behind it is Holly McKibben, a holistic chef and nutrition and lifestyle coach. Since Conscious Dining’s 2016 inception, McKibben has been supporting Phoenicians to make healthy and lasting changes that enrich the mind, body, and soul.
McKibben has an innate ability to live healthfully. As the daughter of avid gardeners and health nuts, farm-to-table ingredients filled her childhood pantry. She even recalls common afternoon snacks consisting of freshly picked veggies from her parents’ farm in New Hampshire.
“My dad was an intuitive cook and helped me understand flavors, which expanded my palette from a young age,” McKibben explains.
Her family relocated to the West Coast while McKibben was in high school. She went on to attend Arizona State University and began working in the corporate world shortly after graduating. In 2014, McKibben was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that forced her to revaluate her life and put her health passions at the forefront.
“I decided to fearlessly go after my dreams! I wanted to make my journey my passion,” she says.
She quit her corporate job, initially beginning her journey as a holistic wellness coach. McKibben offered others the tools they needed to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“I created my own programming and over time learned that food was the key to achieving or not achieving health goals,” she explains. “[I realized that] many people do not have time to prepare their meals and stay disciplined. I held a focus group dinner at my house with my closest friends who helped me create the idea, concept and overall platform, which ultimately became Conscious Dining (www.consciousdining.com).”
Conscious Dining’s philosophy is rooted in eating real, whole foods, while keeping health and well-being simple. McKibben and her team are committed to preparing and teaching the company’s mission – food can heal, and health can be simple – through various food services and nutrition and lifestyle consultations. McKibben’s clients range from Arizona’s professional athletes to local families.
“How you eat is one of the biggest contributors to how you feel. Real ingredients have the power to prevent and reverse diseases, build immunity, balance hormones and emotions, and make you look and feel youthful. Understanding the gift of food is what we are passionate to share with our community and families we work with personally,” she says.
Conscious Dining offers a variety of food services, including private meal prep. This encompasses weekly meal planning, personal grocery shopping, fridge organization and cleaning, and in-home meal preparation. According to the meal prep guru herself, good quality oils, sea salts, seeds and nuts, dark leafy greens and vegetables, quality proteins and fermented foods are must-have items that ought to be on everyone’s grocery list.
“These [items] are the basics that make a balanced meal and everything is so versatile,” she explains.
What exactly does a well-balanced meal look like? McKibben and her team educate clients on three focuses for every meal: protein, healthy fats and vegetables or fiber. If your plate hits these three points, then you get the McKibben stamp of approval.
“Everyone’s body responds differently, that’s why I believe in self-experimentation and connecting how food makes you feel.” McKibben adds, “The cleaner your body is, the easier it is to listen closely.”
In addition to private meal prep, Conscious Dining also offers intimate catering and decor services for private events – from dinner parties to family and corporate wellness classes.
Whether she is meal prepping, grocery shopping, or catering beautiful events, McKibben is committed to locally sourced items. She admits that she knows the Whole Foods team as if they were a part of her family.
“We purchase at our local farmers markets when in season, including Uptown and Old Town Farmers Markets, and support a variety of local farmers based on produce quality,” she says.
Phoenix is a foodie city, but is it possible for healthy eaters to dine out? According to McKibben, absolutely. She recommends her neighborhood favorites, including True Food Kitchen, Flower Child, LGO and Chelsea’s Kitchen.
“When I go out I’m aware of bad oils, white sugar and gluten, and when in doubt, a great rule of thumb is simply stick with protein and veggies,” she advises.
Conscious Dining is precisely that – eating thoughtfully. Every dish prepared or consultation conducted is rooted in love, well-being and mindfulness. McKibben creates magic for her clients’ health one conscious recipe at a time.
“It lights me up seeing my clients vibrant and happy. I never thought I would feel so fulfilled, and I know I’m making a positive impact in others’ lives. I am a big believer in energy and always do my best to give full presence into my work and connections,” she explains.