Super-Hero Spotlight: Val Hughes VanRheen

valWhen I first met Val, it was impossible not to notice her contagious smile and carefree attitude, she is pure sunshine!

It wasn’t until after we got deeper into our friendship that I learned that Val hasn’t always had the luxury of being so buoyant. In fact, just a few years ago, Val was struggling big-time with an autoimmune disease called Psoriatic Arthritis. She dealt with severe pain on a daily basis, as well as crippling fatigue and a whole host of debilitating symptoms. While listening to her story, it sounded so familiar – lots of doctors and very few concrete solutions. When all the specialists could offer were harsh prescriptions, Val knew she had to exhaust every other option before submitting her body to drugs that had serious side effects. Val told me, “I didn’t go on the debilitating drugs they wanted to put me on, one being Methotrexate…You know those ads on TV that say things about serious side effects and fatal events? One of those…I wanted nothing to do with that if I could at all help it. I had been going through years of tests, doctor visits, prescriptions and ER visits and was just at the end of my rope”.

So, she decided to try the natural approach, she had heard that diet changes had given others relief, and although somewhat skeptical, she was willing to try anything. Val adopted a plant-based diet, full of fresh organic fruits and veggies, whole grains and legumes and eliminated all animal products. Almost immediately, she began to see REAL results, nothing like she had experienced before while under the care of traditional medical doctors. Soon she was able to return to the life she loved. “After a few weeks, I was pain free and could practice yoga again, and ride my bike. I had been unable to squeeze the brake levers due to the swelling and pain in my fingers, I felt as if a miracle had happened. I couldn’t believe that something as simple as a healthy diet could be what “fixed me”.”

In addition, Val took her illness as a sign that it was time not only to change her diet, but her entire outlook on life. As a result, she left an unhappy relationship, moved to a place that fills her soul and pursued her passion of bringing vegan treats to the world.

valstreatsIn 2013, Val started Valorie’s Vegan Treats, selling her delicious cookies, spiced nuts and bars to local cafes, coffee and smoothie shops. The vendors only complaint – they can’t keep enough in stock!  Vegan or not, everyone loves these tasty morsels. Val was kind enough to share one of her most popular recipes exclusively for Nutrify For Life readers. (you’re welcome!)

Today Val is free from the symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis, she is active and vibrant and no one will argue that she also looks 10 years younger!

photos by Ed Dorsett of Dorsett Photography