Ciara's Story

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Hello, I’m Ciara Brennan. Thanks for visiting my website which I really hope will inspire you to eat more wholesome and happy food. This is the mission of my company Happy Food at Home.

I’ve been a vegetarian all my life. My mum reckons it’s because I saw a pheasant on the dinner table when I was very small and since then I did everything I could to avoid eating meat. It just didn’t sit right with me. Anything that resembled meat on my plate ended up on the floor or in the dog’s mouth.


At the same time, I’ve always had a passion for food and cooking in particular. That passion led me from Dublin to Shannon where I studied Hotel Management so that I could become a chef. During college, I had work placements where I trained in various types of kitchens from cafes all the way up to five-star restaurants. It was a strange time for me and I found that my vegetarian diet just wasn’t compatible with my chef training because I had to cook and taste meat in order to satisfy my customers. I was supposed to be living the dream, working in fabulous restaurants in cities such as Geneva but it actually dulled my passion for cooking so much that I gave it up professionally. Instead, I moved into the HR side of the industry and became a personnel manager.

This led me to training and development and subsequently to teaching, which I still do as a freelancer. And I thought that was it. But it wasn’t. I still cooked a lot at home and, early in 2016, my teenage daughter Sheana and I decided to
go completely vegan. Determined to educate myself about my diet, I learned a lot about where food comes from. I wanted to avoid factory-farmed foods where animals live in the antithesis of their natural environments and where they are, essentially, just bred to die. It was the beginning of a special spiritual journey.

The world was always big in me and Bob Geldof’s book “Is that it?” had a
profound effect on my way of perceiving our unity with all the life on this planet. I looked into the ethos of veganism and its core idea that no living thing should be harmed and felt the filling sense of purpose. Sheena and I became more focused on living as simply and naturally as possible. I’ve always believed that food should be sourced locally and organically (where possible) and the well-being of the animals involved is so important. For me, eating natural, unprocessed foods gives me a greater sense of being connected to nature and the environment.

Eliminating foods made from animals and animal by-products has been such an exciting and enlightening journey and we’ve discovered lots of beautiful, sustainable, animal-free clothing, shoes and make-up. Eating a plant-based diet has also allowed me to cook more creatively and to explore exciting new ingredients.

Most importantly, I’ve been able to reconnect with myself and appreciate the impact of food on my body. The transition into veganism also coincided with my breast cancer treatment and really underlined the connection between food and health/wellbeing. Throughout that period my diet was excellent and that gave me the strength and energy to successfully fight the disease. As of December
2016 I am cancer free.

And then, shortly after Sheana and I embraced this lifestyle, I had a lightbulb moment – “Why don’t you cook the things you like for other people?” I shared my decision with friends and family and was asked to cater for a friend’s communion, followed by another friend’s birthday party. Then an invitation to showcase my food creations in Waterford came in… and I haven’t had a weekend off since. Thus, very naturally, my company Happy Food at Home was born. I started making plant-based, pre-packed lunches to order and customers would come to my house and collect them.

In addition, I opened a food stall at the Milk Market (Limerick city’s iconic farmers’ market). Once a week I also sell my creations in Mary Immaculate College, a third-level Liberal Arts College in Limerick City. I don’t advertise my food as vegan or vegetarian, but as good, tasty, wholesome food. I simply want people to enjoy it as healthy, ethically produced cuisine. My dream is to set up my own premises and organise retreats where people can share their love for cooking and for animals, where we can learn how to be more respectful and kind to one another. And we can learn this through realizing that we can have lots of colours, variety and flavours in our diet and be contributing to the earth at the same time.

For 20 years I suffered from eating disorders, trying to feed myself from the outside rather than the inside. I guess it is a journey everyone goes on at some point in their life, filling the hole of not loving ourselves within us. Becoming conscious of Mother Nature in my diet and lifestyle completed that circle for me. And now I just want to share the same food that made me happy, with all of you – regardless of your diet. I try to stay as organic as I possibly can and source the ingredients I use from local producers. One of them is actually is preparing a patch of land named after my company to grow vegetables for us so the dishes I make will be literally from the earth to the plate.

I hope one day to recreate this on a bigger scale in my retreats. My customers often ask me how it is possible to make such tasty food with only plant-based
ingredients. I guess it’s a combination of passion, talent, and my secret spice – Love. I cook a wide range of dishes, including lasagnes, casseroles, curry, burgers, stews, pies, salads, desserts… you name it, and I make it! My creative side speaks many languages when it comes to food. My favourite thing is to invent new meals – I use existing dishes as an inspiration, but always put in my own touch or invent my own recipes – so no creation is likely to taste exactly the same week on week. I love all my recipes – from the kale salad with coconut, goji berries and cranberries to the breakfast box I created recently. An apple and pear crumble with raspberries, blueberries and vanilla yogurt, so simple, yet so divine! My favourite thing is to cook with fresh, raw ingredients, zest and herbs, to mix flavours and play with colours.

There are some menus on this site where you can get an idea of what is going on in my kitchen every day – the Home of Happy Food.

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