Karen Peek encourages new and seasoned cooks alike to experience the inspired art of cooking. Author of the cookbook Be Your Own Chef, she has a passion for showing others how to be creative and less intimidated in the kitchen by making recipes that suit each person’s tastes and diet.

Karen has overcome many challenges on her way to realizing her passions and dreams. Born with bilateral hip dysplasia, she was forced to wear several leg harnesses and braces from birth to the age of 5. Through the power of prayer and experimental medical treatment, she gained full use of her legs without one operation. Doctors had expected her to endure many years of surgeries and difficulty walking.

Karen graduated from the Tennessee Technology Center with a degree in nursing.  Her career began as a pediatric nurse, and she transitioned to traveling nursing, working in a variety of clinics in Tennessee and Virginia. Her final position involved working for University Cardiology at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville.

However, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2006 and underwent a difficult thyroid surgery. Shortly thereafter, she experienced additional health problems, which led to a diagnosis in 2008 of autonomic nervous system diseases called POTS and Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (IST). She endured a strenuous heart ablation surgery, with little success in resolving the symptoms. Forced to quit nursing due to these chronic health conditions, she struggled through a couple of years of anger and pain, refusing to accept a disease that altered her life.

In 2008 one Sunday morning in a church service, she experienced an extreme flare up of symptoms (rapid heart rate, dizziness, and palpitations, among many others). Through the “storm” of symptoms, she only heard 18 words from a powerful message, but those words changed her life forever. Karen came to a place of true acceptance of living with a chronic illness and traded the animosity for a life of meaning and purpose. She has chosen to overcome the obstacles in life, and through that, God has given her the passion to create recipes from scratch, and to live life to the fullest no matter how hard it is.  Through her story, she encourages others not to allow life to pass them by in the midst of hardships.