What is your food philosophy?
The quote, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” by Michael Pollan really resonates with me. I’m plant-based, no meat or dairy, no soy, and gluten-free when possible. I eat lots of foods that are rich in chlorophyll, lots of coconut water for natural electrolytes. I try to avoid mock meats and cheeses that aren’t made from real, whole foods. I’m big on eating my water because most of the human body is water. I don’t subscribe to any isms.
Have you always been interested in food?
No, growing up, and in undergraduate school, I focused heavily on eating what I thought tasted good at the time, and what I could afford. I thought that I could exercise my way to health, but learned in my early 20s that this was not true. After tirelessly searching for ways to look and feel my best every day, I became more interested in health prevention, health promotion, and self-preservation. I can’t do good work in this world if I don’t feel good.
Where does this interest stem from?
I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease in middle school, then hypothyroidism in my early 20’s. After a series of thyroid storms, I began searching for a way to manage my condition in a more holistic way. That’s when I began researching how to live a plant-based, non-toxic lifestyle. I became interested in learning more about what foods people were eating, eating habits from other cultures. I did a deeper dive to introduce myself to as many new plant foods as possible.
What is your first meal that you remember?
I was blessed to live in a household where I was always sent out into the world with breakfast. Although it wasn’t always the healthiest food, I never went hungry. Honey Smacks, Oatmeal, Pop-Tarts, Toaster Strudel were all things I grew up on. I’m very grateful to have access to real food and not just food products at this stage in my life.
What do you always keep in your fridge?
Citrus! Lemons, limes, oranges, you name it! I squeeze a little in a glass of warm water or tea every day, on top of salads in place of store-bought dressings. I even squeeze a little in my non-dairy ice cream that I make at home in my Vitamix. It’s so versatile!
What’s always in your pantry?
Hemp seeds, black chia, curry paste, beans, fonio, turmeric, dates. Mood-boosting, stress-reducing herbs, like ashwagandha, kava, linden, lemon balm. Functional mushrooms and elderberry for immunity.
What are your favorite flavors?
I love light, sweet flavors like coconut, rose, vanilla, lychee, starfruit, lavender, yellow dragonfruit. Citrus is a must, yuzu, blood orange, pomelo. Spicy and tangy foods like kraut and kimchi. Salty, savory flavors from curries, sea vegetables, or kalamata olives. I’m a DC/MD girl at heart, So creamy, buttery, seafood-esque flavors really excite me. I love making lobster mushroom bisque when they’re in season. Non-dairy of course. Dill always sounds good. I’m not a big coffee drinker, so I opt for chai. Oh, I could probably drink a lavender chai latte every day.
What do you eat that makes you feel your best?
High raw, water-rich foods always make me feel my best. Since I live with hypothyroidism, I occasionally feel sluggish. Water-rich foods energize me, keep my digestive system flowing, and skin glowing!
What do you do, outside of cooking, that informs your health?
I try to stay as physically active as possible. Hiking and pilates are some of my favorite activities. I’m self-employed, which we all know can be highly stressful. Working in the media industry just amplifies stress and anxiety because it seems like every request is urgent. This is especially when you want to release content that is timely and relevant. I try to stay emotionally and spiritually grounded through prayer, and meditation. I spend a lot of time by the water. Sleep is the weakest part of my wellness journey at the moment, but listening to deep sleep 528Hz and wearing a sleep mask have been helpful. Saying “no” without guilt is great for me too.
What are your thoughts on how food relates to beauty?
“Take care of the inside, glow on the outside,” is a quote from my upcoming e-book titled, Your Plate Matters. When I eat well, when I eat a variety of colorful, plant foods, I feel more confident and more beautiful. My skin looks better, I feel more confident, I stand a little taller, I smile more. Food is always the first step in my skincare routine.
Can you please share a recipe with us, one you find yourself turning to more often than not.
I make what I call a “green energy smoothie” a few times a week.
8 oz organic non-dairy milk
A couple handfuls of organic spinach
1 tsp organic maca powder
1 tsp organic matcha
3 organic dates
Blend in a high-speed blender. Then enjoy!