Did you always want to be a chef?
No! The thought never crossed my mind…really, even when I started cooking in New York City (the catalyst for my career). My mother is an amazing cook—better than I’ll ever be—and she taught me the importance of a good meal, beyond just taste. She taught me and my brothers that eating real, wholesome food in community is a powerful source of connection and nourishment for mind, body and soul. When I was anxious and depressed living in NYC, I think I subconsciously picked up cooking as a way to achieve those feelings of warmth and safety again…and it snowballed from there!
How do you define healthy eating?
Healthy eating begins first in the mind. This is where you establish that you control your food; it doesn’t control you. I think healthy eating starts with an absence of judgment and guilt and an abundance of openness, positivity and self-acceptance. Then, on a more technical level, the basis of healthy eating is whole foods—foods straight from the ground and as close to the source as possible (whole dairy, butchered meat or fish etc). This is the foundation of your plate. If the majority of your food is whole-foods based, supplemented with thoughtfully chosen packaged foods or indulgent meals, you’re on the right track.
What recipe from your new cookbook would you recommend for a reluctant, skeptical cook who usually eats not-so-healthy?
Any of the following seems to win such people over: my Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders, Holy Fudge Black Bean Brownies, LL’s Daily Green Smoothie, Sesame Maple Brussels Sprouts Bits and Meatloaf Meatballs
What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients in your recipes?
Oh, great question! Maybe tahini, because it is so versatile and has a unique umami flavor profile that can really take recipes up a notch. Also, old school spices like garlic powder, onion powder or chili powder. I am totally down with leaving out a chopped onion in favor of the powered form sometimes. It’s easier and, if you treat it right, can create even more concentrated, captivating flavor.
What do you like to do (and most importantly, eat) on a staycation in Nashville?
Hmmm, if you mean at home (my ideal staycation), I’d start with the Grain-Free Cinnamon Waffles from my book, topped with peanut butter and some fresh fruit. Then some kind of exercise outside; a walk or hike or outdoor yoga. For lunch, I’m a sucker for anything wrapped, and I’ve been loving my Turmeric Tahini Roasted Cauliflower on Siete Foods Tortillas with some avocado, hummus and Sriracha. Followed by chocolate, always chocolate. Afternoons are again spent outside, or reading in our den. I’m a simple creature! I’d love to finish this day grilling with my husband—maybe my Lamb Burgers with a side of sweet potato fries.
If I were out and about in Nashville, I’d hit up Franklin Juice first thing for a Pitaya Bowl. Lunch would be the Kimchi Spring Rolls from Avo, and dinner would likely be shared with the hubs at Henrietta Red—fish of the day, cauliflower steak, beet risotto.
What local products do you use at home?
Currently I’m in love with the charcoal face bar by Little Seed Farm, as well as their oat bar as a body wash. I’ve also been using Clary Collection Bath & Body Oil and Uplift Organics Face Serum. Uplift Organics sent me some of their products recently, and I’m smitten. Every morning, I rub the Thistle Farms Energy Essential Oil roller on my wrists, and their lip smoothie is completely addicting.
What is your go-to gift to give?
I feel like most of my gifts these days are for new mamas, so I’m giving them Copper Pearl 5-in-1 multi-use covers. Otherwise, though, I usually just give people food! So far, no complaints :).