I looked back on my last post and I mentioned I fell off the blogging bandwagon and I wasn't going to let it happen again.. OOPS! I've had a wild January and February with international travel and work stuff and I let it go by, once again. I have sat down a few times and have had a little bit of a writers block. Which could be frustrating, lucky for me, a friend of mine needed some inspiration too. So, we collaborated! Stefanie from This Willful Life interviewed me on her blog a couple of weeks ago, and today, I am blessing you with this interview/recipe post from Stef! I met Stefanie at my best friend's bachelorette party, and naturally, we clicked. She's a down a** chick and can has a passion for being in the kitchen. Every time I am browsing her blog, I get automatic #chefgoals. Y'all know me, I'm not big in the kitchen! Cooking doesn't come easy for me (and you, maybe!) as it does for some. I asked Stef for her favorite, healthy go-to recipe. I can't wait to roll these up soon! No pun intended.. :)
So sit back, relax, and scroll away.. It is my pleasure to introduce to you Mrs. Stefanie Will!
- Tell us about yourself
Hi, guys! My name is Stefanie and I live in Kansas City, MO with my husband and fur-child (a Labradoodle named Chief). We moved here from California in June. It was a big move, but we love it here! I am a 4th grade teacher and super foodie. I love to bake, and cook, and eat, and research all things nutrition and fitness. When we moved, I started a blog, so I could share our journey with family and friends. Now, it's turned into a creative outlet for me. I love to write! It's mostly a way for me to share recipes that I find online or create myself, while still writing about other things going on in life.
- Have you always been into cooking?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. I remember getting my Easy Bake Oven for Christmas like it was yesterday. I grew up cooking and baking next to my mom, who is a natural in the kitchen (Italian, I might add). Not only is baking and cooking nostalgic for me, I just really, really enjoy it.
There's something so magical about throwing different ingredients together to form something new and delicious. I love playing with fun, interesting ingredients! My favorites right now are fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, and tahini.
Some of my favorite things to do revolve around the kitchen: slow cooking bolognese while sipping a nice glass of red wine, whipping up brunch for friends and family, or simply throwing a salad together with fresh, seasonal veggies. And of course baking cookies.
- Have you always been into health and fitness?
I guess since I was a teen, yes. I grew up playing sports and that carried into high school. In college I turned more towards the gym with weights and eventually running. I'm always trying to switch up my workouts to make it interesting, whether it's lifting heavy, HIIT, or just walking the dog. I'd like to get back into running, which is my latest goal. I've always loved the science behind health. I think it's so cool for example, that a 20 min HIIT workout can keep your metabolism pumping for hours! So neat.
As far as health goes, I've had stomach issues since I was a kid, so I've learned a lot about nutrition over the years. I've done the elimination diet, gluten free, paleo, vegan, pescatarian...yada, yada, yada. My most recent venture has been "vegan" but I really hate calling it that because it puts me into this box I can't get out of (which sucks when you're a self proclaimed foodie). I try to eat plant based as often as I possibly can because, well, plants are good for you. However, if I'm craving pizza or BBQ- I eat it. There's just no substitute for wood fired pizza and KC BBQ. In general, I try to eat foods that work well with my body and avoid those that don't. Sometimes easier said than done.
- Did you have a hard time finding easy and healthy meals to cook after finding out your health issues?
Not really. It started early in the kitchen and evolved over the years. I think because of my stomach issues, I was kind of forced to play with my meals. Sometimes it was beneficial and sometimes it just plain sucked (like the elimination diet for 8 weeks). You have to get creative when you're working with a very limited "acceptable foods" list.
What was especially hard for me was even the "healthy foods" were causing me pain and discomfort-- like brussel sprouts and beans. They're supposed to be good for you, so I was confused when they made me feel awful. I tried over and over to make sure they REALLY didn't work for me because I love them, but the feeling is not mutual.
As it turns out, some food is just not good for my body, nutritious or not, and I had to come to terms with that. And then, I had to come up with yummy recipes, since I like food so much. That part required research, trial and error.
The good new is I love to read magazines like Eating Well and Food and Wine. They offer a lot of inspiration. Once you experiment in the kitchen enough you learn how to substitute foods you can or can't tolerate. I learned a lot and still do, by trial and error.
- What are your favorite meals to make? 1,2,3 GO!
Oh my gosh, I can't even choose. It totally depends on what the occasion is.
Family dinner? Lasagna and garlic bread for sure.
Your average weekday morning? Oatmeal or avocado toast (with either garlic/chili sauce on top, or a little jam)
Dessert? Chocolate chip cookies.
Weekday dinner? Zoodles of ANY variety (pad thai, red sauce, curry).
Girls night? A charcuterie board with yummy meats and cheeses (see, not vegan) and nuts and dried fruit and spreads.
- Can you give us your favorite recipe for a good, healthy snack?
Chocolate Chip Protein Bites! I make them using really yummy and good for you ingredients. They taste like cookie dough! I love Larabars, but I can't eat dates :( So, I throw a bunch of things I CAN eat into the food processor, roll 'em up, and stick them in the freezer (they’ll keep longer). You can pack them frozen in your lunch and they're defrosted when it's time for a pick me up. Or, just eat them frozen. So good.