Green Goddesses, Healthy Tips From Nashville's Food Bloggers

January 03, 2018
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"I live my food & food philosophy, and I think that authenticity is appealing." Laura Lea


In 3 words, describe your cooking style?

Approachable, playful, satisfying

What is the most important thing most folks could do to eat healthier?

Make the next best choice. Don't get bogged down in some grand idea of the "perfect" diet–there is no such thing. Here are some ideas for easy choices: move your body instead of sitting all day; make sure your next meal contains a nice portion of veggies; go to bed earlier; have one glass of wine instead of two; eat breakfast; respond with love when you're annoyed; take 5 to simply breathe.

What are 3 ingredients always in your fridge?

Peanut butter, full-fat canned coconut milk, pickles

Name 3 of your favorite restaurants in Nashville.

1) Sunflower Cafe where I had my first job as a Certified Holistic Chef. They have THE best veggie burger ever.

2) Bastion in the Wedgwood-Houston neighborhood.

3) Woodlands Restaurant which is 100% vegetarian Indian cuisine.

What is the reason you eat/cook the way you do?

Cooking nutritious and delicious food is my therapy. My kitchen is where I rejuvenate and prepare to face life's chaos again. I discovered this while living in New York City. Boredom and my budget prompted me to cook, instead of ordering take-out every night, but the reward was so much more than a heftier wallet. My anxiety decreased significantly, and I felt happy and energized for the first time in years. Not only was I nourishing my body with real, wholesome ingredients, but I was nourishing my spirit through self-care. Now, I continue to cook for myself to thrive, but also to inspire and help others do the same.

Why should readers visit your blog?

I like to think that my website is a sigh of relief for people who want to cook more, but have been intimated by dieting dogma and food trends. LL Balanced is inclusive, with something for everyone. In addition, I try to stay away from trendy superfoods and difficult-to-find ingredients. My recipes are healthier versions of familiar foods and dishes, and this is appealing to the busy parent or working individual.

What is your background?

I graduated from the Chef's Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) in New York City, an accredited, nationally recognized program that teaches traditional chef cooking techniques but also courses on food and healing, as well as Eastern and functional medicine practices. Students learn to cook using sustainable whole-foods and to bake with gluten-free and alternative grains.

I also grew up with two brothers, five busy schedules and a mother who insisted on home-cooked dinners every single night.

Name 2 random things about you in the kitchen?

1) I am terrible at cooking rice in a pot. No idea why, but I always manage to mess it up. As a result, I use a baked rice technique that I share in my cookbook!

2) Whenever I finish squeezing the juice out of a lemon, I rub the cut-side onto my wooden cutting boards. This helps remove any other food smells and it's a natural sanitizer.

Why I chose the Sesame Noodle Recipe:

This is everything LL Balanced is about! It's a remake of one of my favorite childhood dishes, which was essentially noodles, mayonnaise and sesame oil–delicious, but not the healthiest. I've modernized Mom's recipe with tahini and peanut butter instead of mayo, as well as adding copious veggies into the mix. Although the base of my Sesame Noodles is a vegan recipe, I always add shredded chicken or grilled shrimp when I make it for me and my husband. Feel free to play around with more or less protein and veggies to suit your tastes!

Melissa Haithcock of a Happy Healthy Heart


How did you decide to become plant-based?

After reading a research book called The China Study I began to understand health from a medical, scientific, and overall wellness perspective; and it has made all of the difference in my life. Living a plant-based lifestyle allows me to eat healthy and make the world a better place while being accepting of other lifestyles and eating habits and not restricting myself to a label or title that isolates me from others.

In 3 words, describe your cooking style?

Healthy, plant-based, beautiful

What is the most important thing most folks could do to eat healthier?

We have to change our mindset from looking at food as just a means to make our stomachs full but more as a means to nourish, supply, and better our bodies.

What is the trickiest part of cooking/following a vegan/vegetarian diet?

There aren't too many tricky things about following a plant-based diet except for when it comes to baking. I grew up baking with my mom and still love to do it. But learning how to bake without some of the more common baking ingredients can be a bit trickier.

That said, it can be more difficult to eat out. I have to ask a lot of questions about what's not listed directly on the menu such as, 'How is the food cooked, what oil do the cooks use, and always, is there any butter in this?' I try not to make a lot of substitutions when I eat out because I like to try what the chef has created so I usually find a dish that already meets all of my eating requirements.

Do you ever eat meat/dairy? When and why?

I don't ever eat meat or dairy. I grew up on the coast of North Carolina so when I am near the coast I eat fresh fish. I haven't had butter, cream, milk, or cheese in years and don't plan on changing that anytime soon.

What are 3 ingredients always in your fridge?

Almond milk, kale, and nut butters.

Name 3 of your favorite restaurants in Nashville.

1) Bar Taco is one of my very favorite restaurants in Nashville. They are very accommodating to a plant-based diet and their food is really tasty. You can also order any taco with a lettuce leaf instead of the taco shell to take your healthy eating to the max!

2) Epice is a close second. The food at Epice makes me feel great but also gives me a cuisine that I might not be able to prepare at home. Their menu is very vegetable-centric and the seasonings and spices are always spot-on!

3) Vui's Kitchen has some the freshest tasting food in Nashville. In each dish there is a lot of love and thought and you can taste it. I get the Noodle Bowl and my husband usually gets the Rice Bowl. They are both super tasty and full of nutrition and that's exactly what I look for when I eat out.

What is the reason you eat/cook the way you do?

Nutrition. I want to supply my body with as many nutrients as possible so that I may be the best version of myself, always.

Article from Edible Nashville at
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