Welcome back to the In Her Shoes series, where we share inspiring interviews with influential experts in health, nutrition and lifestyle. Whenever I meet healthy, beautiful, successful women, I’m always dying to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. What do they eat? What products do they use? What’s their routine? I’m obsessed with other peoples’ stories and love sharing uplifting women with y’all!
GETTING TO KNOW ROBIN ASBELL
Today, we’re chatting with Robin Asbell, chef, culinary instructor, freelance food writer and recipe developer and author of eight of the best healthy cookbooks on the shelves, including Great Bowls of Food (my personal favorite, as anything that's served in a bowl somehow automatically tastes better!), The Whole Grain Promise, Gluten Free Pasta, Big Vegan and New Vegetarian.
I first met Robin online–we're both members of an amazing group of freelance food writers–and I've long admired her incredible career and myriad healthy cookbooks. Robin's focus is on cooking with whole, natural foods, and many of her recipes are designed with busy families in mind. Jackpot!
But perhaps what I love most about Robin's recipes is the fact that they each dispell the myth that nutritious implies a lack of flavor. Time and again, she proves the opposite to be true–that the fresher, more nutrient-dense the ingredient, the more flavor you can extract from it! Bland lives in the refined grains and processed junk of the food world–natural, whole foods add richness, complexity and depth to recipes.
Needless to say, I’m so excited to introduce you to this inspiring cook today! Take a peek at what it’s like to spend a day walking in Robin Asbell’s delicious shoes.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY LIKE?
I wake up early and like to get moving, either to “official” exercise or cleaning the house and starting laundry, just to get those juices flowing. Then I write.
SHOWER TIME! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PRODUCTS?
I use some curly hair products, like devacurl, [which is vegan, 100% sulfate, paraben and silicone free]. Otherwise I make my own lotions and products from natural ingredients. I use cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, essential oils and ingredients like brewed tea and oatmeal to make skincare products.
WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL BREAKFAST?
I usually just snack on homemade energy snacks during those early workouts, and come home hungry, I make big green smoothies and big grain bowls with lots of fruit, nuts, avocado and yogurt. In my book, Great Bowls of Food, I have several fun breakfast bowls. And I like savory porridges, too. I love it that I can eat a big pile of real food and feel great afterward.
ARE YOU A TEA OR COFFEE DRINKER?
At home I live on green and black teas, straight up (I buy my teas in bulk from Frontier Herbs), and I have tins of Do Matcha (sometimes I do matcha tea in lattes or smoothies) and portable sleeves of Rishi tea to carry when traveling. I also keep organic cold press coffee for the occasional coffee.
I also make my own kombucha and flavor it differently every week. I keep wine stocked and ready to go, but usually only drink a glass or two once a week, in part because of the morning workouts. I consider myself an aspirational drinker- I aspire to have a perfect moment to toss back some wine, but it doesn't happen that often.
I try to juice at least once a week, lots of greens, cucumber, celery, carrots, beets. I think it visibly improves my skin.
Related: In Her Shoes with Ivy Larson
WHAT’S YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?
I have a pretty rigid Monday-Wednesday-Friday 4:30 a.m. workout time, and I go to the gym most of the year, and ride my bike outside in the warmer months. At the gym I do weights and ellipticals to warm up for 6 a.m. spin or kickboxing class. Then whenever I can, I add a walk or bike ride later in the day. I live in a great spot for walking and biking, on the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis. The bonus of riding early in the morning is that I get to see wildlife, like turtles, deer, turkeys, foxes, and all kinds of birds. It feeds my soul.
TIME TO GET READY! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO BEAUTY AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
I'm not super devoted to any one brand, I try different moisturizers for older skin, like Andalou Naturals and Avalon Organics, and sometimes stop at Origins for skin care. I like the Dr. Andrew Weil mushroom products.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET?
I take Vitacost turmeric capsules and Vitamin D in the wintertime. I juice, so I figure I don't need vitamins. I keep some Source Herbal Wellness capsules and Herb Pharm tinctures around in case I think I am getting a cold, but I rarely get sick. I always want to at least try the natural route before resorting to prescriptions.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ON-THE-GO SNACKS?
I'm a granola girl, I make different kinds of breakfast cookies and granola bar type things to keep in the freezer, as well as energy balls. I take nuts and make nut butter sandwiches to carry with me. I never want to be starving and in a place where I might inhale some junk food just to survive.
Related: In Her Shoes Julie Morris
WHAT’S A TYPICAL LUNCH LIKE FOR YOU?
Because I am always developing recipes, I almost always have leftovers for lunch. When I don't I love to make a grain based bowl with a tahini dressing. Good leftovers make me so happy, I can hardly wait to eat them.
WHEN YOU’RE GROCERY SHOPPING, WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU AVOID ON THE LABEL?
I don't buy a lot of processed foods, I prefer organic and simple. We have been vegetarians for many years, though I eat a little fish right now. I think most people, like me, have a hard time keeping track of complicated stuff, so it's best to just keep it simple.
WHAT’S IN YOUR PANTRY?
Grains, whole grain bread (I buy local artisan breads and bake my own), beans, veggies, nuts, lots of condiments, some grass fed yogurt and cheese, olive and nut oils (I trust California Olive Growers oils, and McEvoy Ranch for extra virgin olive oils), lots of fruit in the freezer and fresh. We do like tortilla chips and whole wheat tortillas for nachos and quesadillas, too. We have a local chip maker called Whole Grain Milling that is great, then I like Late July and Bearitos.
DINNER TIME! IF YOU’RE EATING OUT, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ON MENUS TO STAY HEALTHY?
I'm always on the hunt for whole grains on menus, and exciting vegetable and salad dishes. I love it when chefs show off some skills by making plant-based dishes interesting. And I love the current avocado trend. When I go out, I'm looking for something I haven't had a million times, or that I don't make at home. I need to feed my creativity with other chef's ideas, as well as fill my hungry belly.
Related: In Her Shoes Adina Grigore
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I recommend Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith, and What to Eat for Dinner by Ellen Kanner, and In Winter's Kitchen by Beth Dooley, both written by food writers I admire. I am a big fan of comedy– I love, love, love Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes Please by Amy Pohler, I See You Made An Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch, Sexy Liberal! Of Me I Sing by Stephanie Miller, and anything by David Sedaris.
BED TIME! WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTLY ROUTINE?
I admit it, I wind down watching shows like Game of Thrones and John Oliver. I fall asleep around 9 p.m.
HBO–I make my own deluxe garlicky herby popcorn to with it, and champagne, or chocolate (my coop sells Kakao Berlin 60% Dark chocolate in bulk, it's amazing) and pinot noir.
FAVORITE HEALTHY INDULGENCE?
Smoked almonds and champagne.
FAVORITE PRODUCT THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY?
I'm surprised at how many people haven't tried freekeh yet. It's nutty, smoky, and quick cooking. The bonus is you can make lots of jokes about “getting free-keh” with it. As far as products go, I keep Taza chocolate disks on hand for a chocolate fix, and I seek out great breads from local bakeries.
Find a farmers market and buy some fantastic local specialty. When the local fruit or tomatoes are in season, they are better than anything else you can try. When you bite into a perfect peach or a sweet, just picked pea, you understand what real food is all about.
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