In this inspiring interview healthy food writer, recipe developer and cookbook author Leah Vanderveldt shares her balanced eating tips + favorite natural products, and advice for treating anxiety naturally!
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!
Today we’re chatting with Leah Vanderveldt, former food editor at health and wellness website MindBodyGreen.
GETTING TO KNOW Leah Vanderveldt.
You may recognize Leah's name from her days working as the food editor of MindBodyGreen, where she wrote and developed whole-food recipes and edited content about nutrition, health and cultivating a positive relationship with food.
But these days the nutrition and natural food expert Leah Vanderveldt is working as a freelance food writer (a girl after my own heart!) and cookbook author.
In fact, her brand new cookbook, The New Nourishing: Delicious plant-based comfort food to feed body and soul, just came out in September and it is beyond beautiful!
Leah really knows her stuff–certified in Culinary Nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, Leah puts joy into plant-based cooking with over 100 easy and inventive recipes that redefine the boundaries for nourishing food (think big hearty bowls packed full of goodness and rich in flavor–don't miss the buffalo cauliflower & chickpea bowl and the vegetable paella).
Needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited that Leah is here with Root + Revel–I know that you’re going to find so many inspiring tips and tricks in this interview!
So let’s get into it; let’s take a peek at what it’s like to spend a day walking in Leah Vanderveldt’s shoes.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY LIKE?
I’ve been trying to avoid that snooze button, so once my alarm goes off, I get up and open the blinds and let some sunlight in.
I’ll go fix myself a big glass of water with lemon juice (I know it’s kind of a wellness cliche at this point, but I actually love it).
Then I’ll roll out the yoga mat and do a few downward dogs and some stretching before putting on my sneakers to go for a walk or run in park near my apartment.
Because I work from home, I try to get outside first thing just for my sanity. So even if I’m hunched over my computer or the stove for the rest of the day, at least I saw some trees and got some fresh air in there.
SHOWER TIME! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PRODUCTS?
I alternate between using SW Basics facial cleanser and Dr. Woods Shea Vision Pure Black Soap with Organic Shea Butter on my face and Dr. Bronner’s castile soap on my body.
I love using those exfoliating gloves, too.
I’m currently on the hunt for a good shampoo and very open to suggestions!
I moisturize with almond oil while I’m still damp from the shower. And I use one of those salt crystal deodorant sticks, which is pretty amazing. The salt neutralizes the bacteria on your skin, so you’ll still sweat but it doesn’t smell at all.
WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL BREAKFAST?
In the warmer weather, I can’t get enough smoothie bowls. I used to be a big yogurt, granola and fruit person, but I realized how good getting 2-3 servings of vegetables and fruit first thing in the morning made me feel.
Plus, making it a smoothie bowl means I can still add my beloved granola on top and slow down to enjoy it. My current favorite has spinach, frozen zucchini, banana, berries, ginger, coconut milk, and almond butter.
ARE YOU A TEA OR COFFEE DRINKER?
I love them both! But I usually have a French press coffee (or two) right after breakfast, then I’ll switch to caffeine-free teas and water after that.
I love kombucha, too — any flavor with ginger in it is great. I like to have a glass after lunch as a little treat.
I’m also huge on water. I have one of those 40-ounce Hydro Flasks that I’m constantly sipping on and refilling throughout the day.
WHAT’S YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?
First thing in the morning is best for me, it helps me focus and gives me energy. I mostly stick to yoga, running, and walking.
I like to fit in a pre-dinner walk in the evening too, if I can, to get away from my work and listen to a fun podcast.
TIME TO GET READY! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO BEAUTY AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
Over the past couple of years I’ve really tried to switch out most of my beauty products to more natural, non-toxic stuff.
I don’t wear makeup everyday but when I do it’s:
- Au Naturale Organic Creme Concealer
- RMS beauty mascara
- W3ll People bronzer
- Tarte blush
- RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
- Babo Botanicals lip balm
- Jane Iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain in Forever Pink, if I’m feeling fancy
WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET?
I don’t take any prescription meds, but I regularly take Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamin (I’m not pregnant but my gyno told me I should start taking one before my husband and I start trying to conceive), Carlson Super Omega-3 Fish Oil, Solgar Magnesium Citrate before bed, and Charlotte's Web CBD Hemp Oil, which is an amazing product for dealing with anxiety, depression and inflammation — I honestly can’t say enough good things about this stuff.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ON-THE-GO SNACKS?
Guacamole is my number one, I’ll put it on anything (raw veggies, chips, crackers, etc.) and be happy. I’ll also just eat a half an avocado with a sea salt or my everything bagel spice and scoop it out with a spoon.
If I’m looking for something on the sweet side, I love Medjool dates stuffed with peanut or almond butter and sprinkled with sea salt.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL LUNCH LIKE FOR YOU?
I usually rely on leftovers for lunch, so if it’s a nice curry or soup from the night before that’s great, but more often it’s just some odds and ends of roasted or sauteed vegetables, some sort of legume and salad greens brought together with a dressing or a sauce.
A few years ago, I decided to do Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 plan almost as a way to spark more creativity, and now it’s just what I do most of the time, without even thinking about it.
WHEN YOU’RE GROCERY SHOPPING, WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU AVOID ON THE LABEL?
I generally don’t shop for stuff that has much more than five ingredients. That’s not really a rule, but as someone who likes to cook a lot, I’m mostly reaching for whole foods and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store.
I do try to avoid any unnecessary added sugars and ingredients I don’t recognize because that makes the most sense to me.
WHAT’S IN YOUR PANTRY?
Oh man, so many things. Few things make me happier than a well-stocked pantry. Lots of beans and lentils (dried and canned), grains (I’m working on a porridge cookbook right now, so we have a huge selection of grains at the moment), canned tomatoes, olive oil, all types of vinegars, lots of spices and spice blends, seeds and nuts of all kinds, alternative flours (chickpea and buckwheat are my favorites), honey, maple syrup, and Vegemite — my husband’s Australian and I’m one of those rare antipodes who loves its abrasive saltiness.
DINNER TIME! IF YOU’RE EATING OUT, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ON MENUS TO STAY HEALTHY?
Vegetables! I’m so much more impressed when I go to a restaurant and they’re doing different or insanely delicious things with vegetables.
To me, that’s the sign of a chef with real vision and creativity, for a lot of mainstream kitchens, it’s, unfortunately, an afterthought.
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I just finished the Wellness Project by Phoebe Lapine, which was smart, hilarious and thought-provoking.
BED TIME! WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTLY ROUTINE?
In the evening, I like to wind down with a rooibos tea and a little dark chocolate on the couch with my husband.
Not so much guilty, but I’ll watch any iteration of the Bachelor franchise when it’s on. I don’t really watch reality tv, so I feel totally fine about wasting a Monday night watching rose ceremonies and group dates.
FAVORITE HEALTHY INDULGENCE?
FAVORITE PRODUCT THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY?
And that’s a wrap. HUGE thanks to Leah Vanderveldt for sharing her story with us.
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