As many of you know, food is a major part of my life... as well it should be in yours. Over the last few years I have struggled with finding a balance between eating well and eating what I want, unfortunately what I 'want' my body tends to hate, so I have had to adapt and change the way I see food.
These changes were very hard at first. I became gluten, soy, and dairy free over 6 years ago and, let me tell you, there was NOTHING in the grocery store for me back then. All the 'gluten free' options tasted like cardboard, so I lived on hummus and tortilla chips with sriracha (not a bad existence, just very sodium heavy and not very satisfying). Time and awareness has changed all that. Market shelves are now stocked with gluten free options and people seem to have a better understanding of what food allergies (and sensitivities) actually are (which is amazing).
About two years ago I was diagnosed with a severe case of Candida (simply put it is an over growth of yeast and bacteria in your organs which can lead to all kinds of health problems). I went on an anti-candida diet, cutting out ALL OF THE THINGS... you think I'm kidding, I'm not. I didn't eat- gluten, soy, dairy, yeast, vinegar, sugar, fruit, grain, alcohol, nuts, beans, or starches. I still avoid most of these things today but when I left for tour this Spring I had to look at my diet and relinquish some control, taking a little more of the "everything or most things in moderation" approach.
This is when (and how) I discovered Purely Elizabeth. I was looking for foods that I could keep in my bag for when catering maybe wasn't ideal on the road. Elizabeths hot cereal and granola called to me from the well stocked shelves of Whole Foods one day and I quickly became obsessed! The Ancient Grains were a staple in my diet for the entirety of the tour and the granola a late night treat I looked forward to, so much so that I tweeted about it... which leads me to this post.
I was contacted by the wonderful people at Purely Elizabeth and asked if I would like to review the cookbook which was coming out. I read the introduction they had forwarded and quickly replied with a resounding YES! I couldn't wait to read it, you would be amazed at the knowledge and stories cookbooks hold. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed. The photos are beautiful, the tips and tricks enlightening and informative, and, as if that wasn't enough, the recipes are incredibly easy to follow. I have only had a chance to try a few of them (baked spaghetti squash with fresh basil is all I can dream of at the moment), but I look forward to cooking from its pages for years to come.
I recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Stein, THE Elizabeth behind Purely Elizabeth. I can't lie, I had a little bit of a 'food world' fan girl moment when I saw the interview come through in my e-mail. She is charming and her soul divine, not to mention I am pretty sure that she is a wizard when it comes to food (Harry Potter pales in comparison with her magic). But, enough from me, I will turn things over to the lady with the magical cast irons- Elizabeth Stein.
Could you please introduce yourself self and tell us a little bit about who you are?
My name is Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. I’m a recent Boulder resident, moving from NYC about a year ago. I lived in NYC for 11 years before heading out west. I’m absolutely in love with the beauty and community of Boulder- really, I’m pinching myself everyday I wake up here.
Where did the idea for ‘Purely Elizabeth’ come from and how did it go from being an idea to being a reality?
I started Purely Elizabeth in October 2009. At the time, I was a holistic nutrition counselor, learning about all these amazing superfoods like quinoa, chia seeds and coconut oil. At the time, those ingredients weren’t found in products on the shelf and I saw an opportunity in the gluten free market for something healthier and more delicious.
Have you always been a, for lack of a better term we will use a word I don’t love, ‘foodie’?
For sure. I’ve always had an interest in food, good food whether that meant eating it, caring about it or creating it. From a young age (probably high school) I was a pretty healthy eater and had an interest in better for you foods.
When did you decide living ‘purely’ was what you wanted for your life and what impact has it made on you (and your community)?
For me, the biggest shift was in my early 20’s when I decided to start doing marathons and triathlons. Everything for me shifted at that time when I started to see the effect of living purely. I quite my job and wanted to find something more aligned with this lifestyle which is what led me to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I became a holistic nutrition counselor.
Favorite way to stay healthy outside the kitchen? i.e. hiking, yoga, spin, etc.
Now that I’m living in Boulder, I find that it’s so much easier to stay healthy. I’m fortunate to live about 1 mile from a great trailhead, so I find myself hiking a few days a week as well as running, yoga and BBG workouts.
Little life luxury you can’t live without?
Going out to dinner. As much as I love cooking, I totally love the whole experience of going out to a great restaurant and having amazing food and wine. Oh and traveling. I love to get away anywhere.
If you weren’t in the food industry what would you be doing?
That’s a tough question. I’d probably still be in the accessory/fashion industry.
Go to snack when you are out running around town?
A purely elizabeth granola mini of course! They are the perfect size to carry in your bag. Plus the sweet-salty taste satisfies both cravings.
What is one tip you can give for living ‘purely’ on a day to day basis?
For me, the best thing is to start my day with exercise or movement. Sometimes literally all I need is 5 minutes of yoga or even just doing a headstand. Getting the blood flowing helps me to think better, feel better and automatically sets the tone for the day.
I am so looking forward to cooking from your new cookbook! What was the experience/process of writing a cookbook like for you?
I absolutely loved it! I’ve always wanted to put together a cookbook since nutrition school (about 7 years ago) so it was totally a passion project. It was a great creative outlet for me after a long day at work. Plus, I taught myself food photography during the process, which was probably the most fun of all. I’m ready to do it again!
Outside of cookbooks, what are you reading these days?
Sadly I haven’t had much down time to get into a book…I’m too ADD for that right now and we have too many exciting projects to be working on.
Are you a podcast or music kind of girl when you are cooking? Favorites at the moment? Definitely music. Right now I’ve been listening to the Beyonce channel on Pandora. It’s totally perfect for cooking…especially at 6am!
How do you seek/find balance in life?
For me I definitely need alone, quite time throughout the week to feel balanced. There is nothing better then a relaxing bath a few times a week.
What dish could you make/eat over and over and never get tired of?
Hmmmm probably something with tomato sauce….like my skillet baked penne with swiss chard, eggplant and burrata.
In closing, can you please tell us a little bit about what we have too look forward to in your forthcoming book ‘Eating Purely'-
Eating purely is full of easy, delicious, healthy recipes. I love how simple so many of them are that they aren’t intimidating for anyone. I also love how the recipes are so tasty that even a non-healthy eater would enjoy!
Not to sound weird, but I feel like Elizabeth is the kitchen soul sister I never had. Head stands and Beyonce? Done and done.
Elizabeth, thank you for helping revolutionize the world of eating purely! You are a food-defective-foodies dream. Thank you also for taking the time to share your story, it is inspiring and beautiful, best of luck to you and your team, and all the oh so tasty things you do.