Growing up as a meat and potatoes habits followed by a serious medical scare, Lia turned to her freelance writer skills to interview experts about food and nutrition. What she found was they also mentioned the importance of connection around the table across the globe.
Today's women in food interview is with author Lia Huber. When this email for the book release hit my inbox what caught my attention was the discussion about food and mealtime in cultures. There was specifically a line about how people can also 'hunger' emotionally/spiritually. As a dietitian, and honestly as many random bloggers cover in general, there's an obvious science and perfect little fact aspect to food and health. Anyone can tell you something contains vitamin A thanks to Google. But what needs more coverage is the social aspect of dining and cooking together.
At a recent conference one thing that stuck with me from a presentation was that your brain doesn't get the same 'feel good' chemicals from texting or emailing with people as it does from talking with them on the phone or face to face. The technology of texting, and doing more communicating is awesome...but it's just not as good for you as a phone call or dinner together. It's like nutrition: thanks to technology you can eat a nutrition bar that has 100% of what you need, but it's just not the same. We can talk about the bullet point nutrition list of a meal all day long, but sometimes I feel like we're missing the bigger point: food is social, emotional and can be a beautiful part of your life. Not just checkboxes for nutrition 'perfection'.
So that's where writing and story telling and beautiful photos come in (and why that's what we focus on here on the website). Lia's book is on my desk right now and I can't wait to finish it. Because that's what I'm craving right now: stories that take time and thought. Pictures of food that tell more than a top down perfectly divided plate. That's what I'm hungry for. Let's dive in.
"...each one of them spoke not just about what to eat, but about how important it is to find joy in food and connection around the table. "
1 TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS.
First of all, I’m excited to be here on Healthfully Ever After! I love the way you blend the joy of healthy moderation (can’t wait to get that Pear Honeycomb Winter Salad on my table) with the excitement of occasional indulgence (those Fancy Smoked Scalloped Potato Stacks … hello!). Very nourishing ☺.
I’m the author of Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith and Enduring Love (with Recipes) and the founder and CEO of NOURISH Evolution, and my mission is to inspire and equip people to live a richer, more delicious life through real food.
I grew up a poster child for junk food and meat and potatoes. I was literally one of those kids who would hide peas under my napkin and shovel my broccoli onto my brother’s plate when Mom wasn’t looking.
But things started to go south for me in my 20s, when I struggled with growing fatigue and pain that was eventually diagnosed as lupus, followed the next year by a serious cancer scare. I hit my 30s thinking, “Something is seriously wrong,” and started a quest to figure out how I should be caring for my body.
I was already a freelance writer at the time (I’ve written hundreds of articles and thousands of recipes over the past 20 years), so I dug into my credentials and began writing about nutrition, talking to the leading scientists and researchers around the world.
Without exception, they all told me, “Eat lots of seasonal vegetables cooked with healthy fats and whole grains, be deliberate about sourcing your protein, and think of protein more as a condiment or side dish than a main attraction.”
At first, I was like … ughhhh … vegetables. But then I noticed another common thread amongst my notes – each one of them spoke not just about what to eat, but about how important it is to find joy in food and connection around the table. That that is an “ingredient” for living a vibrant life as well.
So I started to look at it as an adventure, leaning into cultures I’d visited or lived in for inspiration – France, Greece, Mexico. First, I got comfortable with going to the farmers’ market, then I experimented with all sorts of ways to cook all sorts of veggies. And, eventually, I found that I began to prefer veggies and whole grains over a big greasy burger (most of the time, anyway). I’d feel like I was missing something if I hadn’t consumed loads of veggies in one form or another by the end of the day.
What I hadn’t expected was the exponential impact that eating that way would have on my life.
Within weeks, I had more energy and less pain than I’d had in over a decade. And within months, I’d lost the 20 pounds that I’d struggled with my entire adult life and felt this deep, resonant joy and calm growing in me. A couple of years later, my lupus diagnosis was reversed to fibromyalgia, and most of those symptoms (pain, fatigue, mental fuzziness, depression) have completely subsided since.
I came through all of that with a passion and clarity like I’d never had before and knew that I was supposed to share my story to help others on their own journeys. That’s where NOURISH Evolution was born.
Through over a decade of working with thousands of people, I’ve identified five stages we all go through when making the shift from processed food to real food, and I’ve created programs—like the NOURISH 10-Day Reset and our online meal planning program Cook the Seasons —to meet people where they are and help them progress from stage to stage.
It’s also why I wrote Nourished. In hopes that it would help others make sense of their struggles and open a wider dialogue about the deeper meaning and impact of food.
2. If you could define your food philosophy in one sentence it would be….
Scrumptious healthy food most of the time + mindful indulgence some of the time = guilt-free enjoyment all of the time.
3. What are your 3 must have foods in your kitchen?
Olive oil (Lord we go through a lot of olive oil), onions, eggs. You can pretty much make anything with those. Normally, I would say garlic … but I recently tested highly sensitive to garlic, so I’m taking a hiatus for six months. And once again, I started out like “awwwww, I’ve got to give up GARLIC?” But then I – and my whole family – turned it into an adventure, a chance to discover new ways to add flavor.
4. It’s your birthday. What are you eating?
My friend Jann’s death by chocolate layer cake and vanilla ice cream.
5. Signature cocktail?
Ooooh, that’s tough with all the amazing farm-to-glass cocktails – I always want to try something new. I’d have to say something seasonal and bourbon-based from either Spoonbar or Duke’s in Healdsburg.
6. Food you can’t like no matter how hard you try?
Okra. And tripe. It’s actually amazing to me that it’s down to those two. I even tried—and liked, surprisingly—chile-dusted crickets when I was in Mexico last year.
7. What are your go-to resources for all things food)?
NOURISH Evolution and Cook the Seasons, of course ☺. I love to shop at my farmers’ market and Shelton’s market, which sources a lot of produce from local farmers. And for a splurge, I love to spend a leisurely afternoon browsing all the artisanal goods at SHED.
8. Food fad you wish would die a horrible death?
The whole “vegetable of the year” concept. Kale and cauliflower are always cool. They’ll never be “yesterday.”
9. Must have kitchen tool:
A sharp chef’s knife and sturdy cutting board.
10. What’s the one thing you learned this year that changed the way you think about food?
I’ve noticed a deep split this year … where people are craving deeper nourishment and connection more than ever, yet are unable to get it because they’re busier and more overwhelmed than ever. It’s a conundrum I hope Nourished will speak to, and that we’re working on at NOURISH Evolution to address. Because I’ve learned that in tough times more than ever – whether it be the divide we’re feeling as a nation, or the grieving my community is going through after the devastating fires – we need to come together around a home-cooked meal to heal and be nourished.
DO YOU KNOW A WOMAN IN THE FOOD WORLD WHO SHOULD BE PART OF THIS INTERVIEW SERIES? LET ME KNOW!
CHECK OUR PREVIOUS WOMEN IN FOOD INTERVIEWS HERE:
Dietitian Nutritionist and cookbook author sharing flavor-forward recipes and simplified science-driven wellness.