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Feed Me Phoebe
Phoebe is a cookbook author, private chef, culinary instructor and caterer. And on her blog is where she shares her healthy comfort foods and gluten free finds. She has contributed to Food52, Serious Eats and the Huffington Post. And has been featured in O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Food and Wine, just to name a few.
I am so excited to have Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe here on the show today.
On Starting Her Blog:
When people ask me how I got into the food business, I often answer, “out of boredom,” because I was a disgruntled corporate employee. I definitely had a great job, but I was not called to be sitting at a desk from nine to seven or eight every night in an industry that I wasn’t particularly passionate about – which was big beauty.
So on the side I started a food blog on how to cook as a 20-something in small spaces with limited budget, limited time, and for many people, limited skill. At the time I thought that that was not me but in retrospect was definitely me as well.
On Her Love of Food:
Well, I was really lucky. I grew up in a household with a mother who was at the forefront of the organic movement. She was very anti-junk food, she only would shop at the health food store and she has been dairy and gluten-free for as long as I can remember.
I didn’t realize for a long time how the healthy side influenced me because at the time all I wanted to do was just eat junk food. But I did realize, once I got to college, and didn’t have the joy of my mom’s home cooking around any more, how much the cooking side of things had really seeped into my general food outlook.
It’s obviously something that has really taken hold and influenced me a lot.
On Ina Garten:
I call her my Kitchen-Fairy-God-Mother. In addition to my mom she was of course an early influence. Her and my father actually went to high school together. So I have known her since before she was a Food Network sensation.
Fame came a lot later in life for her. I have great memories of cooking with her when she had the Barefoot Contessa shop, again, prior to the cookbooks and everything. She has been a big inspiration to me in terms of just using really good quality ingredients and keeping things really simple, and focusing as much about the experience and who is at the table with you as the food itself.
I definitely cooked her some things. I know I made her seared scallops with corn and tomatoes and some fish cakes. I think I probably did that whole meal but usually my mom and I collaborate.
On Her Wheat Allergy and Following a Gluten-Free Diet:
It was definitely really hard at first. Again, I felt like I had a really big step up because I grew up with a mom who cooked naturally gluten-free and serve me things like quinoa before people knew what quinoa was. Before Whole Foods existed, which is pretty much when people, I think, learned what quinoa was.
It was more eating out that I found challenging. And then of course at the time was right when my cookbook was coming out and so I couldn’t eat any of the recipes in it.
On Cooking Gluten-Free for Beginners:
I would just say keep it super simple, don’t over think it, don’t try and delve into recipes that are like gluten-free this and that, because you might not have a lot of the ingredients on hand. Anything that’s just vegi-centric and protein-centric is going to be naturally gluten-free.
In terms of cuisines, anything like mediterranean, middle-eastern, and anything with a rice base. Mexican is actually very gluten-free as long as you avoid flour tortillas.
And then, really for eating out, Asian cuisines are tough because of the soy sauce but if you’re cooking from home, you can just make this simple substitution of using Tamari so don’t worry about that.
On Her Wellness Wednesday Hangouts:
I just recently announced that I am working on a new book called The Wellness Project. And this year it will be taking shape on my site as I am taking on a different wellness challenge every single month.
I’ll set up the challenge if people want to follow along and then tell people how it went. For example, this month, I give up alcohol, sugar, and caffeine. But basically it all starts off with that one experiment, because last year, I was just dipping my toe into really overhauling other aspects of my life other than food. I felt like I didn’t really have a forum for that type of content on my site which had historically just been about recipes, not necessarily healthy living.
I had this seed of this book idea and I knew I wanted to start talking to tons of different experts. As a way of killing two birds with one stone, I thought about doing this Wellness Wednesday Series where I have a different expert every week, a different topic on everything from autoimmune disease to hair health or everyday exercise.
I’ve done one on feng shui. It’s just to create room for that type of conversation. I am so glad I did it because it definitely was some baby steps from my audience and reaching where we are now, which is really a site that’s dedicate equally to recipes and healthy living content.
On Writing Her Books:
I think that most bloggers’ goals are not to just be bloggers for their whole life, and certainly mine wasn’t.
Last year, when I was super burnt out just from doing so much recipe development and private cooking for people that, I was getting sick of my site, and I just felt I needed to balance the writing with the cooking a little bit more. Now, of course, I’m going to suffer the opposite problem. I’m going to be so sick of writing, and need more of the cooking, but I am definitely excited.
I think my food career has really been dominated by my own personal experience. I went from being all about cooking with limited resources, when I was a young twenty-something, I kind of grew up, kind of became more of a professional cook, so that didn’t really make sense as much as platform any more.
Got diagnosed with a gluten allergy, I have been dealing with this autoimmune diagnosis for many years, and realized that that was kind of my identity now, and really what I should be talking about, and the type of food and life inspiration I should be doling out.
Last year was when I decided to really take the reins of my health into my own hands and make some serious changes. So, I started to talk to the experts as part of Wellness Wednesday. In tandem, I started thinking about how this project could live as a book and a larger more organized project for this year ahead.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
Well, the Barefoot Contessa, of course.
I used to watch a lot of Top Chef, but then as I started to cook more professionally, it just was too stressful.
What are some food blogs or websites that we have to know about?
I love Desserts for Two. My friend Christina Lane, she’s great, beautiful photography.
Domesticate Me, Serena Wolf, is hilarious and her recipes are like that perfect type of healthy comfort food that I love.
The Yellow Table, Anna Watson Carl, she’s got just such a lovely sensibility. She just came out with a cookbook that she self published, which is such an incredible undertaking. She did a whole blog series where she wrote every single day and really documented the progress. The way that she set that real process up for her audience was very influential and kind of how I positioned the Wellness Project on my site.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter that make you happy?
I like Hannah Bronfman on Instagram. She is really fun, HBfit is her new site. It’s a good message. Fit is the new skinny – using it as the inspiration for my exercise module, which I’m already dreading.
What is something all home cooks should have in their pantry?
I would say canned tomatoes and a dried pasta of your choosing, because that is just the most bare bones makings of a really delicious dinner. I still have tons of pasta, even though I’m gluten-free, I just buy the gluten-free brands.
Name one ingredient you cannot live without?
Lemon, fresh lemon. I go through at least a lemon a day.
I drink lemon water every morning, that’s one of the wellness practices I have really taken to, and then I love it in salads, as salad dressing, and just to brighten stews and things. I love using the zest, it’s the best.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I have so many cookbooks. I am just always kind of dipping into the new ones. I really need to do a better job cooking from my archives.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
I’ve already admitted to being a big Taylor Swift fan. I don’t listen to albums that much anymore. I’m always putting different songs of playlists on, that’s my thing.
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