The Sunday Table
Grace is a self-taught cook and a holistic nutrition consultant. She feels that our diets should be personalized, with a balance between food that makes us feel good and food that is healthy. On her blog, Grace features seasonal, organic, and whole-food ingredients, and she follows a mainly gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based diet.
I am so happy to have Grace Rusch of The Sunday Table here on the show today.
(*All images below are Grace’s.)
On Starting Her Blog:
I’d say it was just a matter of wanting to continually be inspired by new recipes or new ingredients. It helps me keep things interesting and that way I’m looking at new cookbooks, new recipes online and trying different ingredients.
I’m always inspired by seasonal ingredients, as well. So, the blog is really just a vehicle for me to constantly come up with new things for dinner and for breakfast. That way food’s not boring.
On Her Interest in Food and Cooking:
I’ve had a long-time interest in food and cooking.
I started cooking at a young age, just helping my mom in the kitchen. So, it probably stems from that good foundation that she built and instilled in me. And then, I got a lot more into it in college and high school. I really started to get into nutrition and thinking about how the food we eat affects how we feel and our bodies. So, that really is what, kind of, jump-started my interest in cooking. Through that, I’ve discovered how food actually made me feel. And through that, I found out I was gluten and dairy intolerant. So, it’s just been a journey.
When I moved to California, this “California fresh” fare was really inspiring to me. I come from the Midwest; I’m from Minnesota. And not that we didn’t eat healthy growing up, but it wasn’t quite the same cuisine. So, in college in California, I really started to use fresh produce and make that the foundation of my meal. Since that was something that was relatively new to me, it really inspired me to find new recipes.
Finding food blogs was also an inspiration to me, as a source for new recipes.
What else inspires me is just the food that makes me feel good. I try to eat food that’s healthy, but also tastes delicious. I definitely wouldn’t say I only eat for nutrition. Sure, that’s my basis, but it also has to taste good, because I also really enjoy eating.
What pushes me further is the fact that I have some dietary restrictions. And so, I have to constantly be creative and be adapting recipes to make it something that I can eat that’s not going to hurt my stomach.
On Experimenting in the Kitchen:
I’d say I’m a creative or curious cook. I just throw things together. I don’t have too many total flops, but that’s because I love adapting recipes that I know work. Or, I just throw things together that are super simple, like oatmeal or an egg bake. There’s a lot of really simple foundations that you can build on to make something healthy and delicious. I’ve definitely had major flops, though. Especially in baking. There’s trial and error, for sure.
I think if you find recipes that you like, just try swapping out an ingredient. Like, having that curiosity. If you switch vegetables in a dish, that’s a pretty safe swap. Just start experimenting. If you add additional spices, that’s a pretty easy way to explore. Baking it’s a little harder. But for cooking, it should be fun and it should be kind of an experiment.
Just having the curiosity of “What happens if I add these spices?”, or you switch up the vegetable or you switch up the meat. Don’t feel like you have to have exactly what’s in the recipe, unless that’s exactly what you want to eat.
I think I look a lot to the online community. There’s so many people doing really amazing things. So, I’m continually inspired by other food bloggers. I have a lot of cookbooks and I cook from a lot of them here and there, but I don’t have one in particular that really inspires me.
On Some Good Resources for Learning to Cook:
I am a 100 percent self-taught cook in the sense that I never really looked up the science behind cooking or baking. I think you learn that over time. So, I don’t think that I went to one resource. 101 Cookbooks, Heidi Swanson was definitely a first food blog that I found. Sara Forte from Sprouted Kitchen was another one.
On Being a Holistic Nutrition Consultant:
I had considered, in college, going to school for nutrition but decided to go to school for business, but I found this holistic nutrition school in Berkeley, California which is where I live now. And so, I kind of made it my plan: “Alright, I’m already in California. After I graduate I’m going to move to Berkeley and do this program.” It took me a few years, but eventually, I signed up to do the holistic nutrition program. It really just stemmed from curiosity of how food affects our bodies and how you heal yourself from the inside out, through food.
I think it’s pretty baffling to me that people don’t have the connection between what you eat and how your body feels. So, for me, it was really just to get that information. I’m a total food science nerd, so I love learning about how what we eat affects our body and then how that affects how you feel. It really is a holistic approach how that affects the rest of your life.
There’s definitely a balance between healthy and food that makes you happy. It’s easy to go too far one way or the other, and finding a balance is really a personal preference. It’s different for everyone. For me, I definitely feel better when I eat a lot of vegetables, but I also love sweets. So, oats with maple syrup is one thing; that, even to me, is enough.
Sometimes I really want dark chocolate and I’m not going to deny myself that. So, it’s definitely different for everyone. That’s my overall philosophy: every single person has a different diet that’s right for them, and food should make you happy. It should be something that you look forward to eating, but it also should be nutrient-rich. It should be something that’s not going to eventually, down the road, make you sick.
I think that is the first question you get asked and it’s the hardest question to answer; is “What should I eat?”. Because it is so individualized. It is fun to navigate that path with people; to help them understand foods they like and foods they don’t like.
If you really hate peas, then there’s no reason to eat them. If you really hate beets…I personally hate beets. It’s really hard for me to want to cook them and eat them. Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. You should definitely find things that you want to be eating that are also healthy.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I don’t watch any. I have a television, I rarely use it.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
Ones that I frequently visit and actually cook from are: Sprouted Kitchen, it’s one of my favorites.
Cookie and Kate, that’s a really good one, I’ve cooked a lot of delicious things from her site.
A Couple Cooks, they have a lot of really good recipes.
Dolly and Oatmeal, she’s also gluten and dairy free, so I always love her recipes.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook that make you happy?
I’d say Instagram’s probably my favorite platform, just because I love to look at photography. I actually follow a lot of photographers and travel or portrait photographers on Instagram. I follow the food blog world, too, but those are the pictures that make me happiest. It’s just seeing other parts of the world and little snippits. If you’ve had a rough day and you’re feeling uninspired, it’s so nice to see these beautiful nature landscapes.
One that comes to the top of my head is Jeff Marsh. He’s a Seattle photographer, both portrait and outdoor nature photos. Beautiful, beautiful photos. Aubrie Pick, she is a local San Francisco food photographer; just amazing stuff. Oh, I recently met a photographer from Vancouver Island, Kelly Brown; she’s a wedding photographer and lifestyle. Really beautiful stuff.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I don’t think I have anything too unusual, but I have to admit, my most treasured thing right now is my Vitamix. I use it every day.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Probably, snap peas. I really like them and can eat them raw now. And bell peppers. I kind of have a love hate relationship with them. I’m learning to like green beans; still not my favorite.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
Recently, I’ve been returning to Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison; I love that one. The new Sprouted Kitchen cookbook just came out, that’s a really great one and her previous cookbook is excellent. I’ve also been cooking a lot lately from Vibrant Food, which is Kimberly Hasselbrink’s cookbook.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
I love music. I went to school for music business, so music is a big part of my life. I couldn’t just pick one, but I always go to Motown or old soul or funk music in the kitchen. It’s just fun, upbeat, and inspires you. Right now, I’ve been listening a lot to Brandi Carlile’s new album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter; that’s a great one. So, a big mix.
On Keeping Posted with Grace: