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Beth has been 100% gluten-free since 2005 and was inspired to create her blog, Tasty Yummies, after significantly changing her diet and her life in 2010.
Her goal is to inspire us to get creative with our food and to live and eat well with food intolerances and allergies. Her work has been featured in America’s Test Kitchen, Huffington Post and The Kitchn, just to mention a few. Beth is also an artist, a certified yoga instructor and adventurer and lover of all things yummy.
I’m so excited to have Beth Manos Brickey of Tasty Yummies joining me here on the show.
(*The photos below are Beth’s.)
On Whether or Not to Try a Gluten-Free Diet:
The longer I’ve been in this world, the more I see that it’s different for everybody. We’re all such individuals and there’s obviously classic signs of gluten intolerances, or you can have an allergy or you can have Celiac disease, which would also bring on the intolerance. There are varying degrees of symptoms. I would say, certainly chronic digestive issues, it’s worth looking into.
Brain fog, skin issues, just feeling generally run-down. I know people that have a very classic allergenic response, hives. So, it can take on many forms and there’s also different ways but I also think that sometimes people think, “Well, I don’t have diarrhea every day, so clearly…and I eat gluten every day, so clearly, I don’t have an intolerance,” but as I was saying previously, our bodies actually are really smart and they’re built with these mechanisms to protect us. If you’re constantly exposing your body to something that it doesn’t want, it will learn how to protect you from it by building up a tolerance. So, just because you don’t have itchy skin and you don’t think you’re tired or brain fogged or digestively challenged, it doesn’t mean that there’s not something else going on. So, it’s worth experimenting. I tell everybody, if there’s any question, just try it.
On Relearning to Cook Gluten-Free:
There were a lot of fails, a lot of fails, but I think that that’s what made me love food. I’ve always loved food, I’ve always had an appreciation for it but it really connected me in a different way. I built this different relationship with food, where I started learning that I had to listen to the food and what it wanted and what I wanted to do with it. Just getting back to basics but also, realize that there is so much exploring that can be done, and sometimes the most basic things can be the most beautiful things.
On a Simple First Step to Making Healthier Choices:
If I had it my way, I’d tell every person that I ever met to never eat a processed food again because it’s just garbage for you. Your body doesn’t recognize most of what you’re eating as true food. There’s no nutrition to it, so it’s not sustaining any sort of life force within your body. So, start to take note of the things in your kitchen and be aware of what’s in them. And obviously, we’re all in a world of convenience and needing to eat on the go, so if you’re going to pick a processed food – again, this comes from Michael Pollan – but my rule is five ingredients or less, and know what those ingredients are. If you cannot pronounce a word on a box, don’t buy it, just don’t.
On a Dish That’s Special to Her:
It’s actually under my website as a tutorial because it’s a little bit more step-by-step of a recipe. My family is Greek. My dad is 100% Greek and I grew up very surrounded by traditional Greek foods and everything that you see in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Greek people eat, someone passes away, someone gets sick, we eat, we always eat. Food is celebration. So, growing up, my grandmother, my yaya, always made stuffed grape leaves. We call them dolmades; they’re called different things in other cultures. And it’s something I always loved, I thought it was a ton of work. I would love when she would make them and I would come over and I never made time to have her teach me how to make them. It’s one of those things, she passed away. Ironically, the month that I did that cleanse to remove everything, to find out if I needed to remove gluten, that was the month my yaya passed away, smack in the middle of that. I remember then and even now being like, “My gosh, I learned so much from her in the kitchen.” She was a great cook but I never learned how to make dolmades. I moved in to this house here in southern California about three years ago and when I moved in, the whole back alley of the house right behind my bedroom window, it’s all lined with grape vines.
And I was like, “Oh, I know what I need to do. I need to make stuffed grape leaves.” So my parents came out to visit and we got my grandmother’s old church cookbook that they – all the women of the Greek Orthodox Church in Buffalo – put together and we followed the instructions and followed her notes of the things that she changed and added and we learned, taught ourselves how to make stuffed grape leaves, with fresh grape leaves nonetheless. And after we did that, the first year I was like, “I need to make this a tutorial on my website. I need to show people that even though it’s cumbersome in the sense it’s a lot of steps and there’s a lot of hands-on aspect, it’s not just dumping stuff in a pot.” It’s also such an amazing and beautiful process that it’s one of those foods I have never once ever made them on my own. I always make them when my parents are here or when I go back home or something where there’s like a community, family love aspect to the meal.
It’s cool, it’s a recipe that I have a lot of pride in, even though it’s not anything original and it’s really simple but it’s just such a fun and beautiful connection-type recipe. And then I also – in the tutorial, because I generally avoid a lot of grains and I know a lot of my readers do as well – I offer the option to replace the rice that’s in the stuffed grape leaves with cauliflower rice. So, it’s kind of a different option and then you can make it with meat or without meat, you can eat them hot or cold. So, it’s amazing.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
This is not going to be a popular answer but I don’t really watch cooking shows anymore. I got sick of always turning on Food Network and always seeing Guy Fieri and a bunch of garbage food that I didn’t really want to get excited about. So, I just don’t watch it anymore. Although, Aida Mollenkamp, a friend of mine in L.A., she works with Tastemade and does a series, it’s a web series. She travels around the world and does a quick 10-minute show about the food of that area. And so, I guess I do watch a little bit, just not the traditional stuff. So yeah, that would be my pick.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
Some of my favorites are Nourished Kitchen. This woman, Jennifer, who does an amazing job sharing how to enjoy real food and get into the kitchen; very similar mind-set to mine, get in the kitchen, make it yourself, real food. I really love Salt & Wind, also created by Aida Mollenkamp, who I mentioned before. She travels the world, she has a bunch of contributors, it’s really focused on travel and the food of travel and all around the world and being inspired by that. I think the other one that really makes me happy right now is a blog called Will Frolic for Food. It’s a friend of mine, Renee Byrd, and she’s just a beautiful photographer, beautiful photos. Everything she makes is just gorgeous and you can tell she really puts time into every detail of every dish and there’s just this level of love in every recipe. It makes me happy to see somebody slowing down and taking time with food.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
So on Instagram, I follow a whole bunch of people that stemmed from this one person, in terms of what she was doing. I really love Beth of Local Milk. She just takes beautiful photography that has so much emotion in it and most of the time, it’s food-focused. So, I just love what she does. There’s a feed on Instagram called How You Glow. It’s two girls from L.A. and they also seem to travel a lot and they promote healthy living and getting out and experiencing your world and experiencing all the different things there are, but also mindful living; they’re very focused on yoga and healthy eating. I love The Feed Feed feed, just because it’s a really great way to find new bloggers, new recipes, new people. And then I follow a lot of people that are very much in line nutritionally with what I’m doing. Some of them happened to be Paleo food bloggers, but Diane Sanfilippo, Mickey Trescott, Liz Wolfe, Robyn Youkilis, who I just discovered recently, who wrote a book that came out this month. I think it’s called Go With Your Gut. It’s about gut healing and food. So yeah, those are just some of my favorites. Again, I could probably go on forever.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I don’t know if it’s unusual, but right now, it’s my most treasured. It would be a toss-up between my Vitamix and I just recently bought a pressure cooker, Instant Pot. I do a lot of batch cooking because I want to make sure that even when I’m busy and life’s crazy, that I can eat well. I drink bone broth every week. Again, another gut healing thing, and there’s just so many nutrients and I used to make it in a big stock pot and let it cook for 24 to 48 hours, and I don’t think that’s really safe to leave a pot on a gas stove that long. It doesn’t make me feel good. So the pressure cooker cooks it in a couple of hours and it’s the best. I buy a bunch of organic chicken thighs and cook that in there and I’ve been cooking sprouted grains in there. So, sometimes at the start of the week that thing doesn’t leave the counter for two days while I just cook a storm up.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
It’s kind of a weird thing. I laugh now but I used to think that maple syrup was really gross because the scent of it I felt like it would linger if you’d have it on pancakes. When you were a kid it would just, the smell of it would just stay on your body and then it was just all you’d smell. I probably realize now that it wasn’t real maple syrup and maybe that was what I was not loving. Now, I love it. I use it when I bake and it’s always in my kitchen.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
One that jumps out is Danielle Walker of Against All Grain, put out a meals-made-simple cookbook. It’s Paleo but I just like that it’s simple. It’s not, you have to have a million crazy ingredients you’ve never heard of; it’s casseroles made with cauliflower, rice and chicken, and comfort food and the things that you grew up with. I often just turn to that for when I want something easy that I can throw it on the Crock Pot and not think about. But I know it’s well tested and it will be great.
I actually don’t cook a lot from cookbooks but another book that I turn to a lot when I want some sort of inspiration, I love Indian food but I obviously didn’t grow up with Indian food. It’s just called India Cookbook.
It’s beautiful and it’s huge, and beautiful color pictures through the whole thing. But, it’s a really nice way to look at a very classic, traditional culture’s food and how they would make it, and nine times out of ten, it’s way more involved or ingredients that I don’t have access to, but it’s a good inspiration for something that maybe comes from it that’s inspired by it.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
A lot of times when I cook I don’t have music on, but it’s when I’m taking my photos that I turn music on and then that’s so dependent on my mood. And it’s so dependent on my mood that if you looked at my stream on Spotify, you’d be like, “Is this person bipolar or are they like schizophrenic? What’s going on?” Because it would be Iron Maiden and Motorhead, and the next day it will be Fleetwood Mac and Beyonce, and then it will go to traditional Indian yogic-style music and then jazz, and then Sigur Rós. I am all over the map with music. I just don’t like country music, it doesn’t make me want to dance. But depending on my mood, I would say almost everything else will make me dance and depending on the day.
On Keeping Posted with Beth:
I’m at Tasty Yummies on pretty much on every platform, so take your pick. I’m on Snapchat and Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook. The blog is always a good home base for recipes and just stay in the loop, probably with Instagram. I have a new website coming in the next few months. So hopefully my new website will be an even better platform to keep up with the yoga events I have and retreats I found working as a nutritionist, and all the different things that I’m doing.