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What’s Cooking Good Looking, food blog.
Jodi is a natural food chef. On her blog, she features healthy, wholesome and tasty foods that are proven to have the power to make us feel good from the inside out. What’s Cooking Good Looking was a finalist for Best Cooking Blog in Saveur’s 2014 Best Food Blog Awards.
More recently, Jodi is a finalist in the 2015 Saveur Blog Awards for Most Delicious Food, and she collaborated on a cookbook called Grains as Mains.
I am so thrilled to have Jodi Moreno of What’s Cooking Good Looking here on the show.
On Starting Her Blog:
I was somebody who always loved cooking. I grew up in an Italian family where food was very important. Food is always a very important part of our family. However, I wasn’t really always allowed to take over in the kitchen. I was always there helping and doing things.
When I went to college, I realized that when I didn’t have my family cooking for me anymore, I was going to have to cook for myself. So I started getting my feet wet with cooking. I was terrible. I made many, many mistakes. I exploded a few things.
When I started working professionally after college, I started taking it more seriously.
After work every day, I would come home and cook 3-hour meals for just myself. These elaborate things. I try these crazy recipes and then I bring the leftovers into the office. My co-workers were like, “Why don’t you do this? Why are you working in an office?”
After several years, I realized that maybe I should just do this full-time. So after a few years of working up to that, I left my job and went to culinary school.
My first job was working for photographers, so I never even had that much experience behind the camera. A lot of the work I was doing was in post-production and scanning the film into the computer, so it was a huge jump.
The photographer that I worked for really believed in me and thought that I could get behind the camera and start taking pictures. So he bought me a camera and it sat in my closet for many years, which I think I mention on my blog that it just kind of sat there collecting dust. It literally did.
Then when I went to culinary school, it was when I really started picking it up and taking it out, and realized since I have this love for food and this background of photography, I feel like it came naturally to just pick up the camera and start taking pictures of my food.
If you see my early pictures though, they’ve come a long way, so it wasn’t like they started off so great. But I did have a lot of background in photography which led me to where I am now.
On Her Shift to More Wholesome Foods:
I think it was a gradual process. I’ve always had this love of food but I also was someone who liked to exercise. I was running half marathons all the time and things like that, so I feel like I slowly started to realize that the foods that I ate really affected the rest of my life. I started to make little changes one by one. I think buying organic was the first thing I ever did.
That was really exciting. But then, I got more and more like that. Then also, a few years ago, I discovered that I had some sensitivity to foods which my doctor figured out; dairy and cow’s milk in particular. I just kept growing.
Then when I went to culinary school, I was looking at programs and I just didn’t feel any sort of connection to the ones that were more traditional, like heavy French-type cooking, a lot of sauces and things like that. I really wanted to learn about nutrition and how it affects you and how food really can be enriching. Then, when I did that program, that’s when my life totally changed.
Now, I eat mostly a plant-based diet. I allow a lot of room for exciting things to come in. I’m not dogmatic about it by any means, but it’s just how I enjoy eating nowadays.
I feel like that was the biggest “aha” moment. When my doctor said, “Cow’s milk is really causing a lot of these problems that you’re having, try cutting it out,” I was like, “Wow, that’s a pretty powerful thing.” I mean, I had a chronic cough. I had acne. I had all these kind of nagging little things that you could brush off as one thing or the other. But when I stopped, after about a month, they all went away and they’ve never come back.
Once I saw the results of that, it really changed. I wanted to change more. I wanted to feel even better.
I feel like just learning that one little thing changed so much about the way that I started cooking. Then once you get that feeling of what it’s like to experience that wellness, you crave it and you’re addicted to it and you just want more of that.
On Learning to Cook More Naturally:
It was a program based here in New York called the Natural Kitchen Culinary School. It was the only one I could find of its kind that combined traditional culinary techniques, so learning the basics like the knife skills and how to not burn things. Just to cook, follow recipes properly so that they come out really well. But in addition to that, they also taught about nutrition and these different cooking techniques like Macrobiotic and Ayurvedic. So I was really fascinated by all of that and it was the only program that I found that taught that.
On Starting to Cook More Healthfully:
One of the biggest things I think for cooking healthy is that maybe you don’t have the time. I found that a big thing for me was to set aside maybe a half hour, an hour, one day a week where you cook a batch of something, whether it’s quinoa or your beans or even just chopping up vegetables so you could snack on those instead of chips or something. Just setting aside any amount of time you can; any small or large.
If you want to spend all Sunday cooking, great. But even if you just do an hour a week, I feel like that really can impact the way that you eat for the rest of the week.
Even I will run to the nearest whatever take-out place to get something when I don’t have the time or the stuff in my fridge to do it.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I love Chopped. I feel like I get a lot of great tips from there. Top Chef, and of course I’m a sucker for Barefoot Contessa.
What are some food blogs or websites that we have to know about?
One of the ones I learned about last year was Vegetarian Ventures. That was new to me and I find her recipes to be incredibly creative. I look at Sprouted Kitchen’s website all the time. I feel a real connection to the foods that she makes. There are so many.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter that make you happy?
Instagram is my favorite. I love Oh, Ladycakes. She is a vegan baker and she travels a lot so she’s always got great posts. On Pinterest, Local Milk. She blows me away, she’s got amazing taste.
What is something all home cooks should have in their pantry?
Olive oil, absolutely. I couldn’t live without it.
Name one ingredient you cannot live without.
Olive oil, for everything; your sautéing, dressing your salad.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
One of my favorite books which you might not hear a lot of people talk about is The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook. I feel like there’s a lot of techniques in there. If I want a basic vegetable broth, they just have some really solid techniques. I’m constantly referring to it which I feel is a little bit unusual.
The Silver Spoon is another one that I think is a little out of the box that has great basic recipes and techniques and stuff and you can find there’s thousands of recipes.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
I feel like I play this over and over again. It’s John Coltrane’s album.
I feel like when I’m really getting in the mood, I always put that on. I’ve been doing that for years and years and I never get sick of it. I love it.
Keep Posted on Jodi:
Definitely Instagram. I post all my new recipes on there, and then I feed it through all the other social media sites; Facebook, Twitter. So I guess it depends on which one you like to use most, but I’m on all of them.