We’ve never chosen a cookbook as our book club pick, but Oh She Glows blogger Angela Liddon’s cookbook is so awesome, we just had to feature it. Read on for a fun interview with one of our favorite food heroes.
- 1. What’s your philosophy about food and nutrition?
I thrive on a diet made up of whole, plant-based foods that are minimally processed and organically grown whenever possible. I still make room for dessert and believe a balanced diet can include indulgences in moderation. For many years I identified with the vegan label, but I found the external pressure to be perfect was overwhelming. I no longer use a label to define my diet or lifestyle, and always encourage my readers to do what works best for them. Whether that means ascribing to a certain label or having no label at all, do what makes you feel happy and healthy!
- 2. What inspired you to start Oh She Glows?
In 2008, I had just gotten married and graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Psychology. At the time, I was also working full time as a researcher and was unfulfilled with my career. I knew deep down that I had made the wrong decision career-wise, but I thought it was too late to change after spending seven years in university. So I started my blog as a fun hobby. I didn’t think blogging was something I would stick with for more than a couple weeks, but I absolutely fell in love with it! Initially, I wrote about my journey to health and recovery from an eating disorder. I connected with so many women and men all over the world, many of whom wrote to say they were going through the same struggles and that my story had helped them get through a tough time. This motivated me to keep going and as my blog took off, I knew that I had tapped into a hidden passion.
- 3. Writing a cookbook is such a huge project! What did you learn about yourself during the process?
That I can keep a big secret! The first book took almost three years to complete, so to sit on all of those recipes and not be able to share them with my readers was really, really hard.
- 4. What is your favorite recipe in the Oh She Glows Cookbook?
I have a sweet tooth, so I’d have to say my Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte with a Toasted Hazelnut Crust and Coconut Whipped Cream. It’s completely vegan and gluten-free and everyone goes crazy over it when they try it. The best part is, if you don’t have time to make the crust you can turn the filling into a decadent freezer fudge. For a savory recipe, I’d have to say my Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Sauce. It’s healthy comfort food to the max.
- 5. You speak of your experience with eating disorders in your intro. Do you have any advice for women who are struggling with body image or eating disorders?
I struggled with an eating disorder for over 10 years of my life. For so long, I was miserable, unhealthy, and unable to appreciate all the great things in my life because I was so consumed with the disordered way of thinking. I look back on those years and I wish I could get them back because I missed out on so much. In my early- to mid-twenties, I sought counseling and started to make simple changes in my life. I stopped counting calories, weighing myself obsessively, and instead focused on how I felt each day. The eating disorder was so ingrained in me it took a long time to get my mind back to a healthy place, but I eventually made a lot of progress. Like many women, I still struggle with negative thoughts about myself and my body, but now I’m able to refocus my energy and treat myself with compassion, exercise because I love how it makes me feel (rather than punishment), and surround myself with other women who are healthy body image role models. That last part is key.
- 6. We love how you celebrate food. What would you say to someone who thinks that eating a healthy diet means you have to deprive yourself?
I totally used to think that a healthy diet meant deprivation. I suffered through so many cardboard-tasting diet foods back in the day. If a box said fat-free or 100-calorie, it was in my grocery cart. Little did I know that I could fuel my body with plant-based foods and not only have way more energy, but I could still maintain my weight without suffering. This was a revelation for me. I think it’s very common for people to fear the unknown. I always encourage people to just try a few of my recipes—often they’ll write and say they had no idea vegan food could taste so good!
- 7. Congratulations on being a new mom! How are you coping with the demands of new motherhood? Any advice you’d like to share with the new moms out there?
Running a business and being a new mom has reinforced something I’ve known for a while—it’s impossible for every aspect of my life to feel balanced at the same time. It reminds me of the saying, “you can have it all, but just not all at once.” This quote has helped me when I’m feeling pulled in many different directions and feeling guilty about not getting everything done. I think there is so much pressure for new parents, especially mothers, to strive for balance. The message seems to be if you try hard enough you can sleep 8 hours a night, have a clean house, get your pre-baby body back, go on date nights with your husband, have a perfect sex life, spend oodles of time with your kids, and have a career. Well, yes all of that is certainly possible, but from my own experience these things will never happen all at once. I’ve made peace with the unbalance in my life right now. Yes, I’m sleep deprived, my laundry is piled up, and my pre-baby jeans are still a bit tight, but there is so much in my life to be grateful for. I have so much love in my life. My daughter is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I wouldn’t trade it for any amount of balance in the world.
- 8. At barre3, we’re all about balance. What does balance mean to you? Any tricks to practicing balance in your busy life?
Practicing balance is a good way to put it because it implies that it’s ever-evolving. No matter what is going on in my life, I feel my best when I exercise every day, even if it’s only a short stroller walk outdoors. Lately, I work out after my baby goes down to bed at night, and I look forward to using that time to release stress. However, working out at the end of the day can be super challenging so I often tell myself: just work out for 10 minutes. Once I get going I feel more and more energized, so I usually end up completing my entire workout.
- 9. What’s your favorite way to exercise? How has your exercise regimen (or your approach to exercise) changed since you had your baby?
I’m all about maximizing my workout time these days. I do a combination of cardio and strength exercises. The strength work I do tends to be continuous and without breaks so it’s intense, but it’s over quickly. I’m also looking forward to trying out some barre3 workouts geared towards new moms and of course, getting outside as much as possible this spring and summer.
- 10. What’s your favorite power song when you need a little extra motivation during your workout?
Sean Kingston’s “Take You There”, Britney’s “Work Bitch”, and Vance Joy’s “Riptide” are current workout favorites.
To date, Angela has shared over 600 recipes and is currently working hard on her second cookbook, due out next year. Have you prepared any of Angela’s recipes? Let us know how you like them in the comments below!