Emily Levenson is one of the few bloggers who I have been following continually for a long time… I am not quite sure why she caught my attention in the first place but I am sure it had a lot to do with her beautiful imagery, honest “voice” and ever famililar story. I am so glad Emily made herself available for an interview as I am sure you will love hearing her story as much as I have.
‘Nourishment for the Mind and Mouth’ is a genius way to describe your site. I have been following your journey for some time and thoroughly enjoy your humour and insights. In this crazy, busy, modern life we are currently living; what does it mean to YOU to be ‘nourished’?
Ah, good question! I feel like nourishment comes from more than just food. The longer I’ve been alive, the more deeply I understand this notion. Yes, food plays a major role in our lives and our health, but it isn’t the end all, be all. In fact, it’s a very small piece of the puzzle. Instead, things like meaningful and supportive relationships, finding work that fulfills you, and doing the things that feed your soul (like meditation, art, reading) have the power to nourish and support us in ways that food cannot.
The more I have those other pieces in place, the more likely I am to feel nourished. When I start to feel resentful, stuck, or stressed out, I know that I need to take a look at where I’m lacking nourishment.
As a busy mama and entrepreneur, who is thriving, can you please share your top strategies for self-care?
Hmm, I’m not sure I’d say I was “thriving” on a regular basis. There are plenty of days where I feel like I’m failing at everything. I’m distracted at home, I’m distracted with work, and all I want to do is have quiet time. Other days, I truly feel like I’m kicking ass and taking names in every area of my life.
I think it all boils down to feeling supported, having time for myself (to create, to read, to nourish the curious parts of my soul), and spending time with good friends every now and again.
I’m also a huge fan of journaling and intention setting. It helps to keep me focused on what I need to get done and, ultimately, what I’m working towards.
Who, in your business, and family life (‘in real life’, online, virtual) is in your support crew?
My husband is the best support going. He believes in me, often when I don’t. And is always willing to do whatever I need in order to feel supported and productive.
My mom and sister-in-law are magical. They are my go-to editors, cheerleaders, and problem solvers.
My Propelle business partner, Kate Stoltzfus. I don’t think I’d be able to accomplish half of the things that I do without her support and accountability.
The entrepreneurial community that has formed through Propelle. I seriously love the way other women come together and lift each other up. It seriously makes my heart swell to see all that these women do, day in and day out. They inspire me and keep me going on the toughest of days.
You post frequently on the topic of smoothies. What is the importance of smoothies to you?
You know, I don’t think I ever realized how much I posted about smoothies until you asked this!
They are quick and easy, and often the only thing that I can eat in the morning. After being diagnosed with several food sensitivities, it was one of the few treats that I could whip up and get really creative with. Smoothies are also the thing that gets me out food slumps whenever I’m feeling stuck with new recipe ideas.
And for some reason, they are HUGELY popular on Instagram. Who knew that a picture of a hand and a smoothie cup could elicit such excitement.
Can you briefly describe your process of recovery from food sensitivities?
Recovery is a bit of a fluid thing for me. I was initially diagnosed with food sensitivities 8 or so years ago. Since then, I have gone in and out of being able to enjoy those foods. I’ve noticed that stress is a key piece of the puzzle, causing flare ups and slip ups.
I have worked hard to eliminate the foods when I cannot eat them, maintaining a positive outlook on what I am able to eat, and taking extra care of myself in the process.
Things like acupuncture, energy work, journaling, meditation, massage, and reading help to reduce stress and bring about healing in all areas of my life. Asking for support versus letting things fester, scheduling more girls nights, and finding ways to nourish my creativity also help to lessen the stress and, ultimately, lessen my sensitivity to trigger foods.
What role has food taken in your journey to be personally ‘nourished’?
Food has been a symptom of the bigger picture for me. It’s the thing I pay attention to when I seem to ignore everything else. Cooking helps me feel grounded and centered, having a food blog (in every iteration) has allowed me to build community and not feel so alone in my journey, and I absolutely love to show people that sensitivities and restriction aren’t the end of delicious food.
How would you describe your approach to food?
I am definitely a simple cook. I hate super fancy food, often preferring (veggie) burgers and french fries to the latest trends in food. And with a toddler in tow (who happens to love cooking), things have to be quick and easy.
I tend to make things that require 5-7 ingredients. I love stir-fries and one-pot meals. And I believe that anyone can cook if they are willing to learn.
I am also anti-diet and tend to stay away from fads. Having done food sensitivity testing for 4 years, I learned that there isn’t one single approach to eating that works for everyone. Instead, I really believe that if we listen to our bodies, we will be guided towards the right foods for ourselves. Things that make you feel strong, energized, grounded, happy, and excited are foods that you should eat more of. Foods that drain your energy, leave you feeling bloated and lackluster are ones that should be avoided. The more you’re able to listen, the more you’ll be able to choose the rights foods for you.
Are there any books, films, or groups that have forever changed the way you look at self-care, health, wellness or nutrition?
Several books have been incredibly influential for me. Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, Make Miracles in Forty Days by Melodie Beattie, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert are top of the list.
As for groups, the Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp is a big one. It’s a group filled with smart, curious, and successful women who focus on working through limiting beliefs and blocks in order to have more abundance (and, ultimately) money.
I’m sure there are a thousand more things that I’ve been inspired by over the years, but those are the ones that are coming to mind.
I am currently developing my first online programme, which will focus on teaching people to get confident with a suite of recipes they can adjust to their own tastes and adapt to their local produce available seasonally. How do you get inspired to prepare a meal?
I spend hours on Pinterest. (Kidding. Sort of.)
I am a big fan of menu planning, and would be lost without my weekly menu. I print out a blank template and begin to fill in what we want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If I’m feeling a little stuck, I turn to Pinterest for ideas. I can see what recipes are popular or simply search for the things I want.
I also find that most recipes have to be tweaked to my own preferences and dietary needs, so I’m always playing around with recipes and making them my own. Most things can be substituted or adjusted, so it’s really a matter of knowing what you like and what you have on hand!
Can you please share one of your favourite recipes that you and your daughter like?
My little one — affectionately referred to as The Babe — is a big fan of chocolate. Chocolate cake, brownies, a handful of chocolate chips… If there is chocolate in it, she’ll find it. So I’ve had to get a bit creative when it comes to giving her what she wants and making sure that she’s also getting what I want her to be eating.
One thing she adores and requests on a weekly basis are chickpea bites. Our current favorites are chocolate chip chickpea bites and chocolate peanut butter chickpea bites. Both are super easy to make, and allow us BOTH to feel good about what she’s snacking on.