Leah is an RN at Mercy Hospital in the Pediatric ICU. When she’s not caring for the babies in the PICU, she dedicates her time to her kiddos at home. She loves to anchor her family around good, slow food… served with intention. She’s passionate about healing her and her kids’ bodies- and she knows that begins with the gut. Soon, she will be launching a business as a nurse health coach, placing an emphasis on mamas and their babes. You can find Leah on her blog, Blooming Motherhood.
Food mantra: Food is my love language. To sit and have a nourishing meal and conversation with a loved one...is my heaven. I actually get upset when my husband isn't hungry when it's time to eat. Ha!! Food is to nourish. To heal. To bring together. I am also really into eating with the seasons.
Style of cooking: Loosely following recipes and trying to convince my husband that I followed one! Haha. He always asks "Did you follow a recipe for this?" Because I never do. Sometimes it's a big flop. Other times he approves and we high-five over it.
Your food inspiration: Nourishing my children and family is important to me. I want my kids to thrive, and I believe wellness starts in the gut. Immunity, autoimmune, allergies...all of it can link back to the gut. I don't want my kids to suffer with allergies and asthma like I did. That is my motivation. Creating healthy guts from the beginning. It brings me so much joy to make healthy stuff taste yummy. There is a big lack of this talk in healthcare. I want to help change it.
WEEKLY ‘GO TO’ MEALS:
Korean beef and rice
Yellow curry, chicken on salads loaded up with veggies and avocado
Tacos - any variety, I am always trying to find a reason to have tacos
Some sort of crock-pot-soup creation with bone broth and whatever is in my pantry
Organizing your fridge/pantry to suit your needs: Most used items are on a shelf above where I prep (rice, oats, quinoa, etc). For the freezer, I try to keep an inventory on a sheet of paper inside. We never have a bunch of stuff in the fridge or freezer because I try to use up what we buy and not let things sit or waste.
Tricks have you learned to maintain a healthy diet with a busy lifestyle: Food is such a big part of my life. I think for me it's mostly about prepping in advance: meal planning, eating at home 90% of the time, and knowing that I have "go-to" snacks and meals that are quick. I actually keep a list of that in my kitchen so I don't have to think too hard or feel overwhelmed by the never-ending question, "What can I eat that is cheap, quick AND healthy." I have a meal rotation.
Food you make that you can’t live without: I've been on a big oat flour pancake kick... I make them in bulk. I add collagen and duck eggs so they are packed with protein and we can eat them as a snack with nut butter or breakfast on the go.
In the fridge: Coconut milk, cheese sticks, sauerkraut, duck eggs, apples, butter of some sort (I have been dairy free for my son's allergies but still feed my toddler grass-fed butter while I am on the Earth Balance kick), bone broth.
In the pantry: Dark chocolate chips, cashews, chips and salsa, avocado, almond butter, oats.
Kitchen tools: I am pretty basic. A good knife and cutting board. But my Blendtec did change my life.
Snack food: Apples + almond butter, nut thins + veggies in hummus, soft boiled duck eggs.
Best grocery store: Aldi and Mama Jeans
Best brand/item at store: Aldi organic pantry items (rice, beans, chips, salsa, PB, ketchup even!). Mama Jeans is by FAR the cheapest place to get IN SEASON local produce. Eat seasonally, locally, and you will get deals there. They have a quick sale section for produce needing to be eaten soon. Sometimes the stuff is not even ripe yet! I shop sales.
Best place to eat: Oh, sushi is my favorite. There is a new place called Craft Sushi that is very allergy-friendly. GF/DF/V options are abundant.
Best meal at restaurant: The salmon sushi bowl at Craft Sushi is my most recent favorite.
LEAH’S KITCHEN TO YOURS:
2 cups organic rice
1 lb ground beef, grass-fed
1/2 c Braggs liquid aminos
2 T toasted sesame oil
2 T sesame seeds
1 T minced garlic
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Soak desired amount of rice overnight, then cook before serving with beef.
Mix all other ingredients and marinate, in the fridge, for several hours or overnight.
Cook beef in cast -iron skillet on medium until cooked through.
Serve over warm rice and top with sauerkraut, kimchi, or any other favorite ferments.
I love this recipe because it takes 5 minutes to prep. I like to use my rice cooker after my meat has marinated in the fridge all day, so it's quick to whip up. I aim for everything I make to be nourishing and edible (according to my toddler), and checks both those boxes. It's a weekly dish in our home and I hope you enjoy!
Michelle Billions is a mom of three who owns and co-owns two of Springfield’s staple businesses. Owning and operating The Coffee Ethic - Specialty Coffee Bar and Roaster and co-owning Cherry Picker Package + Fare - Restaurant, Coffee & Cocktail Bar selling food, packaged wines, and liquor. Whether she’s cooking a meal for her family or roasting your coffee beans, she takes pride in quality over quantity. She’s a believer in indulging in what you want but making sure it’s worth it. Meaning, no wasted calories and the quality better be excellent. Eat with the intention of enjoying what you are putting in your body rather than feeling guilty about it. Want the full fat ice cream? Go for it, but take a moment and relish in the sweet flavor. There’s enough in the world to get you down… food shouldn’t be one of them. We think she’s on to something.
Food Mantra: Eat the hell out of what's in season and have no wasted calories.
Style of cooking: Style? Hmmm. I would say healthy, quick, simple and eclectic. I love to try new recipes and have enjoyed exploring Indian food as of late.
Your food inspiration: Food that is in season, great restaurants, dinner club with my girlfriends, & my current cravings.
WEEKLY GO TO MEALS:
Grilled Cheese with Soup
Breakfast for Dinner
Lemon Pepper Garlic Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta
Fiesta Chicken with Poblano Peppers & Rice
The Saigon Peanut Chicken over Noodles and Greens
Lasagna with Salad and Crusty Bread
Chicken Masala or Curry with Rice
Chili of all kinds
Chicken Noodle Soup
Truth be told, I have really enjoyed treating our family to "Hello Fresh" or the "Blue Apron" deliveries. I have been doing this for about a year now because I realized I was really slacking in the meal-making department. I get two meals every other week to keep cost down and these meals 1. Teach my kids how to cook, 2. Provide us with plenty of leftovers, 3. Keep waste to a minimum (which I despise), and 4. You can pick healthy.
Organizing your fridge/pantry to suit your needs: Nothing ingenious! I just like to have the items I use most at eye level. I like to clean & organize (my kids help a lot with this as well), periodically so I don't get that special surprise from the furry moldy friend(s).
Tricks you have learned to maintain a healthy diet with a busy lifestyle: Balance is Queen. I very rarely buy anything super unhealthy. If it's not in my house, I (we) am not tempted to partake. Even with the fluctuating research on what constitutes a healthy diet, I have learned over time to choose what makes me feel healthy/good while understanding the importance of moderation & balance. That being said, I am not going deprive myself or my kids of culinary bliss on occasion just because it's "unhealthy". I don't eat what I call "wasted calories", meaning I try to eat only food that is worthy of the calories I'm about to put in this middle-aged body. We all deserve to "treat ourselves" and is a crucial part of the balance piece. I try to have snacks in the house that are not only healthy but easy to grab and go. Usually lots of fruit, veggies, cheese, salami, nuts, and granola bars. One last thing, I have always exercised and am 100% sure this has helped maintain the balance both mentally & physically.
Food you make that you can’t live without: Eggs (over easy) with Avocados.
In the fridge: Eggs, milk, cheese, fruit, veggies, yum-yum sauce, jelly, plain Greek yogurt, butter, cream cheese, some pickled items, a couple of craft beers, and flavored water.
In the pantry: Love that Trader Joe’s Corn Bread Mix, Peanut Butter, Avocados, Tortilla Chips, Olive Oil, & Salt/Spices, Pamela's Pancake & Baking Mix.
Cookbooks: Joy of Cooking, Family Binder- a collection of our favorite recipes.
Kitchen tools: A couple of sharp knives, coffee grinder & brewer (we use a Ratio coffee maker), non-stick small pan for eggs, tongs & a favorite spatula.
Snack food: Toasted Pecans with Ghee and salt.
Best grocery store: In SGF: Hy-Vee & Aldi. Otherwise: Trader Joe’s.
Best brand/item at store: Aldi has great avocados and it's hit or miss on fruit, and grass-fed ground beef at a great price. Trader Joe’s: Cornbread Mix, Clusters Granola, wine.
Best place to eat: Give me some of that: Rama Thai, Caesar's Old Mexico, Progress, Tortilla Perches, The Order, Golden Girl, Druff’s, Greek Belly & St. Michael’s.
Best meal at a restaurant: Ozarks Benedict from The Order or Moussaka from Greek Belly.
MICHELLE’S KITCHEN TO YOURS:
Lemon Pepper Chicken
3 Chicken Breasts
4 T Lemon Juice
4 T Olive Oil
Lemon Pepper Spice
Angel Hair Pasta
1 C Parmesan Cheese
Veggies of Choice
Start a large pot of salted water on high heat.
Take chicken breasts and cut into bite-sized pieces to marinate in lemon juice, olive oil and garlic for 30 minutes.
Put chicken and marinate in a pan and cook over medium heat.
Douse the chicken with lemon-pepper spice, salt, and pepper.
Once the water is boiling, add the angel hair pasta to cook (3 minutes).
Drain water out of pasta and add the chicken mixture (after it's cooked through) to the pasta. Add about a cup of parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. If you want to add veggies, spinach, basil, and broccoli seemed to be acceptable to my kids. OR make a side dish of broccoli or spinach. Enjoy!