Eat Collective: Gumbo

“I grew up in a Southern Louisiana family, and we cooked a lot of Cajun food which means that it’s heavy on rice and roux, you know, game - wild game. So a lot of people in my family would go hunting and cook dinner off of that. It’s so funny to think about in hindsight because I’m such a city girl, and that’s how I grew up as a kid.”

“Gumbo was my absolute favorite food growing up, and it still is one of my favorite things to this day but now I have to figure out how to make it gluten-free which is a mission - my husband and I are working on that.

What’s the biggest challenge with making gumbo gluten-free?

“The roux is equal parts oil and flour, so I’ve read blogs that say you can do it with sweet rice flour so we’re going to be experimenting with that. ‘Cause I got to have my gumbo!”

How does the food culture you had growing up filter into your nutrition philosophy now and how you cook?

“It influences me in that I always love spice. But I also think that it gives me more of an empathetic view of that people grew up with foods that mean more to them than just what health means to them as well now. I would never ask someone to give up all the foods that they grew up with and things that bring them joy and memories and things that are community-based like your family’s dinners and stuff. Healthy eating is about balance and that you could find healthier versions of those things. Like I’m still going to eat a gumbo but just with a different base that doesn’t trigger an allergic reaction to me, but I’m still going to use all the seasoning and all the spice.”

What frustrates you the most about the current food climate in terms of all the diets out there and the focus on certain kinds of food in the “Instagram” world?

“I think what’s frustrating for me is how many different opinions there are out there...I can understand how people who are new to this can be like, ‘Who do I choose? Do I do the Atkins diet? Do I do the Paleo diet? Do I do the no-carb diet? Is sugar bad? Is fat bad?’ Everybody is saying something different, and I can understand how that is frustrating to people, and it’s kind of frustrating to watch as my philosophy is just eat real food and be active. And also I think health is taking care of what is on the inside because if you’re not feeling happy, if you’re depressed, if you’re not letting your light shine, then it won’t. But take care of your inside, take care of your body, take care of your mind, and it will all shine out.”