Eating healthy has been life changing for you. Tell us about that.
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my 20s. I had two surgeries. My doctor said, ‘If you don’t want a third one, you’re going to have to change your lifestyle.’ She got me on the path to eating right. I learned that certain foods promote inflammation in the body, and that’s important because endometriosis is a highly inflammatory condition. I saw a huge shift in my health when I started to eat organic and avoid anything overly processed. Now I focus on real foods — vegetables, protein, grains. Foods that come from the earth.”
You head a wellness company called Anser. What inspired you to start it?
“The catalyst was my personal wellness journey. Along with excruciating menstrual cramps caused by my endometriosis, I also had migraines and bad eczema. I started to eat healthy foods, do yoga, take supplements, and meditate, and I saw a huge change in my body. Those problems went away.
“At the same time, I realized there weren’t any women of color in the wellness arena. I didn’t see anyone who looked like me, and I wanted to change that. So I started Anser, which is a line of supplements that help us reach our health potential. I want them to be available to everyone, so it’s important to me that they’re reasonably priced but still high quality. I’m very proud that they are.
“What drives me is inspiring others to believe in themselves. Representation is so crucial in wellness and cooking. I want people to say, ‘She looks like me. If she can do it, I can do it too.'” (Related: How to Create an Inclusive Environment In the Wellness Space)
People have been cooking so much these days. How can they make it fun again?
“My mission, especially with the book, is to inspire people to have a good time, make delicious meals, and not feel overwhelmed. In the end, cooking is about creating memories with your family. Some of my favorite moments are on Sundays, when our whole family makes breakfast together. My son, Cree, 9, helps prep. He loves mixing things. He is also getting comfortable with the stove and helps make eggs. My daughter, Cairo, 3, has a little ladder that she stands on to help out. Growing up, I used to cook with my family. I still remember those times — they’re so dear to me. Cooking together as a family is such a bonding experience.”
What are your favorite foods to make?
“Pasta, for sure. There’s a mac and cheese recipe in the book that’s so good. What I love about it is that you pour milk into the pan with the noodles so that they soak up the flavor while they’re cooking. It gives the mac and cheese richness.
“Also steak, chicken, salmon. I like to experiment with my cast-iron skillet — it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love a good sear. You can get a nice crust with cast iron, especially if you’re working with salmon. It starts to caramelize, and that’s when you get all the flavor. I make steak and chicken that way too, searing them in the skillet and finishing them in the oven. It’s delicious.”
What tools and tricks do you use to make good cooking faster and simpler?
“I’m a huge fan of sheet pans — you can make your whole meal on it. The trick is to cut all the ingredients the same size so everything cooks evenly and thoroughly. And sheet pans aren’t just for dinner. I even make sheet pan pancakes, which is a great way to cook a lot of them quickly.
“Another one of my quick fixes is to use store-bought dough. I’ve made some bomb cast-iron skillet pizzas with it. You just roll out the dough to fit your cast-iron skillet, add whatever toppings you like, and put it in the oven. In minutes, you have delicious homemade pizza.”