We chatted to our brand new author Leah Vanderveldt about her debut cookbook The New Nourishing, as well as her daily spiritual practices, her inspiration and her exciting upcoming projects.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your book, The New Nourishing?
It’s my take on plant-based comfort food, means food that’s delicious, satisfying, and focuses as plants as the heart of a dish. Some things are indulgent, others less so, but they’re all good for you in the physical, as well as the emotional sense.
It’s about feeding yourself meals that make you feel good in your body and mind. And in my experience, whole plant foods are some of the best things you can eat for all of those things, so all the recipes are vegan or vegetarian.
Think dishes like spicy buffalo cauliflower and chickpea bowls, butternut squash and black bean chili, veggie loaded nachos, and chocolate chip cookies made with chickpea flour.
How would you describe ‘the new nourishing’ concept?
What makes this nourishing new is that it focuses on making meals that are vegetable-centric but still capture that comforting vibe. It’s about introducing meals to your everyday life that are both nutrient-dense and delicious — combining the positive feelings (i.e. comfort) of certain dishes with the positive effects the food gives you (more energy, mental clarity, etc). This is what causes us to actually want to eat certain foods instead of feeling obligated to.
Can you tell us a little about your career in food so far?
I started my career in publishing, knowing that I love to write, read, and create things. As a young professional, cooking quickly became my off-duty creative outlet. I eventually started to steer my work towards a combination of food and writing/editing. When I was working at Australian Home Beautiful, I would write their Entertaining News section and started working with our resident chef to edit her wonderful recipes in a concise and clear way. I loved the process of recipe writing and starting doing it on my own for the things I was cooking. Once I started working as the food editor of mindbodygreen, I was fully immersed in the world of cooking with nutrition in mind and eventually got certified in Culinary Nutrition, which was such a fun learning experience.
All of these things brought me to create The New Nourishing and my blog, thenourishexchange.com, to share my love of plant-based cooking and philosophy of eating to feel good.
Who inspires you?
Gosh, so many people. In terms of food, I am always inspired to get in the kitchen after reading something by Anna Jones, Yotam Ottolenghi, and Samin Nosrat. It terms of food people starting a movement, Julia Turshen and Jessica Murnane are just incredible. Outside of the food realm, I really value yogi Adriene Mishler’s work and I love podcasters and comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark for talking honestly about mental health, as well as weird and tragic things — all while being funny. And (last but not least!) my husband, who is perpetually positive and kind.
Do you have a daily spiritual practice?
Yes! I try to get up every morning and get outside if I can — either for a walk or run. Being near a park is essential for me, especially in NYC. After that, I meditate and pull a tarot card.
I only just starting learning about the tarot this summer, but I’ve found it so valuable for pointing things out to me and leading the way on my spiritual progress. I use my daily tarot card as a journal prompt — it helps me clarify what I might be feeling and can often point to things I’m avoiding or misunderstanding.
What is your idea of happiness?
Traveling with my husband is one of my favorite things in the world, so any combination of that and being near the beach with good food and friends is what truly fills me up.
What empowers you in your daily work and life?
Other women creating things, I look to them for strength and inspiration. My spiritual practice and getting real on what I need to fulfill me encourages me to keep going.
What is your next project?
The New Porridge! A book all about the different and delicious types of porridge you can make using whole foods. It’s such a fun topic to dive into and I’ve realized that porridge (and its close relatives polenta and risotto) are great at any time of day.