Why you ask? Well, we have a new friend. The world of food and nutrition is a fun place to be these days. All of us come to the table with our own story, our own individual passion, and of course our own favorite foods. Pretty fantastic, isn’t it?! What else is pretty fantastic is having Amanda Paa, creator of Heartbeet Kitchen, stop in to say hi and tell us a little more about herself & Heartbeet. Not only is Amanda a new PN friend, but she’s contributing some of Heartbeet’s finest recipes to our next program – Prescribe Balance. Folks, you’re in for a real treat. Alright, let’s get to it. Amanda, we are giddy to have you.
Q: Tell us how Heartbeet came to be.
I started blogging four years ago under the name Healthy Life, Happy Cook. I started writing for two reasons – 1) as a way for me to journal my adventure into the gluten-free world after finding out that I had an intolerance through many years of autoimmune issues and 2) to share my new discoveries and meals that I created from the farmers market. Having moved to St. Paul from a small town, I quickly fell in love with the abundance of fresh food and farm to table restaurants.
About two years ago, the name evolved to what it is today – Heartbeet Kitchen, because cooking had become so much more to me. I found my relaxation was immediate while cooking or strolling the lanes at the market on a crisp summer morning. While working a very stressful job in the medical device industry, the kitchen was always my constant. And the passion I had for learning the story behind my food grew even more as I spent time chatting with the farmers, or the local artisans who put their soul into bringing us nourishment. My heart was truly in the kitchen, and my love for all things seasonal had blossomed.
Q: What is fun thing that most people don’t know about you?!
I played division college golf and had dreams of becoming a women’s teaching pro. I still play, but not as much as I used to.
Q: What’s the most unexpected aspect of running a food/culinary blog?
There are a few things. For an average post, when all is said and done, it takes anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to get it perfect. And that’s after I’ve tested the recipe a few times. There’s the time spent developing the idea, creating the recipe, photographing throughout the recipe to capture different steps, editing the photos, writing the content, promoting the post through social media, the list goes on. Catching the timing right to be able to photograph during the best lighting can get extremely difficult during the winter.
Q: What’s your favorite all time Heartbeet creation?
Oh man, if I had to pick just one it would be the Wild Rice & Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette. It’s so bright and colorful, with wilted spinach, dried cranberries and the vinaigrette just brings it all together [good news: we’ve got this one included in the Prescribe Balance recipe packet!]. I could seriously put that dressing on everything! In fact I usually make double and save the rest to use throughout the week. I love recipes that make great lunches, that are filling, and that are full of nourishing ingredients – instead of sad salads from a grab-n-go case.
If I had to pick a sweet one – my “Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies“. Because they truly are. It took me three years to get the recipe just right!
*And hey, sometimes in this life things aren’t 100% Prescribe Nutrition friendly. But being able to find a legit gluten-free chocolate chip cookie can feel like striking gold. We have yet to do it until today. Check out her masterpiece of this occasional indulgence!
Q: What is the coolest thing that’s happened as a result of Heartbeet Kitchen?
Never in a million years did I think that my blog would lead to writing a cookbook. I spent 9 months researching, developing the recipes and writing Smitten with Squash, which was published last July. It’s my baby. I learned so much throughout the process and it opened up so many new opportunities for me that I didn’t think were possible.
Q: You’ve completed a PN program. Can you tell us a bit about your experience?
I was overwhelming impressed by the knowledge of the team and focus of the program, as well as the around the clock support. You can see the motivation and the encouragement being shared within the members on the discussion board, the removal of fear of judgement, and everyone just being ‘all in.’ What I loved most about seeing the program in action was all of the materials that were at your fingertips, and you can dig in as much or as little as you’d like. The topics that were covered in the EYWTK (‘Everything You Want to Know’ series) were so valuable. From the Prescribe 20 program, the low down on supplements, the 101 on soy, what our hormones are really telling us, etc. Most importantly-that nutrient dense is not depriving, and can be even more delicious than what would typically be on our plates.
Q: What are you most excited about for Prescribe Balance?
I’m so excited to be along for this jam-packed Prescribe Balance program because I can’t wait to learn more about the why’s about how we feel each day, what can better help with our blood sugar balance and digestion that we may not think about. I’m looking for some new ways to approach self-care, as well as movement, respecting my body and all the rest that I need but often feel guilty about acknowledging.