I heard about JoyFoodly.com from a fellow blogger at BlogHer14, and I was blown away by the site.
A well constructed site? About food? For kids? And it doesn’t look cheesy, it is actually informative and interesting?? This is too good to be true. I texted the site to people before I left the conference, demanding that they check it out. I was that impressed by it.
Bonus: all the recipes are gluten free.
Obviously, I had to do a Featured Blog about JoyFoodly, and the amazing woman behind it, Chef Hollie! I have a little bit of bio for you, a little information about the company, an incredible interview she gave me, and a cooking video she sent over at the end!
What is the Joyful 12™?
The Joyful 12™ is Chef Hollie Greene’s online crash course for eating in season. It helps
families joyfully get more vegetables and fruits into their diets for all 12 months of the
year, from savory winter squash, to spring artichokes, to summer okra, and sweet fall
The Joyful12 is delivered as an online kitchen learning lab—families can choose to dip
into the lab for one or more seasons or for the full year.
Who is Chef Hollie?
As a classically trained chef, Chef Hollie Greene has taught over 2,000 children in New
York and California to love eating fruits and vegetables through her work with non-profit
programs and in partnership with Rachael Ray’s Yum-O!, Mayor Bloomberg, and Mary J.
Blige. She is a Professional Expert for the State of California’s Healthy CA Kids Initiative
and has worked as an Education Director for The Sylvia Center and Chef-in-Residence
in NYC public schools. Prior to attending the French Culinary Institute in New York City,
she spent ten years creating global leadership development programs, where she taught
thousands of adults. These experiences infuse her fun and positive approach to helping families gain confidence in the kitchen.
Q: Where did you start your career as a chef? What was your inspiration?
Hollie: It all started on a cooking vacation in Tuscany almost seven years ago. I had recently gone through a divorce, and this was a trip I had always wanted to take, so I went. Every day, I cooked with twenty other adults at a 15th century estate outside of Lucca Italy. We learned simple dishes that were loaded with flavor and seasonal ingredients. There is something about getting your hands into food. It’s very healing. In a corporate setting you are using your mind a lot but in the kitchen, you take something from a raw ingredient and you work with it to create this beautiful outcome that gives people a lot of pleasure. When I returned from that trip, I was at a crossroads. It dawned on me that everyone on the trip had been in their late 50s and 60s and yet it was the first time they had experienced extremely simple healthy cooking that was delicious. I kept coming back to the same thing. I teach people leadership development in my corporate job. I connect them with information to improve their lives. Why couldn’t I do this with children? Why couldn’t I teach kids about the joy of understanding what a balanced relationship with food is like. It’s as simple as that.
(me: how awesome is this answer. Seriously.)
Q: How long did it take for you to become a professional chef?
Hollie: I attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City, in their classic culinary arts program. I worked 40-50 hours during the day at my job with a financial firm in Human Resources, and at night I went to culinary school three nights a week. It was a grueling nine months, and I loved every moment of it.
Q: Did you cook a lot as a child?
Hollie: I could make a mean mud pie, but no, I didn’t cook a lot as a child, mainly because my mom’s kitchen was her domain and she didn’t like us getting in the way of her magic making. However, my mom is the reason I fell in love with food. She is an eccentric, Southern beauty that was an amazing cook. She really yummed food for us. I didn’t even know we had the option not to like it—with all that oohing and ahhing about what a great cook she was! Even at eight years old, I knew that food was love.
Q: If a kid asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Hollie: When you cook, always make sure to have fun. Smell each ingredient, taste it as you cook it, from its raw to its cooked state. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. Food really is friendly and don’t forget that you are smarter than the food, so if you do burn the onions, they won’t yell at you! Next time, you’ll know the perfect time to stop the cooking process so they won’t burn again.
Q:I have Celiac, so I was very excited to find that JoyFoodly was a gluten free site! Why did you choose to focus on gluten free cooking recipes?
Hollie: Today, so many of us struggle with one form or another of food intolerance, allergy, or food related disease. I am personally gluten intolerant, which was revealed to me by blood tests that looked for genetic markers, which I had several! Since removing gluten from my diet, I have felt significantly better mentally and physically. I want JoyFoodly to be a place where families can learn easy, delicious recipes that will nourish their loved ones, always keeping in mind that even when you do have a food you need to avoid, there can still be joy in eating, and cooking food for yourself is truly the best way to know what’s going into your body. All of our recipes are tested gluten free, and in our Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab, we also let families know if they are vegan, egg, nut, or dairy free, and make recommendations on how to modify the recipe if they are not.
Q: What are your four favorite foods to work with, and why?
Hollie: I love to cook with whatever is in season now because it’s going to be at its ripest, juiciest and tastiest now. Also, buying fresh produce in season will save you money. Especially living in California, we’ll benefit from the surplus of seasonal produce that grocery stores need to move out before it spoils. For summer, my favorites from our Joyful 12 are tomatillos, corn, eggplant, okra, bell peppers and tomatoes. I always have olive oil, some sort of citrus (limes or lemons) good salt, and a fresh herb in what I make.
Q: What is the best way to serve eggplant?
Hollie: Great question! It depends on the type you’re using. I love the Chinese variety that’s smaller, light purple colored, and fast to cook with. I love to sauté the eggplant on high heat with a Vidalia onion and some salt. At the end of cooking, I throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar. It’s divine and so easy. Although, the other day I ate some eggplant sautéed and then thrown into a curry coconut broth and now my creative juices are working overtime to figure out exactly what that chef put into his dish.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 kitchen utensils would you want with you?
Hollie: That’s fun. Well, a knife, clearly! Next, I’d say a sauté pan to cook in and some sort of wooden spoon to cook with, and let’s face it, if I got four choices, it’d have to be a wine opener in case some wine ships ashore as I’m daydreaming!
(me: she totally wins this interview, I’m not even kidding.)
Q: What would you ultimately like to achieve with JoyFoodly?
Hollie: I’d love to change our food culture in this country. I don’t believe in kid food! I know that kids can learn to try and enjoy a variety of foods, including the exciting world of vegetables and fruits. But mainly, I’d love for our country to shift from a love/hate relationship with food to one where kids grow up knowing that junk food is a sometimes thing and nourishing food is a lifetime thing. Did I mention JOY?! Food is pleasure.
Q: Who is your ideal audience for JoyFoodly?
Hollie: A family with children who would love to know simple ways to cook and get their kids excited to try and learn to love a variety of vegetables and fruits—as part of an overall nourishing and joyful relationship with food.
Do you have a guilty comfort food, and are you willing to share this with us?
Hollie: I’m Southern, so we by definition do not feel guilty in the least in completely relishing everything that’s tasty in relation to food! Let’s see. I confess I have a popcorn habit (with butter). I’m Irish and can’t pass up a good potato dish, and in general I adore comfort foods like my homemade pimento cheese, a medium rare lamb chop, and a juicy tomato sandwich with good mayo slathered on all sides.
Thank you so much Chef Hollie at JoyFoodly.com!!
(This is not a sponsored post. I just did it because it’s awesome.)