Part I: Hummusapien
Q: How do you become a registered dietitian?
To become an RD, you need to complete a four year undergraduate didactic program in Dietetics. You then apply for a one-year unpaid dietetic internship. Having work experience in the field (hospital, community, and/or food service setting), volunteer experience, being involved in school organizations, and have a good GPA are all important factors when it comes to being selected for an internship. Once that’s completed, you’re eligible to sit for the RD exam. I did a two year combined masters degree and dietetic internship program at Ohio State after my undergrad in dietetics, so those exist too.
There are also three year coordinated programs for people who don’t major in dietetics. Essentially it’s one year of pre-requisite classes and then the masters and internship combined
Meet with an advisor from the health sciences college for more details specific to your school.
See below links for more information:
Q: What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about healthy eating and nutrition?
The most misunderstood thing about healthy eating is the HUGE difference between being healthy and being thin. The reliance on “diet” foods (low-fat, low-sugar, sugar-free) may help you shed pounds temporarily or win a body-building competition, but it won’t make you feel radiant or reduce your risk of the chronic diseases that plague our generation. People eat reduced fat peanut butter on 30-calorie “lite” wheat bread and wonder why they’re not feeling better. Achieving optimal health is not a simple caloric equation. It’s personalized, and at the end of the day it’s all about eating nourishing whole foods, most of which are hopefully plant-based.
Q: How did you get started with Alchemy? What exactly do you do? Was something like Alchemy always what you wanted to do? What have you done to get to the position you’re at currently?
I went to undergrad with one of the brothers behind A&R Creative group, the company that owns Alchemy. We became good friends and always talked about opening a healthy café, something I never dreamed would actually happen! One day it became a reality and we created Alchemy. My official title is Co-Founder/Director of Business Development, but I have filled the role as the general manager, chef, and dietitian, and everything in between! I have basically had my hands in everything, including managing the staff and operations, ordering, catering, directing communications, social media, providing on-site nutrition counseling, and developing the menu. Now my role has changed to be more developmental and nutrition-focused as we grow the business. Alchemy has been the biggest challenge of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Hummusapien was a huge stepping-stone to getting where I am today. It basically personifies my passion for food, nutrition, and recipe development. Half of Alchemy’s menu is actually on my blog!
I never thought I would be in a position that’s so heavy in food service and management, but I’m fortunate to be able to also do what I love, which is create amazing food that I believe in, impact people’s long-term health with personalized nutrition counseling, and engage with the media.
Q: What are some of the common things people want to change about their nutrition/ lifestyle when they reach out to you for nutrition counseling?
Most people come to be to embark on a clean-eating journey. They essentially want to clean the crap out of their diet and re-set with a whole foods lifestyle. Many people come to me with an interest in plant-based diets as well, which I love!
Q: What is the most frustrating part about your job/ having a blog? and why? And what is the most rewarding part?
The most frustrating part about my job with Alchemy is that there is an immense amount of constant responsibility because of all the moving parts of running a restaurant. I’m never really “off” work. When I’m not at Alchemy, I’m either thinking about what I have to do for Alchemy or working on the blog.
The most rewarding part is that I’m truly in love with my career. I’m living my dream by creating healthy food for the masses and inspiring people to embrace a healthy lifestyle. I wouldn’t trade Alchemy or Hummusapien for anything, no matter how many hours a week I work!
Q: Have you always been interested in nutrition/what sparked your interest?
I traveled to Israel in college, and that really sparked my passion for plant-based eating. I was also incredibly inspired by healthy food blogs, which inspired me to start Hummusapien three and a half years ago! Reading Skinny Bitch didn’t hurt either.
Q: As a nutritionist, you obviously understand the power of food! What does your daily diet look like? Do you have any non-negotiables when it comes to nourishing yourself?
I almost always start the day with a big smoothie. My go-to is one cup of frozen blueberries, one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a teaspoon of spirulina, a cup of frozen spinach, a scoop of Vega Protein + Greens protein powder, a tablespoon of raw cacao, and a tablespoon of hemp seeds topped with a handful of raw cacao nibs and Love Grown Power O’s. It tastes like a chocolate blueberry milkshake! For lunch I usually have leftovers that I cooked earlier in the week. Think lentil soup, veggie chili, vegan enchiladas, quinoa “fried rice” with tofu, or a Luna burger. I snack on brown rice cakes with hummus, fruit, or homemade no-bake bites featuring nuts and dates. Dinner is more leftovers or food I cooked for the blog. I often have popcorn or dark chocolate before bed!
I love having smoothies every day because it ensures that I get fruits and veggies in, even if I’m super busy that day. I don’t eat out much, unless it’s Alchemy, Fusian, Brassica or Northstar. I believe that it’s super important to prepare food ahead of time in order to stay on track. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
Q: What are your favorite ways to stay healthy & happy in Columbus?
I love checking out Columbus’ food scene! As much as I love healthy food places like Northstar, I also love getting a veggie bowl from Chipotle for a quick meal. When I’m in the mood for pizza, I love Harvest in German Village. I believe that staying happy is just as important as staying healthy, so that means some nights it’s pizza and Jeni’s for dessert! Fusian sushi and Brassica are my most common go-to’s.
I also love working out at Barre3 in Upper Arlington to keep my mind at ease. The Fitness Loft’s body pump is another favorite!
Q: Have you always eaten a plant-based diet? When and why did you start eating that way?
Nope—I grew up eating meat and dairy like the rest of America. I had a pretty normal upbringing when it came to food. My mom would cook chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner, but she always taught me about ingredients and wouldn’t buy anything with “chemicals.” I became super inspired by plant-based eating after I took a trip to Israel the summer going into my junior year of college. That trip combined with reading Skinny Bitch, watching the “Forks Over Knives”, documentary, and discovering my love for food blogs ignited my passion for plant-based eating.
I did it for my health. I read tons of research (including some of the largest nutrition studies in history) on plant-based diets reversing chronic disease and ultimately being the most optimal diet for long-term health. I had never felt better, so I challenged myself to eat a vegan diet for a year. I of course went off course here and there, but overall, I learned how to cook with new-to-me foods and fell more in love with plant-based health. I don’t like to label myself, and I want to have the freedom to eat eggs or cheese or wild salmon when I’m in the mood without being patronized.
Q: What was your trip to Israel like? Why did you go? And how did that spark your passion for plant-based eating?
I went on a 10-day trip called Birthright. I met a couple inspiring vegan friends, was surrounded by beautiful produce, and ate at a bunch of vegetarian restaurants. I had also just finished reading Skinny Bitch so it was already on my mind. I started opening up my eyes to life without meat and dairy!
Q: What benefits do you personally see from plant-based eating and why do you recommend it for others?
Eating a plant-based diet is not only amazingly beneficial for health and proven to reverse an array of chronic diseases, but it’s also great for the environment and for animals. I recommend it to other because it’s the most nutrient-dense way of eating and I want my clients to feel their absolute best and live long lives. I love showing people that eating this way isn’t hard—it’s delicious!
Q: For people who consider plant-based eating a challenge what would you tell them?
I would tell them to experiment with different recipes and get comfortable in the kitchen! You’d be shocked at how easy it is to live without meat and how satisfying meals can be with fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes. Cooking with new foods is SO exciting!
Q: Would you have ever considered yourself an “unhealthy eater”? If so, when? And what brought about change? (even if there was a small change)?
I’ve had my fair share of eating one too many pieces of pizza, eating carbs all day, and drinking too many vodka sodas, but I wouldn’t ever consider myself an unhealthy eater. It’s part of being human. Eating a “perfect” diet is no way I want to live my life! Having unhealthy days is all part of balanced, healthy living.
Q: Why do you promote balance while eating?
You only live once, and it’s important to enjoy yourself! Being overly focused on healthy eating can just as harmful for the body as eating unhealthy foods. I believe everyone should have a positive relationship with food and reconsider his or her lifestyle when food becomes stressful. Food is meant to be celebrated—it shouldn’t be a stressor!
Q: What is the best part about helping others with their nutrition journey?
There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’ve impacted some one’s life with nutrition education. Nutrition is so critical for long-term health. Our generation is plagued with chronic illness, and I consider it my job to help change those statistics. The bottom line is that I love helping people and I love food, so it’s a perfect match!
Q: What do you hope to change about the way people approach food and nutrition in general?
I want people to eat real food and enjoy it! I dream of a world where people find the joy in cooking, where they get back to basics and eat food without chemicals, additives, fake colors, and flavors. Enjoying food while eating well is a huge obstacle for people, one I love to help people overcome.
Q: What else do you do around Columbus to promote a healthy lifestyle?
I do a bunch of different workouts in order to stay active, including Body Pump classes and Barre3. The main way I promote a healthy lifestyle is by creating nutritious and tasty food for Alchemy! I love showing people that nutrient-dense foods like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts can actually taste incredible. The blog is my main communication channel with regard to promoting healthy food. I’m always posting nutritious recipes to try to get people on board with trying more whole, plant-based foods.
Q: How do you incorporate these things into your own life? What is most important to you personally regarding nutrition?
I eat really healthy because I honestly adore healthy food. Breakfast everyday is steel-cut oatmeal with chia seeds, almond butter, and berries or a big green smoothie. I always eat every 3-4 hours (something I always recommend to clients!) and I’m always quipped with lots of healthy snacks, like fresh fruit, hummus, no-bake bites, etc. The most important aspect of nutrition to me is balance. I think eating a delish piece of dark chocolate is just as important as eating kale salad!
Q: What do you think of the current situation regarding nutrition in the United States?
I think healthy eating is becoming much more mainstream, almost trendy! People are starting to embrace health and see the connection between nutrition and chronic disease. With that said, obesity rates are way higher than they should be and we have a lot to learn!
Part II: Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe
Q: Describe Alchemy Juice Bar & Cafe in 3 words or less:
Innovative, wholesome, delicious
Q: What is the mission behind Alchemy? What is the vision moving forward?
At Alchemy, our passion stems from our holistic approach to preventative health and food systems with a commitment to the earth and community. Our menu was developed by a registered dietitian and Slow Food leader. Alchemy integrates health care and wholesome food giving you a simpler path to a more nutritious lifestyle.
Q: How did you get involved with this awesome, healthy hot spot?
I became good friends with Abed in undergrad at Ohio State. Abed and his family (A & R Creative Group) have opened a bunch of incredible restaurants here in Columbus including The Crest, The Market Italian Village, Ethyl and Tank, Hoof Hearted Brepub, 4th Street Bar, and more! I served at The Crest throughout graduate school. We used to joke about opening a smoothie place since I hated that there wasn’t anywhere in Columbus to get a healthy (and tasty) smoothie. Once I finished graduate school, Abed told me he was seriously considering making our vision a reality. Before I knew it, it was! We wanted to make nutrition accessible, so that’s where the personalized on-site nutrition counseling comes in. We’re intersecting two of the fastest growing industries in the U.S.—health care and food.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges and rewards of opening the cafe? Any unexpected surprises?
The time commitment is one of the biggest challenges. I worked ALL the time, but I love it. Even when I’m not physically at Alchemy, my mind is at Alchemy. I’m always thinking about adjusting recipes, products we need, scheduling, nutrition appointments, etc. I also have a blog that’s equally time-consuming, so on the rare occasion that I’m not investing my time in Alchemy, I’m working on my blog. It can get overwhelming at times to let myself have “me” time. Helping start a business from the ground up is an enormous challenge in itself. There are so many moving parts, many of which are beyond your control.
The rewards are endless. I get to feed people healthy food that I love every day and help them live healthier lives. I am truly living my dream. Honestly, I still can’t believe it’s real. Alchemy is everything I’ve always dreamed of…I just never thought it would actually exist! Check out The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma and On Entremanureship for more details.
Q: What can customers expect when they walk into Alchemy?
They can expect a minimalist, modern, and clean aesthetic. They can also expect some seriously delicious (and healthy) menu items that they can trust are actually good for their mind and body. They can expect to engage in open conversations about food, health, and the community.
Q: I am so excited about all of the gluten free options on the menu. When creating the menu, what dietary restrictions (i.e. food allergies) and/or special diets (i.e. Vegan and Paleo) did you consider?
I personally follow a plant-based diet so the menu is very plant-based and therefore incredible nutrient dense. All of our options are loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables along with superfoods like micro kale, chia seeds, sprouts, raw cacao, and acai. We also wanted to have plenty of raw and gluten-free options. Since the menu is so whole foods based, most options are inherently gluten-free. We wanted to provide something for everyone, so we also offer coffee, a turkey sandwich, etc.
Q: What sets Alchemy apart from other healthy spots in Columbus?
Alchemy isn’t just about serving healthy food. We take pride in sourcing from local farmers, using unique ingredients, and supporting the community and environment. We also offer on-site nutrition counseling, making nutrition more accessible and affordable for all. Because our menu was created by a dietitian, we have innovative items that are well-thought out in order to nourish the body and taste delicious.
Q: How can we keep up with you & Alchemy (i.e. FB, Instagram, Twitter, and contact info)?
You can follow us on Instagram @alchemy_juice, on “like” Alchemy Juice Bar + Café on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @alchemyjuicebar. We’re located at 625 Parsons Ave, Columbus, OH 43206. Our phone number is 614-305-7551.