Welcome to nutrition month here on Between The Lines! When we initially came up with this theme, the first person we wanted to talk to was Mia Zarlengo (AKA @bitesbymi). We love how she creates recipes that are easy, healthy and delicious. Those are a few things that might be simple to achieve individually but finding recipes that incorporate all three can be a challenge. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be!
What’s so great about Mia is that not only does she come up with these fantastic yet simple recipes, but you can trust the ingredients she uses…as she’s a registered dietician (she knows her stuff!) With so much information on the Internet, it can be difficult to navigate endless diets and recipes. Mia is inclusive of all types of diets (gluten-free, paleo, plant-based, etc). She really creates something for everyone. Some of our favorite recipes include the honey mustard one pan meal (also is great with avocado and / or an egg for breakfast / lunch), super simple grain-free stuffed peppers (they really are super simple and super delicious) and the flourless vegan banana oat pancakes (so easy, you don’t have to save them for the weekend!)
Now that we’ve raved about how much we love Mia, we think it’s time to give her a chance to speak 🙂 From how she got into nutrition to healthy swaps (and everything in-between!) here’s our interview with Mia Zarlengo.
How did you get into nutrition? And what does it mean to you?
I have always been interested in the science behind nutrition- I can remember even from a pretty young age being intrigued by it! When I was a freshman in college I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease, and I got really into how nutrition played a role in my symptoms. I from then on pursued nutrition as a career and never looked back!
Do you follow a certain type of diet? Or are there specific foods you avoid?
No, I don’t live by any diet labels! I think that can get necessarily restrictive. However, there are a few things I totally avoid, some of those being artificial sweeteners, any kind of soda, and just overly processed foods in general. I personally follow a gluten free diet, but I don’t make that the focus of my nutrition approach as I think everybody is incredibly different and therefore has very different needs.
How did you start your blog? Is it your full-time job? If not, how do you balance recipe making with your full time job?
I started my blog right before I was graduating my Masters program- I have always loved cooking and started experimenting with photographing the food and actually putting recipes together. I ended up loving it! It is not my full time job as of now, but hopefully soon! I make sure carve out specific times two days per week to do recipe testing- the balance can definitely be tricky and a little stressful at times but so far I’ve made it work!
In your experience, what are most people missing from their diets?
If I had to choose one thing the the general population is lacking, it’s vegetables. Our plates should be full of color, as well as variety, for every meal. This is something definitely lacking in the standard American diet, but some people have definitely made the shift!
What’s your take on supplements? Do we need them or are we getting enough from our food?
I definitely think we should turn to food first, but I do think in individual circumstances sometimes supplements can be a great help. Unfortunately, a lot of the produce we get here is lacking in the amount of micronutrients that it should have, and sometimes supplements can help pick up where an individual may be lacking. The same is true for certain health conditions.
What’s your favorite recipe right now?
My vegan tahini mac and cheese is a weekly staple for me! I love it with some type of pasta and tons of veggies!
What are some of your favorite healthy swaps?
I love swapping any added sugars or artificial sweeteners with natural sweeteners like honey, dates, coconut sugar, or maple syrup. I also love avocado in sauces — it adds that thick and creamy component that may otherwise be missing in a vegan or plant-based recipe.
What pantry staples do you suggest people always have around?
High quality oils! Think extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and grass fed ghee. I always have those 4 on hand!
What would you tell someone who says they’re too busy to eat healthy?
Start with one meal and take it from there. Baby steps really do make a huge difference, as cliche as that sounds. We usually find more motivation to continue with our health journey when we make small, attainable goals. Even if that’s an easy and healthy grab and go breakfast. I am obsessed with prepping these broccoli cheddar breakfast biscuits for easy meals on the go!
What’s your take on nightshades and lectins? Should we be avoiding them?
I don’t think we need to avoid them, unless of course someone has a serious reaction to them. Otherwise, there isn’t much evidence behind these theories.
Where do you find inspiration for your recipes?
I love browsing Pinterest for some inspiration, but I take a lot of my inspiration from foods I had growing up. Being Italian, I feel like cooking is just in my blood. I’ve always loved making up recipes in the kitchen, even when I was younger. For other recipes, I like to think about what I would want in an ideal meal or snack, and base my recipe combinations off of that with some trial and error!
So now that you’ve heard from Mia and seen all these pictures of delicious food, we hope you feel inspired to get a little healthier in the kitchen. Share your favorite Mia recipe(s) in the comments below! And be sure to check out bitesbymia.com and @bitesbymi on Instagram for more tasty (and healthy!) recipes.
Images via @bitesbimia