Simply Inspired: an Interview with Diana Rodgers
Diana Rodgers and I met a couple of years ago in Massachusetts (though, coincidentally are from the same town on Long Island, NY!), produced an award winning film together, and share an obsession with real food and sustainability. Not only is she a real food Registered Dietician, but she also lives on a working organic farm, is a mother of two, has a podcast, and is a prolific writer. Health, balance, and "downshifting" are all topics she frequently writes and speaks about, so I knew she'd have some words of wisdom for Simply Inspired.
Last week, I took a trip out to Diana’s farm to get some ingredients for a fresh summer salad and came back with the most delicious produce: arugula, radishes, and mint. You can find a recipe for an arugula salad with grilled peaches and mint over on her lovely site, Sustainable Dish.
Diana Rodgers is a Registered Dietician living on a working organic farm just west of Boston. Diagnosed with Celiac Disease before having her first child, she went gluten-free but still suffered from numerous health issues. With her first child, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and eventually transitioned to the Paleo Diet, which focuses on nutrient-dense food (vegetables, fruit, naturally raised meats, local seafood, and healthy fats). Devouring as much nutritional information as she could, she changed her life through this way of eating and is now passionate about spreading this knowledge. Follow her adventures via Instagram.
Describe a typical day.
Breakfast. I start every day with a cup of tea and usually prepare eggs (from our own pasture raised chickens) for my kids and myself with some vegetables or sauerkraut.
Lunch during the week is a communal lunch that we eat together on the farm. The farm hosts an international intern program who are studying sustainable agriculture. Lunch is always gluten free, and is often a soup or stew featuring farm-grown vegetables and meat. I absolutely love what the crew comes up with for lunch.
Dinner is whatever meat is thawed in the fridge paired with a seasonal veggie from the farm. I just look at what I have and toss it together. I love making soups and stews, braised meats, roasted vegetables, and cook in batches so I’m not cooking every night. We eat pretty simply. Because our kids play sports, we often eat dinner at about 4:45 and then have another light meal again when we come home around 8:30.
What is your biggest tip for self-care?
Sleep for 8 hours. I wake up naturally, without an alarm, feeling awake and refreshed. I also walk or run every day, either with a friend or with my favorite podcast or music.
What is your favorite quote?
"To be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd." - Wendell Berry
Where do you look for inspiration?
My husband Andrew decided at age 25 to leave the corporate world and become an organic farmer. That wasn’t an easy thing to do. He did it. He inspired me to also change my career from marketing to nutrition.
What is one piece of advice you can give for people looking for balance?
Think about what you’d do if you won the lottery, then go do it anyway. It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the experience of life. Do what you love, see the world, talk to people, learn as much as you can, and make a difference.
What do you do to simplify your life and live more intentionally?
As a mom, I really try to be efficient with my time. I try to work when the kids are at school and save cooking and other household work to when they’re home. I also don’t over extend myself too much - with money or time. I don’t buy what I can’t afford and know how to say “no” when people ask me to do things that are not within my manageable workload or mission of my business.
Advice for times of stress?
Get good sleep, take a break, go get a massage, go hike a mountain or, create something (I love to paint) take an afternoon to go to an art museum (that’s what works for me). Go get some time alone and do something you love.
Food you can't live without?
Tea, eggs, 85% dark chocolate, butter, a freezer full of well-raised meats, and a field full of fresh vegetables. Oh, and truffle oil.
Any simple tips or advice for making salads?
If packing for the office, put the dressing at the bottom of the container, then add the vegetables (carrots, peppers, etc) and then top with lettuce. When you’re ready to eat, shake it all up and you won’t have soggy lettuce (learn all about this here). Also, use lots of herbs. Parsley doesn’t get soggy sitting in dressing for a few hours and has lots of vitamin C.
Any simple tips or advice for eating healthfully in general?
Eat as few foods in boxes as possible. The more perishable the better. Try to focus on food that has cell walls - really. Avoid any food that no longer looks like it was when it was grown.