Plant Chat: EA Stewart, RDN
It’s so fun to have my fellow dietitian, friend, and colleague on my blog today! EA Stewart is the owner of Spicy RD Nutrition, a nutrition counseling/coaching and communications business in San Diego, California. She specializes in wellness nutrition, GI nutrition (including celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, IBS, SIBO, crohn’s and colitis), food sensitivities and food allergies, weight management, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases. She is passionate about promoting a healthy, balanced lifestyle built upon delicious meals made with seasonal whole foods, daily exercise, and a whole lot of fun! You can also find EA creating delicious, beautiful gluten-free recipes for her popular blog, The Spicy RD.
I can’t wait for you to meet her! Listen in on our interview.
Your blog, The Spicy RD, is so beautiful! What gave you the inspiration to start your blog and dive into food photography and recipe creation?
Thank you so much! I started my blog in 2010 when I decided to start my own nutrition business after taking some time off from work to be home with my kids while they were very young. Long story short, after my children were born, I developed some strange symptoms and health issues that were tentatively diagnosed as Sjogren’s Syndrome and fibromyalgia. Ultimately, I decided to try a gluten-free diet, after testing negative for celiac disease, and all of my symptoms disappeared. This inspired me to share my story with others, as well as to get creative in the kitchen developing gluten-free recipes that are not only healthy, but delicious as well. It’s also a fun hobby for me, as we had a darkroom at my house growing up, and it inspired my love of photography. Although not all of the recipes on my blog are plant-based, about 90%++ of them are, and I love the creativity that goes in to creating plant powered, gluten-free recipes for everyone to enjoy!
What made you interested in nutrition, and what inspired you to become a dietitian?
I actually had an “ah-ha” moment about nutrition my senior year of college, the semester before I was getting ready to graduate with a degree in advertising. I took a nutrition class as an elective, and realized that doing something involving health and nutrition as a career was absolutely, positively something I needed to do, and was super passionate about. Thankfully my parents were supportive, and, after working for 1 year, and taking some science prerequisites I had missed out on, I went back to college and got my degree in foods and nutrition, then continued on to complete my dietetic internship. I’ve since then reinvented my career, first working in long-term care, then as a sales rep for a medical nutrition pharmaceutical company, and, now, my favorite “job” to date—owning my own nutrition coaching and communications business, The Spicy RD. I truly love what I do: inspiring people to live their most delicious lives through the power of nourishing, whole foods, and a healthy active lifestyle!
What do you feel is the most important thing you can do for people who want to live a healthy life and fight disease?
Two things…#1 Show them how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables, and other plant based foods in to their diets that are not only healthy, but taste delicious too, and #2 Teach them, and inspire them to make SMALL, gradual changes to their diets and lifestyle that are sustainable for the long term. I like to have my clients focus on 1 or 2 healthy habits at a time for long term success. This works for me too, and I like to tell people “I am work in progress,’ and to never stop learning or trying new things!
Tell us about your own diet and wellness routine.
I’m all about variety with both my diet and my wellness routine. I truly believe “Variety is the spice of life that gives it all it’s flavor” both from a “fun and delicious” point-of-view, but also from a “practical and healthy” point-of-view. Outside of a few daily routines and habits, such as coffee first thing in the morning, family dinner at the table most nights of the week, and, lately, meditation every afternoon which I am LOVING, I like to mix things up! You will never catch me eating the same thing for breakfast everyday; it may work for some people, and that’s great, but I love to try new foods, and experiment with different recipes. I also think this is a great way to get a wide range of nutrients in my diet.
As far as exercise goes, I’ve always been active thanks to encouragement from my parents at an early age, but I also know that my body does not respond well to doing the same thing every day. I used to be a runner, which I absolutely loved for the mental boost it gave me, but not for the overuse injuries I sustained. These days, I’m all about mixing up my fitness routine. I love getting outdoors as often as possible to go hiking and walking, or stair climbing by the beach. I also lift weights at home a couple of days a week, and go to the YMCA to workout while I’m waiting for my son’s baseball practice to end. As a bonus, my husband, kids and I try and get in a few ski trips each season, and I’m hoping to start playing tennis again. The best part? I can still get in a run every week or two without getting injured.
Finally, I’m very much inspired by The Blue Zones way of life, and believe my family, friends, and the neighbors in my community play a huge part in keeping me healthy and happy. My husband, children and I get together with our families almost every Sunday for dinner. I try and go hiking or walking with friends whenever I can. My dog and I love meeting new neighbors—canine and human—on our daily walks. And, I’m fortunate to live in a community where friends and neighbors of all ages meet outside regularly to walk, talk, play, and, of course, eat!
Name 5 foods you can’t live without.
Tomatoes, coffee, green tea, lentils (a newish favorite of mine), and, it’s a toss up between avocados, pine nuts, and kale!
Do you have a favorite plant-based recipe you would like to share with us?
Absolutely! I have many plant-based recipes on my blog, but this Super Duper Raw Power Salad is, hands down, one of my all-time favorites. It’s pretty much my “go-to” recipe for serving at a party, especially when I want to convince any non-kale loving friends or family, that kale can be delicious. In fact, my father, who usually likes most vegetables but is highly suspicious of kale, told me about a kale salad he had eaten the other night. “It was actually pretty good,” he said. “I seem to recall you made us a kale salad one time that was pretty good too.” I love taking kale skeptics over to the “dark side” with this super nutritious and delicious power salad with kale, apples, purple cabbage, edamame, sunflower seeds, dried berries, and other good things to eat!