Be Happy, Feel Beautiful
At twenty-six, Ryan Ross is a successful chef with an impressive clientele. In addition to her personal clients, Chef Ryan—sometimes called “Chef Penny”—works part-time for the Quaker residence, Penington Friends House, in New York City. This busy and talented Chef met with Blissful Belle to share her view on food, life, and the bodies that keeps us intact.
“From the age of four I was taking wheat grass shots, eating savory mochi, and pressing on the meaty part of my hand between the index finger and thumb to alleviate headaches,” Ross shares. Chef Ryan grew up in her mother’s organic health food store in Warrenton, Virginia. At an early age she acquired the skills that would eventually prepare her to become the health supportive Chef that she is today. “I always loved cooking,” Ross remembers, “[and] I am blessed with several mentors when it comes to preparing delicious, quality foods in their entirety; unprocessed, unrefined, organic, seasonal, colorful, perfect food.” It wasn’t until she decided to pursue a career as a Chef that Ross transitioned to the urban-Olympus of the world: New York City. There she attended the Natural Gourmet Institute, “a very powerful culinary program focusing on plant based foods and health supportive cuisine. I had found my stomping ground.”
Blissful Belle: How do you think food affects overall health?
Chef Ryan: Your body is a machine. When you feed it with high quality foods, you will find your body functioning at its optimum level: healthy, allergy free, good digestion, high energy, great mood, clear thinking, and a sense of well being.
Your body recognizes what to do with food that is unprocessed: it knows how to utilize [unprocessed foods’] nutrients, digest [them], and eliminate the parts that you do not need. Putting good gas in your car keeps it performing well, skimping on quality leads to faulty parts and break downs, requiring time, money, maintenance and inconveniences. Keep your “bod” running well with high quality fuel, avoid all that hassle and you can get to where you’re going!
BB: Why is it important to develop an awareness of what nutrients the body needs throughout the day?
CR: I don’t know if it is so important to recognize what nutrients do what specifically. Yes, I find it super interesting, and […] getting a little heady and specific [can sometimes be] necessary. Overall, eating nutrient-dense foods is a lifestyle rather than a fix. I think this makes for a less rigid path to being in great health. Just eat real foods and notice how good you feel!
BB: What are your philosophies on dieting? What do you personally adhere to?
CR: There is no “one diet” that’s right for everyone. Ideally you want to customize a diet that’s the most compatible with what you need—everybody needs something different. If your body is deficient in something, let’s say vitamin C, when you go to the store and pick up a supplement, the serving size is one size fits all. This is messed up- this bottle doesn’t know how deficient you are.
Our bodies want different things. When you customize your eating, a heightened awareness comes along with giving your body what it needs. Like everyone, my body wants, needs and craves different things depending on season, my age, time of day, time of month! – My favorite idea is to eat a little bit of every color every day, this ensures variety—and I don’t mean colors like “blue razz” popsicle either!
BB: What is your opinion on over-the-counter medicine?
CR: Thank goodness for western medicine! I swear, sometimes I don’t have time to make a bone broth when I have a cold. But the point is to not abuse over the counter, man-made, chemical packed prescriptions. Your body is displaying sickness for a reason […] because your body is trying to detox, expel, or tell you something.
I think allopathic and homeopathic remedies can live together peacefully.
BB: For students who are tight on time and money, is this lifestyle of whole foods and nutritious meals (that require preparation) a realistic lifestyle?
CR: Yup. It may take a while to get into the groove, but if you go with eating clean and nutrient dense foods than you will save a bundle on all the types of things I mentioned above [over-the-counter medicine]. Cooking for oneself takes time—we are a fast food nation after all! Most readily available foods are full of crap. But if you enjoy feeling great, then you find a way to pick maybe a more simple option when you are in a time crunch and then cooking something you are excited about in your free time.
BB would like to thank Chef Ryan for taking time out to speak with us!