Behind the Plate


February 26, 2016

Emily van Raay @modelsforwellness is a model of all sorts. And her latest gig is being a role model! Emily has long observed a lack of education surrounding health, food and wellness in the fashion modeling world, and has decided to do something about it. Her site Models for Wellness encourages positive living by showing how real-life models live balanced, healthful lives. Her goal? To inspire a love affair with health and happiness for all.

What are you working on right now? Tell us about it.
Models for Wellness—check it out! It’s a blog platform where a group of amazing models from all over the world and I are sharing how we stay healthy, happy and fit. It’s a really amazing project that I’m so passionate about!

If you could get the general population to change one aspect of their eating habits, what would it be?
Know where your meat comes from.

Is there any ingredient that you can’t stand?
Sugar in places there should not be sugar!

How do you define good food?
Good food comes from a good place, good people, with good standards that match your own. My idea of ‘good food’ is a plate full of seasonal produce and meats/cheeses that come from local farms, that meet my personal standards for quality.

Who is your food inspiration?
Jamie Oliver!

What is your go-to dinner party dish?
My mother’s apple crisp recipe. It’s definitely not healthy, but it’s a showstopper 😉

Do you have a favorite food trick?
Freezing kale. Even if I’m going to eat it fresh, I freeze it first. It makes it so much easier to handle. You can smash it up so that it crumbles and you don’t have to deal with chopping the stubborn, rubbery leaves for soups or garnish, or even smoothies.

Where do you typically grocery shop?
Trader Joe’s and the farmers market.

What’s your favorite meal-on-the-go?
The Earth Bowl at Sweetgreen is my favorite on the go meal, by far!

Food issues have not quite made it into the upcoming Presidential Debate. If you could ask the future President to consider a food issue that needs to be addressed, what would it be?
Meat. Meat. Meat! Animal production is, in my eyes, the biggest actionable issue on hand at the moment, and the least addressed. For a collective American public who is beginning to take climate change to heart, meat consumption and its effects on the environment is an important issue, yet one that is completely bypassed. It’s unfortunate because we could be taking advantage of the mass public interest that is beginning to emerge. Especially with the shocking evidence that has recently been brought to public attention by the documentary Cowspiracy, in which environmentalist and film maker Kip Andersen accuses the meat industry of conspiring against the health of Americans and the planet for a profit. (Thank you Netflix!) With the meat corporations and the government shoving the idea that meat should be a part of our daily lives down our throats, we also have to take into account the health implications of meat. The recent World Health Organization study shed some light on the hard proof that meat consumption is linked to cancer.

What’s your go-to breakfast?
Fried eggs over rice and beans with a green juice or kombucha.

Favorite seasonings?
Pink sea salt and black pepper.

If you had to make (or are making) a food resolution this year, what would it be?
To cook more at home! It has squeezed its way up to the top of my priority list not only because it’s healthier, but because it’s incredibly meditative and heightens my connection with my body throughout the day. This is important for me, as I notice my stress levels are much lower when I cook.

What have you been dying to make recipe-wise, but haven’t yet?
Traditional Indian Curry (that’s not a fail…).

What’s always in your fridge?
Mustard seed and tahini.

Who is one famous person, dead or alive, that you want to share a meal with?
Jamie Oliver.


What’s one of your first (and most memorable) interactions with food?
Scrolling through memories, the more traumatizing experiences are the ones that seem to stick out. My first and most memorable experience with food was when I was around 10 years old, and my brother and I went to Taco Bell with my grandparents. Hey, I loved Taco Bell. Fast food was a treat for my siblings and me on rare occasions, and food as I knew it was always good quality. I’d heard rumors that the meat at Taco Bell came in powered form, that they would add water to and serve it as a “meat-like” product. My brother said he’d caught a glimpse of the ground “beef” up close, and it made him sick. From then on I knew about the smoke and mirrors that surrounded food, especially fast food.

Veggie you never liked when young, but now you do?

If you were a food, what would you be and why?
I would be a coconut, because I wouldn’t ever have to deal with cold weather.

Most underrated spice?
Star anise.

What was your biggest #foodfail?
I have food fails all the time. I’m not an expert in the kitchen but I love making new dishes and tend to bite off far more than I can chew… Roasting acorn squash is something that I can NEVER seem to get right! I end up leaving it in for far too long or taking it out way too early and can never get it off the skin. It’s probably one of the easiest things to make. Help!!

Favorite cuisine?

Food related pet peeve?
Pasta noodles that are too hard kill me!

What’s your favorite indulgent treat?
A JG Melon cheeseburger.

Your good food wish?
I hope that in the future, trust is something that people realize is so valuable and essential when you are buying food. Trust means educating yourself on where your food is coming from, knowing whether it’s a farm, factory, or your parents’ backyard. Learning that trust is something that in our current world, is essential when you buy your food.

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