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Elettra Wiedemann

Behind the Plate


November 14, 2016


Elettra Wiedemann is the Founder & Editor In Chief of Impatient Foodie where she delves into good food for the fast paced lifestyle. She’s also the Executive Food Editor at Refinery29, a retired fashion model, a triathlete, trilingual, and holds a Masters of Science in Biomedicine form The London School of Economics! Impressive! Here she is to give us a deeper look.

Please tell us about what you do.
My food site, Impatient Foodie, aims to marry the ideals of the Slow Food movement with the realities of fast paced, urban life.

How did you become interested in good eating?
My mom and dad taught me how to cook some basics when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I started modeling at age 19 that I got more involved with my food and what I was eating. Being on the road all the time required me to relearn some old cooking habits to eat cleaner, healthier meals. A few years into modeling, I got accepted to The London School of Economics for a MSc in Biomedicine. While there, I took classes in public health, environmental policy, and cultural theory. As part of the LSE’s program requirement you have to write a dissertation that brings all your classes together. So what brings public health, environment, and culture together? Food. I wrote my dissertation on the future of feeding urban populations in light of climate change and that was really the game changer in my life as far as becoming passionate about food.

How do you define good food?
I think “good food” is any meal that has been prepared with some aspect of consciousness in mind. I always say if all Impatient Foodie does is get one person to reconsider buying a tomato in the middle of winter, that would be perfectly fine with me.

Talk a bit more about Impatient Foodie.
While at the LSE, I came to realize the wider ramifications of everyone’s food choices on issues like climate change, water shortages, desertification, ocean depletion, etc. The Slow Food movement and luminaries like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, and Joan Gussow have been making these links for a long time, but I found that when I attempted to apply their advice to my life, it felt impossible—my kitchen was too small, my schedule was too busy, and I think the 6th ring of Hell is NYC’s Union Square Farmer’s Market in terms of crowds and convenience. In short, I am very impatient. So Impatient Foodie is like my open journal where I try to marry the ideals with the reality. Sometimes I win, sometimes I fail, but I am always trying!

Countries across the world are taking action on their nation’s food systems—for example, Brazil recently added the right to food to its constitution, and introduced enviable and comprehensive good eating guidelines that include everything from nutrition to sustainability. What efforts would you like to see the US take to help the American people eat better?
I think in today’s culture convenience is king, whether we like it or not. So, for me, anything that makes healthy eating and conscious food choices (local/seasonal/organic) more convenient is a huge plus. Thrive Market’s petition to the US government to have SNAP benefits be accepted online is a great example of this. I also think companies like Hampton Creek are game changers in this space. Their philosophy is similar to mine: Make healthier foods just as yummy, just as convenient, and just as well priced as processed foods, and people will opt to make the more conscious/thoughtful decision.

What’s always in your fridge/pantry?
Hummus, spaghetti, extra virgin olive oil, canned cherry tomatoes, eggs, Sriracha, bread, oatmeal, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, dried fruits (usually cherries or cranberries), vegan protein powder, almond butter, Anita’s Coconut yogurt, and chocolate bark.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to someone trying to develop better, longterm eating habits?
If this person is new to the kitchen, my advice is to start slow and build confidence. I developed my Impatient Foodie 30/6/5 Challenge to show how easy grocery store shopping and home cooking can be. With a $30 budget, you can buy just 6 items that make a minimum of 5 meals.

What is your go-to dinner party recipe?
I like to make a soup or salad for the appetizer, and a pasta for the main. My olive oil cake has been a repeat winner.

What’s your favorite meal on the go?
Hummus and toast or almond butter and toast.

Is there any aspect of your diet that you’ve been trying to improve? If so, how have you been trying to improve it?
Recently I’ve decided to be what I call VWIC: Vegan Whenever I Can. Whenever I am about to eat a meal, whether out or at home, I ask myself, “is there any easy way I can make this vegan friendly?” If the answer is yes, I do it. If not, I don’t sweat it. I find that if I just pause to ask the question, four out of five times there is a vegan alternative that is easy to make and just as delicious and filling.

How do you incorporate a variety of vegetables into your diet?
I am a vegetarian so I eat a lot of vegetables. One of my favorite things is to roast up a bunch of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, etc. and serve them with my beet tahini spread. I also like to stuff pita bread with a bunch of chopped up fresh vegetables and hummus. I also do “end of the week” rice bowls when I have a bunch of vegetables I have not used in my fridge. I cook up some sushi rice (my fave), chop up all the vegetables and herbs, and mix them in with the rice. Depending on what the flavors are, I drown the rice and vegetables in either olive oil and top with hummus, or toasted sesame seed oil and Sriracha.

Good eating is more than what you eat, it’s also being mindful about how you eat it. What is your favorite way to enjoy a good meal?
Of course, I love to eat with friends and family. But I recently went on a silent retreat and ate 20+ meals alone in total silence and loved that too (was not expecting to)! Since I have returned from the retreat, I try to eat without any distractions, like I did there. It makes me enjoy my food more, and feel fuller, longer.

How many nights a week do you cook dinner?
I’d say average of five nights per week.

If you could get the general population to change one aspect of their eating habits, what would it be?
I’d suggest that everyone eat less fish and meat because of the carbon footprint and ocean depletion.

Good eating isn’t about perfection, it’s about habits and progress. From time to time we all eat something we don’t feel so great about later. What is your advice for those oops moments?
Just enjoy the oops moment while it’s happening, and get right back on the wagon immediately. We all slip off sometimes and that’s totally cool, just try not drag it into the rest of your week (or longer!).

What’s your favorite good-eating advice for those of us who are insanely busy and have very little time to spend cooking?
You should check out Impatient Foodie cause that’s what the entire site is about 😉