Hi, I’m Ashley!
I love to cook, eat and travel.
I’m unwilling to give up on flavor or enjoyment for health #sorrynotsorry. Here on Bright Roots Kitchen, I make colorful, health conscious and most importantly TASTY meals for REAL, everyday life.
Life is busy and cooking can feel like a chore, but stick with me and you’ll learn to get as excited for Tuesday night meals as you do for your birthday dinner! Well nearly as excited…it’s hard to top a birthday, but we’ll try hahaha…
Why I switched to healthy eating and cooking:
It’s not that I ever had an aversion to eating fruits and veggies. In fact I was the weird kid in the family that asked for extra okra at dinner time.
What happened was that life got in the way. Focusing on what I ate just didn’t feel like a priority over learning a new job, commuting, paying bills, social commitments and everything else life was throwing my way. So I did what I could with the little energy I had. I ate convenience foods, snacked on free desserts around my office and didn’t think about how any of this affected my body or health.
Until my pants literally busted at the seams (true story!) I didn’t realize the strain that my sedentary lifestyle had on my body. I rapidly gained 20+ pounds and took years to feel motivated enough to do something about it.
It was only after the doctor told me that my blood sugar level was on the cusp of the prediabetes level that I was determined to do better. I fixed my bad habits by tweaking my food choices. I planned out the foods I ate on work days so that I wouldn’t be tempted by the endless stream of donuts. I drank more water. But most importantly I learned to health-ify my favorite recipes, so that I could trick myself into healthy eating without feeling like I was eating health food. Make sense?
Now I feel way better than I used to!
I hope Bright Roots Kitchen can help you incorporate more healthy eating in your busy days. My recipes are full of healthy ingredient swap ideas, that still taste good. If you follow along, you’ll have the tools to revamp your food choices for a more well-balanced life.
My cooking roots:
I was lucky enough to attend “cooking school” in my childhood homes in Brooklyn and Queens. I learned from 3 generations of AMAZING Jamaican women in my family. Instead of cartoons, I spent weekend mornings studying PBS cooking shows (we’re talking 90’s, pre-cable) like it was my job. Growing up in NYC, I also befriended other kids whose family’s were from all over the world and loved TASTING food from their cultures.
My food today is of course influenced by my Caribbean roots, but it’s also a mashup of the diverse flavors I’ve encountered in our travels. I have a few go-to’s but usually make “Happy accident” meals…AKA no planning required. Fun Fact: My pantry is ALWAYS stocked with curry powder, red chili flakes and smoked paprika.
So are the recipes any good?
All of my recipes are taste-tested daily by my AWESOME husband, Tim. From his BF days eating dorm kitchen dinners to his more recent hubby status, he’s had 10+ years of happy eating under his belt. There was of course the infamous chicken and rice dish of 2010, but I think one bad meal a decade is allowable, right? Our spaniel/retriever doggie, Joy, likes to sneak in free samples of food too!
I’ve also won or came in runner up in a couple recipe contests (Taste of Home magazine, McCormick, Idaho Potatoes) for home cooks. Maybe my family was politely eating my food all these years, but I figure if contest judges like it, it’s probably good, right? Winning contests was unbelievably flattering but it also fueled my love of creating new recipes (hence this blog)!
Food + Travel = Happiness
We’ve lived in 4 states throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, but now live just outside of Providence, Rhode Island (great food city, add it to your bucket list!). We also love to travel and plan most of our trips around what we’re eating. It sounds silly, I know, but a girl’s gotta eat!
Here are a few of my favorite foods for all you hungry travelers out there:
- Jamaican Jerk Wings, Kaya, Pittsburgh, PA
- Crab Cake with Cajun Mayo and RWB slaw, Maxie’s Supper Club, Ithaca, NY
- Salted Caramel Cupcake, Bleu Squid, Mystic, CT (they made our wedding cake and cupcake tower!)
- Everything, Slow Rhode, Providence, RI
- Causa Limena, Los Andes, Providence, RI
- Everything, Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, Orlando, FL
Your healthy eating blueprint:
Making healthy changes to your diet seems daunting at first. The concept of healthy eating initially felt like a punishment, but I learned that healthier didn’t have to mean bland.
Here a few easy, healthy recipes to start with:
Breakfast: Easy Blueberry Overnight Oats– Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free and Vegan
Lunch:Chicken Tostadas with Chipotle Guacamole– Baked (not fried) tostadas, lean chicken breast and fresh, homemade spicy guacamole
Dinner: Easy Sheet Pan Lemon Harissa Baked Shrimp– Baked shrimp, fresh herbs and recommendations for vegetable side dishes
Dessert: Spicy Chocolate Avocado Mousse Cups– This one is dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free. It uses avocados in place of milk and cream. P.S. you can’t taste the difference!
P.S. If you’re wondering where the blog name came from, check out this post.
Did you try a blog recipe? I’d love to see how it turned out! Snap a picture and tag @brightrootskitchen or use #brightrootskitchen on Insta.