Lauren McMillan’s blog, Celiac Teen, was one of the first I discovered upon going gluten-free. Today—years later—Lauren’s positive attitude toward life, her eloquent and endearing writing style, and her tasty recipes continue to inspire me. Lauren also recently helped to launch The Kitchen Generation, a site run by a group of amazing young people devoted to sharing their passion and joy for food. It’s quickly become one of my favorite reads! Be sure to stop by both blogs for a double-dose of cooking inspiration.
What Lauren Eats
My breakfast is usually something along the lines of: oatmeal, quinoa flakes or an instant hot cereal of some sort. Something that’ll be warm, comforting and happily doused in milk!
If I’m hungry for a mid-morning snack, I usually reach for: dates. A little bit of sweetness and some energy too.
I load my lunch bag with: lots of little things. Fruit, nuts, crackers, cheese, dried fruit, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
I never go a day without eating: fruit. I love fruit and vegetables, especially whatever is fresh and in season.
In the afternoon, I nibble on: popcorn. Typically air-popped, with some melted butter and nice salt. I also love to have an apple with either nutella or peanut butter. Such a great combination.
Dinner is usually something like: an assortment of veggies, rice or potatoes, and a protein of some sort.
My 3 “desert island” foods (foods I couldn’t live without): well, I’ll assume that on this desert island, there are hoards of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Other than that, I’d say rice, chocolate and cheese.
A food that I used to not like but have grown to love is: tomatoes.
My ingredient obsession these days: dates.
How Lauren Lives
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
My days start out with: breakfast, a little twitter, and the last of my homework.
An average day for me looks like this: I get up fairly early, have breakfast, make sure I have everything for the day, go to school, and when that’s done I come home and typically decompress from the day. Then, I’ll get to my homework, baking, blogging, and whatever else needs to be done! Dinner will happen at some point in there, and unless my brother is running off to a game or practice, we’ll sit down and eat together.
When I’m feeling stressed I: bake. I slow down and focus on just doing whatever I’m doing. 15-minute naps are also a treat. Sometimes sleep is the best medicine.
Top 3 healthy habits I try to keep every day: I try to make sure I get a nice long sleep, always eat breakfast, and always have healthy snacks on hand for moments of low energy.
In my spare time I like to: bake, blog and make photographs.
Can I just preface this with one thing? I’m positively terrible at picking favourites. Always have been. There is too much goodness in the world to focus on just one thing. It’s the changes and the evolutions and the memories that create this beautiful place. So, I chose an assortment.
Favorite food: gluten-free. (I know, I know. That’s not an answer. When I was five, I would have said “meat”. But now most meat irritates my system. When I was ten, I would have said “fettucini alfredo”. And although I still adore it, it’s something I only have once in a blue moon. Now, if pressed, I’d say my favourite foods are those made with love and fresh, beautiful ingredients.)
Favorite book: I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was absolutely wonderful. I loved The Help immensely too. (I also adored Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and A Mango Shaped Space when I was younger).
Favorite cookbook: I have two. The one my parents received for their wedding, which is a compilation of recipes from both of their families, and my mom’s handwritten one, filled with recipes she wrote down as she was moving out – typically just an ingredient list, often in the wrong order, which always makes sure that she’s in the kitchen with me. That one also has recipes from my great-grandmother, which make me smile and laugh and wish I could have tasted her cooking.
Favorite place to visit: the kitchen. But, if you meant places away from home, my heart has been stolen by many. My grandma’s cottage is filled with memories and stories and echoes of childhood. In Scotland, I stood on the land my ancestors lived, wishing I could have explored it for more than those few moments. And then there’s Paris. Ah, lovely.
Favorite pastime: getting lost in the moment. Be it marveling in the weather, soaking up time with friends, baking, making pictures, reading, all of that.
Favorite form of exercise: Well, I don’t know. My body has been out of whack so much in the last few years that exercise has been, unfortunately, difficult to do. I used to be a Highland Dancer, which I adored. I used to ski nearly every weekend, and swim through the week. I’ve always loved to exercise and I miss it. Hopefully I can finally get my body to a place soon where exercise doesn’t ruin the rest of the week.
Favorite quote: I write down quotes every few weeks in my journal. Right now, I think my favourite is from Thomas Carlyle: “A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.”
Favorite song, artist, or type of music: I don’t know how to describe my taste in music. I like singer-songwriters and something I can bake and sway to. I like voices that amaze me with their soul and passion. I like music where I can listen to entire albums on repeat. Currently, I’m loving Adele, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Katie Gavin, Florence + The Machine, A Fine Frenzy, Jason Mraz, Cara Luft and Mumford & Sons.
Favorite color: in elementary school, my response was almost always “all of them!” referring to the seven colours in the rainbow. Now, I think I’m more interested in tones. The hue of a perfectly ripe mango. The blush of a peach. The azure of the lake below a mountain. Colours are memories. They are ways of telling a story, of adorning our lives. I think my favourite colour these days is sunlight. Ever-changing, always inspiring.
Other Stuff about Lauren
When I’m in need of recipe inspiration I: go to the market, look online, and give my family the open-ended question of what should I bake?
When I don’t feel like cooking I: don’t. I tend to have some sort of non-dinner those days. Easy foods. Little bites.
My favorite place to pick up plates, napkins, and other fun tableware is: the unexpected places. I love it most when I come upon something when I’m not looking for it. Antique stores or random boutiques. Those are the best.
To treat myself I: bake something just for me. No input from anyone else, just something I know I’ll adore. Or, I buy a macaroon. Those are sensational (perhaps one day I’ll try to make them again!).
To relax I: read books and watch tv and movies. Naps are good too.
Lauren’s Tips and Tricks
Time-saving kitchen tip: read the instructions to a recipe ahead of time. That way, you can plan out your time, rather than realizing half-way through that the dough needs to rest for an hour.
Top 3 ways to eat well on a budget: buy the staples when they’re on sale, buy in large volumes for the things that you know you will use, and buy fruits and vegetables that are in peak season – they taste better too!
My motto for when life is busy and stressful: breathe. Break it down into manageable bits, and always make time for sleep.
My advice for those just getting started on the path to healthy eating: make one change each week. And don’t discount the little things. It’s all in the small changes, which eventually add up to a whole new lifestyle.
My motto for life in general: Start with love.