Featured Chef-Monica Stevens Le
Featured Chef Recipes:
Monica is infatuated with all things food and health. She wants to show people that the only way to live their lives to the fullest is to feel like their optimal selves, every single day. Monica does not believe that we need to eat perfectly in order to reach optimal health and wellness. Perfection is not sustainable long-term, and she wants her readers to change their lifestyle, instead of going on a strict or “perfect” diet. Her primary goal has always been to inspire others, leading them on a path to changing their lifestyle and improving their day-to-day quality of life.
We hope you enjoy her recipes!!!!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself?
Monica lives in Temecula, California, which is about halfway in between San Diego and Orange County. Her husband, Tim and her bought a house here two years before hey got married and have been loving life. About a year ago, Monica was laid off from her fulltime sales position in the corporate world, which led her to pursue blogging, cooking and writing on a full time basis. Monica also just finished writing her first cookbook, which will be released this September and cannot wait to continue sharing her recipes with the world. In addition, Monica enjoys consulting and creating content for natural food and product companies she already supports in the whole food industry. Aside from spending time in the kitchen, Monica loves to travel, spend time with her family and friends and being outdoors.
Q: How did you get involved in cooking?
Back in 2011, I was a 22-year old wanderer, and I mean this in the best way possible. I didn't have any real responsibilities besides paying rent each month. I had a lot of friends and a pretty vibrant social life, but I sure as hell hadn't reached the peak of optimal health. Sure, I didn't really get sick often and didn't feel like absolute crap every day of my life, but I knew the way I did feel wasn't good enough. I knew I wanted to make a change in lifestyle, but I wasn't really sure who to look to or where to start.
The very first thing I did was to binge watch a series of food documentaries on Netflix. Five+ years ago, the majority of these documentaries just so happened to be pro-vegetarian friendly. I ended up feeling like I was scarred for life after getting a sneak peek at what the factory farming operations looked like in our country. It was absolutely horrifying. Soon after, I became a vegetarian of course!
However, the lifestyle wasn't sustainable for me at all. I did my best to get in all of the nutrients I needed from plant-based sources, but I truly felt like crap every day. I had low energy, I wasn't sleeping well, and getting through a workout felt impossible. Not to mention, my irritability was at an all-time high point. I felt completely lost because I didn't know how to maintain the lifestyle I wanted to live anymore; I was tired, annoyed and anxious to start feeling better immediately. Luckily, I discovered how beneficial and healing it could be to eat real foods, like: responsibly raised meat, pastured eggs, organic vegetables and fruit, etc.
Q: Describe your cooking style?
The closest description to my cooking would be “paleo” however that term isn’t my favorite and I feel is misunderstood. I favor using clean, nutrient dense foods that make my body and gut happy.
Q: How did you learn about grass-fed meats?
We moved to a farm-focused town in Southern California several years ago and became close friends with some local farmers. It has been very important for both my husband and I only to purchase organic, grass-fed and pastured meat ever since.
Q: What is your favorite recipe featuring grass-fed meat?
I’d have to say that my all-time favorite meaty recipe would be: chili- sans the beans! It’s such a huge comfort food at our house and makes us and our bellies very happy.
Q: You’re stranded on a desert island; luckily you’re stranded with your top 5 ingredients and must-have kitchen tool. What are they?
Kombucha, ghee, zucchini, bone broth & chicaronnes! I’d bring along my sharpest and best chef’s knife, so I can hunt if I need to of course!
Q: What is the best cooking secret, tip, or piece of advice you’ve learned?
Follow your instincts. Cooking isn’t a science- it’s an art! Don’t be afraid to get a little wild in the kitchen. You can almost always improve a dish by adding something to it if it doesn’t turn out the way you’d like!
Q: What is your favorite quote or song for culinary inspiration?
“Cooking is love made visible.”
Q: Is there anything else you want to share?
I’m super excited to be granted this opportunity to work with US Wellness Meats! By sharing our experiences and wisdom about purchasing, preparing and eating whole food, we can get this entire world a happier and healthier place!