Our Story

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

This post was written by Lisa Markley, MS, RDN, who, along with Jill, co-authored the #1 best selling Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

Since the beginning of the journey in creating The Essential Thyroid Cookbook, so many people have asked Jill and me, “So how did you guys meet? You didn’t go to the same nutrition school and you live in different cities – how did this partnership come about?”

[This is us in 2013 in the backwoods of MN, writing the outline for our cookbook. We’ve come a looooong way.] >

Last week, I shared a bit about me and my journey with Hashimoto’s and now is the perfect time to share a little more about our collective story for two reasons:

  1. This summer, we’ll be sharing parts, pieces, and excerpts from our cookbook – we’re gearing up to share seasonal ingredient highlights and a few recipes featuring summer’s bounty. Today’s post is also a partial excerpt from the Our Story chapter and one of its subchapters. Before we get into our ingredient highlights and recipes, I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane to share a little about how Jill and I met.
  2. As prime farmers’ market season abounds and I find myself inspired by the abundance of so many deliciously fresh, local foods, I’m reminiscent of how Jill and I first met 11 years ago.

Jill and I met in Kansas City in 2006. She had just returned to her home state of Missouri after graduating from nutrition school in New York and I was recently back after graduating from Bastyr University in Seattle with my Master of Science in Nutrition (MSN).

We’re what you would call “farm huggers.” (We like to hug each other too, as you see in the photo above.)

In addition to being insatiably interested in the healing power of whole foods nutrition, we share a deep passion and respect for time-honored, sustainable farming practices and the way that food was meant to be grown and prepared.

How did we get this way?

Growing up, Jill spent many idyllic summers on her grandparents’ ranch in the rolling hills of the Ozarks. In addition to raising cattle, they had fruit trees, a massive garden, and a root cellar filled to the brim with her grandmother’s canned fruits and vegetables. She was (mostly) raised on food they grew, butchered, canned, and froze. After nutrition school, she worked for Food Alliance, a nonprofit that certifies farms and ranches for sustainable agricultural practices.

I didn’t grow up on a farm and had never seen a vegetable or fruit growing in its natural habitat until I worked in an organic garden during graduate school. Some of the most important lessons I learned about nutrition and health happened outside of the classroom and in that field.

It was then that I was able to forge a deeper relationship with food, learning more about the importance of what happens behind the scenes to get it from field to plate. As a nutritionist, I began to believe wholeheartedly that it’s in everyone’s best interest to know and care about nutrition from the ground up.

Good healthy soil is, after all, where good nutrition comes from.  

Our common passion landed us both on the steering committee for the Kansas City Food Circle, a non-profit organization that supports local and sustainable agriculture by connecting city residents to real, locally-grown food and the farmers who grow it.

At the time, the popularity and importance of eating locally had yet to become mainstream, but the moment we both read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, our resolve to eating locally had been intrinsically strengthened. 

A handful of us from the committee, including Jill and me, were inspired and motivated to source and eat as much local, sustainably-produced food as possible during an entire growing season and chronicle our findings each month in an online magazine. Eventually, we had a veritable “handbook” of local foods that Kansas Citians raved about. In fact, our little group gave a standing-room-only presentation at Kansas City’s annual Eat Local & Organic Expo and received an exhilarating round of applause for our yearlong efforts.

This handbook was not complete without recipes, so our group worked together to curate or create recipes featuring local foods to include in our guide. And to eat them! Our monthly meetings were local foods extravaganzas, often in the fields of our friends’ farm.

During this journey, we found the following to be true:

  • Seeking out local, sustainably-produced foods creates a natural tendency towards healthy eating. It’s easy to be inspired to create vibrant dishes from the abundant availability of freshly harvested produce and locally raised meats and eggs.

  • When we eat in harmony with the seasons, we stay connected to the cycles of nature and obtain the right balance of nutrients needed to nourish our bodies. Think about how hydrating a slice of watermelon or a juicy tomato can be on a hot summer day.

  • Many of the fresh foods that become available during the peak growing season are fleeting, reminding us to stay present and savor their freshness and flavor before their time is up.

  • Eating with the seasons challenges us to try new things and inspires adventurous cooking to help find delicious ways to prepare rhubarb, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, and other unusual crops.

  • Staying in-tune with what’s available and having the opportunity to “hug your farmer” each week can deepen your relationship and appreciation for healthful foods as well as the effort it takes to cultivate them from field to plate.

For Jill, this “local foods journey” was the start of her focus on writing as an important component of her coaching practice.

And for me, this was my first realization of a natural tendency/desire I have towards being a “culinary translator,” a term coined by one of my culinary idols, Rebecca Katz. Rebecca defines culinary translation as: “translating nutritional science to the plate, seasoned by wisdom and the alchemy of flavor.”

Jill and I love this quote and it’s exactly how we’ve approached the creation of The Essential Thyroid CookbookJill brought the science, I brought the alchemy of flavor (inspired by the science), and we both brought 20 years of collective wisdom to this project.

We believe that food that’s produced in a time-honored fashion and manner that’s respectful to the earth is more health- and energy-giving than foods produced in a manner that goes against nature. Our views and our early experiences working together including later, both being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, are all solid foundations upon which our cookbook was created.

Those pre-cookbook days have infused Jill’s educational component of the book and my recipes in every way possible – and put The Essential Thyroid Cookbook in a class by itself.

We go into more detail in the “Both/And: Organic and Sustainable Farming” and “What This Means for You” chapters, where we write about our research into why choosing local, sustainable, and organically grown foods is essential for both thyroid and immune health.

We’re so anxious for our cookbook to be published! In the meantime, stay tuned for our upcoming posts featuring seasonal foods that will hopefully entice you to explore the abundance of fresh, local food in your community – and support your thyroid and immune system!

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

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