Savoring A Healthy Life: A Q&A With Leah Porche, RDN, LDN
Posted on March 25 2018
For many, “health food” is stored as a negative childhood memory, conjuring up suppressed images of brittle, whole wheat bread, overcooked vegetables, and unpleasant surprise substitutes (as referred to in a recent The New Yorker article).
Very rarely does health food appear as appealing culinary option outside of larger, fitness-focused metropolitan cities such as Washington D.C., Portland, or Boston.
However, we believe the tide is turning. With a resurgence in support for the farm-to-table movement, growth in entrepreneurship, and a deeper push for quality of life issues, we believe Louisiana will soon expand on current healthy lifestyle options.
One of the many professionals spearheading the local healthy eating movement is Houma resident Leah Porche. Leah is a registered dietician and co-owner of Root2Rise, a yoga studio-cum-health restaurant and juice bar located in Houma. An advocate of natural and organic foods and supplements, Leah is a strong Andi Lynn’s Pure & Custom Formulary supporter and swears by the effectiveness of our Pure Elderberry Syrup - featuring it consistently in the Root2Rise menu.
We gave her a ring recently to swap recipes and get her advice on incorporating healthy eating habits.
AL: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. We’re so excited to be visiting with you!
LP: Oh, thank you! No problem.
AL: So to start, you’re such a such a great example of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle - even outside of your professional calling. What’s your health philosophy?
LP: I’m a supporter of the Reducetarian approach and the Real Food concept. I believe that we should focus on eating whole, single ingredient, plant-based foods that come from the nearest possible source, raised with consciousness, compassion, and the health of the planet in mind.
I believe that at the core of things, the vegan diet is the healthiest diet. In some places, such as Houma, there’s not a lot of options for a vegan diet. It can also be harder to maintain on social levels, because friends or business colleagues may not share the same diet.
The Reducetarian method of producing meatless meals throughout the week to reduce meat consumption and is a more balanced way to find a happy medium. It’s basically doing what you can with where you are.
The “Real Food” concept celebrates people sharing meal times, from gardening to cooking, while cultivating an awareness and appreciation for food, and passing this down to our children.
AL: These beliefs spill over into your professional life, obviously.
LP: *laughs* Yes, they do. Our mission at Root2Rise is to have healthy food and a healthy lifestyle tools accessible to Houma residents, and to those living outside of the area as well. We want to make sure it’s easy for people to make a healthy choices.
AL: You started the journey into yoga about 16 years ago. Did you go into it with a healthy lifestyle foundation?
LP: Oh yeah! We definitely were raised on clean eating habits. Our parents were kind of “off the grid” and didn’t go out to eat much. My mother made homemade mayonnaise and homemade bread, and grew sprouts. I was the weird girl with the brown bread, while everyone else had their white bread and Doritos.
We went through the phase of being teenagers, and learning for ourselves that processed foods don’t make you feel good. Eventually, I realized that I was raised right and needed to come back to it.
AL: Is that what inspired you to go to school to become a dietitian? Because that wasn’t as popular of a career choice as it is now.
LP: I kind of fell into it. I previously worked at a gym, and in making friends with some of the personal trainers, I went down a rabbit hole of research about personal training. That’s where I found out that a career in dietetics was possible. I called Nicholls (State University) that week to find out about making the career change.
AL: Do you have any tips on starting healthy eating habits, especially in light of Louisiana’s health troubles? It can be very intimidating, personally stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Are there any resources to refer to? Should someone ease into it or go “all the way” when making lifestyle changes?
LP: Easing into it for sure. I would suggest starting with the basics. Most people know eating fruits and vegetables is good for you, so starting from that point would be easy and less mentally taxing.
It’s a matter of setting good habits. Give to your body what it needs now, so you won’t have to address the lack of nutrition later, when it’s harder to address and turn around unhealthy habits.
I would suggest seeking out reputable resources and dieticians. Sites like the USDA’s Choose My Plate provide great information. I have a high distaste for programs that promote only one product or strict, multilevel programs. Sustainable, daily change is key.
AL: What would you say to someone’s perception that all health food tastes like cardboard?
LP: I definitely understand that perspective. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up with that kind of food - food that is nutritious, but doesn't taste great. It can be a matter of exposure and acquired taste. A person who hasn't been frequently exposed to brussel sprouts may hate them steam-cooked, but can try a roasted brussel sprout and then fall in love with that recipe.
Some things simply doesn't taste good. No one is required to like every single item labeled as healthy. There is a balance between healthy and delicious.
AL: What drew you to Andi Lynn’s offerings personally and as a dietician? How did you find out?
LP: I used to work at Anela’s Yoga And Wellness Center as a dietitian, and the store carried Andi Lynn’s products. A friend of mine introduced me to their benefits, and I did my research (of course) before trying them out. Eventually, I started using them as a favorite supplement.
AL: What’s your favorite Andi Lynn’s product?
Oh, I have a story for this. I attended a hot yoga class some time ago, and decided to take my daughter along with me. During the class, I noticed her face was looking red and blotchy, much like an allergic reaction.
Being in downtown Houma, we have limited options to soothe the reaction, no CVS for example, that we could go to before going to an emergency room. I thought, "What do we have here that I can give her?" and we had the Inhale Drops, so I gave them to her. In 2 minutes, her skin cleared and she was fine. I was so worried because she had never experienced any health issues at all. Since then we’ve said, "Andi Lynn's is the best".
AL: Tips on how to incorporate Andi Lynn’s in everyday meals/snacks, smoothies?
LP: They taste great by themselves and in smoothies. I created a recipe recently featuring the Pure Elderberry Syrup and posted it on my Instagram. (See below)
- 1c fresh spinach
- 1 c frozen blueberries
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/4 c keifer
- 3/4 c “Streetcar Sipper” Satsuma Kombucha, Big Easy Bucha
- 2 tbsp flax meal
- 1 tbsp Pure Elderberry Syrup, Andi Lynn's Pure & Custom Formulary
AL: What inspired you to create this recipe?
LP: I was fighting a cold and a sore throat and was taking the syrup multiple times a day. I went through my kitchen and pulled what I had, including the kombucha. It all naturally fell together!
AL: Is Andi Lynn’s used frequently at the shop? Is it a consistent offering?
LP: I use it personally at home; the Pure Elderberry and Cough and Calm syrups are our favorites. At Root2Rise we use it all the time, as well. Our "Get Well Now" recipe features Andi Lynn's Pure Elderberry Syrup, as well as kale, orange, red bell pepper, coconut water, and ginger.
As a matter of fact, we are updating our menu to add shot boosters, some of which will feature the Pure Elderberry Syrup, as well as the Louisiana Fire Raw Apple Cider Tonic.
AL: What about Big Easy Bucha?
LP: We were looking for a locally-based kombucha, and were able to find Big Easy Bucha at Perrone & Sons. It's the first kombucha brewery in Louisiana, and I really appreciate their support for small farmers in the Gulf Coast and the fact that they reuse and recycle.
AL: Is there a trick to developing your own smoothies, etc? A “base” formula?
LP: Making a smoothie can be so easy! All you need to make sure is getting your ratios right. My structure is usually one cup of greens, one cup of berries, half cup of liquid (coconut water/milk/almond milk) to start and then little additives such as collagen or protein, and flavorings.
I enjoy adding good fats, such as flax meal or avocado, and then some frozen banana or avocado. The site 100 Days of Real Food (https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/) has an actual smoothie template people can refer to - but my recipes mostly come from experience.
AL: Where can they get the smoothie materials? Favorite/recommended places to shop? Go-tos for healthy, easy options on a budget?
LP: I personally shop at Rouses, which is a store I know provides more organic options. But it is important to access nutrition any way you can, within the budget you have. Walmart has several frozen food options via their Great Value brand.
- Slow Food Baton Rouge, http://slowfoodbr.org/
- Farm and Table New Orleans, https://farmandtablenola.com/
- Farm to Work, a service of Healthy Lives, http://ourhealthylives.org/farm-to-work/
- Live Healthy BR Coalition, http://www.healthybr.com/
- Eat Fit NOLA, https://www.ochsner.org/eat-fit/regions-restaurants/eat-fit-nola
- BREADA, http://breada.org/