Inspiration: Kelsey Bell of The Mindful Chef
Hey Kels! To kick off our interview, I want to start out by saying thank you for joining the Inspired Series. I am so excited for you to join us and let’s start out by you introducing yourself to readers!
A: Hi everyone! My name is Kelsey Bell, and I am the woman behind The Mindful Chef! I am a twenty-seven year old purveyor of unified wellness with a fervent love of yoga, positive energy, and people, currently living and working in Philadelphia. The Mindful Chef was born from that very love, as well as a genuine passion for cooking wholesome, nutritious meals that nourish the body and the soul. My goal in creating The Mindful Chef was to develop an ever-changing and growing inspirational platform that could provide the tools to help you through your very own wellness journey, while fostering a community filled with support, encouragement, and positive energy.
I absolutely love The Mindful Chef, and the fact that you share content from mindfulness to recipes and everything in between. If you don’t mind me asking what got you started in the wellness world?
A: Of course! Almost 13 years ago, I started taking control of my health even in small ways to change myself for the better. I started running, eating better than I was, and making an overall effort to be more aware. About four years in, I really started educating myself on how what I was eating was impacting my health, understanding nutrition labels, and making the switch to whole foods. I also was practicing yoga six to seven times a week, and was so in touch with my mental and physical body that my awareness was the highest it had ever been. And from there, I kept going.
You are one of the most positive and uplifting souls I have ever met in the community, and your positivity radiates throughout your feed! What are some of your tips for staying mindful and positive throughout daily life?
A: Perspective. I know firsthand the power of perspective, and how when we shift it to a more positive mindset, we can shift everything. Our mind is so powerful, yet we tend to focus so much on just food and the gym, that we aren’t working out our most powerful muscle: our brain. I’ve had anxiety for my entire adult life. It comes in waves, but it’s something I’m hyperaware of, that I use journaling and other mindfulness practices to ground me through, and I do therapy regularly. All of which help me regain that perspective when I need to. I am a big believer in the power of talking through what we go through, whether in the form of journaling or sitting with a trusted therapist. I’ve been through a lot along my own journey through this life that gives me perspective, but it can also hinder my perspective. So I find it most helpful to do what serves me, such as cognitive talk-therapy and journaling (and I’m getting better at meditation), to help me grow. My biggest reason for starting this platform was to try and inspire even one person to love who they are, to love their journey, to love the perfectly imperfect process of growing every single day.
What are some tips you have for those looking to incorporate more wholesome foods into their diets?
A: True story: I was the kid that wouldn’t touch a vegetable with a ten-foot pole, unless it was a potato and fried into stick form- yup, I’m talking French fries. However, the more I educated myself on the correlation between food and our mental and emotional health, loving wholesome foods became easy. I think I grew to love them even more because I knew my body needed something better, something whole. For many of us, we only know what big box corporations and mass marketing tells us that healthy is. But digging a little deeper can reveal a whole world of healthier, wholesome foods strung together into one nourishing meal. So my advice for people looking to incorporate more wholesome foods into their diets would be to learn. Take the time, even if it’s a few minutes here and there, to learn. Whether it be researching recipes, reading up on how our food has changed over time, the real difference between organic and non organic, and so on, I urge you to learn. It will make you more passionate about choosing carrots and hummus for your work day snack as opposed to a chocolate croissant.
What does an average morning look like to you?
A: I love mornings! I use to be a night owl for sure, but now I have trouble hanging past 10PM (it’s okay, I’ve accepted it ;)). I love to maximize my mornings, and no that doesn’t necessarily mean overextending myself. I view my mornings as an opportunity to take time for myself, to do whatever I need. A typical morning for me looks like: waking up for a 6am yoga class (with a ~1.5 mile walk roundtrip to the studio), shower and getting myself ready for the day after class, writing, working on a new recipe, or relaxing for a little while after my shower, making breakfast and a homemade matcha latte, posting some content on my Instagram page and engaging with the community, and then getting started with my work day around 9-9:30am!
What are some of your favourite ways to get your body moving?
A: Yoga, it’s absolutely yoga. I love taking classes from some of my favorite teachers, as well as flowing on my own and working through a sequence I put together. I think the fact that I have such a deeply rooted passion for yoga and the fluid movement is the reason why I get so excited whenever I get to practice, whether it’s on my own or a classroom setting (it’s also why I love teaching so much!)
Some of your favourite restaurants in your city?
A: Barbuzzo, Good Spoon Soupery, Front Street Cafe, Parc, Double Knot, and I’ll cap the list there!
How do you maintain balance?
A: Balance can be an ever-elusive lifestyle, if you don’t keep your perspective in line. For me, it once again comes back to perspective. This was a big reason as to why I left the corporate fashion world and New York City. I found myself working a job that caused me so much stress and anxiety, living in a city that was over-priced for my underpaid salary, and commuting on the subways seemed to have a way tipping it over the edge. I felt like I always wanted balance, and I wanted to be happy… and although at times it felt like I was getting here or I had it, it quickly escaped and I found myself anxious once again. In May of 2018, I left my corporate fashion job and New York City to work remotely from Philadelphia for two start-ups that I love and adore, while also working on my own blog, volunteering, and establishing much better balance. I was terrified to take the plunge initially, and there were many people that though I was crazy to leave a “stable” job in New York City for a concept that was foreign to them. However, it was something I new in my heart that I had to do. I shifted my perspective from fearing the unknown, judgement, and anxiety over my current position to one of a firm understanding that it was just a job. That my mental, emotional, and physical well-being was not worth the sacrifice. That I have this one, beautiful life, and I am strong enough to make the brave decisions, take an unconventional path, and find jobs that lift me higher, rather than bring me down. I shifted my perspective to find my worth, my passions, and balance.
What/who keeps you inspired?
A: Life and those in it keep me inspired. That may sound cliche, but it truly does. Knowing that I am fortunate enough to wake up every single day, stand on my own to feet, and have the potential to make an impact is what inspires me each day.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
A: Just one?! ;) Although I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, I tried to keep the list short and sweet. A few that I love are:
“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
― Lao Tzu
"Figure out who you are, and what inspires you, and don't look back." -Dave Grohl
“I think human beings make life beautiful. There's a lot of beauty in everything. I think what makes life beautiful is the ability to acknowledge that.” - Andrew McMahon
What’s one of your favourite recipes that you have created so far?
A: That’s a tough one! I think my favorite savory recipe that I’ve created is my veggie pot pie, which I created almost one year ago, and will finally be coming out in my e-book soon! And I would have to say my favorite sweet recipe is a tie between my Pumpkin Butter Oat Crumble Bars and my homemade, healthy take, on a Reese’s Cup (both of which are also coming in my e-book, it’s been so hard to not share these!).
Coffee or tea? Tea, all the way! (My favorites are matcha, chai, and red rooibos.
Food, lifestyle, and everything in between: @shutthekaleup and @sammyjaneeason
Lifestyle and hair goals: @lindseyraerogers
Food styling goals: my girl Hannah, @twospoons.ca
Foodies: everyone in my Instagram community, you all rock my world! :)
Cardio or strength?
Both! I love cross-training and varying my workouts, although I feel the most “me” when I’m doing yoga. It literally moves me physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Best cooking tip?
You know that saying, “color outside of the lines”? Well I believe in “cooking outside of the lines”, and by lines, I mean recipes. When I first ever started cooking.. I didn’t follow recipes. I found myself experimenting (which made it fun to learn, through epic successes and epic failures), and it taught me how to create recipes instead of following them. Do not be afraid of the kitchen, do not be afraid of cooking. Just go for it.
Who is your cooking inspiration?
That’s so tough! So many people… I would really have to say my Instagram foodie community as a whole. None of us are reinventing the wheel here, but everyone share their own unique tips, tricks, recipes and such and does so in their own unique way, and I love that!
Thank you for chatting Kels! Who would you like to see interviewed next for the inspired series and why?
I would love to see @sammyjaneeason and/or @kaleintheclouds and @bowlobsessed interviewed next!