Hey, hi there! I'm Kari. Beautiful Ingredient is where - you guessed it - beautiful ingredients are celebrated! A few things about me - I am:
a food lover
a recipe developer
a food stylist
a home cook
educated through the Rouxbe Forks Over Knives Plant-Based Cooking program
obsessed with pecan butter & fresh produce
I started Beautiful Ingredient as a creative outlet for all these things, and to discover and share delicious ways to eat real, whole plant-based foods.
I’m also a wife and mom with a household that includes two bunnies and a dog - and all of them help me with this site, whether as taste testers, cleanup crew, or kitchen waste reducers (the bunnies and dog are like walking compost bins!). I’m continually trying to move more, laugh more, love more, breathe more (aka stress less) and of course eat more veggies!
My Food Journey
I love food. For most of my life, I followed the Standard American Diet more than I wanted to admit. I looked for the "healthiest" options that still added up to mostly a bread, cheese, and soda diet. When I saw something marked vegan I figured it wasn't for me - I wasn't in that club. Now I know, it's not about being in a club. Anything marked vegan is for everyone, no matter their regular eating habits. Vegan is simply an indication that no animal products are involved in that food. Nearly all of us eat vegan food on a daily basis.
Growing up with iceberg lettuce and canned green beans, I wasn't at all thrilled with vegetables. By the time I was an adult, I tolerated an occasional salad and that was about the extent of my veggie consumption. I ate burgers fairly regularly because I thought I actually needed them, since I was anemic. Doctors told me that my kids and I needed dairy for calcium, so we made sure we ate cheese and yogurt daily. Late one sleepless night, the documentary Forks Over Knives provided information that led me to reconsidering all of that. One of the main points I learned was that plant-based whole foods are where the nutrients are, and as humans we thrive on them. I dug deeper, and found all sorts of helpful information that led me to where I am today: happier and healthier - in fact, feeling better than I realized I could possibly feel. I took the Rouxbe Forks Over Knives cooking course led by Chad Sarno and began to realize how wonderfully delicious and beautiful veggies can be. Gradually I began eating more of them. I started creating plant-based alternatives to cheese and other foods we had been eating a lot of, and eventually I just didn't want any more animal-based foods.
Shifting the way I eat has brought energy into my life I didn't know could be there. My enthusiasm for food has actually increased - again, a big surprise! Now that I've made the decision to eat more whole plant-based foods and less processed, I realize that I no longer have extreme junk food cravings, my heart is no longer beating out of my chest for no apparent reason, my insides no longer feel hyperactive while I’m supposed to be at rest, and my patience in general has grown tenfold - especially since getting off of sugary sodas. I’m now into fresh herb- and fruit-infused water! Oh, and I've lost weight. I'm a believer. I only wish I'd realized sooner how delicious real food can be! Fortunately, my kids did. They've made the choice to be 100% plant-based on their own. Yes, really! I made a point not to dictate (I'm not saying it was easy) and they each made the choice in their own time.
I am learning more all the time about what works for me and my family, and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with you. I'm so inspired to take charge of my own kitchen now and maintain a plant-fueled lifestyle rather than yet another diet. I've found this way of life to be so much more delicious, doable, and filled with positive results than any diet I've ever tried.
This site began with a sewing business I’d started as a stay-at-home mom looking for a project of my own. I taught myself to sew and began creating table linens, which were seen in the likes of Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine and HGTV Magazine, and were sold at Food52 and the Bloomingdale’s flagship store. My creations were always made using eco-friendly materials, such as organic cotton and hemp. When I was ready to move my shop from Etsy to my own website, I decided to tie in a food theme to go with my table linens - and soon discovered that I preferred spending my time behind a camera and in the kitchen rather than at a sewing machine. It was hard to let the sewing business go, yet I know it was the right move for me.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to find, prepare, and eat plant-based foods - especially if you are a family on the go. The Beautiful Ingredient blog focusses mostly on quick, easy, and satisfying ways to eat plants - so that we can eat them even on a busy weeknight and want to eat them because they’re delicious rather than having to eat them. After even a small change to my daily routine, I quickly noticed health improvements and more energy. I just felt better in an unexpected way.
That said, I am a food enthusiast, not a health expert. While I strive to make positive food choices and am happy to share those choices here, I am not informed about your specific health needs. I recommend everyone do their own research and consult with their doctor before making diet changes. Make the right choice for you - just know that it is a choice. The way we’ve always eaten isn’t necessarily the best way - for our bodies or our planet. Did you know that animal agriculture is not sustainable at its current rate, and contributes more to climate change than all of transportation combined? Our choices really matter.
I have chosen to be very selective about advertising on my site. While it can be profitable, I find it distracting to have random ads popping up and making noise all over the page. I only want positive products here that relate to what this site is all about: a simple, authentic lifestyle focused on food for the body and food for the soul. As an Amazon Affiliate, I currently have two shops that you can choose to visit: one is Tools & Ingredients, filled with items that I find useful for a plant-fueled lifestyle, and the other is the Bookstore, where you can find books that have inspired me along the way. Both of these shops allow you to make your purchases through Amazon quickly and easily, and I will earn a small "finder's fee" percentage of your purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
You are invited along on this journey to discover just how beautiful real food is. While the recipes here will technically be vegan, I'm hoping that, whatever the lifestyle you choose, you will find them delicious and reasonable to prepare.
What's your favorite beautiful ingredient, at least right now? You can contact me with your answer - I'd love to know! I will happily get back to you with my current favorite. You can contact me here:
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