Healthy Wife Crush Of The Month: Michelle Kabler
Happy Friday, my loves! Today I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Michelle Kabler, our June HWC of the Month! Michelle and I met a few years ago through a mutual friend at my home in Connecticut. I knew instantly that she was special--her genuine attitude and kindness shine through within the first few minutes of meeting her.
Oh, and did I mention she's a fabulous chef? Michelle has cooked for several wellness events I've attended, and the food tends to be the topic of conversation at every event. My mouth is watering just thinking about her dishes!
Michelle's opening up with us today about her past with food and what ultimately led her to becoming a chef and health advocate, as well as her number one tip for anyone looking to make healthy eating a priority. Check it out below!
Michelle, you are an absolute gem; one of those rare birds that truly walks her talk 100% of the time. What brought about your passion for cheffing?
I absolutely L-O-V-E cooking. But it wasn’t always this way! In my mid-20s, I worked long hours in a corporate job, was addicted to sugary office treats, and found myself battling several chronic health conditions. After being prescribed multiple meds to take every day, indefinitely, I had a wake up call. I was too young to be this medicated! So I started learning about my body, how to heal naturally, how to take care of myself in the best possible ways.
As my lifestyle began prioritizing self-care, I naturally started cooking at home more often -- nourishing, healing foods. Not only did I heal all of my health conditions through food and self-care, I miraculously and almost suddenly felt ALIVE for the first time in my life. I was shocked that I lived so many years half-sleeping, chugging along, just getting by, never knowing that true well-being was possible, or what it even felt like!
At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to help others feel the same electric, buzzing vitality. I earned my health-supportive chef certification at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC, and my passion for spreading the magic of nourishing home cooking has only grown!
Let’s be real for a minute. Many of us get into this work because we ourselves have struggled with food in the past. Can you tell me a bit about your own food and health journey, and how you’ve come out on the other side?
I’ve always had a love for food, but I was living in denial. I spent years yo-yo dieting -- binging on all the “bad foods” then restricting to counterbalance, or turning to juice cleanses and fad diets as quick-fix band-aids for all my indulgences. When I started battling health issues, I knew something had to change.
I focused on trying to “fix” my food issues. I went to therapy, joined group coaching, worked with health coaches, attended eating disorder recovery programs, the list goes on. But it wasn’t until I started cooking for myself, with my own two hands, that I truly felt like alive. Suddenly I wasn’t looking to someone else for the answers, I was listening to my own body.
When I started cooking for myself, my relationship to food completely transformed. Rather than resist my love for food, keeping myself from enjoying something I treasure so much, food became my medicine. I’ve since accepted that I love food! Food is delicious! It’s pleasure-full! I enjoy everything food-related to the fullest -- cooking, eating, savoring, sharing -- all of it! And since these shifts, I now feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually satiated.
Being a chef must really make your husband happy! I know my hubby sure wishes I had your kitchen skills. What are your favorite meals to cook at home?
Not gonna lie, Alex loves that I’m a chef. And lucky me, he’s a chef, too (swoon)! He attended a French-focused culinary school, while my Natural Gourmet Institute curriculum focused on health-supportive foods. He’s taught me how to properly sear a piece of steak in duck fat, while I’ve taught him how to add veggies to every meal, because #balance.
We love cooking together and for each other. Since we’re often working ever-changing and opposite schedules, we thrive off the batch cooking routine. Batch cooking is preparing large batches of foods that can be mixed-and-matched throughout the week for endless combinations. I honestly don’t know how we’d survive without it!
One of the key tenets to batch cooking is whipping up 1 or 2 sauces or dressings to help make everything feel fancy and “new” throughout the week. And lately, we’re loving all kinds of pesto, y-u-m. The recipe changes slightly based on the ingredients, since you can generally use any leafy green or herb, and any nut or seed as the base. The combinations are endless!
The pesto we made this week is out-of-this-world delish, and super easy to make in a food processor or blender:
- 1 c. basil
- 1 c. arugula
- 1 c. cashews
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- ¼-½ c. extra virgin olive oil, plus more until desired consistency is reached
- Sea salt/pepper to taste
Pulse everything except olive oil in the food processor until chopped and mixed together. With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
Store in a jar in the fridge up to 5 days.
In our modern society that’s constantly go-go-go, it seems like cooking has taken a backseat to more convenience-based options. How do you encourage your clients to make cooking for themselves a priority?
Two words: BATCH COOKING. This will change your life, and I do not say that lightly. No more dread that comes around 7pm when you suddenly realize you’re starving yet the fridge is empty. No more throwing away money on unhealthy restaurant takeout, eating the same exact leftover meal 6 times in a row, or tossing un-eaten groceries in the trash the following week. No more wasted time scrambling on last minute meals.
One of the biggest excuses I hear from others is that they don’t have time to cook. Chances are you’re up to big things in this world -- between work, working out, family obligations, weddings galore, your life is FULL. You need all the time you can get to live your life!
Batch cooking requires planning ahead, but it actually saves you time. It means spending a few hours on a Sunday afternoon or Monday night to prep you for the week. Look at it like this: when you consider your lifelong longevity, a few short hours once a week will actually add hours to your weeknights and your life, so you’ll have more time and energy to get back to the things that matter to you most. When you reconnect with how much you value your time, money, and all the things in life that are important, it’s a no brainer.
For the person that never or rarely cooks, what three pieces of advice could you give to encourage them to get started in the kitchen?
- Start small. Cooking can feel like the tallest mountain, especially if you're new to the kitchen. When the cooking tasks are simple, quick, and easy, you'll feel a huge sense of accomplishment when you get everything done. Perhaps you start with what you know (fun fact: I started with tuna salad and scrambled eggs). Or you pick 1 new recipe to try each week or month, so you continue to build on your food knowledge. Once you get the hang of those smaller tasks, you'll gain more confidence to keep growing your kitchen skills. Before you know it, cooking will feel like a breeze.
- Get inspired. Whatever gets you excited, go there. Whether it’s browsing through your favorite cookbook, scrolling your fave Instagrams, or asking friends for recipe ideas, the more inspired you are, the more likely you are to do it. I’m crushing hard on Bon Appetit lately, so dreamy and inspiring!
- Connect to your WHY. Ask yourself: “Why do I cook?” You probably have a ton of reasons that are personal to you (in case you need a place to start, my fave is that it helps me THRIVE so I can show up more fully in all the best parts of my life). Whatever your answer is, stay connected to your reasons, and hold those close to your heart every time it's time to get in the kitchen. This will give you that little boost you need to get into the kitchen, bring more love to your food, and make it ALLLL worthwhile.
What’s your personal all-time favorite snack?
Seaweed snax. Crispy, salty, mineral-rich. They get me EVERY TIME.
I know you recently moved to Richmond, VA. What’s the food scene like there? Any favorite spots visitors or locals should hit up?
RVA’s food culture is exploding! It’s one of the many reasons we chose to move here. In such a historic city, chefs and restaurateurs are redefining southern cuisine.
Some of my favorites go-to’s are:
- Ellwood Thompson’s: the best local health store, quite possibly ever.
- East Coast Provisions: my favorite place for simple, properly cooked seafood.
- Nettie’s Naturally: the cutest real-foods bakery and cafe, everything made in house.
- Stella’s: out-of-this-world Greek restaurant, with a new outpost opening in Charleston.
- Saison: hands down the best burger and fries in RVA.
- Perly’s: old-school Jewish-deli type food. Brings me right back to childhood!
Best advice you’ve ever been given, food or otherwise?
Straight from A Course in Miracles: “Only love is real.”
Isn't Michelle dreamy? :)