Palm trees, sunshine, and sparkling pools surrounded by sunbathers. Thinking of a vacation?? My college experience comes to mind. I was very fortunate to spend four years at Arizona State University for undergrad. A gorgeous campus, far from home, with a ton of new people to meet. One of which I need to introduce you to!
Everyone, meet Gourmet Gab! Gabriela Rodiles is a foodie and blogger who I was very lucky to meet in college. In fact, we were roommates one year! She’s not only a kind friend, but she’s got skills in the kitchen! I remember coming home and seeing her make different dishes in our apartment. I was always inspired by Gab’s blogging, and found it very courageous of her to follow her passion. She travels a great deal due to her work for her sorority, and is based in Indiana now! She’s also spent a summer as an intern for the Food Network. Find her at The Gourmet Gab or on Instagram, @gourmet_gab!
Here is Gab and I in the Hamptons a few years ago.
Because blogging is all about making connections, we wanted to introduce each other to our readers. We both have different approaches to our blog, with different areas of expertise! So we put together questions to interview one another, as well as a recipe that is inspired by the flavors of the southwest, a little ode to where we became friends! So lets’s get to it…
K: Knowing you from college, I was always impressed that you had taken the risk of starting your own blog! When did you first have the idea and what inspired your passion for cooking at such a young age?
G: When I was a freshman in college studying journalism, I saw the sophomores making a blog for one of their classes and I wanted to get ahead of the game. I started Gourmet Gab to begin writing about my love of food and connect to other college students! Ever since I was little I wanted to be in the kitchen. I vividly remember watching Emeril Lagasse instead of watching cartoons. Discovering how to mesh my two passions — cooking and storytelling — has been so fun over the last five years.
K: What is your favorite spice or ingredient to add to your dishes?
G: Sea salt! I know this sounds simple, but I have just recently had an epiphany with salt. I think I have been under-seasoning my food for too long, and now that I’m using real sea salt, I appreciate how it brings out the natural flavors of food.
K: Any tips for healthy eating while traveling? You are always jet setting and very busy! How should we avoid packaged on-the-go food choices when traveling?
G: Although they are packaged, I always have a granola bar in my bag when I’m traveling! Lately I’m really into KIND bars and Trader Joe’s Simply Nutty Dark Chocolate Nut Bars. When I’m on the go, I would always rather have something in my bag with me so I’m not tempted to snack on fast food or overeat once I do sit down for a meal. I would recommend also making your own combination of trail mix with raw nuts and dried fruit to have stashed away in case hunger strikes while you’re on the plane or traveling.
K: Speaking of your travels, what do you love most about visiting a new city? Do you explore their food scene and try signature dishes?
G: My most favorite part of visiting somewhere new is trying the city’s food! Even when I’m traveling for work I would rather wake up early and stay up late to squeeze in trying new restaurants or visiting the spots where the locals go. To me, it’s like a treasure hunt. I enjoy researching, reading other blogs and talking to the locals about the must-visit spots of each city. Once I find an amazing meal, drink or restaurant, my whole day is made!
K: I LOVE your tagline of “Love Food. Love Self. Love Life.” Could you describe more about how you came up with that and what it means to you and your readers?
G: Thank you! It popped into my head while I was trying to think about what I wanted my blog to encapsulate. The three phrases — Love food. Love self. Love life. — are so interwoven to me. Food brings me so much joy, and when I am happy it gives me a positive outlook on life. Food is powerful and when you learn to embrace it, appreciate it and savor it, I believe it impacts your being and your attitude about everyday life. I hope this philosophy connects with my readers, as well. My goal is to help people feel more knowledgable in the kitchen. If this leads them to feel more confident and inspired in their own lives, I’ve done my job!
K: What are your favorite ways to stay active as part of your healthy lifestyle?
G: After trying to be a morning workout person, I have learned that the best way for me to be consistent about working out is to head to the gym directly after work. I always do some kind of weights or core workout, then I like to get my heart rate up with cardio. Whether I take a cycling class or go for a run, I really enjoy pumping up the music and forgetting about the rest of my day. Growing up I danced almost everyday after school, in college I was a Zumba instructor and now I am working on teaching cycling classes. Being active has always been a part of my life and I believe it is really important to stay balanced.
K: What does a balanced lifestyle mean to you?
G: My mom used to always tell me, “Everything in moderation” and that philosophy has stuck with me. I believe in a killer workout a few nights a week just as much as I believe in gooey, chewy chocolate chip cookies. Keeping a balanced lifestyle helps me to not be too extreme one way or the other. I encourage everyone to find a balance in their life that works for them as well.
K: I know you’re a breakfast lover! If you could only eat one breakfast, what would you choose?
G: Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day! If I could only eat one breakfast I would pick peanut butter toast with sliced bananas drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s combines my two favorite things in the morning: peanut butter and fruit.
K: Have you experimented with any super foods or popular health foods? What did you think??
G: I love to stay on top of the trends and am always experimenting in the kitchen. I went through a huge kale phase that I am winding down from now. Green smoothies, kale salads and kale in marinara pasta sauce were my favorites. Right now I’m on a chia seed kick. I eat them probably three times a week in pudding, parfaits or smoothies! I love snacking on walnuts, so next I want to play around with actually cooking with them.
Wow, what an amazing approach to food and life. Thank you for sharing with us, Gab!
Now time for the salad. This kale salad is not only my favorite because of the choice of green- but the dressing! It’s tangy, full of fresh flavor from the cilantro, with a touch of spice from red pepper flakes and smoked paprika.
We added corn, black bean and juicy mango to give it a southwest feel. Red or orange bell pepper, red onion, or spicy baked tofu would be fantastic to add as well! What is so great about salads is that everything goes.
Southwest Kale Salad With Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
for the dressing:
2 cups cilantro packed
juice of 1 small lime
1 shallot roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt (and additional salt and pepper to taste)
for the salad: serves 2
4 cups of baby kale (or a baby kale spinach blend, or romaine would work well)
1/2 organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can organic sweet corn, rinsed and drained
1 ripe mango
1-2 cups of cherry tomato, cut in half
1 ripe avocado
- Prepare the dressing by placing all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Rinse and drain beans and corn.
- Chop tomato and any other vegetables.
- Top kale with veggies, corn, beans and dressing and toss to combine.
- Thinly slice avocado and mango and top the salad with each.
- Garnish with additional lime and fresh cilantro if desired.