Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station. She is a contributor for The Huffington Post and Cooking Light. Liz’s recipes and food photography have been featured on several websites including Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more. As a new mother, Liz loves spending time chasing around her toddler son and watching him experience new foods for the first time. Liz and her husband reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
LDC: I absolutely love food shopping! I always have and I know not everyone does. It’s fun to see what’s in season or brainstorm recipe ideas based on what’s on sale that week.
ITF: What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
LDC: Eating the rainbow! We love filling our cart with every color of the rainbow and try not to leave the produce section until every color is in the cart.
ITF: How often do you shop?
LDC: We shop once a week – usually on Saturday so that Sunday can be spent in the kitchen prepping food for the week, photographing recipes for The Lemon Bowl and cooking a delicious Sunday dinner for the family.
ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
LDC: There are three of us in my family – myself, my husband and our 17 month old son. Fortunately, he is NOT a picky eater and eats almost anything! He loves my Berry Spinach Protein Smoothie and Hearty Sausage, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
LDC: There was a time when I created weekly meal plans and typed up corresponding grocery lists but I found that it was too limiting and wasn’t focused on seasonality or availability. Michigan has a very large agricultural scene and I live minutes away from multiple farmer’s markets and farm stands. As food blogger, I rarely cook the same meal twice in a row. Instead of limiting myself to a strict meal plan, I like to shop seasoning and pick up items that may be on sale then create unique and delicious ways to eat them throughout the week. It’s more fun for me that way!
ITF: What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
LDC: For me and my son it would be the hummus that I make each week. My son loves it by the spoonful but it is great on sandwiches or as a quick snack with veggies and baked tortilla chips. As for my husband, it would probably be the craft beer from a local brewery here in West Michigan!
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
LDC: Not only do I believe in leftovers but I encourage leftovers. For example, whenever I make a pork roast, I like to make extra and eat it later in the week on a sandwich or on a salad. If I’m making soup, I always make a double batch – either to freeze or to eat for lunch. It’s encourages me to keep the proper portion at dinner time and also saves me from eating something unhealthy at lunch out of desperation!
ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
LDC: Canned beans! They are my go to food when I want to add bulk, protein and fiber to a dish without a lot of fat and calories. A few of my most popular bean recipes: Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili, Black Bean and Barley Salad and Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Burgers.
ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
LDC: I am a huge fan of Stonyfield products. I love that their yogurt is 100% organic but beyond that, I appreciate all that the company does to stand against GMO’s. I also love Muir Glen canned tomato products. The quality is fantastic especially during the colder months when we can’t get local tomatoes.
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
LDC: My zester/microplane grater. It is my favorite way to grate ginger root into my morning smoothies or garlic into my salad dressings such as my Fattoush (Middle Eastern Bread Salad.)
ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
LDC: Bread! And let me tell you, I do not make homemade bread. Baking is not my forte- I don’t have the patience and I get bored having to follow specific instructions.
ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
LDC: Any of the Middle Eastern food I make brings back incredible memories. I always say, if there is lemon, garlic and olive oil involved I feel like I’m instantly standing in my Great Aunt Vieve’s kitchen.
ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
LDC: Dinner last night! We had Szechuan Turkey and Green Beans with brown rice made in the rice cooker. It was incredible and I made extra so I could have it for lunch today.
ITF: If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
LDC: Chef Michael Symon! Since he is Greek, I love all of his favorite flavors like lemon, oregano, feta, etc. I am a huge fan of his food and have even visited many of his restaurants throughout the Midwest.
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
LDC: Variety is key! Trends are always changing and new research is always being revealed. Instead of buying the same foods every week, mix it up and try one new ingredient each week. It makes it fun and keeps you from getting bored!
ITF: What are you working on these days that you’d like to tell us about?
LDC: Recently I achieved a personal weight loss milestone so this year is all about maintenance. In honor of my achievement, I launched Healthy Habits – a new feature on my website where I will be sharing tips on staying healthy and also interviewing Registered Dietitians to help dispel common myths and answer reader questions.
If you’re interested in participating in Inside the Fridge, please email intern Leah, at Leah@robinplotkin.com.