Q&A + Recipes with Jess Tom - Novelist, Cook, Television Personality - Winner of season 14 of Food Network Star & avid Yogi

April 27, 2019 4 min read

Q&A + Recipes with Jess Tom - Novelist, Cook, Television Personality - Winner of season 14 of Food Network Star & avid Yogi

When did you get started with yoga and why were you attracted to it?
I took my first class some fifteen or so years ago, but didn’t get serious about it until I joined my current studio.
Prior to becoming a yogi, I had dabbled in basically every class you can think of. I’d get into my barre phase, or my Zumba phase, but I’d get tired of it after a couple months and move on.
When I found yoga and the right studio and teachers, I discovered not only exercise, but a whole new way to think about life. Yoga resonated with a lot of personal beliefs that hadn’t quite crystallized in my mind. For example: non-attachment, breathing through discomfort, and the idea that flexibility and balance is just as important as strength--in life and on the mat.
Tell us how yoga and wellness have helped in your creative endeavors.  
So many ways!
When it comes to writing, yoga helps me tame my “lizard brain”. If you work from home with amorphous hours and tons of distractions, it can be hard to achieve the mental stillness creativity demands. Yoga has helped me train my mind to focus on the work in front of me, and let all the other noise slip away.
Yoga also helps me feel more expansive and open, which leads to bigger, bolder ideas. A flexible body also leads to a flexible mind. That limberness helps me make connections and create turns of phrase that feel fresh.
When it comes to TV work, my yoga practice has helped me calm my nerves and lean into the unknown with a sense of curiosity and excitement. When I’m on set, I’m continuously outside of my comfort zone — and that’s a good thing! Yoga — and all the poses I’ve been able to achieve by riding my edge — has shown me in the most tangible way that all the good stuff lies on the other side of fear and doubt.
And finally, when it comes to entrepreneurship, yoga has taught me self-discipline, humility, and grit. Don’t worry about the end goal, just keep working. I’ve fallen on my butt countless times and I see other people do it all the time. Who cares? It’s not a big deal, it happens to all of us, and that’s how you know you’re on the right track.
What’s your philosophy on food and how does that connect with your yoga practice?
To me, food is about play and expression. I know people can get nervous about trying out new recipes or cuisines, but — it’s only food! Food is about exploration and fun, not rules and regulations.
I clicked with yoga because there’s a similar mindset. There’s no perfect pose or perfect dish — the most important thing is getting on your mat or in your kitchen, and trying. Wherever you are is perfect.
Furthermore, when you cook your own food, you become mindful about the ingredients you feed yourself and your family. Knowing your way around the kitchen is empowering because you can control what you eat — and by extension, how you feel.
Here are some recipes that demonstrate that point. These are pure, whole, and wholesome foods that nourish the body and celebrate natural ingredients.

 

SUPER HIKE GRANOLA

In honor of National Park Week, here’s a recipe inspired by the great outdoors and theIzzy Stripe leggings, which benefit the National Park Foundation. It contains fruits, complex carbs, and healthy fats to keep you moving. This recipe is on the less sweet side, so feel free to add more sugar or honey if you prefer a sweeter granola.

3 cups rolled oats

1 ¼ cup pistachios

½ cup sunflower seeds

1 ½ cup coconut flakes

½ tablespoon salt

¼ cup powdered freeze-dried strawberries (optional)

⅓ cup light brown sugar (or more to taste)

⅓ cup honey (or more to taste)

⅓ cup olive oil

1 ¼ cup dried blueberries

½ cup food-grade dried cornflowers (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°F and prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Mix oats, pistachios, sunflower seeds, coconut, salt, and powdered strawberries, if using, in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, simmer the brown sugar, honey, and olive oil until the sugar is dissolved. Pour onto the oat mixture and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly on sheet pan.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown, mixing every 10-15 minutes. Add dried blueberries and dried cornflowers, if using. Allow to cool and harden. Serve with milk, on top of a smoothie bowl, or eat on its own!


HIBISCUS CHIA PEACH RESIN TEA

 
This recipe is inspired by my exceedingly youthful grandma. Her secret?Peach resin — a plant-based, all-natural, collagen-packed ingredient used in Chinese medicine. Unlike other collagen supplements, peach resin is a whole food and minimally processed — it’s simply the sap of the peach tree. When peach resin is soaked, it transforms into a gummy-like bite that can be added to all sorts of drinks, smoothies, and snacks. I try to consume peach resin everyday to help me bend, glow, and strengthen.
 

5 cups water

2 tablespoons rock sugar (this is the traditional sugar used in Chinese preparations, but you can also use another type of sweetener)

⅓ cup dried hibiscus flowers

2 cups soaked and cleaned peach resin(see here where to buy and how to prepare) 

⅓ cup chia seeds

Bring water to a boil and add rock sugar. Boil until dissolved. Turn off heat and add hibiscus flowers. Steep for 20 minutes, then remove hibiscus flowers.

 
Add peach resin and bring to a simmer.  Poach for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm. Add chia seeds. The chia seeds will absorb the tea over 20-30 minutes. Stir the chia seeds every so often to make sure no clumps form and all the chia seeds are exposed to the liquid.
 
Chill and serve! This is a great pre or post-workout drink.
 
Want more food and yoga inspiration?Follow Jess on Instagram andcheck out her blog for more recipes.

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