Welcome to Kitchn's series My Healthy Morning, where we show you how one person greets the day in a way that makes them feel their best. Each post will chronicle how that person defines healthy for themselves, and the habits and recipes that make their morning a little bit better.
Photographer, food stylist, and cookbook author Leela Cyd is a longtime friend of Kitchn. If you're a regular on our site or have a copy of The Kitchn Cookbook, chances are she is a longtime friend of yours, too. Maybe you've made her beet-pickled deviled eggs? Or maybe her simple but quirky kitchen has inspired you to add a little whimsy to your space? Her gorgeous photographs and smart tips have likely been helping you make life in the kitchen just a little bit better.
This year, she's been especially prolific with not one but two new cookbooks. The first, Cooking up Trouble: Recipes to Nourish Women, came out this summer; her latest, Tasting Hygge: Joyful Recipes for Cozy Days and Nights, is here just in time for comfort food season. We're obsessed with recipes like almond sourdough pancakes, braised lentils with apricots and olives, and German-style lemony cheesecake (which is proof that German cheesecake is the best cheesecake).
Oh yeah, and did we mention that Leela is also a new mom to Izador Cosmo? We checked in with Leela to see how she keeps it all together (a strong cup of black tea is key) and how the meaning of "healthy" has changed for her in this exciting chapter of her life.
What Does Healthy Mean to You?
Healthy to me means keeping the tenuous balance of motherhood, work, social life, and rest. One of these variables is always getting the shaft and that's alright. I take things day by day, even hour by hour sometimes, and attempt to do my best with what's directly in front of me.
I try to stick with some ground rules to help my days have a good rhythm: a cup of strong black tea (Brigette's blend from Harney & Sons) with loads of milk and honey, 30 minutes of exercise, a hot meal, and a bath with my baby. These things help keep me feeling happy and healthy.
My Healthy Morning Routine
My morning starts early at 4 or 5 a.m. I have always been a morning person, but this everyday pre-dawn hour is tough yet beautiful as I attend to my sweet baby. I nurse Izador Cosmo, my 5-month-old son, in the dark and think about what it's like to be in his brain or who he'll be when he grows up.
Of course, sometimes the running list of things I have to do that day creeps in, but I try to just focus on him and his wonderful heavy weight in my arms because I know this phase of our lives won't last forever. Then I put him back to bed for a couple hours.
I move to the living room, pump and sip my special tea. I love to have a treat to balance out the daily difficulty of pumping breast milk in the wee hours of the morning. I'll read the paper or check emails too.
After this task is done, I'm starving so I always eat a solid breakfast of already-made steel-cut oats with big dollops of applesauce, nut butter, and often a blob of yogurt or splash of heavy cream. I top the concoction with flake salt and maple syrup or brown sugar. When you have a baby, a hot meal alone is a sacred thing so I just try to enjoy.
Finally I love to burn something to set my day off right — sage, a candle, a forest-smelling incense. Fire, good smells, and a second to set an intention or be grateful for the family I have is a part of my daily ritual and helps keep me grounded in the moment rather than speeding ahead to the many looming tasks.
Next up, those tasks: I do the dishes, tidy the house for the day, and answer emails. And then the baby's awake — time to do it all over again!
Thanks, Leela, for sharing your morning routine with us! And psst: Leela's new book makes a great holiday gift.