Real Food Whole Life


Hi, I'm Robyn

The writer, photographer, recipe developer, and mama behind Real Food Whole Life.

Robyn of Real Food Whole Life
Robyn from Real Food Whole Life

Real Food & Whole Living Shouldn't Be So Complicated

Let's Make It Simple


Recipes

Let's make real food easier. Dive into recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes, in one-pan, with 10 ingredients or fewer, or in the slow cooker. Fall in love with a new recipe. . .

 

Newsletter

Let's connect! Once a week I send out an email with new recipes, posts, and a free weekly meal plan. Think of it as personalized inspiration to eat and live well. Subscribe. . .

 

 

Meal Prep & Planning

Wish you were better at meal planning and prep? Use these simple, step-by-step posts and recipe round-ups to find ideas and turn prep + planning into an easy, streamlined, and (dare-I-say) fun process. Take a look. . .

 

Real Food Fix

Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to spend long hours in the kitchen, create complicated grocery lists with hard-to-find ingredients, or arrive home with no dinner? I thought so, too, so I created Real Food Fix. Learn more. . .


 

MY STORY

 
 

Growing up I didn’t think much about what I ate. In high school I spent my days studying and playing basketball.

Workouts were a natural part of everyday; I showed up to practice and the weight room without a second thought.

Chocolate chip cookies and lunchtime fast food trips fueled my 2-3 hour daily workouts. My snack of choice was a bag of Twizzlers plus a can of cool ranch Pringles.

Oh, and Diet Coke. Always Diet Coke. 
 
I left for college and abruptly stopped playing sports. I ate burritos at 2:00 am and forgot to workout.

Then I met my soul mate working at a summer camp. Andrew. He was handsome, smart, kind, and thought it was cute that I trash talked him while playing pickup basketball.

We fell in love. Less than a year later we were married. He finished his doctoral program, I finished undergrad, and we both got jobs.

I learned how to make marinara sauce. We lived next to a Trader Joe’s and I bought chocolate cake and frosted cinnamon rolls. You know, for my husband.

A stressful job and long commute inspired me to flop on the couch at the end of every long day.
 
Then Andrew got a job as a professor and together we moved to a small college town in Washington. He worked. I started a Master’s program.

There was nowhere good to eat.

I discovered Food Network and memorized the first three Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Living in the middle of nowhere I learned how to cook.

The Washington Cascade mountains and Andrew’s desire to be outdoors inspired me to get back into shape. I hiked, ran, studied and grounded myself in healthy eating and living.
 
During that time we decided to try for a family. We got pregnant, which unfortunately ended in a miscarriage. The emotional pain of that loss caught us off guard. We were heartbroken.

Despite the loss, life went on. I worked three jobs and finished school. We moved back to Portland and I started a doctoral program and worked two jobs. We tried again for a baby, and I got pregnant again. And then, another miscarriage.

I gained a lot of weight from the pregnancy itself, and the emotional pity party that occurred for months afterward.

Working out and healthy eating fell by the wayside.
 
Months passed and in my third year of the doctoral program we learned I was pregnant again. I felt like I held my breath the entire time, not quite willing to believe that we might actually get to be parents.

RFWL Shoot 45_New Kitchen 08.jpg

I also gained a ridiculous amount of weight. Like, an embarrassing amount. 
 
But then, miraculously, Elle was born.

We were overjoyed and humbled when our healthy, 10-pound baby girl came into this world.

She was perfect. We felt blessed.

And even though I was unbelievably happy to be a mom, I was incredibly frustrated with my weight and overall health.

My recovery was painfully slow, and breastfeeding didn’t seem to help.

Those women who say that breastfeeding just melted the weight off? Yeah. That was not me. I felt stuck.
 
After three months I went back to work. My schedule consisted of a 60-hour workweek plus evening classes.

I was overwhelmed and exhausted.

I wasn’t prioritizing workouts or taking the time to meal plan. Cooking seemed like a thing of the past.

This was not the life I had in mind. Something had to change.
 
After some serious soul searching and discussions with Andrew I quit my job and put school on hold.

Health became my priority.

I started working out. Eating real, unprocessed food became my mantra. I refocused on meal planning and moving every day.

I also started a job with fewer hours and more flexibility. Then I quit the doctoral program. Quitting was difficult, but I knew letting go would make room for a healthier balance.

As a result of healthy eating and lifestyle changes I lost weight, felt comfortable in my skin again, and confident that this healthy shift was sustainable.

With renewed passion I threw myself back into the kitchen, creating quick, healthy meals that all three of us could enjoy.

I restocked my cookbook library with real food cookbooks, subscribed to health-minded blogs, and spent hours at farmers markets and natural food stores soaking in as much information as I could.
 
As I meal planned, worked out, and experimented in the kitchen one thing became increasingly clear.

This healthy eating and lifestyle thing? It’s a lot of work.

And all those natural cookbooks and healthy lifestyle blogs I was following?

They made it look easy. Was I missing something?
 
How, I wondered, was I supposed to actually accomplish any of this?

Even if I did manage to put together a nine-part perfectly composed vegan bowl after returning home from work at 6:00 pm, Elle was going to throw most of it on the floor and Andrew would end up rummaging around in the pantry hungry within an hour of finishing dinner.

I needed to come up with a sustainable solution, and I needed to come up with it fast.
 
So I started scouring the Internet for quick, healthy, weeknight friendly recipes, focusing on those that used only real food ingredients.

I also played around with kid-friendly modifications for Elle and husband-friendly modifications for Andrew.

From this process Real Food Whole Life was born. 

Today you'll still finding me working my day job, and loving on Andrew and Elle. Now, though, I share what I've learned here on Real Food Whole Life.

My mission is to inspire and simplify real food and whole living, and to make this process easier in everyday life. I'm so glad you're here!

 

The Real Food Whole Life Philosophy


 

1 | Eat plants

My goal each day is to eat as many vegetables and fruits as possible. At breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks I try to pack in as much produce as possible.

The more I eat the better I feel. You will too.

2 | Cook at home

I’m a working mom. The convenience of eating out can be super tempting, especially at the end of an exhausting day. Regardless of how tired I may be, I try to eat the majority of meals at home (or at least homemade meals on the go).

Cooking at home allows me to control the type and quality of ingredients.

I know what’s in my meal, and just as important, what’s not. It doesn’t have to be fancy; simple, real food cooked at home is better than take-out every time.

3 | Avoid processed food

Processed foods contain artificial ingredients, colors, and preservatives. Plus they’re often devoid of nutritional value. I’ll happily eat real cheese or pasta, but you’ll rarely find me eating a box of processed crackers or drinking a diet soda.

It’s just not worth the cost in how I look and feel.

If you’re not sure, follow Michael Pollan’s rule of five ingredients or fewer to decide if your food is real. If there are more than five ingredients listed on the package, ditch it.

Similarly, if you spot ingredients that you don’t recognize or are difficult to pronounce, chances are it’s not real food.

4 | Ditch perfection, find the joy

While I try to focus on eating real food, my goal is not to be perfect.

If you indulge in real bread with butter sometimes, good for you. So do I. If you let your kids eat a hamburger and fries off the kids menu at your favorite restaurant, I’m right there with you.

I think there’s way too much pressure these days in the health and wellness industry to be perfect—and frankly, super-restrictive—when it comes to eating. I’m so not about that.

I think it’s really important to find the joy in eating, real food or otherwise.

So if you need some ice cream once in a while, eat the darn ice cream. But with no guilt. Then come back to real food at your next meal.

 

 


Photos on this page by KLiK Concepts