This week’s Food Friend is Allyson from Reclaiming Yesterday! She is a real food advocate who believes food can be both healthy and delicious. She’s also a talented food photographer who takes eye-popping photos which you can see from her beautiful Instagram feed!
Tell us a little about yourself, Allyson—
Hi everyone! My name is Allyson and I work in Marketing during the work week and on nights and evenings I blog over at Reclaiming Yesterday. About 10 years ago I started having some health problems, but I never connected them to the foods I was eating until I wound up halfway across the world living in Greece.
To provide a little backstory on that adventure….I traveled abroad my senior year of college to Athens, Greece and I met my (now) husband, a native Athenian, five days before I was to leave my program. We fell in love and I ended up taking a huge leap of faith and moved to Greece to live with him. It worked out! We lived together in Athens for two years and I had the most amazing experiences—and it is there that I really fell in love with cooking with healthy, whole foods and using food as a way to heal. We’ve since relocated to the States together, but we still both hold Greece very close to our hearts.
You discovered the impact that food has on your health after living in Greece for a few years. Can you describe the difference between the Mediterranean diet and the diet you were once accustomed to eating in America?
I was always into what I thought was “healthy eating” while I lived in the states, but after I moved to Greece I realized that a lot of the food I was eating was actually really processed and contained ingredients that were harmful to my health. Of course living in a culture that embodies the Mediterranean diet gave me a new appreciation for olive oil, fish, and healthy fruits and vegetables, but what was maybe even more impactful and influential for me was the way the Greek people approach food. Cooking and eating is celebrated and receives a lot of care and attention. It’s also a way to connect with loved ones, and that appreciation of a meal well sourced, prepared, and shared is something I knew I wanted to hold onto no matter where I wound up.
Did your time in Greece have any influence on the way you cook or the ingredients you use?
The thing that was most incredible to me when I moved to Greece was how delicious and satisfying even the simplest of meals could be. I think that is because a heavy emphasis is placed on quality ingredients and everything is made with a lot of attention to detail. I couldn’t get over the tomatoes, cucumbers, and oranges—all ingredients that seemed mundane to me when I was living in the states and eating processed foods. The soil is very rich in Greece, which plays a part in why the foods taste so amazing, but it’s also about spending the extra time to source out the really good stuff. I definitely still do that now that I’m back in the U.S. (and I’ve found tomatoes that are almost as good!)
Where does the inspiration for your recipes come from?
I get inspired of course by watching cooking shows, browsing food magazines, and seeing what other creative foodies are up to through social media. But I also like to look through old cook books and ask great, seasoned home cooks what their secrets are—and then put my own twist on them.
Your food photography is gorgeous and full of color. Can you talk a little bit about what kind of camera you shoot with and where you learned your photography basics?
Thank you! I shoot with a Nikon D3300 but I started out the blog just snapping quick iPhone shots. I really learned the composition tricks that way, and once I graduated to a DSLR I started playing around with things like exposure and depth of field. I learned how to shoot in manual mode through trial and error (and lots of YouTube tutorials).
Your Instagram feed is beautiful and you keep it vibrant and fresh by using a variety of colorful surfaces, dishes, and props. Can you share with us some of your favorite places to find backgrounds and unique kitchenware?
I would describe my creative style as eclectic, which you’ll see reflected in my wide range of image styles. I also get bored really easily with the same props so I’m always on the lookout for new ones—at yard sales, thrift stores, the side of the road… (wish that was a joke!). I create many of my own surfaces, and I’ve actually done a blog post on Reclaiming Yesterday where I go into more detail about my food photography “behind the scenes.”
What is a long term goal you have for your blog?
I started my blog after I discovered how powerful real food could be when healing—and staying healthy. I learned a lot through my health struggle, and I really wanted to share that information. My ultimate goal for the blog is to help inspire others to take control of their health and the health of their families by really connecting with the food they eat.
On snapchat, you occasionally share clever kitchen hacks. Can you share one of them with us?
I LOVE avocados, like the majority of other people, so I always like to have ripe avocados available to add them to what I’m eating at the moment. There are so many jokes about how you wait and wait for an avocado to ripen and then it stays perfectly ripe for like, 25 seconds. I’ve kind of found a way around that dilemma by buying a big bag of avocados (I get mine from Costco) and letting them ripen on the counter. Then you transfer all of the avocados to the fridge and they will stay in that perfectly ripe state for about a week. When I’m down to 1 or 2, I buy a new bag and repeat!
If you could choose any dish to eat right now from anywhere in the world, what would it be?
If I could choose to eat any dish, it would probably be chicken and Greek salad with LOTS of tzatziki—but the real deal, preferably from a breezy island overlooking the Mediterranean.😊
What is your favorite cookbook and which recipe do you find yourself referring to the most?
I love cookbooks, but the first thing I find myself doing is flipping through and admiring the beautiful images and taking inspiration from the recipes—rather than following them precisely. I’m much more of a “taste-as-you-go-and-improvise” kind of girl. I actually hope people approach my recipes that way, as everyone has different needs and tastes so adapting recipes to suite you is important, in my opinion.
Favorite form of social media and how has it helped to grow your blog?
I’m motivated most by aesthetics, and for that reason I would say Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I love to see other people’s creative food (and non-food) images. I’ve connected with many awesome people that share the same general food philosophy as I do, and I’ve also been lucky enough to get some free-lance opportunities with the exposure Instagram provides, which is really exciting.
What is your favorite recipe from Reclaiming Yesterday and which one is the most popular?
I think my favorite recipe from my blog is the Tahini Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocados. It really combines my love of a few things: Tahini, avocados, cheap but nutritious eats, and simplicity. It can be adapted based on whatever is in the fridge, which is important to me.
The most popular recipe is the Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. I love that one because it gives a once “taboo” food a healthy makeover—and it takes approximately one minute to make!
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and passion with us, Allyson! To learn more about Allyson, visit her blog, Reclaiming Yesterday. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and
Twitter! Oh, and don’t forget about 👻 Snapchat @ReclaimingYest!
Previous Foodie Friends:
May 27, 2015—Aleyda from The Dish On Healthy!
May 20, 2016—Christine from Yommme!
May 13, 2016—Minna from Living Minnaly!