Meet Our Guest 'Grammer of the Week: @Sproutedroutes

·Assistant Food Editor
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Photo: Instagram/sproutedroutes

This weekend on #TastyTakeovers we tag along with Liz Moody, blogger of the San Francisco food, travel, and lifestyle blog Sprouted Routes that’s dedicated to healthy living. Her account, @sproutedroutes, is filled with bright and delicious recipes cooked up daily that’s earned her over 16,000 followers on Instagram. Check out the Q&A below!

Name/Instagram Handle:  Liz Moody of @sproutedroutes

Yahoo Food: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Liz Moody: I grew up in the Arizona desert and California’s Central Valley, but I’ve become — with fierce determination and a lot of scraped-together cash — a citizen of the world. The day after my high school graduation, I left for a year in Europe with all of my savings and a backpack that was larger than me. Since then, I’ve lived in New York, London, Buenos Aires, and Berlin, with travels all over South America, Africa, and Europe in between. Right now, my boyfriend and I are back and forth between San Francisco and New York (where we have a ton of family) and London (where his company is based). It sounds glamorous but it mostly involves a lot of couch crashing — although we feel so lucky to have a “home” (even if it is only the charity of friends and family) in so many places. We have one cat, Isabella, who I’m basically obsessed with. We took her with us for our last two-year stint in London (her plane ticket cost more than ours!), and we joke she’s the most cosmopolitan cat in the world, with the attitude to match. These days, I spend most of my day recipe-testing and developing interviews, beauty and health posts, and healthy travel guides for my blog,  and my Instagram account, @sproutedroutes (I post new recipes on @sproutedroutes almost every single day, which is kind of insane but awesomely fun). 

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Photo: Liz Moody 

What first got you interested in food and photography? Where do you draw inspiration from?

I chronicled so many of my travels in written form for my newspaper column, and somewhere along the way, I became interested in the immense storytelling power of food — how much it can say about a person’s culture, interests, even affections. I love to think of the recipes, photographs, interviews, and articles on Sprouted Routes and my Instagram as mini-stories, which helps me narrow in on what to include in the frame, and helps me come up with some of my favorite recipes!  A popsicle, for instance, might take inspiration from a flavor combo I stumbled upon in the mountains of Morocco (as my Cinnamon Orange Creamsicles did, and they’re so delicious); I might eat something at an amazing restaurant in the British countryside and know that I need to find a way to re-create it (in a healthier way, typically).  

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Dairy-free cinnamon orange creamsicles with a Morrocon twist. (Photo: Liz Moody)

How do you take your photos (with a camera or phone)? What are your favorite photo editing tools and/or tips for taking exceptional food photos? Give us the scoop!

I take most of my photos with a Sony mirrorless camera, but honestly, many of my Instagram photos come from my iPhone 6. There’s something about the way an iPhone takes photos that bring them to life perfectly on the phone, which is Instagram’s medium — it’s complementary. My biggest tip is lighting: beautiful natural light is key! Everyone says it, and it’s so annoying, because typically that means you need to make your food earlier in the morning and you can’t photograph that awesome dinner you created, but it’s true. My second tip is to think about color. A squeezed lime on the side does a ton to bring to life a bowl of stir-fried rice and veg; red pepper flakes brighten up avocado toast or a pesto pasta; some nuts or blueberries on the top of chocolate chia pudding break up the sea of brown. Finally, the sharpen filter on Instagram is your best friend. It’s THE secret food bloggers use to get that extra shiny quality to their photos — just use it judiciously (not turned up to the max every single time).  

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Cilantro pistachio pesto and zucchini noodles. (Photo: Liz Moody)

Who are three of your favorite Instagrammers? What do you like about them?

I love @yoga_girl, who posts little snippets of her actual life — real emotion, negative and positive, in addition to the beautiful, inspirational images that saturate Instagram. I like that she spreads positivity but also the feeling that it’s OK to really feel things, whatever they may be — that every moment is not namaste on a beach.  

@kaleandcaramel takes the most beautiful food pictures I’ve ever seen, and her flavor combinations consistently blow my mind (I made her Cantaloupe Coconut Lime sorbet the other day and was like, what am I eating?? So good!)  

@talinegabriel is a superstar, and for good reason: her healthy desserts are stunningly photographed, and taste INSANE. I also use her app at least a few times a month.  

What do you enjoy about Instagram compared to other online communities?

Here’s the thing with social media: it can take you out of the moment, and make you live in other moments, or it can put you in the moment, making you more present, more aware of its awesome nuances. I like Instagram because it has the best potential to do that: by putting such importance on a photo, it makes people look up from their phones and appreciate the world around them (even if it is just to take the photo that gets them the most likes!). I think scanning around the world, looking for little bits of beauty you can share, uses social media in a wonderfully positive way.  

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Honey rose pistachio chia pudding. (Photo: Liz Moody)

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

In New York, there’s this restaurant in the West Village called Blue Hill. They serve the exact kind of food I love — most of it is grown on their own farm. The dishes are heavy on vegetables and ancient grains and all of that, but they’re prepared in the most creative way you’ve seen. As a little taster they bring to the table, they have a one-bite beet burger. And I have to say — I don’t really love beets, but this burger — this burger blew my mind. The bun has a texture and flavor similar to a madeline cookie — I think it’s made out of almond flour — and the bite-sized burger is sweet and earthy and rich. I dream about this burger. It’s not even on the menu, so when you go there, you have to hope they’ll bring it to you (or beg and grovel, as I often do).  

If you could throw a dream dinner party for any three people — living or dead — who would they be and what would you cook for them?

Obama, because I have a big fat crush on him (my boyfriend knows; he’s the one person on my imaginary “list”); Richard Linklater (the maker of the movie Boyhood, as well as Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight); and Grant Achatz (the chef behind the amazing, insane food at Alinea in Chicago). To me, they’re all master storytellers at the height of their game: Obama is telling us stories about the future, what it could be, and why we should buy into it; Grant Achatz through his spectacular food, which blurs the line between food and experience (one of his dishes involves sucking helium out of a taffy balloon, telling your partner a secret in your silly, helium voice, then eating the taffy); and Richard Linklater, who tells stories in a more traditional way, but with a mastery of the craft I have such respect for. In the vein of honoring all that storytelling, I’d try to take them on a culinary journey with my food, but honestly, I’d probably be so nervous that I’d screw it all up and have to order pizza.  

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Farm to table margherita pizza from Flora Farm in Los Cabos, Mexico. (Photo: Liz Moody)

What’s the best dish you’ve ever made or the dish that you’re known for?

My paleo, gluten free, refined-sugar free Lavender Honey Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting is my most-liked photo on Instagram, and I adore making decadent feeling but secretly healthy desserts for my friends and family (my Snickers Pie, which is vegan, paleo and refined-sugar free, is another huge hit). On Instagram, I think I’m known for unique flavors and spins on food, like my Meyer Lemon Sweet Corn Pesto Pasta, or my Sweet Thyme Nectarine Crisp. In real life, honestly, I think I’m known as kind of a green smoothie pusher, chasing anyone within arm’s reach around with a glass of blended greens, promising them that if they just try it, they’ll love it (and I’m always vindicated, because they always do!).  

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Gluten-free lavender honey cake and cashew honey frosting. (Photo: Liz Moody)

What does the new food revolution mean to you?

It means that people are stopping to think about what’s on their plate, rather than blindly consuming what marketers push on them. It’s also about embracing simplicity — there are so many amazing flavors on their planet that it feels horribly hubristic that we even felt the need to invent artificial flavors. Realizing that a fresh peach, picked at the top of its season fairly locally (rather than being flown in from across the world), has a sweetness and ability to satisfy that can’t be touched by a Snickers or Kit-Kat bar — that’s the new food revolution, to me.  

And last but not least — what’s your favorite food (if you had to pick one)?

Honestly, I’ve been debating over this question for almost 48 hours, and my boyfriend’s laying down the law and making me answer it now. How does someone pick a favorite food, when all food is so amazing? I guess I’d say a good sea salt brownie, that’s gooey on the inside with a chewy, crispy top. Definitely a corner piece. I know that I blog about healthy food, but I also think a huge part of health is mental, and allowing yourself the indulgences that make life fabulous is a part of that. If I want to indulge without indulging, I just make my gluten free, grain free, refined sugar sea salt caramel blondies — you can’t even tell the difference.  

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Healthy twist on a snickers pie that’s raw and gluten-free. (Photo: Liz Moody)

Meet more foodies from the Instagram world:

Yahoo’s own @Dad_beets and his mouthwatering creations

Lawyer and Blogger Tworedbowls and her knockout photography

How to nail the perfect #foodporn shot from ‘grammer gilliehouston