Raised in a small village in Greece, Anastasia Keramidas was destined for chef-hood. She started young, cooking beside her Yiayia (grandmother), at their family-owned restaurants. Anastasia quickly understood that food – in addition to being essential for our bodies – is also important for cultural bonding.
“Food is one of the only things we as humans agree upon, across the world eating is enjoyed in intimate settings as well as in large gatherings,” she says. “Food brings people together.”
Flash forward, Anastasia has a successful career in marketing. In addition to running her own consulting business, she’s also the Lyft senior marketing manager for the state of Maryland. And on top of all that, she’s a recipe blogger to boot! Check out her blog: Land of Pleasant Eating.
But she’s not all work-work-work. When she’s ready to wind down and relax, you can find her snuggling with her dog, Old Bay (named after a famous Maryland seasoning), by the fire with a good book, show or canvas (she’s a painter, too!).
We sat down with this busy bee, who dreams of having her own travel food show, to see how she stays grounded while balancing work, life and her overall health.
1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
I hope to have a freeing and open platform where everyone feels welcome. I love meeting and talking with all of the people in the community I've been a part of and helped create, and I hope to continue to grow that with them! I hope this blog brings people together in a similar fashion.
2. What motivates you to do what you do?
The community I’m in motivates me every day by messaging me, commenting on my photos, asking me questions and even giving me constructive criticism. I love to engage and share the knowledge that I know works for me… even if it might not work for someone else. I’m opening the conversation at the very least.
Eating healthy in America is a privilege not a right, and unfortunately proper nutritious foods are not available for most of the population. I work for a company, Lyft, which is helping bridge the gap between grocery stores and neighborhoods classified as food deserts. This national program, known as Grocery Access, allows for individuals in these specific neighborhoods to travel to a grocery store with fruits, vegetables and proper nutritious foods, for a flat fee of $2 per ride. Everyone should have access to proper nutritious foods – especially in America. I am proud to be a part of this project and this company doing its part in progressing America and its citizen’s health.
3. Who is your role model?
My Yiayia. She was level headed, strong and creative with a sassy sarcastic and loving personality. She influenced my love of cooking and I miss her every day.
4. What inspired you to seek a healthy lifestyle?
Growing up in a Greek village really gave me perspective on nutrition and what organic truly means. Chickens, goats and sheep ran freely through the fields and streets grazing on grasses untouched by chemicals. In turn, we had bright orange egg yolks, and the most delicious feta cheese you could imagine. It wasn’t easy getting my body used to American foods but I was lucky to have parents who didn’t allow processed foods into our home. We had fresh food for lunch and dinner and I didn’t have to resort to eating chips as a meal. I am so fortunate to have my body raised on such nourishment and I hope to show others it takes simple steps to live your life in healthy moderation.
5. Your Instagram features lots of fresh, colorful plates. Do you follow a specific diet?
In America, I am mainly gluten-free and plant-based, aside from baking my own bread and the occasional dinner out. I feel lighter and more clear-minded with this diet. However, when I travel I feel as though breads and cheeses don’t have the negative affect on me as they do in the states, perhaps it’s the over-processed and pasteurized grains and cheeses, etc. but I do enjoy myself more when I travel because my stomach isn’t as bothered by those specific foods.
6. What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
I have been intermittent fasting for the last 10 months, so other than a collagen latte in the morning, my meals usually begin around 1 p.m. Recently, I’ve been making baked chickpea fritters that I like to add on top of a leafy salad with a Dijon-based dressing. For dinner, if I’ve worked out, I make a grain bowl. My grain bowls usually consist of farro, baby kale, caramelized onions, roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and a soft-boiled egg or scrambled eggs. I snack throughout the day due to my hypoglycemia, so I make a batch of gluten-free granola about once or twice a month and will make a small bowl of that granola with a nut butter, Ceylon cinnamon, fresh blueberries and some homemade cashew or oat milk. Throw in a piece of homemade sourdough bread toasted with peanut butter, pesto or homemade salmon spread and that’s my normal go-to! I tend to get tired of eating the same thing so I switch it up often.
7. Sounds really nutritious! Do you every splurge on junk food?
I love Goldfish and Pirate’s Booty! I usually mix them into a snack pack with almonds to balance everything out or else I'd eat the whole bag.
8. That’s not too bad! Do you exercise to balance it all out?
I make an effort to do high intensity exercise three times a week and I try to walk around three miles or more a day.
9. Why do you ? Vitacost?
I love how Vitacost allows healthy options for a fraction of the price of large retailers. I’ve been a customer since I was 18, in college, when I was vegan/vegetarian for 10 years and there were no healthy options near my school. Vitacost helped me maintain my diet in college when it was very difficult not to indulge in takeout every night, which is how the majority of the campus fed itself. I used Vitacost to make my own healthy meal plan and recipes that I still use today!
10. That’s fantastic! What are your top 3 must-have products from Vitacost?
11. Wildcard question! Do you have a hidden talent?
I always get stumped on questions like this… I guess somethings people don’t know about me are: Greek was my first language, I am an above average tennis player, I love art and painting and I used to be a bartender after college so my mixology is pretty good.
12. What’s your advice for someone starting their journey to wellness?
Don’t be hard on yourself. If you do or eat something you aren’t proud of, it doesn’t ruin the path you’re on. Just see how it affects you and be conscious of that feeling. Try to avoid fads and crazy diets because our bodies are meant to have a little bit of everything (excluding fried foods or processed foods). Eating everything in moderation has been key for me!
Check out Anastasia's recipe page on the Vitacost blog!