Meet Angie Nordstrum, an associate graphic artist at WFM Pearl Street, and learn how a life-altering discovery pushed her to reexamine whole foods from an allergy-friendly perspective.
Angie and her son Hayden; Angie's football season chalkboard at WFM Pearl Street
Q&A with Angie Nordstrum, Associate Graphic Artist
Describe your role as associate graphic artist at Whole Foods Market Pearl Street. How do you see the Marketing and Graphics department connecting to the Whole Foods Market Cooking program?
In my role as a graphic artist, I create the chalkboards and printed signs throughout the store. Art and design have always been my first love, and I get great pleasure from illustrating chalkboards and designing graphic projects. I designed the apron logo for the our Cooking department and assisted in the creation of the department’s signage and chalkboard illustration. As these pieces came together, I was delighted to learn about all the new products this department carries.
When did your love of cooking begin? Were there any particular experiences early on in your life that shaped your approach to food and cooking?
I have always enjoyed cooking and entertaining. My husband enticed me with delicious vegetarian recipes when we first met years ago. I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty years now. However, my approach to cooking and eating forged an entirely new path when our son developed life-threatening food allergies to multiple foods. I had to learn how to cook yummy, healthy meals free of the top 8 allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts) as well as sunflower, sesame and flax seeds. This proved to be quite a challenge with a young eater, but pushed me to learn more about whole foods and healthy eating.
What do you believe is the first step to cooking well?
High-quality organic ingredients.
Why do you believe cooking with whole foods is an essential part of healthy eating?
Seventy-percent of our immune system is in our gut. Food allergies, ADHD, autism, diabetes, cancers, and heart disease are all on the rise. What we choose to put in our bodies affects our entire system, from gut to skin to brain development and behavior.
What music (if any) do you listen to in the kitchen?
Allison Krause, Eddie Vedder, Bob Marley -- anyone who sets a good mood for cooking! On Sunday afternoons I love to cook soups and salads for the week ahead while listening to The Splendid Table on NPR.
Angie's Thanksgiving chalkboard for WFM Pearl; Hayden is pumped for his special pizza
Have there been books, chefs, or people who have inspired your cooking?
I think I have made every recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook! The Moosewood cookbooks were a huge inspiration for my interest in vegetarian cooking. Cybele Pascal inspires me with food-allergy friendly recipes in The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook and The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook. My son is my inspiration for how I cook now. Since he is not able to enjoy the same foods as everyone else at restaurants and at school, I make sure everything at home is safe for him to eat. It is a fun challenge to make traditional dishes allergen free!
What is your favorite ingredient for fall?
Spaghetti squash and cinnamon for me! I’m an artist at heart and creating a colorful creation on the plate feeds my soul.
What cooking tool could you not live without?
Bamboo spoons and a food processor.
What is your favorite regional or global cuisine (anything from Cajun-Creole to Northern Vietnamese)?
Thai! Oh, the flavors!
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster (we're guessing you have a good one!).
My son and I were making food-allergy safe cupcakes for a party. We poured and mixed all the ingredients and my son asked if he could try the "batting." He took a bite, scrunched up his face and said, “Mom, this doesn’t taste very good!” I tried the batter and it was terrible! It took me a few minutes to figure out what went wrong. Then I realized I had mistakenly poured in two cups of egg replacer thinking it was the gluten-free flour mix! Needless to say, this "batting" had to be dumped and the recipe started over!
What recipe have you chosen to share and why?
Food Allergy Friendly Pizza with Crimini Mushrooms, Onions & Kale. Due to life threatening food allergies to wheat and milk, my 5-year-old son had never enjoyed a slice of pizza. Once I discovered gluten-free pizza crust and Daiya cheese, it was easy to create a delicious, food allergy friendly pizza!