For Lindsay O’Neill, food blogger behind Mama O’Neill, creating healthy recipes isn’t just a passion project. It’s a health-saver.
We chatted with O’Neill about how her love of good food grew and why she’s such a big advocate for healing through food. She shared that not only have her recipes helped her personally live a more health-conscious life, but they have immensely helped her daughter, too.
FoodBlogs: Tell us about your career and how you started.
Lindsay O’Neill: I friggin’ love the way life works out. When I was 9, my world was turned upside down by my parents’ divorce. My little sister and I had to split our time with Mom and Dad. Mom had to work full-time to support us, and Dad couldn’t cook to save his life. I had to learn how to cook. Luckily, I grew up in NYC, and was exposed to many different types of food and cultures. This sparked in me a passion for cooking all different types of food. Although I never officially worked in the food business, I always loved to cook, entertain and try food from around the world. My career in marketing technology allowed me to tangentially pursue this passion, and still does to this day.
My parents’ divorce was not the only trauma in my life. Health was always an issue for me. I suffered from extreme IBS, chronic sinus problems, anxiety and many other random illnesses. By the time I was 19 my LDL cholesterol was so high my doctor threatened to put me on statins. I weighed around 100 pounds and had always been able to eat anything I wanted. I was just born skinny. This sparked in me a need-based desire to learn how to heal through food — information I knew I needed to heal myself, but never thought I would use to help others heal.
Over the last eight months, my youngest (of three) daughter — who is just 3 years old — began suffering from chronic infections. Nearly a dozen doctors have tried to diagnose the issue, and have run her through a battery of tests and tried multiple medications. Nothing has worked. Until now. Just this week I took her off all of the meds, and started her on a strict diet and supplement plan. Her symptoms have lessened significantly, and we will go in for testing next week to see if we were able to stave off infection naturally! (Prayers, please!)
The combination of needing to learn to cook to survive and needing to learn how to heal many illnesses with food/diet/nutrition created this intense drive in me to launch a food-based business. In 2013, I ran a division for a tech company that went public. Because of that IPO, I was able to put seed money into what today is the Mama O’Neill brand — healthy food and lifestyle for families.
FB: What is a challenge you have as a blogger that would surprise people?
LO: Most people think that I am a trained chef, and I’m not. Sometimes I hold my knives wrong or can’t figure out how to use commercial kitchen tools. It’s a challenge to make it look easy when I don’t really know what I’m doing! All I care about is the end product — the food. Taste, presentation, creativity and how much love I put into it.
FB: What is your favorite recipe to cook for the holidays?
LO: Last year I grilled an entire Thanksgiving meal. Then I grilled the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas. I’ve also created grilled latkes (in cast-iron) with grilled apple sauce! Of all of those recipes, I think my Dutch oven blood orange cranberry sauce, which you can do on the grill or stove top, is my fave! You can put it on everything!
FB: What is the one thing you keep in your fridge at all times?
LO: I always have organic cultured butter in my fridge. Most people think butter is not healthy, but it’s a great fat that helps coat your digestive system and does have nutritional value when used in small doses.
FB: What food trend are you currently obsessed with?
LO: When I think about food trends I instantly think of gastronomy. I had the opportunity to meet and watch Wylie Dufresne in his kitchen at WD-50 in NYC. It was so sad when that place shut down. While I’m obsessed with creating foams and crazy textures and flavors, I do not have the kitchen set-up to produce it! #lifegoals