At first glance Lisa Leake might look like any other longtime Charlotte resident, but this mother of two, wife and former Bank of America employee is a New York Times best-selling author whose 100 Days of Real Food cookbook has taken her from her desk at the bank to touring across the country. She's appeared on Dr. Oz, has hundreds of thousands of social media followers and nearly an equal amount of preorders for her next book. But her journey hasn't been a cake walk. Leake spent years with her parents and friends thinking she was absolutely nuts for her decision to flip her family's lives around by insisting they eat only real, wholesome non-processed food. Five years, two blogs and countless sleepless nights later and this modern day Betty Crocker is laughing all the way to the bank.
Creative Loafing: How did you go from working in the banking world to being one of the top food writers in the country? That's a pretty big hop.
Lisa Leake: (laughs) Well if you would've asked me 16 years ago if I'd be doing this I would've said, 'That's impossible.' It all started in 2010. I'd just lost my job at Bank of America, my daughters were 3 and 5. One day I remember watching an episode of Oprah about where the food we eat comes from and realizing I didn't know. As a young mother and new wife I needed to know! So that's kind of where it started, just wanting to be a good mom and wanting to feed my kids and husband the right things and realizing so much of the food we ate was processed and I didn't want that for my family. I started doing research and my husband and I came up with a plan on how to realistically eliminate processed food from our diet and to do it for 100 days. From there I started a blog to track our journey and it just started to pick up steam.
Your family seems really important to you, but like most families, everyone has different tastes. How do you keep the whole crew on board with your natural food lifestyle?
Listen, we're a modern family and we don't live on a farm so it does take work. My husband was always very supportive since he grew up eating healthy and more simplistic anyway. Honestly before I decided to make the changes I always bought my husband wheat bread and me and the girls ate white bread, so he was actually more into it than I was at first. I would just recommend every family do research together and try the food together. Watching the movie Food Inc. was great for us and then we started replacing everyday processed ingredients and you realize wholesome, real, natural food is really really good. Its almost like we're cheating because everything tastes so good.
We get that you're all about real food but do you have any guilty processed pleasures?
Okay I'll admit, I still get a little weak for deep fried foods on occasion and in a city like Charlotte where its all about food trucks it can be a little tempting. Just start with small replacements and take it from there. If you're not into cooking at home there are several local restaraunts right here that offer locally sourced food like Rooster's and Passion 8. You don't have to throw out everything like I did, just start with small changes.