Nicole Keshishian Modic is actually a lawyer turned recipe developer, cookbook author and the founder of the popular healthy food blog, KALEJUNKIE.
She specializes in creating easy, delicious recipes made with real ingredients, proving to the world that healthy is delicious and life is too short to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and we have loved having her book “Love to Eat” as part of our Shoppe collection of cookbooks!
Without further ado, Nicole Modic!
Tell us a bit about your journey. How did you both arrive at becoming a chef?
Before I became a recipe developer and content creator, I was an employment defense attorney. I practiced law for almost 7 years, but it was not my passion. My passion was in health, wellness and food. What no one knew is that I was struggling with an eating disorder—bulimia and binge eating. As I started my recovery journey (that’s a story in itself), I started making peace with food and finding joy in the kitchen. I started experimenting with different ingredients and finding more nutritious ways to make the foods I would binge on. Then, I started documenting my recipes and ED recovery journey on Instagram, and my account grew organically over the years. Today I’m living my passion, eating intuitively, finding joy in food, and helping others on their health journey.
So proud of you and that journey, wow. Are there specific things that inspire your creativity on a daily basis?
I get inspired by so many things! I’m inspired by seasonable ingredients, other incredible chefs, my family, and my Armenian heritage.
What was it like turning your passion into a business and brand?
My little Instagram hobby turned into a business as my account grew organically. I started taking food photography classes and putting out better content. I started posting daily and being extremely diligent and consistent. I put a lot of love and passion into the content. As my account grew, I started monetizing my content, working with brands that I love and use that are part of my daily life. Soon, my workload with Kalejunkie became so demanding, that I had to leave my career practicing law. And once I did that, the flood gates opened and I had 100% of my time to create recipes and content that felt aligned. And the business sort of took off from there.
That’s incredible! So what does your day-to-day entail to support your company?
The fun part of my job is that no two days are really the same. Some days I’m recipe testing, other days I’m shooting content, other days I’m doing the admin work needed to run the brand and other days I’m strategizing on how to grow and expand my brand. Because this involves wearing so many hats, it’s really important to time block and plan my days out so that I don’t spiral out of control and stay on task. I currently have a team of 5 people that work for Kalejunkie, and together we run a pretty smooth operation!
What’s one of your daily routines you’ve found to be especially grounding or life-giving?
Yes! My morning routine is really important to me. I wake up before my two boys, have my Morning Glow Up Tonic (it’s the first recipe in my cookbook!), coffee, and I take a few moments to write in my 5 Minute Journal and get myself organized for the day. I am also super diligent about working out, so every day begins with a workout to give me energy and feel good for the day!
What is your favorite part about Kalejunkie?
My favorite part about Kalejunkie is the community that I have built over the last 8 years. My community lifts me up, and gives me the energy to continue creating even on the tough days. I also really love that my days are fun, look different, and that I get to be creative and share food and inspo that I love.
What are your favorite rituals around food and eating with others?
To me, the most important ritual when enjoying food with others is simply to be present. I have gotten a lot better at putting my phone away and being engaged with others in conversation. Enjoying a delicious meal is always more meaningful and more delicious when you enjoyed the meal and the company you are with!
What’s the best piece of advice someone else has given you about cooking?
The best piece of advice I was given when it comes to cooking, is to trust your intuition. Recipes are nice, but trust yourself to create based on your own taste preferences. And have fun with it! Oh, and if your food tastes bland, chances are you need to add more salt. Most people under salt their food thinking salt is bad, but it’s not— salt is MAGIC, especially Maldon flaky salt to finish!
What are you most looking forward to right now?
On a professional level, I am most excited about continuing to grow my brand and expand beyond just social media and have my own product line, and to do more speaking engagements centered around helping people find their purpose/calling in life, learning to love the skin they are in, intuitive eating and more. On a personal front, I am excited to continue watching my two boys grow and cherish each moment!
Favorite place to visit to spark inspiration?
My mom’s kitchen!
Color or neutrals?
One product that’s always in your bag (can be makeup, sunglasses, momento of some sort, etc.)
My Laneige Sleep Lip Mask—yes, I wear it during the day, all day everyday!
Favorite space in your home?
My bedroom. I am so tired at the end of the day, I love laying down on my bed and being in my beautiful sanctuary!
8 cups arugula
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
2 avocados, diced
1 tomato, diced
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup pearl couscous
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
In a small saucepan on the stove, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the couscous and a pinch of salt. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain off any remaining water.
Let the couscous cool. This step is important so that the arugula doesn’t wilt from the heat of the couscous.
Next, in a medium bowl, combine the arugula, red onion, diced avocados, tomato, feta, and cooled couscous.
Add the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.