Ellary's GreensBehind the Kitchen with Leith Hill of Ellary’s Greens Julie August 19, 2015 Behind the Kitchen, Brunch, Dinner, Featured, Gluten Free Options, Health, Healthy, Lunch, West Village “I want our food to let your mouth feel like it’s had a party while your body has enough energy to dance and live vibrantly!”-Leith Hill of Ellary’s Greens, perfectly sums up her philosophy on her restaurant and it’s food. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Leith recently over dinner at Ellary’s Greens, which serves an array of healthy, gourmet options of affordably-priced, natural and organic foods for all. As I spoke with Leith I quickly realized how strong her passion for people, and specifically feeding people is. It simply radiates as she speaks about her food and the connection she’s made with her staff, customers, and farmers she sources from. She serves food from the heart made by people she loves. Read on to learn more about the incredible Leith, her philosophy on food and business, and advice she has for New Yorkers. I guarantee you’ll finish with a new perspective and insight on health, as well as a new girl crush. First question of course is can you tell us about Ellary’s Greens? Ellary is named for my maternal grandmother and great grandmother – both from New Orleans, where I was raised and am from. It was my girl’s name when I was having babies…I have 2 boys! I love them dearly, but they are not girls named Ellary! Did you grow up learning about nutrition and health? How did nutrition and knowing the source of your food become so important to you? My father was passionate about both nutrition and health – exercise too. I was raised eating organic food and no sweets – back in the 1960’s and 1970’s when organic food was hard to come by and when packaged foods and frozen foods were coming into fashion and favor. My father was a brilliant attorney, but he was passionate about health and nutrition until he died at age 89. He was completely committed to eating super clean, nutrient-dense foods, and he was committed to exercise. In New Orleans, the land of fried, fatty foods, we were raised totally without them. What is your food philosophy? I won’t feed you anything I won’t feed my own family. I created Ellary’s Greens because I care passionately about what you put in your body. Dedicated to nourishment you can trust, quality sourced from beautiful farms, and warm service that makes you feel like you’re home, we give you the options you need, regardless of dietary restrictions or choices, through the vehicle of taste and delight. Have your family and friends adopted similar philosophies? Absolutely! My family and friends call all the time to ask what to eat, especially when they’re traveling and want to try to stay healthy. My 2 sons (ages 18 and 20) ask me about food all the time. So do their friends, and I love it! What would an ideal day of eating looking like for you? (Morning to night) Breakfast: Warm water with lemon, Kombucha tea, Oatmeal with raisin and almonds (or walnuts or pecans) Protein shake with almond milk, blueberries, bananas, coconut oil, Shizandra, protein powder, spirulina. Lunch: Kale salad with veggies and grilled salmon on top – lemon and olive oil dressing with Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper and a brown rice cracker. Green Juice: kale, cucumber, spinach, lemon, & ginger. Snack if needed: Handful of raw almonds or almond butter on an apple or just an apple. Dinner: Zucchini pasta with tomato sauce or steamed kale and an Ellary’s Greens’ Salmon Burger patty with avocado and sprouts on top. Dessert: Fresh fruit or Ellary’s Greens Raw Chocolate Mousse When you’re indulging, what’s your go to? Watermelon, dried fruit and nuts mixed together, goat’s milk frozen yogurt, rice cracker with almond butter, raw goat’s milk cheese, or a “Banana Drink” (frozen bananas and almond milk blended into a “milkshake”) If you had to decide between natural, organic or local, which should we make our top priority? Organic always! It’s a decision I hate to have to make, but I will always choose organic over local because our bodies actually CAN digest produce from North Carolina and California, but we CANNOT digest or process chemicals. Local food is often grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. People think local means organic, but it does not. What is your restaurant/entrepreneurial philosophy? Entrepreneurial: Work hard, have integrity and passion in everything you do. Restaurant: At Ellary’s Greens we offer beautiful, slow cooked food served quickly. We want you to be healthy, live with vitality, feel beautiful and strong, and know that your food source is safe, nutritious, and delicious. Our motto is: Don’t just live…live vibrantly! How did you make the transition from running a school to running a restaurant? What were some challenges? Not really. They both involve having a passion and a clear mission and, of course, they involve leading people with integrity and transparency. What is the most rewarding aspect of running Ellary’s Greens? THE PEOPLE! Without a doubt it’s the people! The EG Team, the Guests, even the Vendors and Farmers. I have a relationships with them all, and I love it! Any NYC favorite spots that meet your food standards? Chipotle! I love their salad with grilled veggies, black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo salsa on top. Pret a Manger I also like. And I love Victory Garden goat’s milk frozen yogurt and ice cream. What advice would you give to the average New Yorker who is trying to become healthier? Keep going! Don’t stop trying. Get your own fruits and veggies and eat a red, yellow, or orange pepper like an apple every day! Ask restaurants and quick serve places if there is sugar or sweetener in their savory food. You will be shocked to find the answer. Most places add sugar or sweetener (honey, syrup, agave, etc) to their offerings to make them taste “better.” It’s a cheap way to cook that lacks integrity. It’s also a great way to get fat and it’s dangerous for diabetics. It’s a crime to do that to food. The places that are growing the fastest do this the most. To learn more about Ellary’s Greens check out our write up here.