How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders, entrepreneurs and leaders and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with Daily Harvest head chef Ashley Lonsdale, who knits on the side and swears by nightly journaling.
Name: Ashley Lonsdale
City: New York, NY
Company: Daily Harvest, a company that helps you stock your home with clean, delicious food that’s built on whole, real fruits and vegetables and ready in minutes.
Role: Director of Culinary Innovation, or head chef. I oversee the Culinary Team at our HQ test kitchen and work hand-in-hand with our nutritionists to develop recipes that are free of junky ingredients like industrially processed oils, ultra-refined flours and the like that are wearing on our bodies in very complex ways.
Beyond the role: I have a certificate in Nutritional Therapy so I often find myself reading new articles and papers as they relate to holistic nutrition. I also love knitting (just recently picked my needles back up!), which my grandmother taught me. I practice yoga weekly and use the warmer weekends as time to be on my bike or catch up with friends. I cook a ton outside of work, but I feel like that’s probably assumed.
I wake up to my clock radio (highly recommend!) so my phone isn’t the first thing I have to touch in the morning. I always start the day with water and it makes such a difference. The morning routine depends on whether or not I'm planning on getting a sweat in that day, so sometimes it’s running to the gym.
I give myself about two hours before I leave the house in the morning and some days that’s just taking things slowly, other days it’s doing laundry. Which I’ve actually only done successfully once but it feels like something I should share. You can do your laundry in the morning if you want!
After my chosen morning activity or non-activity, I shower, get dressed and head to work. I would like to be the kind of person that has their outfit chosen the night before but I’m not there yet. We’re all a work in progress, right? I save caffeine for work and like to start the day with the Daily Harvest Matcha + Lemongrass Latte.
The first thing I do after work:
It depends! Sometimes I take a yoga class, meet a friend for a drink and dinner or head home to make dinner for myself.
My dinner ritual changes from night to night. I love going out to dinner with friends to catch up and chip away at the long list of restaurants I need to visit. I definitely rely on Daily Harvest for easy weeknight dinners. We're big on “hacking” our collections. I love adding a soft boiled egg or wild salmon to one of our Harvest Bowls or Soups. It’s such a relief to have vegetables ready whenever I need them. All you have to do is heat for four to six minutes in a pan or microwave-safe bowl and voila!
My personal favorite right now is our Green Chickpea + Turmeric Soup which is great with a scoop of leftover rice. There are also plenty of nights where I’m cooking new things that are related to what we’re working on in our HQ Test Kitchen. It’s nice to use dinner as an extension of our recipe development. And then there are nights when I find it necessary to bake peanut butter buckwheat chocolate cookies. Balance!
I know it’s plenty extra and who has the time, but I have started squeezing baths into my evening ritual at least twice a week. It’s so lovely! I like to put on a weird NTS station (my friend Lindsey recently recommended Sacred Space with Radha that is bath time FUEL) and reflect on the day. Once body, face and teeth are clean I put my phone to bed in the kitchen. My cousin was the one who inspired me to separate from the phone and it helped my sleep tremendously. Once I’m in bed I journal then read whatever novel I’m on at the time. I notice that nights I don’t journal I don’t sleep as soundly, so it’s rare that I skip it.
Self-care guilty pleasure:
Workday self-care hack:
I take a walk a few blocks to the water and sit in the sun for 15 minutes. Extravagant high fives and being silly with the team are also excellent self-care practices for me.
How I define self-care:
Self care means just that, taking care of yourself. I think the biggest hurdle in self care is figuring out what you need at any given moment. It’s not always the same thing that will make things better or reduce stress, but the more we can be in tune with our bodies and mental needs the more we can define what care we actually require in different moments. Life is dynamic and we need to treat it as such. Also, have compassion! Don’t feel bad because you can’t do it all. There will always be tradeoffs, we have to accept that and be grateful for what we’ve got and are able to achieve.
Favorite childhood hobby or toy:
Dancing! And I still dance to this day as much as is socially acceptable.
State of your (email) inbox:
Oof. Again, depends on the day and week. Sometimes it’s full and sometimes it’s empty and beautiful which gives me lots of time to get my hands dirty in our test kitchen. I am the type that marks messages as unread that I need to respond to AND add things to my to do list. No harm in doubling down on reminders.
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Illustration by Megan Behrendt