Hey there! I’m Lauren, the vegetable- and cheese-obsessed lady behind Zestful Kitchen, and I’m so glad you found me! You’ll find all kinds of recipes here from vegetable-focused dishes, to heavy meals made light, plus the occasional chocolate-covered confection. One thing I can’t guarantee is red meat. Not much of an explanation other than I rarely cook it. But when I do, it had better be rare. One thing I can always guarantee—seasonal recipes. Here at ZK I eat with the seasons, they’re the inspiration and drive behind my recipes.
Zestful Kitchen has morphed and adapted quite a bit since 2014 when this site was a wee lad making its (sad) debut. I didn’t begin to blog seriously until 2016, when I made a commitment to — well — commit to this passion of mine. My love for cooking has always been strong, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be in the kitchen, I was even entrusted with a paring knife at age three, but that’s a story for another time.
Cooking for others brings me immense joy, but on a one-on-one level, food and I haven’t always gotten along. As life will do to us all, I was thrown some curve balls in my early college years. To find what I thought was control and solitude, I turned to running and food, which snowballed into a dangerous disease.
Three of the hardest years of my life ensued while I tried navigating back to a “normal” life. As time passed, Zestful Kitchen’s role in helping me rediscover the delight of cooking only compounded. ZK has changed a lot since the beginning, and although most of the recipes shared here are healthy, there are a fair share of treats as well. I’m not an expert, and what works for me may not work for you, but I believe in — and continually work towards — living a balanced life in all aspects.
I’m a trained Culinary Food Scientist and Journalist who has worked for countless food magazines and in numerous test kitchens including America’s Test Kitchen, Cuisine at Home Magazine’s Test Kitchen, and Better Homes and Gardens (Meredith Corp) Test Kitchen. I pride myself on creating recipes that are expertly-tested (tested numerous times), trustworthy, and approachable. My mission is to not only create and share seasonal and wholesome recipes that bring people together, but to teach and inspire you to find confidence and creativity in the kitchen.
As the midwestern-raised girl that I am, I thrive on bringing people together through food. But to me that means gathering around a table of food that tastes as good as it is for us. Cooking and sharing wholesome food that everyone at the table will enjoy is absolutely possible. And what do I mean when I say wholesome? I mean getting back to the basics. Getting back to using whole ingredients, cooking with lots of veggies, healthy meats, fish and fats, and letting nature add the sweetness.
Aside from the food world, I’m a self-taught photographer, aspiring patient human being, and Des Moines dweller. I’m oddly obsessed with CBS This Morning, Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes, I don’t think anyone compares to Frank Sinatra, James Taylor, or Eric Church, my heart will always belong in Northern Minnesota, and I think whisks are the most gorgeous thing in the world.