Growing up in a Vietnamese household, YouTube star chef (and now author!) Dzung Lewis was constantly surrounded by family preparing delicious food. “We express love through food. The more you ate, the more it showed your appreciation for your grandma’s or parent’s cooking,” Lewis tells Nutritious Life.“ It works in a similar way for me now, but I show my love through cooking a delicious meal for my friends and family. I love seeing people enjoy my food!”
When she took up baking as a hobby after college, Lewis started a YouTube channel to share her creations. Once born as a creative outlet, Honeysuckle has now blossomed into a thriving business. Through her channel, Lewis strives to inspire young women to use food and lifestyle choices to develop creativity, self-confidence, and community. Her new creation, The Honeysuckle Cookbook, will help you do just that. It’s filled with exciting ideas for approachable, Asian-influenced cooking at home.
She shares with Nutritious Life how COVID-19 has actually sparked more creativity, ways she takes time for herself (with two little ones keeping her busy), and her trick to jazz up leftovers.
How have things changed for you since COVID-19 hit? Once we figured out what our priorities were and managed our time better, we started finding a rhythm. Nate and I juggle our time between work and watching the kids. It’s been a bit of a struggle with an infant and an overactive toddler, but we’re trying our best to adapt and make things work for our family and our business.
What are some of your tips to stay focused…especially now. As tired and frustrated as you are about the current situation, look beyond that and take this time to focus on yourself and what you want for your life. Even though I’m so busy with the kids, the pandemic allowed me to slow down in a way. I wasn’t driving to and from the store multiple times a week getting supplies, I wasn’t seeing friends, or going out just to be out. Before COVID-19, I felt like I was in a tunnel just churning out content, but didn’t take the time to really think things through clearly. I take the extra time I had to research and hone in on how to improve our channel and watch more youtube (as funny as that may sound, but it’s our business).
How often do you exercise, and what’s your workout of choice? I try to move my body at least 20 minutes a day. So whether it’s doing a workout video or walking the dog, I feel so much better after. We live on a hill and there are some intense peaks. I can get a pretty good workout in just walking our dog.
How do you motivate yourself to workout? I’m trying to lose the last of my baby weight. The second time around is so hard and to be honest, I just want to fit in my old clothes again. Working out is also the only time I get to myself these days, so going on that 20 minutes walk alone is when I can clear my mind, take deep breaths, and do something for myself uninterrupted.
If you had to name your healthy diet, what would you call it? The Weeknight Remix! We’ve been cooking a lot and with a picky toddler, I have to constantly try to remix last night’s leftovers into something interesting. For example, if we had meatballs the night before with pasta, I can’t guarantee she’ll eat the same thing, so I will make a meatball wrap for her…and for me, I’ll add it to a salad. Salads are easy during lunch with whatever protein available from the night before. It’s quick, easy, and fast!
Has it been hard to stay on track with your nutrition while in quarantine? The first month (or two) were the hardest since I was stress baking and eating my feelings away. After we realized this was going to be our new normal, I started to get back on track. Dinner every night consists of protein and veggies with a small side of carb. Grain bowls became a favorite to make because they’re heavy on veggies and I could change the flavors simply by swapping out the sauces that get drizzled on top.
What’s your go-to breakfast? I love oatmeal—a bonus right now is that it helps with making more breastmilk (i’m still nursing).
What’s the one food you always have in your fridge? Eggs. They’re so versatile and I can use them for baking or for a quick meal. The kids have eggs every morning too.
What causes you stress? Right now, making sure that I’m keeping the family safe and healthy. I try to take proper precautions by wearing a mask when we’re out, sanitize my hands, etc. Sometimes I tend to worry and stress too much about little things. Taking a deep breath and talking through things logically with Nate always helps. He or my sister always bring me back down to earth when I feel overwhelmed.
How do you pamper yourself when you need it? I used to get a mani or pedi as a way to pamper myself, but since we can’t right now, I try to do it myself. On nights when the kids go down easily, I like to do a five to seven step nighttime skin care routine (wash, exfoliate, tone, add serum, moisturize). My skin always feels so refreshed and smooth after.
What is your evening routine to wind down at the end of the day? Lately, I’ve been really into watching experiential travel videos. Seeing vloggers travel and what they ate or how they spent their time is really enjoyable since we can’t travel right now.
Meditation or massage? Massage
A hot shower or a soothing bath? Soothing Bath
Almond butter or peanut butter? Peanut Butter
Coffee or tea? Coffee
A long run outside or a dark spin class? Dark spin class
Check out The Honeysuckle Cookbook on stands now!
(Photo courtesy of Dzung Lewis).