From Blogger to Restaurateur
If you haven't read Alexis Joseph's legendary blog, Hummusapien, seen her featured in The Huffington Post, or visited one of the restaurants she's helped create in Columbus, OH, you've probably perused her beautiful Instagram account (@hummusapien). Our tribe frequents the juice bar + cafe, Alchemy, she co-conceptualized (we highly recommend the super-food donuts!) We love the vibe, the energy, and the plethora of healthy options it boasts.
Katie spoke with Alexis to give you an inside look at what nutrition means to her as a woman and a dietitian, and how she's built her business by staying true to herself.
Katie Schacht (KS): I'm so excited to connect with you! We love everything about you!
Alexis Joseph (AJ): O, you're so funny! I love you guys! Your brand is so beautiful and inspiring!
KS: You are so busy. You've got your amazing blog, Hummusapien, you're writing for other companies, working with brands, conceptualizing menus and restaurants, nutrition counseling...how did you start this incredible journey?
AJ: Well I got my degrees at The Ohio State University where I majored in dietetics. I was passionate about food and I just knew that that was what I wanted to do. I began writing the blog, during my undergraduate career, and while I have always been consistent with it, it just really started to become a business a couple of years ago, when I started getting approached by brands and companies to work with them on recipe creation, consulting, and writing. It's been a great ride!
KS: Awesome! And did you have to really put a lot of effort into getting Hummusapien to that point?
AJ: Actually it started to take that turn when I got my own professional camera and started taking really great pictures. That's when The Huffington Post picked up a lasagna post/recipe I had done, and I was so excited!
KS: I can't even imagine! So as Hummusapien started taking off, how did you sustain that and continue its success?
AJ: I generally blog 3-4 times each week. As I've kept up with it I've gotten approached to write for My Fitness Pal, for example, and people find me through the blog and ask to meet with me for nutrition counseling....it's honestly snow-balled in an amazing way.
KS: Impressive! So how did this blogging, brand work, and counseling turn into the amazing juice bar and cafe, Alchemy? And tell me about this new restaurant on the OSU campus?!
AJ: Yes! So, it was funny, I actually went to school with the co-owner of A&R Creative, Abed Alshahal. One day during undergrad I mentioned "WHY is there nowhere to get a good, healthy smoothie in Columbus?!" Abed already had plans for a similar concept, and honestly the rest is history! We went to work conceptualizing the restaurant.
It was a dream come true to get to ideate a menu. I approached the challenge by trying to identify what inspires me. Nothing that I do comes from a place of limitation. I think the traditional diet industry is ruining people's attempts at a healthy lifestyle. We can't deprive ourselves long-term - we just can't do it. So, I wanted our menu to have a ton of amazing options that are healthy, but it was important to me that it tastes good and feels FUN. I wanted people to want to eat our food. I'm so passionate about showing people that being healthy doesn't have to be a drag. It shouldn’t feel like a compromise! We need kale in our lives like we need donuts. They’re not mutually exclusive!
KS: We love that passion, that's certainly our goal with our raw skincare line as well. We don't want people to be scared of taking better care of themselves. It should be rewarding to transition to healthier food, healthier skincare, etc.
AJ: Yes! I totally agree. For example, I love that Alchemy offers treats like donuts. Ours are delicious and really good for you, too. I always want people to be inspired by their food choices. So much of eating is about self-care, stemming from self-compassion rather than self-control. People that come to me for counseling are often really asking me to help them find a better relationship with food. I spend a lot of time encouraging them, building their confidence, helping them heal from issues in their past, and arming them with information to continue the healthier lifestyle, without feeling deprived.
KS: Speaking of nutrition, what is your personal "diet plan"?
AJ: I have a non-diet, intuitive eating approach. I write about a lot of plant-based recipes, and Alchemy offers a ton of plant-based options, but I'm by no means vegan. I love plants, but I feed my body what it’s craving. Sometimes that’s ice cream, and that’s ok! I choose to not eat meat as a personal preference, but I don't push that on my clients or customers. I want to create exciting recipes that appeal to everyone, and show that there is something in this healthy lifestyle for every person. That's why I'm so excited about this OSU campus venture!
KS: That's right! Tell me about Trism!
AJ: Trism will be opening in May or June right on OSU’s campus where the previous restaurant, Eddie George’s, was located. It’ll be a transformative, fast, casual eatery and bar. We’ll also host public events like yoga brunches, poetry slams, or art shows. The menu will be inspired by Alchemy with new world-inspired additions. It has me super energized. I can't wait for it to open!
KS: So exciting to see your empire growing! You mentioned plant-based diets; I have to ask what you think about that movement. Any merit in that?
AJ: Yes a ton! We know that inflammation in the system is what causes a lot of the chronic diseases people are getting diagnosed with today. There are a ton of contributors to that inflammation (not getting enough rest, poor diet, foreign elements in the body, chemicals, pain, and hormones for example). The phytochemicals in plants help combat inflammation and not only prevent but reverse disease. That’s why plant-based diets are recommended to cancer survivors by The American Institute of Cancer Research. I encourage people to eat as many plants as they can. That doesn’t mean never enjoying a steak or egg sandwich—I also firmly believe diet isn’t one size fits all. It surely isn’t all or nothing, either. The more plants, the merrier! I always remind my clients that over-stressing about food choices is unhealthier than the food we’re stressing about in the first place.
KS: I agree! We certainly take the same approach with skincare as well. Those real and natural ingredients make a huge difference in our skin and our bodies as a whole.
AJ: I could definitely tell that when I tried the product line. I loved it! The face cream was my favorite. I loved the scent; it was so light and almond-y! It felt amazing on my skin and hands! My skin looked and felt so fresh and soft.
KS: We're honored that you liked it! The cream is definitely our best seller, so happy to hear you're a convert.
AJ: I really am, and the story behind your brand is so amazing and inspiring. I'm so glad you've found a way to heal after your families' tragedies, and I love seeing you help others to do the same. I spent my graduate thesis with cancer survivors. I titled my work, "Cancer Survivors Harvesting at an Urban Garden," and as part of that research we spent time outdoors while I helped them grow vegetables and gave them recipes to help their transition to that plant-based diet. It was so rewarding and encouraging to see them excited and empowered about making the diet changes needed to help them stay cancer free.
KS: I understand that. My mother is a 2-time cancer survivor and after this more recent breast cancer journey she did a complete overhaul on her diet and lifestyle habits. She stopped eating sugar, she avoids carbs, she eats salads and exercises daily. It wasn't easy, but it's really helped detox her system following her chemotherapy treatments.
AJ: It's so important. I find that after people have those experiences with cancer or disease, they're more open to making those changes. I just wish our society focused on preventing the diagnosis as well. If only less of us received those diagnoses.
KS: I completely agree. With you, your blog, and your restaurants' help....we're getting closer to that day!
AJ: I like to think so.
For more information about the plant-based diet's link to cancer prevention, visit The American Institute for Cancer Research.