Nicole Modic Partners With Veggieful To Save You Time And Money In The Kitchen - Exclusive Interview

Nicole Modic's path to fame on social media has certainly been paved with elevated food hacks. Stop by her Insta house and learn to cut an avocado the right way or store batter in ice cube tray for morning pancake bliss. 

Stay a while in her Insta kingdom, however, and you'll quickly understand that Modic's food journey is nowhere near as straightforward as "woman who fell in love with creative ways to make single serving steel cut oats." The food blogger, AKA "Kalejunkie," isn't just following trends when she says she likes leafy greens, for example. They're good for your gut, and Modic's upcoming cookbook, "Love To Eat," is full of gut healthy but crave-worthy recipes to help you learn how to eat, intuitively. 

"Love To Eat" is, in many ways, an extension of Modic's blog, which she started while healing from an eating disorder which consumed over 15 years of her life. "As I healed my relationship with food, I stopped subscribing to certain diets or diets altogether, " Modic explained to Mashed. "The way that I eat is intuitively in touch with my cravings. All of the recipes in [Love To Eat] are geared towards helping people get in touch with their intuition, [to] eat mindfully." 

In this exclusive interview, Modic takes us through her food journey, her new partnership Del Monte's Veggieful line, and gives us recipe hacks that'll become permanent parts of your kitchen arsenal.

Nicole Modic's favorite Del Monte's recipe is crave-worthy

You lost so many partnerships during the pandemic. How do you think COVID-19 changed the way that you interact on social media, personally?

One of the things that it did teach me was to be mindful of budget, not only my own — trying to save money at home — but also understanding that other people are on budgets too. [I'm] being mindful in sharing recipes that don't cost a ton of money to create but are still healthy and can help people achieve some of their health goals without breaking the budget. 

That's one of the biggest things that I've carried into the content that I share, now that we're hopefully a little bit more on the other side of the pandemic. [I've been conscious] of carrying that through. I've noticed that my community does appreciate some of those money-saving tips or pantry meals or things that will help them still be able to lead healthy and fulfilling lives without spending all of their money to do so.

What is it about Del Monte's Veggieful particularly that convinced you to collaborate with them? I know that you're very discerning about which partnerships you pick.

Affordability is important. As the cost of groceries go up these days, I'm looking for affordable things for food for my family that [are] also nutritious. The Veggieful line fulfills all of that. It comes in at a great price point and it helps my family eat healthy, get more veggies on their table every night, especially because I have really picky boys. It's nice that they've been enjoying, especially, the pocket pies.

What time-saving tricks have you developed while working with the company?

Using their Veggieful rice or cauliflower rice in place of rice has been a great hack — a nutrition hack for us — to replace grains with veggies. Like I said, my boys are picky and sometimes I'm picky too. It's been nice to have grab-and-go options, like Veggieful, because they come together in a minute or two of cooking on the stove, versus preparing a meal from scratch.

What's your top recipe that you've created with the product?

I did a seven-layer dip, and it was so freaking delicious. We did a traditional seven-layer dip with beans, tomatoes, cheese [and] guac. We used Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, but we also used Del Monte's Veggieful — I think it's the broccoli, garlic, and herb blend of cauliflower rice. I quickly made that in the pan and then added that as a layer in the seven-layer dip, and oh my gosh, it was so delicious. I crave that one all the time.

Nicole Modic reveals her favorite, portable snacks

You are also a big snacker and you say that you keep snacks in your purse all the time. What are your favorite snacks to carry around with you?

I like individual packets of nut butters. I find that those are an easy way to get some healthy fats and protein in on the go. I also like to carry beef sticks, for protein, because having protein in my diet keeps me fuller longer. My boys love them too. Sometimes I cut up some fresh fruit and put them in little individual bags. I'm not really into protein bars that much, but once in a while, I'll grab one of those.

What are your favorite fresh fruits for snack bags?

[For] fresh fruits, I will do sliced apples usually, because those are always in season. Once in a while, I'll do berries, put[ting] them in a little snack pack.

Nicole Modic talks self-care through food

Your debut cookbook is coming out on the 25th of October. It tells the story of your own food journey. A big part of your wellness journey has been centered on gut-healthy foods. For readers who haven't started focusing on their gut health, what are the first foods or ingredients we should be incorporating into our diets?

For veggies, for fiber — that always keeps things going. Bone broth is another really high nutrient-dense food that you can sip on during a day that will help repair the gut lining. Having a high-quality probiotic in your diet will keep your gut flora healthy and microbiome healthy ... fruits too, fruits and veggies, [for] high fiber nutrition.

You don't tell your followers exactly what you eat in a day, in part because it can be triggering to others. That said, what foods do you personally most associate with self-care?

All foods [are] a form of self-care. [If] I'm putting together a simple snack of sliced apples and nut butter, I take a moment to be mindful of what I'm eating and grateful for the food that I'm putting into my body. I feel like that is the ultimate act of self-care, rather than having it be specific foods. Whether I'm eating a cookie or a nutritious meal or even a meal that's not as nutritious ... I'm grateful for it. Being grateful and having gratitude for the nutritious food, or not so nutritious food sometimes, is really the ultimate act of self-care and feeding my body. Feeding my body is self-care.

The secret to Nicole Modic's tahini chocolate chip cookies

Which of the recipes in your new cookbook are the most meaningful to you?

My cookbook is based on the principle of intuitive eating. As I healed my relationship with food, I stopped subscribing to diets altogether. The way that I eat is intuitively in touch with my cravings. All of the recipes in my book are geared towards helping people get in touch with their intuition, [to] eat mindfully. I have a one-pot Penne Arrabbiata, which is so comforting and so nutritious, but also really tasty and very comfort food-like. 

We've got my famous Life Changing Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies that are in there, that are so popular year after year on my blog, that they deserved a permanent spot in my book. I've got so many good ones in there. I've got a really cozy Middle Eastern lentil soup, which is like a hug in a bowl.

Let's talk about your tahini chocolate chip cookies because they're delicious. Chocolate chip cookies are notoriously hard to conquer. What's your tip for readers who want a moist chocolate chip cookie?

In this particular recipe, the trick is that you chill the dough, and then after you chill the dough, it comes out of the refrigerator. That's when you add your egg, or flax egg, and the baking soda. That is the secret to that particular recipe, which makes them come out very fluffy and very pillow-like — and also at the same time chewy and so delicious. That's a tip that isn't in any other recipes that I've seen, but I created along the way as I was developing that particular recipe.

Nicole Modic's pumpkin butter is astonishingly simple

 We're into fall right now, which means we're into pumpkin season. I know that pumpkin butter is one of your favorite — and also most popular recipes in this season. Can you give us the key to creating a spoon-worthy pumpkin butter for fall?

I have a really popular pumpkin butter recipe, and that one, it's so easy to make and people love it because it's simple. It's a can of pumpkin puree, and you can make it with honey or maple syrup and spices. You warm it on the stove, and in about five minutes' time, it turns into this delicious, thick, spreadable pumpkin spice spread that you can use. I use it in my oatmeal in the morning. I sometimes add it to smoothies or just to spread on toast. 

It's about — when it comes to food — not overcomplicating things and showing people that ... healthy doesn't mean boring, it doesn't mean tasteless, and that it doesn't require a million steps. Simplicity is where it's at.

Nicole Modic's favorite ice cube tray hacks

On your social media, you share a whole lot of food waste-reducing tricks, which is super important, especially coming out of the pandemic. What are the ones that you most commonly implement at home?

I try my very best to reduce my single-use plastic. I'm still a work in progress, but it is something that is at the forefront of my mind when I'm purchasing something. I try to buy in bulk from the grocery store. Most of the time. I bring my reusable bags. When it comes to produce, I use my own hacks and tips that I share with my community about how to make your berries last for two weeks, or how to make your lettuce that you buy last for a couple of weeks so it doesn't go bad ... The same tips that I share with my community are things that I do at home.

Creative use of ice cube trays seems to bring you a lot of joy on social media. What's your favorite ice cube tray recipe?

There's so many. One of the most practical ones is ... there's two. One is freezing almond milk or freezing your coffee, and using those cubes in your coffee will help minimize watery coffee, instead of using ice cubes. Another one is saving things like pumpkin puree or coconut milk in the ice cube trays — because those ingredients tend to be a little bit more expensive. It's nice that you don't have to throw away a can that's maybe halfway used, and you can freeze it and use it in your smoothies. You can use it in soups. There's so many different uses for those ingredients.

Check out Del Monte's website to save Nicole's original recipes, including her Stuffed Cucumber Bites and Loaded 7 Layer Dip. Be sure to visit Nicole's blog or Instagram page for more of her recipes, culinary tips & tricks and additional details on the release of her new cookbook.

This interview has been edited for clarity.