That day at the Farmers Market, after taking in all the amazing foods on this counter, I looked up and saw Michelle. Miss Busy Bee herself, girl boss and chef of this bad ass startup, smiling and talking about the food. She is like a ray of sunshine! Michelle is so sweet and incredibly passionate about her new business and spreading her knowledge on eating delicious food that is good for you it is infectious. I just love her energy.
Eating healthy is difficult, it takes time; you need to seek out your organic vegetables, prep and cook… so going for unhealthy take out after a long day of work is sometimes much easier, especially in our busy lives. Busy Bee Organics makes healthy, indulgent foods and delivers them right to your door step once a week. All her foods are so delicious, satisfying and nutrient-dense.
Michelle invited me over to her apartment she shares with her Magician boyfriend Sam, to hear her story as well as try some of her foods. It was the first “eats” post since my Bone-In interview where I didn’t feel heavy and lethargic after! But what I didn’t expect was hearing a whole other side of Michelle that I didn’t know about. The side you don’t see when she smiles at you. Michelle has suffered from an eating disorder and bulimia in the past and she tells me all about her journey. Michelle is a truly inspiring woman.
What’s your name? Michelle.
What do you do? I am a nutritionist and Natural Food Chef, or “Chef-tritionist,” haha. Every meal I make has a purpose for your body… currently doing meal delivery in Jersey City as well as helping run an organic eatery in Bernardsville while private cheffing and nutritional consulting,
How did you start? The long version… Back in college, I started my undergrad at Montclair State University and I went in undeclared, taking a few business classes, knowing I would eventually own my own business one day… It kind of runs in the family, (Meika my sister owns Another Man’s Treasure in Jersey City and quite a few family members of mine also started their own businesses.
I took a nutrition course as an elective and I totally fell in love! All of a sudden it was like “Oh this is what food does to the body?”…. I was so excited and started telling everyone what I was doing… I realized this was a moment of passion. I heard a quote once “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life”. I knew I found my calling.
While I was there studying our American Dietetic Association based-nutrition, I was triggered, by a few things I’m sure, but specifically how there is such an emphasis on macronutrients and calories. I started eating fat-free this and sugar-free that and I became obsessed with my body. I developed an eating disorder soon after. It started just by dieting and over-exercising and then it turned into bulimia.
Oh my gosh. It got totally out of control. I was super depressed and I had it for years. I thought I was going to die from it. It got so bad at a point that I would pray to just die from it. I would wake up and the first thing I would think about was food, and how many calories I can have… it was out of control. If I exceeded 1200 calories then I would just stop eating…. You can’t do that to your body.
It was the worst time of all my life. In the midst of all that I did a lot of soul-searching and turned to my Mother for guidance. “What about cooking? You always love to cook.” I was gifted my first cook book when I was about 12 (it was a Betty Crocker book)… I still have it and if you look through it you could see all the notes on how I converted the recipes to be healthier… I had no idea what I was doing at the time but I loved to manipulate recipes to be leaner and more nutritious.
At the time, the idea of going to culinary school didn’t interest me, because all I could think was that they covered everything in cream and butter. That doesn’t fly when you are as paranoid as I was about food.
When you have an eating disorder you’re scared to be around food. That’s exactly it. I was not interested in that. I wanted to be a nutritionist to be thin and fit… On a whim I was researching healthy cooking schools and thank god we live where we live, and right here was the Natural Gourmet Institute. That school saved my life.
The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts… I was thinking, “Great, they are going to be healthy!” I went for the open house and I fell in love and got in right away. I loved my classes, and I learned all about how foods heal the body. Food was no longer about how many calories I consumed… there was no protein, fat and carbohydrates measured. It was about “this is macrobiotic” and “it’s going to cause this reaction in your body”…. it was so different and mesmerizing. It was everything I needed to complete my nutritional background.
Where you still suffering from your eating disorder during this time? I was, it was really bad but it’s interesting from that mentality. People will go to rehab for eating disorders and I am not sure that is the best setting for everyone. I think the reason I was able to turn it around was because my conditions changed. My peers where no longer talking about calories..there it seemed the general thought was that people who counted calories were “weirdos.” Everyone in my school… everyone was eating, coconut oil and chicken fat… all these things that I was taught where “bad-for-you foods.” They all looked healthy and fit… so then I just started to try it. I am not going to lie, in culinary school I definitely gained weight, (I also got my first private cheffing job)… but my eating disorder was all of a sudden gone. I eventually realized, “oh, I don’t have the desire to do this anymore.” It was really surreal.
Maybe it’s because you found something that really fulfilled you. You didn’t have the time to obsess about yourself and your weight… It was that and it was also, what I learned. That school teaches about the healing properties of food. It was no longer evil. That is all I cared about, how food was going to help me and others… and luckily it didn’t only mean by helping people lose weight.
I went to California at one point to do an internship, I gained a bunch of weight but the most awesome thing was I didn’t care. I wasn’t a prisoner of myself anymore. Once I became aware of it I shed the weight without obsessing or over exercising.
I moved back to New Jersey and started working at an organic eatery in Bernardsville and continued private cheffing….Now I’ve always wanted my own business and when I moved to Jersey City I knew that would be the place. It was the farmers the market that really provided me with the foundation to do it. Rachel, over at HDSID, she is so awesome! I owe that woman so much, it was that market that allowed people to find out about me and now we offer meal delivery.
Yeah you blew up in a short amount of time! Do you provide services to people who want to change how they eat? I do. I have a client right now, I’ve been working with her since May and she has lost 30lbs, she was on several medications and no longer is. Her blood pressure is completely normal for the first time in her life…I am so proud of her hard work and dedication.
Food is everything. It’s all in the kitchen. I think unfortunately not everyone knows that.
You opened up and told me your eating disorder. If someone is reading this, that is going through the same thing. What advice could you give them? You have to really, really want to get over it… and even so it can be really hard to get out of. But if you change your conditions into which you are living, it could help. There is most likely something that is enabling the behavior that is contributing. It could be even a void in your life, maybe you’re not happy with your career, or a relationship…. so should try to change that. I will say that gaining knowledge of why your body does what it does is super helpful. I was eating the wrong foods and I know that is why I became a binge eater… when you are eating mostly refined carbohydrates (sugars,etc.) you are going to be hungry all the time and feel awful. Try to focus on a high protein, high vegetable diet and a ton of water and stay away from those trigger foods, that will help a lot. If you need more help, definitely talking to someone who has been there is helpful.
I talked about my eating disorder on T.V… and so many people have come up to me to share their struggle. People you wouldn’t believe… men, woman…all ages, they’ve all come up to me and told me their story. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about it, has said in some capacity that they have been or currently still struggle with some form of disordered eating.
Tell me more about the foods. Every week we provide; entrees, salads, soups, stews, hummus’, nut milks, our signature buff-ins…. all of our meals are nutrient dense which means for every calorie that you do get, it is filled with vitamins and minerals which sustain your body. You don’t have to think about what you are eating when you order from us because it is all good! Everything is made to work for your body. If you are interested in ordering anything, all you have to do is subscribe to our newsletter via our website. We send out an email once a week with our menu…. so you basically just click on the web link and order right from the site.
Right now we only deliver once a week…. but there might be an opportunity in the near future for us to deliver more frequently.
Hint, hint! Haha… What day do you deliver? Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, depending on weather, holidays, etc. A lot of our customers like to order meals for the whole week.
Did Meika get you to move to Jersey City? Meika has been a huge supporter, I am one of 4 sisters so we all really support each other… but Meika was definitely our second “Mama Bird” growing up. She is the oldest sister and she is always trying to get all of us to do stuff all the time…. she suggested the move and I am so happy I listened. We actually moved into Meika’s old apartment haha. She’s definitely helped me a lot.
Love it!! So what is your favorite Jersey City hangout spot? I love Third and Vine for a cocktail. I recently went to Union Republics bar yesterday to check them out and I loved it… for brunch I love Sam A.M. so many cool spots in town. I could never pick just one.
Do you like vintage like your sister? What I am wearing now is from Another Man’s Treasure actually.
What is this first dish? This is the curry mung bean salad, which is very popular. Mung bean is a very easy to digest little green bean with a great texture and they can take on a lot of flavor. High in protein, high in fiber meal. It’s very filling.
Finally a food interview that is actually healthy!
This muffin is so amazing. Can we talk about this for a second… This is our chocolate chip cherry buffin. It’s all organic and we always use dark chocolate….
How is this healthy? It’s so good. There’s 9 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and they are 180 calories.
No way. And it’s completely flour-less. We use Almond Meal and a secret ingredient….
Haha. Wow. It’s delicious. We do a new flavor every week and we also sell the mix so you can make it at home! A lot of my nutrition clients would tell me that they start their days of with a “light” muffin… and most muffin are equal nutritionally to a piece of cake. So I decided to make these, and they are great for people on the go.
This with a coffee… perfection. Sam and I eat these all the time. Also paired with our nut butters…
I love healthy indulgent meals. I feel really good about myself haha.
Do you ever indulge? Of course! Sam and I will go out for dinner and I will have fries or a tasty dessert, I mean we do live in a great area for great food. I never will eat a full portion of dessert or a food that is nutrient-void though. Share with your friends!…. it used to be taboo to eat anything in that category but I got rid of that mentality. I am not going to gain 25lbs from eating french fries once in a while. It also is a good idea to keep the “naughty stuff” out of the house.
What are your future plans for Busy Bee? A lot! Stay tuned haha.
Why are you called Busy Bee? We live in Jersey City. Everyone is so busy, too busy to eat sometimes. I created meals to be healthy grab and go…. and also a lot of our fruits and vegetables wouldn’t be around if we didn’t have bees! Bees pollinate the flowers that help create the vegetables and fruits. It was synergistic and works.
It’s adorable and it suits you haha. Thank you!