In November 2020, The Local Moms Network first featured Kathleen Ashmore, a former Martha Stewart food producer turned recipe creator. At the time, she was just starting to build a social media following; now the mom of two (her son William is 7 and daughter Caroline is 5) has accrued over 2 million followers on TikTok alone, and almost 700k on Instagram. Her latest triumph? A beautiful new cookbook Big Bites: Wholesome, Comforting Recipes That Are Big on Flavor, Nourishment, and Fun: A Cookbook.
Congratulations to Kat on this gorgeous new book—see below for all the details!
Love the new book—can you share a bit about how you got to this place in your career?
I worked in marketing before going to culinary school at 28 years old, I always knew I wanted to go into the food and lifestyle media space. Right out of culinary school I secured a position on The Martha Stewart Show and worked my way up quite quickly to the Food Producer team. We were responsible for all of the cooking segments on the show, from concept to script writing and joining Martha in front of the camera when it called for it.
After the show ended I moved over to corporate at Martha Stewart Living and worked in product and recipe development. That run at Martha was really my big break, because even after taking three years off of work to raise my kids at a stay at home mom, I’ve carried so much of what I learned with me and use it daily in my own business.
So that strong food background help you grow your following so quickly?
Yes, I think having gone to culinary school and working for Martha Stewart has quickly helped differentiate me from other influencers – in a day where anyone can claim to have expertise on the internet having those credentials has helped legitimize me and garner trust on social media. It also taught me the importance of working hard, and being open to change – as Martha says “When you’re through changing, you’re through” and she’s been very much an inspiration to me in that way. Like… hello Sports Illustrated cover!
Ha, exactly! How would you describe the new book?
Big Bites is healthy food for food lovers – no diets, just good food. It’s for all of you who want to cook more, have more fun doing it and feel better in your skin without focusing on all the things you “shouldn’t” be eating. It’s about abundance and joy and bold, big, delicious living.
Any favorite recipes?
This is a little like picking a favorite child, but the 3-Year Gluten Free Bread is magical and as the name implies it took me 3 years to perfect it. I know many who are buying the book specifically for that recipe.
There are a couple of salads that are just obvious wins to me, like the Shaved Caesar Salad with Fennel and Crispy Chickpeas and the Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Sesame and Date Dressing.
For dinners, the Chimichurri Meatballs are my kids’ favorite thing to eat.
Can you please share a bit about the transformation you went through after your kids were born?
As Anais Nin once wrote “the day came when the risk to remain tightly enclosed in a bud was greater than the risk it took to change.” I was depressed, anxious, and I wasn’t taking care of myself and I couldn’t ignore it any longer – my kids were 1 and 3 and I couldn’t use the excuse of having newborns anymore. I think if you’re a creative, you can only ignore it for so long.
It started with movement, even 10 minutes of core exercises on the floor with my kids climbing on me, creating recipes again, and sharing with others. People in my community will often say how I’ve helped them heal their relationship with themselves… the head fake is that I was healing right along with them.
Love your message about food not being something to be feared; you even drink Diet Coke! Why is this message so important for you to share?
You will have to pry Diet Coke from my cold, dead hands. It’s important for me to show up authentically for two reasons:
- There are enough people online telling other women what not to do – saying something is toxic one day and a superfood the next. That will never be me, I want to meet women where they are rather than where I think they should be.
- Playing a part, presenting myself in overly curated and aspiration way, is simply not enjoyable for me. My success has been in large part because of consistency, I show up consistently. If I’m going to be consistent with something, I have to find a way to enjoy it or it won’t stick.
Do your kids eat everything you make? Any tips for getting picky eaters to try new things?
No, they don’t but they do eat most…. And let’s be honest even if they do today, it doesn’t mean they will tomorrow! I always have a safe food on their plate, sometimes it’s a piece of sourdough toasted with butter or some pasta with marinara sauce, so if they choose not to continue eating the main dish after they try it they are eating something. I also don’t stress about a balanced meal as much as a balance day of eating.
What’s your go-to lunch for yourself on busy days?
A Hungry Lady Salad! Also, I’ve been really into cottage cheese toasts lately. My recent favorite is with pomegranate seeds, balsamic glaze, and flaky salt.
Where did you title Big Bites come from?
Big Bites speaks to the bigness of my food – big on texture, flavor, nourishment and fun. However Big Bites, at first, came from criticism that I take big bites of food on camera, ha! Here’s the thing: Your joy and confidence will rub a lot of unhappy people the wrong way… that’s okay.
What’s next for you?
Continuing on my book tour and connecting with everyone as they cook their way through Big Bites, then quickly to work on Book #2!
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