Finding Joy and Flexibility in Food That is Seriously, So Good
Finding Joy and Flexibility in Food That is Seriously, So Good

"Surrounding yourself with good people is probably the most important thing that you can do for your health." 

- Carissa Stanton

Whether you consider yourself an appetizer lover, a soup queen, or a dessert-aholic, food influencer, author, and content creator Carissa Stanton is here to save the day. You may recognize Carissa Stanton’s cooking from her popular “broccyourbody” social media accounts and blog, which have launched several viral recipes, such as the La Scala Chopped Pasta Salad, broccoli and beef, and Greek-style lemon chicken soup. In the episode, Carissa talks to Elizabeth about going from writing out recipes for her friends after a successful girls' night meal to going full-time on social media and building a brand that reflects her own voice, connecting with hungry foodies worldwide. Carissa talks about her new book, 'Seriously, So Good: Simple Recipes for a Balanced Life,' and the work that went into it. She also discusses learning to eat with both health and joy in mind, shares tips for aspiring food influencers, and explains how cooking is both a fun and meditative experience.


    Elizabeth Stein 0:00
    Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder, and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.

    This week's guest is Carissa Stanton, founder of the Popular Blog and social media account Brocc Your Body. Carissa believes that all food has a place and a healthy diet and that balance is the key to everything in life. Her passion for movement and well-being led her to a degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in fitness, health, and nutrition from San Diego State University. Carissa's recipes are approachable, nourishing, and always fun. Her goal is to not just share delicious recipes but to show you just how exciting and easy cooking can be. In this episode, we talk about Chris's path to becoming a successful influencer. Carissa shares all about her relationship with food and how to have more joy and flexibility in eating along with tips to be happier in your life including the importance of relationships, doing uncomfortable things, intuitive eating, and daily movement. We talked about our favorite recipes from her new cookbook, what recipes tend to go viral her relationship with social media and so much more. Keep listening to learn all about Carissa.

    Carissa, welcome to the podcast. I'm so excited for our conversation today. So excited to finally meet and we are such huge fans of yours here at Purely Elizabeth.

    Carissa Stanton 3:26
    Thank you. Same over here. I am constantly eating the granola and I have the oatmeal regularly for breakfast. It's so good. Love it. Why is it so better than other oatmeal?

    Elizabeth Stein 3:35
    Good question. Because it's not just oats because we have all of the ancient grains and superfood seeds. I think it's the texture that makes it more interesting than just plain oats.

    Carissa Stanton 3:46
    Yeah, it's like softer. And nice. I love it.

    Elizabeth Stein 3:49
    Thank you. All right. We're gonna jump into your origin story. And originally what inspired you to start your blog? Because I'm sure when you started the blog, you weren't like I'm gonna become an influencer and have this big Instagram account. It was, let's start with a blog.

    Carissa Stanton 4:13
    Totally. Yeah, I started with my Instagram page. Because I was living in San Diego at the time. I had a ton of girlfriends. And we would do our girl's night dinners. I've always had a passion for cooking ever since I was young. It was always something that interested me. And I would make whatever it was for dinner. Then I would have someone text me and say like, “What was that recipe?” And I would type it out. Then a couple of weeks later, someone else would ask me and I'd have to type it out again. I'm like, how about I just started Instagram, I'm going to post my recipes on there just as a way to be a little bit creative when I am off work. I was working nine-to-five jobs at the time. So it was kind of just a fun outlet for me to post my recipes for mostly my friends and stuff to see and just have fun me a little bit creative when I was done working my desk job. Then it kind of just took off from there. It was very organic.

    Elizabeth Stein 5:14
    What year was this?

    Carissa Stanton 5:15
    This was in 2017. It was a while ago, even though it feels like it was very recent. It was a very long time ago. I remember when I first started everyone was saying, like, everyone's trying to be a food blogger. And there are so many people out there, which I feel like people are always saying, and I'm so glad I just did it because obviously, it has paid off so much. But I wasn't focused on photography at all, I tried to make my food look appealing. However, I noticed that once my audience started to grow, they didn't care so much about these beautiful aesthetic photos, which is what I thought people liked to see on Instagram. They just wanted quick, easy, healthy recipes, which is what I post now. But I just love that about my audience. They're just down for good recipes. They don't necessarily want to see this beautiful, aesthetic page. They're just like, what can I make in 20 minutes when I'm off work that's going to taste good? So, it's truly what I'm still posting today. So, we stuck to it.

    Elizabeth Stein 6:34
    That's awesome. So at the time, what were you doing? What was your nine-to-five?

    Carissa Stanton 6:38
    I was working in real estate. If anyone knows real estate, I was a transaction coordinator. Well, first, I was answering phones at the front desk. Then I worked myself up as a transaction coordinator and had more of a flexible schedule because you work for yourself, you get paid per transaction. So basically, I was doing all of the paperwork for when people would buy a house, which is helpful knowledge. But it was the complete opposite of what I do. There was no creativity, it was a checklist that I would check off and make sure people signed and initialled where they were supposed to on the paper. So it was very, whatever word the opposite of creative is.

    Elizabeth Stein 7:26
    Okay, so you were not inspired in that role, but you started posting on Instagram. And I know you said like it just took off from there but it didn't just take off from there. So what did that look like? And at what point did you eventually leave your job in real estate to do Brocc Your Body? And was that the name from day one? What was the meaning? Or how'd you come up with it?

    Carissa Stanton 7:53
    Yeah, since day one. I texted my group of girlfriends and said I’m going to start a food page, what should the name be? And people were just sending out names. One of my best friends Rio was like you should use Brocc Your Body, like a little pun. And I was like, “Okay, you just did it.” I didn't put much thought into it. Which I wish I did now, but I love it. It's a great name. Not much thought into the name. But when I first started my page, it looked a lot different than what it looks like now. I found my stride pretty quickly. But when I first started, I was trying to do what other people were doing online and it did not look good. It was not a good look for me. It was kind of the time when maroon people were putting frozen cauliflower in their smoothies instead of bananas. So I would try and post things like rainbow smoothie bowls. I would post smoothie bowls. And they would look horrible. They're on my page. If you scroll back long enough, you can see. So I was just trying to do things that I was seeing. And it just wasn't me. I felt like people could tell it just wasn't working. I've told this story before. But I remember one night I made chili and I held my bowl and I took a picture of it. It was a vegetarian chili. I still make it. It was a horrible photo. But it was what I was eating for dinner. It was quick and it was easy. And I got so many likes and so many comments and people were making it and I'm like, this is really what people want? Because this is obviously what I'm eating for dinner and I don't have to make these gross anymore. And that was kind of when I found out that people were just there for the food. They didn't care so much about the stuff that I was doing that I wasn't enjoying anyway, which was a nice feeling. It was a very gradual build. I feel like an old person when I say this, but growing an Instagram account before reels was a thing. It was so much work. It was follower by follower. Now I feel like it's like your video goes viral and it's great, you get a ton of followers and I mean, I love it. But it was hard work. And I moved to LA in January 2020, right before COVID hit. And that's when I left my real estate job. I made sure that I was making a good living on my Instagram before I left my job, I had a good savings account. I wasn't one of those people who was like, okay, I'm just gonna take this leap of faith and hope that it works out. I was a lot more planned up in that. I'm a Capricorn. So I had to make sure that everything was going to be fine and set out the way I wanted it to be. But I think that's also important for people to hear that you can start an account or follow whatever your passion is that maybe you would want to pursue as a career one day and do it on the side and start making money and leave your job once you feel comfortable. You don't have to do this all or nothing. So I definitely could have done it a lot sooner. But up until 2020, I was working my other job. Once I was officially making more money doing my Instagram, I was like, okay, now I can leave the job. So it was a very smooth, cushy transition, which was nice.

    Elizabeth Stein 11:53
    Yeah, I think that's a really important lesson for people to hear. Because oftentimes you hear a lot of people say they left their jobs and like took this leap of faith. And it doesn't always have to be that way, just as you said. I also really love what you said about following. Like you were following the trends on Instagram and posting things that weren't authentic to you. And I think most people end up saying that success comes when you are authentic, and you're showing up as yourself. And so it was very clear, and eye-opening probably for you. Like, wait, I can just be myself. And this thing works.

    Carissa Stanton 12:30
    Totally. I'm like, oh my gosh, I don't have to try and post. And now looking back, I was looking at professional food stylist photos, thinking that that was what I needed to post. It was crazy. And I was just trying to do it in my little apartment with my iPhone. I still couldn't do that.

    Elizabeth Stein 12:53
    What was your first big paid partnership? Or at what point were you like, oh, I can monetize this and this can be a career?

    Carissa Stanton 13:04
    I started doing it when I was doing a lot of affiliates. I was getting percentages of the things that I sold. So I'd have a discount code, you know how it works. And I would get a small percentage of whatever I would sell. That's how I started making money. That's a lot of hard work. You have to have a great community that trusts you. I started doing it that way. And brands would see that I was bringing in some money off of the affiliates. And then they would start offering me a small fee. I remember specifically my very first paid post, and it was with this liquid coconut oil company and they paid me $30 per post. I was so excited. Because I would go, I was working at my office job and I would get Starbucks in the mornings. I was not making a whole lot of money. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is going to pay for my Friday Starbucks for a month or two. This is so amazing. I was so excited. So that was my very first actual paid post, 30 bucks. I remember calling my mom and telling her this company was paying me $30. I still get that same excitement every day when I see brands that I love wanting to work with me. It's just the coolest, best job ever.

    Elizabeth Stein 14:50
    So how would you describe now what your food philosophy or content is?

    Carissa Stanton 14:52
    It's changed from when I first started. I've always had a great relationship with food but I was very health conscious. When I first started my page, I was more of a healthy food account. And now I feel like all of my recipes are generally healthy, but they're a little bit more laid back. I use a little bit more butter and a little splash of heavy cream here and there because I realized along the way that those little things that you're doing to make your food taste so much better and give you that satisfying feeling, aren't going to make that big of a difference at the end of the day unless you have some type of allergy, or whatever it is. But I would say that my recipes now are just a lot more relaxed. I just cook whatever I'm feeling. I do have a strong relationship with the way food makes me feel. I tune into that, which I think is just so important.

    Elizabeth Stein 16:04
    Is that something that you've always had?

    Carissa Stanton 16:03
    Yes, I think, before I was eating healthy. And I was feeling really good. But I wasn't paying attention to the fact that maybe my meals, after my long day at work weren't bringing me joy, they were kind of just the same thing over and over. I was eating a lot of chicken quinoa and broccoli, which was great. But I think I was just in a different place in my life, where I cared a lot more about my appearance. And I wasn't necessarily eating all these healthy foods for the best reasons. And now I feel like when I do eat a plate of vegetables and protein, and even if I am eating that same meal, I'm eating it because it's giving me energy and it makes me feel really good. And I'm not doing it because maybe it's lowering calories, or I'm not adding any sauce or cheese on top. Because that's additional calories and whatever it may be. So I think now I'm just so in tune. I still will go out and indulge and eat a big bowl of pasta, even though I know it's gonna send me right to bed. I think that it's just really important for everyone to just really tune in because everyone is just so different. Some people can go and eat a bowl of ice cream, and feel fine. For me, sugar is my enemy. It makes me feel so horrible. I hate it. So my food now just looks like what mood I'm in, and how I want to feel after I eat, which is usually energized and feeling ready to conquer my busy schedule. So I think it's just a really good balance of healthy food and comforting food that's gonna make you feel good.

    Elizabeth Stein 18:03
    So many questions in that, I guess. At first, it sounds like you're eating more intuitively than you were in the past.

    Carissa Stanton 18:14
    People say like, oh, you're an intuitive eater. And I'm like, maybe. I've never really looked into it. It's just so funny. I feel like everyone has these names.

    Elizabeth Stein 18:26
    You're listening to what your body needs you're doing, versus being a little bit more restrictive and prescriptive in the past. So, what tips can you share? Or like, what did you do if you know or if it was just a subtle thing over the years to kind of shift that mindset? Because I think it's a super healthy mindset to be in and one that I think a lot of people would strive to want to feel in that place that you are now.

    Carissa Stanton 18:55
    It was gradual. But I think when I look back at my overall life, when I was eating like that and had that mindset, I wasn't generally super happy. I was living in San Diego, and I was feeling like I needed to change. I wasn't necessarily happy in my relationship at the time. And I feel like I was not finding joy in a lot of the day-to-day things in life. Fast forwarding to where I am now in the present moment, I just feel so comfortable with myself. And I think it also has a lot to do with. I'm in my early 30s now. I feel like once you're 30s, you don't care about anything anymore. I don't care too much about what other people think of me. I'm in a really happy relationship. I'm in a great place in my life and I feel like all of that I had to work hard for but I think when you make these conscious changes in your life to be a happier person and to live a better life, it's a lot of work. But I think that all of these things fall into place if that makes sense.

    Elizabeth Stein 20:15
    Totally. Were there any specific things that you were doing to feel happier and better your life? share them.

    Carissa Stanton 20:20
    Yeah, there's so many things. Let's give you a little list. I think that the relationships, whether it's a romantic relationship or friendships, I think that surrounding yourself with good people is the most important thing that you can do for your health. I've been conscious of who I spend my time with, and people that don't energize me and make me feel good after I'm done hanging out with them. And I'm seeing less of those people and more of the people that make me feel really good. So I think that relationships are so high up there. And I think it's something that not that many people talk about when we're talking about health. Obviously, like a lot of it goes to nutrition and exercise. But I think that having great positive relationships in your life is so important. And if you're not feeling good or happy about anything in your life, I kind of regret saying this, because I'm one of those people who would like to stay in an uncomfortable relationship because of a hate change. But I have had to make those really hard choices along the way to change certain things in my life. I wasn't feeling super happy living in San Diego, even though I was so comfortable. All of my friends lived there. I knew two people when I moved to LA, but I just felt like it would be a positive change in my life. And it has been amazing. And I'm just so happy here. It has just changed my life. Making those hard changes that you don't necessarily want to make at the time, will always pay off. But again, I feel like a hypocrite saying that because it's really hard for me to make changes.

    Elizabeth Stein 22:15
    But I think that's true for so many people.

    Carissa Stanton 22:16
    Yeah, I feel like it's worth it. And just overall my whole relationship with exercise has made such a positive impact on my life. I used to be a berries girl. I would go to berries and hot yoga. And I mean, some people do it and love it. And I think that's amazing. But for me, switching my workouts to walking outside, doing some pilates flows, and lifting weights for maybe 20 minutes a couple times a week, as opposed to doing it for over an hour has energized me and given me this clarity on life, I would say. I'm not feeling exhausted all the time. I almost felt like I needed to wake up and beat myself up so I could go the rest of my day. It was weird. But now I feel like it's so much easier on myself. And it's had such a positive impact on my life. So, a lot of just small changes and evaluating every little thing that you do each day. Who you're hanging out with, what you're eating, what exercises you're doing, where you're living, like all of it. Just making little changes throughout the years has had such an amazing impact on my overall health.

    Elizabeth Stein 22:37
    It's amazing. That's so great to hear such great tips. I think having what we do daily, those small, tiny habits are what make up our life. And as you said, making those small changes is so critical. So sounds like you are in a great place filled with lots of joy and happiness. And that certainly exudes into the food that you're making. And part of that is in exuding the happiness in creating your cookbook, which I'm so excited to get into. Tell us all about that. What was the process like? And how do you balance creating recipes while also creating your daily content?

    Carissa Stanton 24:21
    Yes, it was very hard. I'm also very excited to talk about this. I haven't been able to talk about the book and I've been working on it for years. It's always been such a goal of mine. And I'm so excited about it too.

    Elizabeth Stein 24:35
    How long ago did you think about it? And is this something that you've been manifesting and had on a vision board?

    Carissa Stanton 25:43
    Yeah, I would say a year after I started my account and I realized that it was going to be something more significant than me just posting recipes for friends. I was like, okay, I want to write a cookbook. So it's been in my brain for a very long time. I have been working on it for over two and haven't been able to talk about it, which has been torture for me. But the process is so crazy. It's the most work I've ever put into my entire life, it feels like a child. It starts with writing a proposal, you have to think of all of your recipes, my book has 100 recipes in it. And they're all categorized in a way that I think when I'm cooking. So there's an appetizer section, and I'm such an appetizer girl, I feel like I'll go out to dinner and just order appetizers. There's a dinner in the 30 section. So it's meals and under 30 minutes, feel-good food, which is a healthier chapter. I was cooking from it a lot after every weekend when I was like, eating out and enjoying myself and having margaritas. It's for that week after when you're like, okay, I need a lot of vegetables and lean protein in my life. I'm not going to be going in the correct order. But there are restaurant remakes. Makes some dishes that I love from different restaurants, whether there's some from Via Carota in New York to Taco Bell, so it spans all across. And then there are major mains, which are recipes for when you're hosting or you want something a little bit fancier and not what you're gonna have on an average Tuesday night. Then there is Soup Queen, which is all soup recipes because I'm such a soup girl. I love soup. There's a whole chapter on that. And then there's a cocktail and dessert chapter. It's kind of like everything that you'll need. And it was just the most insane process, the writing of the recipes is so crazy, because I thought I knew how to write a recipe, but you have to hire people to help you because I didn't realize how specific you need to get. And there's just so many nuances that I was not aware of. So kind of relearning how to write a recipe, is very eye-opening, because I have never been trained in that. I just kind of started posting on Instagram and repeating how I saw other recipes written. So, that was crazy. The whole process was a lot of editing and rereading. And the photoshoot is just so much fun once you have all the recipes done, and you get to shoot them. And it was just like a dream come true. Now it's all put together and ready to go. I'm just beyond excited.

    Elizabeth Stein 28:02
    Well, we can't wait to get it. And in the meantime, we can preorder it, right?

    Carissa Stanton 28:09
    Yes, you can pre-order anywhere books are sold, and it comes out in April. We’re counting the days.

    Elizabeth Stein 28:14
    Congratulations. That is so exciting. What a process. So how did you manage doing all of that amongst your other day-to-day? Any great productivity or organization tips around that, because that seems like it was a lot to balance.

    Carissa Stanton 28:34
    It was a lot and there was no organization or schedule to it. I was honestly just cooking constantly. I think I had to take a step back from posting on Instagram and be okay with realizing that people have lives and they're not sitting at their phones waiting for me to post every day. It's hard because it's my whole life. And I think about it all the time and I'm interacting with people all day. But the reality of the situation, I think this can apply to people in any job is that if you need to take a moment or you need to take a few hours a day to do something whether it's writing a cookbook or whether it's doing something for your mental health. Yesterday, I took a couple of hours and went out, got myself a matcha, walked around, did a little shopping came back. It just helps you put everything into perspective. I think that just taking a step back from every project that I was working on and realizing that was all gonna get done having to take a few deep breaths and realizing that I didn't post on Instagram, my day was gonna be okay and I just was constantly cooking and doing dishes. And there was no organization. I think when you're more of a creative person, you have to just wait till it strikes and then jump on it. I was posting a lot of older recipes from my blog, I would repurpose them, remake them, and try and get by as I was in the depths of recipe testing. Because I didn't want to tell everyone about the book too early, because then by the time it came out, everyone would be like, okay, we've been hearing about that for years. But yeah, the reality of the situation is it was just a ton of hard work. And it was messy. It was so much fun. Looking back, it was one of those things where I'm like, how did I do that? I blocked it out of my mind. Because it was so much work. But from when I woke up till nine o'clock at night, I was in the kitchen cooking.

    Elizabeth Stein 31:06
    Are you ready to do number two after this experience?

    Carissa Stanton 31:10
    Honestly, I don't have kids but I feel like it's when people say they have babies, it's like, you give birth and you kind of forget. Everyone I talked to was like yeah, your mind blocks out. So you then you're just like, oh, I want to do it again. That's how I feel. Again, I'm already thinking about my second book.

    Elizabeth Stein 31:30
    Awesome. What's your favorite, maybe one or two or three, recipes in the book?

    Carissa Stanton 31:43
    I know. This is like I should have been prepared for this. The recipe that I made the most from the book is the carnitas which are so good. I cook them differently than traditional, they cook them in lard, which is so delicious. But I found that cooking them in water just gives you just as a delicious result, and they're a lot healthier. And they are so good. I didn't realize how much I love carnitas until I made this recipe. There's a carnitas taco bar recipe that anytime I have more than two or three friends over, I make it and everyone is obsessed. I pass that one on early to a lot of friends because everyone loves it. Easy to make a big batch. I call this one recipe date night chicken and creamy mushroom sauce. Because it's one of those dishes that comes together in 30 minutes, but it feels fancy. I think I made it for my boyfriend on Valentine's Day. Just kind of with the name that came out to you. But it is one of the best chicken dishes I've ever made. It's a favorite in the book. And then, oh my gosh, let's see. The desserts are so good. There's a strawberry galette. I feel like a lot of people are not on galettes. They're kind of like a classier pie. I am a really bad baker. I don't make too many baked goods.

    Elizabeth Stein 33:25
    Because I don't like to follow the recipe that much?

    Carissa Stanton 33:28
    Yeah, I feel the same way. I get a certain mood every once in a while where I'm like, okay, I want to measure things. And then I'll bake. But the dessert chapter is called A Piece of Cake because they're all very easy-to-make desserts. There's nothing complicated or crazy in there. But the galette is made in a cast iron. It's like you freeform it. A cast iron so it's all contained. So, you really can't mess it up.

    Elizabeth Stein 33:54
    And it's just brilliant. Especially for adding ice cream on top. That makes it…

    Carissa Stanton 33:55
    Yeah. So, that's another favorite. I could talk about the recipes forever and ever. They're my best and I'm just over the moon. So excited to get it. Can't wait.

    Elizabeth Stein 34:12
    So what non Cookbook Recipes? What are some of your recipes that have been the most viral? And any that you've been super surprised about other than your initial first, veggie chili? Surprising?

    Carissa Stanton 34:25
    Surprising. I can never really guess which recipes are going to blow. It's fun. I think that before I post I'm always like, okay, am I proud of this? Because you never know how things are gonna do. Sometimes I'm like I post something that I think is gonna go viral and nobody cares about it. So before I post, I'm like, okay, am I proud of this? Do I like this recipe? And then I just push it out in the world and let them do what they will with it. But my most viral recipes are, I remade the La Scala chopped salad from Scotland Beverly Hills. It's a very famous chopped salad which we made, I want to say maybe three years ago, and it blew up. It was one of those things where I'm like, okay, people were really into this chopped salad. I think just because I said, the Kardashians have been spotted there, Justin Bieber too. It’s a very famous salad. Justin Bieber maybe liked that. So that one went crazy. Then I made a Greek-style lemon chicken soup, which I have the option to do either cauliflower rice or orzo or regular rice, whatever it is. So, there are some options in there. It's packed with vegetables and chicken, protein. That one like crazy, too. They're random. Like, I wish I had something that was… I don't know. And then most recently, I posted a beef and broccoli recipe and it went super viral. I'm like, I don't know.

    Elizabeth Stein 35:54
    They're confusing, right?

    Carissa Stanton 35:55
    They give me a trend that I can follow. You know what I mean? They're just really random. But that's what I like about the people that come to me for recipes. All the recipes are just delicious and fun, and they're easy to make. I think that that's maybe the common trend. Pe

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