Creator of the popular health blog Nutrition Stripped, McKel Hill is a smart, personable and laid-back beauty who is passionate about helping people connect with their best selves by rediscovering whole foods. With the release of her new cookbook just around the corner, McKel is excited to get her message to an even broader audience. Learn how this savvy foodie is changing the way we think about diet and nutrition from the inside out. Welcome McKel as today’s FACE of the South.
How did you discover your passion for nutrition?
In high school and into college, I became interested in healthy eating and wanted to resolve some issues I had endured, including headaches, poor digestion and low energy. I took time to explore different foods and diets, seeing what worked and what didn’t. During my college career at Ohio State University, I decided to get my Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology and Dietetics, and then followed that with a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition. Both of those programs gave me the necessary foundation to start exploring nutrition on a deeper level, and gave me a better understanding of how our bodies respond to certain foods.
Tell us about Nutrition Stripped. How did that get started?
When I moved to Nashville, I got a job as a clinical dietitian, which was great experience but not my best use of passion, creativity and energy. I started Nutrition Stripped simply as a food- and nutrition-based blog to share healthy recipes and my nutrition knowledge with others. My first 80 readers were family and friends but after a lot of hard work and consistency, the site gained traction by mass media, and I was amazed at how many people were curious to learn and seeking advice on these topics. It quickly turned from a creative outlet to a full-time business and private nutrition practice in less than a year.
How has Nutrition Stripped (NS) evolved since its inception?
NS is now an international brand that’s a resource for living whole, eating well and helping people feel their best. I offer one-on-one nutrition coaching with clients over the world looking to find a balanced lifestyle, free recipes and wellness tips on the NS blog, and there’s an online shop that includes meal plans, t-shirts, totes and fun ways to infuse health into your daily life. I use an individualistic and holistic approach — with a food philosophy that focuses on getting back to basics, encouraging people to get into their kitchens and cook — using whole foods in simple ways. My recipes are plant-centric, meaning fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains make up the bulk of my recipes; but I design the recipes to be flexible. I also have my debut cookbook coming out August 23, which still hasn’t sunk in; that was a dream come true!
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions surrounding healthy eating today?
I think it’s a mistake to think that there is a one-size-fits-all plan. We’re all unique and that’s the beauty behind it. My mission is to help people to feel their absolute best, so that means finding food solutions that fit their lifestyle. I’ve been a guinea pig of sorts, experimenting with all types of diets — from strict vegan regimens to looser plant-based diets — in order to better serve my clients and truly understand where they’re coming from. My mission is to empower people who are seeking better health to create a balanced way of living. Food should be an enjoyable, social and celebratory part of our lives. The last thing I want people to think in adopting a whole foods lifestyle is that you can’t enjoy a glass of wine with friends or eat at your favorite taco bar.
Can you name a favorite place to wine and dine for Nashville locals and visitors, alike?
Franklin Juice Co. on 12South is a go-to for me. They have the best organic, cold-pressed juice in town! Epice has one of my favorite salads in town; Bastion has mastermind chef Josh Habiger cooking up a storm and it’s a culinary experience; and Vui’s Kitchen is a new favorite for a quick lunch spot. I love the cocktails at Pinewood Social and Patterson House. You know, you gotta have that balance!
What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?
I always start each morning with meditation. It’s incredibly grounding and sets my intention — mentally and spiritually — for the day to make sure I’m contributing at 100 percent! Aside from that, I love to walk my 7-month-old puppy, Luna, read and spend time with my loved ones.
You recently wrote a cookbook. Tell us more about it and where we can find it.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about a project launch as the cookbook! It’s amazing to see a couple years’ worth of work come to fruition, to see ideas in a physical, written form alongside beautiful photography. The Nutrition Stripped cookbook features over 100 whole foods recipes made deliciously simple and not found on the NS Blog. I intentionally made these recipes adaptable so that if you want to add something to a dish, like a protein or grain you enjoy, you can. My mission with this cookbook was to get people excited about eating whole foods and appreciating the vibrancy and satisfaction you can get from eating healthy. We are having a release party on August 26 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) at White’s Mercantile in Nashville. It’s going to be an incredible event with healthy snacks prepared from the cookbook, as well as cocktails provided by Corsair Distillery. (Find out more about the event here.)
Name three things you can’t live without — excluding faith, family and friends.
A good workout, salted caramel brownies from my cookbook (SO delicious and healthy) and kombucha.
Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s photos!
Keep up with all the things we love about the South by following us on Instagram — we’re @StyleBlueprint.