Q&A With Plantable COO and Head Dietitian, Kayleen St. John

We sat down with our very own Chief Operating Officer and Head Registered Dietitian, Kayleen St. John, to discuss her role at Plantable, what she’s loving in the wellness space right now and her tips for staying healthy while being very busy (aka keeping Plantable running).

Kayleen is also sharing the recipe for her cumin-spiced beet ships – a definite crowd pleaser at the Euphebe office.

What’s your background and what led you to Plantable?
While always being interested in food and health, I stated my career working as a CPA at a Big 4 Accounting firm. I found myself reading nutrition textbooks ‘for fun’ after work and realized quickly that I wanted to dive head first into the field.  So, I went back to NYU to obtain a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition, completed a dietetic internship and residency, passed a certification exam, (yada, yada, yada…) and became an RD. I then went on to work at a culinary school (Natural Gourmet Institute), where I instructed chefs in training on the topic of culinary nutrition.  Meanwhile, I worked in a clinic as an outpatient dietitian counseling patients on a range of topics including weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, gut health and inflammatory conditions. I eventually met Nadja, Euphebe’s founder, while instructing a culinary nutrition course at the culinary school, and the rest is history!

What exactly do you do for Euphebe? What’s a typical day like for you?
That’s a great question!  We all wear many hats at Euphebe, but I love how it keeps me on my toes.  I get to leverage my nutrition and science background when working with the team to plan the recipes and menus, creating blog and newsletter content and meeting with clinicians to spread awareness about Euphebe.  Meanwhile, I’m able to leverage my finance and accounting experience (nerd alert) while working on all of the operational aspects of the business like forecasting, project management and ingredient sourcing. 

A typical day….whats that? Kidding, but every day truly is different. This past week was a mix of working with the kitchen team to improve order fulfillment, instructing a culinary nutrition class, coordinating a food photoshoot, planning the Q4 production calendar, on-boarding a new employee and attending a preventative cardiology conference.  

With such a busy schedule, how do you ensure you are eating nutritiously and staying healthy throughout the week?
This is a typical, un-sexy answer but planning ahead is key for me. I try to utilize the weekend to plan ahead and prepare at least one lunch or breakfast item in bulk for the week. I rotate between prepping overnight oats, my own dry oatmeal packets, some type of roasted veggie, grain & bean bowl or sometimes a soup. Luckily, I’m a creature of habit and don’t mind eating the same breakfast or lunch for 3 days in a row. And not to be a walking Euphebe advert, but its also amazingly helpful to have Euphebe meals on hand.

What are your favorite ways to manage stress?
Cooking at home and staying active keep me balanced and help me manage stress. Some days it's preparing a Euphebe meal at home and walking my dog while other days its weight lifting and cooking a meal for family and friends. If I can somehow manage to connect with food and get moving on the same day, I find my energy levels are restored and I’m a much more pleasant person overall :) 

As a registered dietitian, what are your favorite trends in nutrition? Least favorite?
My favorite trend in nutrition is the movement towards simplicity. I love seeing a focus on whole foods and less on ‘quick fix’ products and supplements. The concentration on plant-based foods and meals also gets me excited. 

My least favorite trend is how some outlets make ‘wellness’ seem exclusive and unattainable. We don’t necessarily need to add powders, superfoods and elixirs to our daily diet (though if you do- more power to you!) to be considered “well.” My goal is that wellness and health are viewed as attainable by everyone and that how we each define “well-being” can be different- and thats OK! 

What’s the best part about your job?
Definitely working alongside our kick ass team. I’m thrilled to work with with a super dedicated, passionate and driven team and as the COO, I’m fortunate in that I get to interact with everyone on a weekly basis.  Second favorite is probably family meal for lunch at the Euphebe kitchen- shoutout to chefs Nikki, Rachel & Willie! 

What’s your go-to Euphebe meal?
They’re all go-to's for me, but my current favorites are the Saag No Paneer ( I joke that we will never take it off the menu) and my husband and I continually fight over the Hippie Brunch Burrito and the Rita. 

If you had to describe your food/nutrition philosophy in a word or phrase, what would it be?
Keep it simple and meet people where they are (and beware of experts who claim to know everything!)