How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging on a regular basis when I went abroad for a semester in Sweden. Meals with Morri’s first post was written in April 2011, a few days after my hypothyroidism diagnosis.

UPDATE: As of May 11, 2016, Meals with Morri is no longer being updated. The website will still remain live, so browse at your leisure. :)

Who is your host and what blogging platform do you use?
I use Blogger for both.

Where did you learn to cook?
I learned to cook in various households and in many forms of kitchens, making messes and masterpieces at the same time. I wasn’t really big on learning the culinary arts until I was in college and became gluten free.

What is your food philosophy?
“Delicious. Nutritious. Gluten free.” It has certainly evolved since I came up with that motto, but that is essentially the gist of it. I like foods that I can identify as wholesome ingredients, foods that are vibrant in colors and nourishing in every way. I like products with ingredients I can pronounce, and brands that don’t use materials created in a laboratory. I keep things natural, as organic as possible, and I do everything I can to make my meals rounded, grounded, and balanced in flavor, texture, and nutrition. I have days where I am a hearty herbivore, and there are days I consume meat/dairy/eggs in every meal. I experiment with lifestyles harmonious to my gluten free, soy free, refined sugar free diet all the time, so it really just depends on the day.

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging to write about my trials in gluten free living. I felt this was a way to reach out to people from all over the world and show that there is life after any diagnosis.

What is your real occupation?
I’m a recent MS Conflict Analysis and Resolution graduate, and am presently the Development and Administration Coordinator for the Washington Youth Garden (FONA) at the National Arboretum. My interests  are in community empowerment, urban agriculture and food activism, the links between climate change and agriculture, and farmers' rights.

Is it hard to travel with your dietary restrictions?
This depends on where I’m going and with whom I’m traveling. It can be harder in some places to find a restaurant or supermarket that has 100% Morri-friendly products. If it is within your budget, find hotels with kitchens or pack foods you know you can eat in a cooler of your specifications. If you are traveling outside the country, as I did for school, I made sure I could say “gluten free” when eating out and read food labels in the native language.

How do you know so much about [insert inquiry here]?
I do have a disclaimer that I am NOT a licensed medical professional of any kind (yet), so much of what I write comes from research I find on the subject by a licensed professional. 

I read a very interesting article I’d like to share with you about food security/sustainable development/hypothyroidism/gluten free living/urban agriculture/etc. Can I email it to you?
Of course! I love learning and sharing information like that.


Why don’t you eat gluten, anything derived from cane sugar, or soy?
I decided to go gluten free without really thinking about what that would do for me. I ate the lifestyle by choice, and I instantly felt better as the result. Cane sugar caused huge energy spikes, and as I lessened the amount I consumed each day, I didn’t crash, my palate opened up to things that were sweet naturally, and a few of my digestive upsets I still had after going gluten free went away. As for soy, it is highly estrogenic and inhibits thyroid function, so a person with hypothyroidism (such as myself) should avoid it. All three products are often found in beauty and hair products, and both gluten and soy irritates my skin immensely.

Is your family gluten free also?
Nope, but everyone is very understanding and supportive anyway. When we all sit down and eat together as a family, most (if not all) of the food on the table is gluten free. We have bread, cereal, and other things in the kitchen that isn’t Morri-friendly, but we are all extremely careful regarding cross-contamination. At one point I refused any gluten to enter the door, but after a while I calmed down about it. I often ask what’s in a dish... just in case.

Why don’t you use any gums in your recipes?
I tried using gums when I first became interested in making my own gluten free baked goods (I mean, have you seen the prices?), but I never got the hang of it. No matter how much or how little I put in, no matter if it came from a box or I combined flours at home, I still got the same gummy, undercooked consistency. After receiving Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio as a gift, I found that measuring by weight threw the need of gums out the window. Sure, that may mean adding an egg here, some flaxseed or chia meal there, but even then it’s rare I need them.

I notice you have quite a few vegetarian, vegan, and grain-free recipes. Are you exclusively following any of these dietary lifestyles?
I think because “wheat” and “meat” rhyme, it’s only natural to assume that being gluten free automatically means vegetarianism. As I said earlier (see the question: What is your food philosophy?), I enjoy foods that happen to be herbivore-friendly and grain-free just as much as I enjoy grilled meat and rice. If I ever choose to make any of these lifestyles a long-term thing, you will be the first to know.

UPDATE: As of May 2014, I decided to take on vegetarianism as a lifestyle. There's a huge but to this, however. I eat what makes me feel nourished and wholesome, and if my body is asking for meat or if meat is the only thing available to me, I will eat it. Also, the medication I take for my thyroid is derived from dessicated pig thyroid. Other than that, I'm an omnivore with a herbivore diet. This is also called flexitarianism.

Do you make everything from scratch?
I am extremely lucky to live in a time where canned beans and tomatoes are easy to come by, as well as my beloved nut butter, almond milk, spices, canned coconut milk, and most condiments (except for mayonnaise). But since I've discovered fermentation and culturing at home, store-bought nut butter and canned beans just don't do it for me anymore. I combine all of my flours at home, depending on what I think would work for a certain recipe, and I usually make sauces from scratch. Sometimes there are products that I just have to tell you about and how I used it in a recipe, but this isn’t usual. I don’t want to have many recipes on Meals with Morri where many people may not have access to certain ingredients or it isn’t in their food budget.

Why do you cook by weight and not by volume?
When you measure out ingredients, it makes substitutions significantly easier to do and takes much of the guesswork out of a recipe.

I’m confused by the ounce to gram conversions. How do you work around it?
Oh, I’m right there with you. If I’m following a recipe that is measured in ounces, I usually just round one ounce/fl ounce to thirty grams/milliliters. If I’m following a recipe that offers both ounces and grams, I follow the amount of each ingredient as specified in grams. I have noticed, though, that people tend to take creative license in the ounce to gram conversions, and since my scale only weighs to the gram and nothing lower, rounding it up seems reasonable to me.

Do you ever cheat and eat gluten, soy, or cane sugar?
No. I’ve felt the affects of accidentally ingesting them and believe me, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

Where do you buy your food?
In Virginia, my family purchases their weekly groceries from Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, MOM's Organic Market, various farmers markets in the area, and order specialty foods (i.e., raw milk, kefir, yogurt, and organ meat) directly from a farm in Pennsylvania. We used to go to the local international food market, but I started becoming concerned with where food comes from and how it is produced. Baking products vary, though I usually buy my gluten free flours and whole grains from Bob’s Red Mill and Nuts.com.

While I'm abroad, I go to the nearby supermarket for almost all of my weekly requirements, but when I'm low on a fruit or veggie I tend to go to the smaller establishments for the freshest pick. It's a lot easier to find gluten free flours and pastas than before.

Do you go out to eat? Do you do restaurant reviews?
If I go out to eat, it is because I know I can eat at the restaurant, and possibly called ahead to talk with the kitchen. But yes, I do on very rare (and often special) occasions. When the food is particularly good, I take photos of the food and the restaurant, and then write about it.

(In Italy, you will be surprised how easy and accommodating many establishments are regarding those who are gluten free.)

I have additional dietary restrictions. How easy is it to substitute the ingredients I can’t have in your recipes for ones I can?
The beauty of cooking and baking by weight is it takes much of the guesswork out of substituting ingredients (but not all), which is why I love cookbooks that provide it. If you are dairy/nut/”whatever you can’t have” free, it shouldn’t be that difficult, but turning something vegan is another story and one I’m still working the kinks out of. 

What is your gluten free flour of choice and why?
I love garbanzo bean flour (also known as chickpea flour or besan)! It has such a rich flavor, and its silky texture in baking is phenomenal. My second flour of choice is buckwheat flour, closely followed by quinoa flour in third. (Note that they're all grain-free and very high in protein.) In Italy, I was introduced to chestnut flour, which has this wonderful natural sweetness and is great for desserts.


How do you know so much about hypothyroidism?
I actually don’t. Writing about hypothyroidism is how I learn more about it, and often times I find sources conflict in their findings. If you are truly interested in this condition, I recommend looking to licensed professionals and what they’ve written. 

Is there a connection between gluten intolerance and thyroid function?
There is a connection between a whole mess of things and thyroid function. Many with Hashimoto’s (the autoimmune version of hypothyroidism) find that they have Celiac also because of how it affects the intestines and digestive tract. Gluten-containing foods can be extremely inflammatory to the body, and with a compromised immune system it can be especially hazardous to your health.

Why do you write about disordered eating so much?
Disordered eating had taken on many forms in my life: from anorexia to exercise bulimia to orthorexia. I write about it as a form of healing to show how far I've come, to be honest with my readers when it rears its not-so-pleasant head, and that it is a serious condition that affects many kinds of people. I'm not ashamed of my health progression, and by talking about it, I hope it removes the stigma that people who suffer from it will seek help.

Do you take medication and/or vitamin supplements on a daily/regular basis?
Yes to both. I take Armour Thyroid and certain vitamin supplements when I'm feeling deficient (Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12).

I have a few of the symptoms you listed having before and after your diagnosis (i.e., sleep maintenance insomnia, low body temperature, depression, weight gain or inability to lose weight, yellow hands and feet, brain fog, fatigue, etc.). Does this mean I have hypothyroidism?
It’s possible, but I suggest going to a medical professional for a diagnosis. The body is a complex machine, and no two are alike.

Who do you go to for nutrition consultation and for monitoring your thyroid?
I went to Cheryl Harris MPH, RD, CWC, CLC  (in other words: Master’s in Public Health, Registered Dietitian, Certified Wellness Coach and Certified Lactation Counselor) of Harris Whole Health (and Gluten Free Goodness) every few months to discuss my eating habits and how to balance my nutrition with my fitness before I moved abroad. Dr. Donna Hurlock diagnosed my hypothyroidism based on my symptoms and not the “normal” blood test results the endocrinologist gave me.

As I recall, alcohol and caffeine are not healthy.
Probably not, and definitely not in excess. I usually have around 250 ml of moka pot coffee a day, more when I'm stressed and now that I am back and forth from the States to Europe, and because of how the coffee is brewed it is focused on the concentration of flavor versus the amount of caffeine in a cup. I drink tea, usually black or green, sometimes herbal (dandelion root is my favorite), and I enjoy using chocolate in my recipes. My alcohol consumption is minimal and I maybe drink a weekly or bi-monthly basis. So while I do have both, I definitely do in moderation and not for any other reason than to enjoy them responsibly.

Photography & Design

What camera and photo editing software do you use?
I have a Nikon D50 and usually edit my photos on iPhoto or PicMonkey. I admit, I struggle with low-light photography, and tend to use a tripod and a wireless shutter release remote control for sharpness as a general rule when indoors. I'm getting better though.

What lenses do you use?
I currently have two lenses for my Nikon D50: a 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro Nikkor Lens, the one I typically use; and an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, which I want to start using for travel and portraits.

Who designs your headers?
I do! Designing them myself helps me learn about working with editing software a little more efficiently each time.


I just tried one of your recipes. Can I post about it on my personal blog? Is it okay if I reprint your recipe?
I am so honored that you tried it out, and of course you may. The only thing I ask is for you to give me credit and link it back to that particular post.

Can I link to your site?
Yes, thank you! I’m flattered that you would. I would just like to ask that you let me know so I can thank you personally.

Can we do a link exchange?
For general purposes, I will have to decline. And why is that? Well, I suggest you look to Deb of Smitten Kitchen and her post on Food Blog Alliance: Why Link Exchanges Are a Terrible, No-Good Idea.  My blogroll (i.e., “My Favorite Blogs List”) is a personal choice of blogs I choose to list, and ones that I would personally encourage my readers to visit.

I have a cookbook/ health and fitness guide/food or beauty product I’d like to send you for a review. Can I get in contact with you to see if you are interested?
Of course you may! I will, however, offer you a word of caution: I may decline because they do not adhere to my food philosophy or have ingredients that I cannot eat. But feel free to send me an email and we’ll talk.

IMPORTANT NOTE (1 April, 2015): Recently, a company reached out to me in doing a product review for their pre-launch. Now, as excited as I was about the idea of helping a just starting out company, I feel like I need to address this to future potential partners as well as my readers.

Readers, I will never, EVER, give away your information or share my subscribing list to another entity. Perhaps this company was not aware of how unprofessional that is to ask for, but they did, and I declined with the emphasis of how unethical I found their request to be. Despite being open and honest with my life on Meals with Morri, I do value my privacy, and the information I publish is information I willingly provide. So rest assured I will not share anything of yours you do not consent to share with me on the site.

Potential partners and sponsors, up until this point my services for product and book reviews have been free of charge. Whatever I publish, although you are free to request for some changes to my writing, I publish in entirety. If you would like me to do a review, PLEASE give me as much information as possible in order for me to write the best review I can. (And by best review, I'm not talking about my only saying how wonderful it is; I mean that I like to be thorough.) If you ask me for my subscribers' emails or your information is lacking (meaning: unable to provide real contact information, unable to provide anything more than the cryptic "tell your readers about us" email, unable to provide credibility to your product or cause), you will have to go elsewhere.

Can I leave a comment?
Of course! I love receiving feedback, suggestions, constructive criticism, and loving words of encouragement. All comments are moderated and must be accepted by me before being published, so all spam or crude remarks will be deleted without hesitation.

Do you make money through your blog?
Not at the moment, no. I also like the idea of my efforts being given to people free of charge in an ad-free environment, but at the same time I am open to having Meals with Morri being sponsored by companies that I support 100%. (Also, please see the update for my "I have a cookbook/ health and fitness guide/food or beauty product I’d like to send you for a review. Can I get in contact with you to see if you are interested?" This is relevant.)

I do have plans of becoming self-published (at the moment, what I'll publish is up in the air),  so we'll see. 

Can I/you do a guest post on your/my blog?
I tentatively say yes, and only because I'd like to get to know you beforehand.