On food, love, and the healing nature of connection
Folks who meet me at a farmers market slinging plant-based eats often have a moment of pause when they learn that creating plant-based food is just one part of my life. As a trauma work practitioner and educator, I started spending more time in kitchens as a way of coming back to myself in a body and heart focused, non-heady kind of way. Work days full of lots of head and heart work left me feeling mentally drained, but my body as though it still had so much excess energy to shake off. Despite a regular practice of exercise and movement, I needed something playful and low stress that allowed me to reconnect with myself.
I found myself spending more time in the kitchen— kneading dough, chopping fruit, hand mixing batters. It was cathartic. It is stillness and quiet and practice and patience all at once.
I started creating food to share with others when I allowed myself to be still enough to notice and honor that core to my being is caring for others— and perhaps the first way I ever learned how to do this was through sharing food.
As a kid, we always had extra plates set out for whoever decided to show up for a meal. As a teenager, I watched as my dad nurtured a newfound love of cooking in his early forties. His weekends were often spent in the kitchen— beginning early in the morning, or even late the night before, he would start chopping vegetables, marinating proteins, soaking beans, rolling out pasta. Despite my dad being an engineer and my mom being an accountant, there is a funny creative streak in our family. I don’t know a Wilt without a side project, something we’re tinkering with, or a labor of love we’re continually giving to. We’re learners, we’re makers, and we care a whole lot about people.
I learned about food and a slow approach to creating food from my dad. I learned my love for sharing and gathering over food from those who have become chosen family and the sweetest friends over the years. There is so much love, truth, and magic that comes from those slow, easy, I’ve-got-no-better-place-to-be-but-here kitchen table conversations. That’s the energy that goes into the food that I make. That’s the intention I hope folks pick up on when we’re connecting at a market or event.
I often get asked about how I’d like to see salt + honey grow, and you know, I’m still figuring that out. Part of my commitment to myself has been keeping a balance with all of places I’m giving time and energy. Like so many of us, I’m often hustling more than I’m not, and I’ve been trying to unlearn that a bit. Creating and sharing food is a practice of healing and a practice of love for me. It’s a space for creativity, nourishment, and connection. I have been making conscious movement over the past couple of years toward integrating my more creative projects into my work as a healing practitioner, because really, an integrated vision isn’t only my dream work, but it’s probably my most authentic work. I’m frequently thinking of ways to meld cooking + creating into my practice working with others—both in healing and social change work. We build relationships over food and coming together. We learn about ourselves when we make space to get out of our heads for long enough that we allow ourselves to notice and feel. Cooking, hiking, making, drawing, exploring, an afternoon laughing with friends—that’s connection—and that’s what it’s all about. This October marks a year since moving to Tucson from Pennsylvania, and hands down, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. You don’t have to look far to find inspiration, or a crew of folks ready to be your biggest supporters. This is a place of lovers, dreamers, doers, organizers, healers, artists, herbalists, makers, connectors, weirdos (slowly raises hand), and folks shaping the world in big and small ways. It feels great to call it home.
Kelly’s favorite raw snack:
oat + almond butter energy bites
1 ¼ cup gluten-free oats
½ cup raw almond butter
¼ cup maple syrup, honey, or agave (your choice)
2 TB flaxseed
2 TB chia seed
optional: ½ tsp almond extract, add ins: ¼ cup of dried fruit, raw sunflower seeds, pepitas, raw slivered almonds, or another favorite seed or nut
Add all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Mix together until combined. Form into bite-sized balls. Enjoy with friends.
To find out what kelly’s up to, check out: kellyjwilt.com. Interested in learning more about the healing + social change work she mentioned? Check out soulshine at @seemysoulshine / seemysoulshine.org. For the bakery: @saltandhoneybakery / saltandhoneybakery.com