Lisa Bryan is the brains behind the popular YouTube channel Downshiftology, along with a blog with the same name. Lisa shares wholesome recipes with her one million-plus subscribers, educating anyone who’s interested in operating within a healthy lifestyle how to meal prep, master kitchen basics, and try out new recipes that are gluten-free and often vegetarian and low carb.
But Lisa hardly expected her YouTube channel to take off. It was her blog, first, that found a following, but that same audience constantly asked her to visually show how she makes her recipes, rather than simply rely on reading text.
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“I was thinking that I was too old for YouTube,” Lisa says with a laugh. “Ironically, three years later there’s over one million subscribers. I think they were looking for some more mature voices.”
And that’s certainly what she’s giving the people. Positioned in her own kitchen in Southern California, Lisa gently guides her audience through a host of recipes, from crispy zucchini fritters to gluten-free chocolate mug cakes, warmly inviting you into her home, just like a close friend would. Along with her recipes, she’s become known as a meal prep connoisseur, which has lent itself especially well to a quarantine lifestyle—what with people finding themselves cooking in their home kitchens more than ever before.
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“The way I do meal prep is different than most,” Lisa explains. “I always say it’s creating a buffet bar in the fridge where you can mix and match meals. You don’t have to cook five days’ worth of meals; you can get creative on the fly.”
Meal prepping, Lisa argues, gives you more time. For overworked families, it helps you find the balance between working and parenting, because you’re not chained to the stove. And it means you can stay healthy—something that many of us during quarantine have all invariably struggled with.
“It’s easy to overeat and indulge during times of stress,” Lisa says. “Having to remember what we put into our mouth impacts our immune system. Meal prepping makes you look ahead. For many, meal prep can be a savior because you can get healthy meals on the table and reduce the stress of asking what you should make.”
By preparing meals ahead of time, you already know what you’re pulling out of the fridge or the freezer is nutritious, which allows you to avoid reaching for something that’s less than ideal. For Lisa, that means focusing on meals with less sugar that are also filled with simple, wholesome ingredients, like seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Meal prepping, Lisa explains, is just one of many ways to stay balanced and healthy during this excessive time spent at home. And it’s just one of the tenets of her “downshiftology” ideology, a term she constructed when she was in what she describes as a “blaze of burnout.”
“I was the exact opposite of where I am now: high stress, poor eating, no sleep. I wanted to downshift my life and get back to basics,” Lisa says. “My philosophy is simple: We just need to eat real food.”
Lisa details downshiftology as something that’s part food, part lifestyle. Downshifting allows for one to reduce stress, get good-quality sleep, and prioritize self-care. You’re encouraged to shift to a diet full of a rainbow of color, eschewing filler ingredients for anything fresh. “It’s a continual practice,” Lisa says. “And we just have to keep doing it everyday.”
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So for anyone who’s looking to join Lisa and downshift their life, a good place to start is with Lisa’s garlic grilled shrimp skewers. The jumbo shrimp are marinated in a garlicky herb mixture, thrust onto skewers, and grilled for just two to three minutes. Lisa suggests getting your grill pan searing hot before throwing the shrimp on, because they’ll only need to cook for a few minutes (any longer and they’ll turn rubbery), as they’ll continue to cook once they’ve been pulled off the heat. Serve with vegetables like steamed broccoli, green beans, or coleslaw, toss them in a salad, or wrap them into tacos with a drizzle of lime-scented crema.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers Recipe
These garlic grilled shrimp are dressed in an herby, garlicky marinade. Then grilled with perfectly charred marks in under 10 minutes. It’s an easy yet delicious summer recipe.
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper, adjust to spice preference
- Add the olive oil, herbs, and spices to a small mixing bowl and whisk together.
- Place the shrimp in a bowl and pour 3/4 of the marinade on top of the shrimp. Mix together gently until the shrimp are well coated.
- Cover the bowl and marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Thread the shrimp on the skewers and make sure to get all the good garlic and herbs from the bowl and spread on to the shrimp.
- Heat a grill or grill pan on medium high heat.
- Once the grill is hot, place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes each side, or until they turn pink and opaque.
- Remove the shrimp to a plate and spoon the remaining marinade on top before serving.
Header image courtesy of Lisa Bryan.