Allrecipes Cook to Follow: Jessica Lawson

Meet this food blogger, life coach, and passionate advocate for girls struggling with poverty.

jessica lawson
Photo: Aly Nauta

Jessica Lawson, an Allrecipes Allstar (@BigDeliciousLife), is one of 60 million cooks who visit every month.

About me: I'm a self-taught home chef and baker with a passion for healthy-ish living. My love for food comes from my family and from working, living, and traveling to different parts of the world. I believe that taking a seat at someone's table and sharing a meal is the best way to learn about others. We all eat in the same language! Also, I'm 39 and split my time between Chicago and L.A.

My day job: About 10 years ago, I cofounded a nonprofit called The Mariposa DR Foundation. Its mission is to end generational poverty by educating and inspiring girls. It was in the Dominican Republic that I really figured out how to get extra creative in the kitchen and use what's available. Now I work as a nonprofit consultant, helping other grassroots organizations grow.

jessica lawson and many young friends
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Lawson.

Side gigs: My whole career is really side gigs at this point; they include food blogging ( and lifestyle coaching. I love the freedom of choosing projects and organizations that I want to work with.

Food discovery that changed my life: I'd never had an avocado until I got to college. I've been hooked ever since.

My cooking inspiration: My grandmother. As I got older and went off on my own, cooking became my art and my creative release. I lost her to COVID-19 at 97 years old this past April. I started my blog shortly after she passed, and I know she would be so proud to see it.

jessica lawson and her grandmother
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Lawson.

Something few people know about me: I won't eat ketchup under any circumstances.

Who I cook for: My favorite person to cook for is my dad. I live with my partner, Matt, and our dog, Mika. Pre-pandemic, I was always cooking for my friends and family and hosting dinner parties.

jessica lawson, her partner, and her dog
Aly Nauta

My cooking philosophy: I never demonize any food. Life is too short: Eat the cake and savor it! I'm fiercely passionate about good-quality ingredients and real, whole foods. What you put in your body is the most important decision you make.

My blogging goals: I share recipes and help others who may struggle with what to cook or how to eat well. If I help someone improve their eating habits just a little bit, I'm doing my job.

Rare talent no one will pay me for: I have a crazy-good memory for completely useless facts.

Kitchen tool I can't live without: My Le Creuset cast-iron skillet. I could make anything in that pan. I bought it as a gift to myself when I bought a house on my own. It made me feel like a grown-up!

If I could have a superpower: I would speak and understand every language.

My closest thing to an actual superpower: Bet I can make you laugh!

My best food memory: I loved to pull up a chair whenever my grandmother would make biscuits. No recipe — she just eyeballed it and went by how it felt. For much of my life, I believed that biscuits were only for special occasions.

My kitchen is: My happy place. Small, well-stocked, and full of love.

Favorite saying: Michael Pollan said it best, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." I'm a huge fan of his books.

In my fridge now: Tons of fresh fruit and veggies — strawberries, peaches, pineapple, kale, spinach, carrots, peppers, salmon, leftover chicken, tortillas, eggs, some homemade hummus, and about eight different kinds of cheese. And of course butter, always.

My favorite things to cook: Tacos. Fun salads. Breakfast anything. Love to cook a whole spatchcock chicken!

A typical dinner: We like a lot of composed bowls and salads, when you can choose your own adventure. I love any meal that's "bar" style: tacos, salad bar, baked potato bar, hummus bar. A good graze board is clutch.

Favorite cuisine: Mexican and Italian. If I can only pick one, I could eat Mexican food every single day and never get sick of it.

Bucket list: Eat my way through Southeast Asia. Go on an African safari.

Best cook I know: My best friend, Jacqueline.

Try Jessica's recipe for Caribbean Carrot-Ginger Soup.

"I developed this recipe while in the Dominican Republic. Living in a small, rural beach town, I had to be resourceful with ingredients that were available and affordable. Carrots grow like crazy there, so this was an easy, delicious recipe that I used to make for my friends during the rainy season. It's the first recipe I really ever developed myself, and I still love it. Garnish as desired with microgreens, chopped chives, toasted sliced almonds, or chia seeds." —Jessica Lawson

two bowls of Caribbean Carrot Ginger soup topped with slivered almonds and microgreens
Brie Passano

Follow Jessica Lawson on Allrecipes.

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This article originally appeared in the February/March 2021 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.

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