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YouTube star Dzung Lewis on cooking for kids

Liz checks in with popular YouTube host, Dzung Lewis to discuss her new cookbook Honeysuckle. Dzung shares tips on how to cook for kids, talks about her eclectic food influences, and explains about how food has become a way for her to share her Vietnamese culture and her husband's Korean culture with their children.

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Liz Tenety: My grandma, my dad's mom, her birthday is Christmas Eve, December 24th. And in our family celebrating grandma's birthday on Christmas Eve has been one of the few traditions that we have. So every year for my entire life. We gather at about 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve at my grandma's house. And we usually have the same food.

I like live for the French onion dip that my aunt Anne makes. It's a bunch of all my cousins, my aunts and uncles. It's a ritual that, you know, I think about. Every year as that time comes around. And it's one that connects me to my, not only my family, but my past and every year we take a photo on couch with all the grandkids.

We're not a family with a lot of traditions, but this Christmas Eve annual event is a big one. I know that Christmas Eve at grandma's house. Isn't going to go on forever, but I'm 35. We've been doing it my whole life and it's practically forever in my mind. And I think about that, that a lot now, as a mom of four little kids that I want to create some simple traditions.

But ones that we really stick to ones that have meaning that connect my kids, not only to their family, but to their history, to their people and give them a place, a ritual, a tradition that they can return to.

Liz Tenety: Welcome to the motherly podcast. I am Liz Tenety the co-founder of Motherly and a mom of four myself. Today, we're talking to Dzung Lewis host of the super popular YouTube channel honeysuckle, which is a food and lifestyle channel that simplifies gourmet recipes and explorers, responsible beauty and design. Dzung is also the author of a new cookbook called The Honeysuckle Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Feel good Recipes to Live Deliciously. I was really happy to sit down with song and talk about her path to becoming a YouTube food star. How becoming a mother made her develop a more simplified approach to cooking and how foods become a way for her and her husband to share their cultures with their kids.

And Dzung also shared with me some easy cooking tips to keep kids happy and I need it all the kid and food advice that I could get!

Liz Tenety: Dzung Lewis. Welcome to the Motherly podcast.

Dzung Lewis: Thank you for having me.

Liz Tenety: So, this season, our theme is motherhood your way. So, what do you think makes your approach to motherhood unique?

Dzung Lewis: I mean, I have two kids, my daughter who's three years old. And then my son who is going to be nine months old and I mean, it's not too different from a lot of moms juggling a job.

I think the only difference is that we work from home full time. So, my husband and I, we have a business together and we film at home. So, our home studio is where we do most of our work and we kind of have to just work around our kids' nap time. I guess that's the only challenge or difference. But other than that, just juggling a career and being a good mom.

Liz Tenety: I think so many people could just relate to that. Do you contrast the way you're raising your kids with the way that you grew up? Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and what you learned about parenthood from your own childhood.

Dzung Lewis: My parents immigrated from Vietnam in 1975. And so. I was the first generation born in America for my family. My parents worked a lot. My dad, I was a mailman. My mom worked in tech and so their hours were just long. Hm. I spent a lot of time at babysitter's, uh, houses. I also went to Vietnamese school, so I would say it was very much focused on academics.

We didn't do sports. We didn't do like birthday parties. We didn't have like, friends play dates and stuff like that. And so, I feel like my childhood and upbringing is so different than what we want for the kids. Nate's background is a little bit different. He's half white, half Korean, and he had a very much… I guess you would say "normal" — but what's really normal? — upbringing. And so, I guess we're just trying our best to raise our kids to what we think is ideal. I think it's important for them to be socialized. I want them to participate in sports because it's so much better for their development. I mean, I'm such an introvert. I mean, you see me on camera, but in reality, like in real life, I am like…

Liz Tenety: Really YouTube star introvert? How does that work?

Dzung Lewis: Like, if you see me at an event, I'm just going to be standing in the corner. Just like trying really hard to try to strike up a conversation, but it like takes a lot for me to do that.

Liz Tenety: Wow.

Dzung Lewis: But again, it goes back to like my childhood where I was not socialized. I spent a lot of my time at home and that's where the cooking started. Like that's where it came from was just like, it was my outlet. It was my creative thing. I did it with my grandma. So yeah. I just want to be able to give my kids the freedom to like socialize and have like a normal integration with their peers.

Liz Tenety: Well, I do want to talk a bit about this introverted YouTube star life that you live! And you describe the cultural influence of your childhood and the way that you're trying to raise your kids somewhere along the way you went from this corporate job to kind of opposite. Tell our listeners what you were doing before and how you sort of built on this childhood being raised, you know, at least partly like cooking with your family and how you kind of came full circle on that.

Dzung Lewis: I went to a business school in Northern California. And I waited until the very last day before you had to announce your major to finally make a decision, I did not want to be doing what I wanted to, first of all, I wanted to go to culinary school, but my parents, when let me, because they said, yes, can't make a living off of that.

And just like, you know, Asian culture, you have to have like really secure stable job. I declared a finance major. I did the whole thing. I got a job in tech doing finance, and I actually really loved, um, my time at Invisalign, the people were great, but after a while, I was like, well, maybe if I worked somewhere else, it might be better hating it at that.

I got laid off thankfully. And I decided I'm not going to go back to tech. I'm not going to do finance. Meanwhile, while I was working at that company doing finance, Nate and I started our YouTube channel in 2009, um, for fun. We went to Sunset Magazine celebration weekend, which is kind of like this big festival where you see like celebrity chefs and all that stuff.

And I was so inspired. He had a camera and he was like, Hey, why don't we film a cooking show? YouTube is a thing. Now let's, let's do that. And I'm like, ooh, sounds fun. And we went back on our first ever episode. It was just pathetic. I'm like laughing the whole time, not taking myself seriously. So, we did 10 episodes.

My work got super demanding. And so I just couldn't take on that. And then, in 2012, I got laid off from my tech job and I decided, and I wasn't going to go back. We started up there channel again, just because it was something that kept us going. At the time people were beginning to have careers. Like Michelle Phan. It's like all these people just became… it became their careers. And I was like, wow, that's really cool. We didn't know much about YouTube yet. And we didn't know about making money off of it. Nate was a freelance photographer doing wedding videos. And I wanted, I was still focusing on finding another job, but I decided that I was going to go into something more lifestyle creative, maybe look into Pinterest, maybe do something fun.

And then I saw this listing for a marketing associate at Sunset Magazine. And I was like, Oh my gosh, full circle. I went for it. I worked under the president. And I ran the wine competition and, uh, it was the best I learned so much and it really helped me kind of formulate content for my YouTube channel as well, just because I had been in such like a non-creative space before that being here, watching the food editors, how they come up with content, how they like just the brand strategy for Sunset.

It was just so helpful for me and learning that. And then we were uploading to our channel at the same time. Ever since then, I've never missed a weekend since 2012.

Liz Tenety: So every weekend a video up.

Dzung Lewis: So, when we filmed at Nate's Aunt's house. If you watch the earlier videos, it was like this beautiful blue kitchen.

That's not our kitchen. They would be going to church. We would come into their house, set up for filming. And by the time they got home at noon, we had a breakdown we were done. So, we did that every single weekend until I had my own space. And then we moved here.

Liz Tenety: You know, for over a decade you have been creating food, content, cooking content, and sharing with the public, the world, what you're creating, I'm curious, you know, based on what people like to watch, what's done really well. What have you learned about people's interest in cooking where it's fun for them, where they struggle, what you love about that work.

Dzung Lewis: Oh, I mean, I love YouTube because it's been such a two-way conversation and you just learning about my audience at the same time, making videos for them.

When I first started YouTube, so much of the content was based on what they wanted me to make and seeing what's popular out there. It like button me, we did the enemy's food. We did the French macrons because those were so popular because people were asking me like it's based off of what my audience wants.

And as my [life evolved and I became a mom, my cooking style too, I have to make sure that it's fast, easy nutritious kids, randomly checking all those boxes, you know. So, I think, having been on the platform for so long, my viewers have grown with me. I still get comments where people say, I've been following you since you were 10,000 subscribers. And to see how you've grown, like I'm still following you.

Liz Tenety: And now you have a million followers, almost a million.

Dzung Lewis: I mean, it's been a long road to this number and to have someone follow me back from when I was 10,000 doing like. These crazy videos where I'm laughing a lot, but it also tells me that my audience is growing with me and that they're still finding my content useful, which is really, really, really nice.

And it tells me that I'm actually still helpful and valuable to them. So, yeah.

Liz Tenety: I want to talk a little bit about the influences on your cooking style. So, for those who don't know, the brand is honeysuckle and you create these beautiful, but like they are achievable, right. But they're fun to cook and colorful meals that are accessible, but you're also learning something along the way to talk about the cultural influences, because it's not only that you grew up in a Vietnamese American household, but that you watch these French cooking shows. You have a really interesting story of, of, you know, the influences on your life and how it approaches your work in the kitchen.

Dzung Lewis: So, I learned a lot of my cooking skills from my grandma and she grew up in Vietnam under the French influence and you know, so she knew a lot yeah, of French cooking. When we would spend our times in the morning watch or Saturday mornings watching like Jacques Pepin and Martin Yan, and she knew how to make all those things. At least from Jacques Pepin show. Yan Can Cook was something new for us, so we could learn together and then recreate that after. And so, I grew up eating stuff like duck l'orange or like cow tongue, you know, like a normal five or seven year old would not normally eat. But to me it was delicious. Food was so, yeah, good. And I remember when my parents finally let me cook my first ever dish that I learned how to make on my own, of course, in a microwave back then, I recreated it for my cookbook. It's the tomato provencal. So, it is just like tomatoes with some breadcrumbs and cheese and stuff. A little bit more gourmet in the book, but that was, it was what I learned how to make.

And my grandma made something that accompanied that dish and, you know, it was really fun for me to grow up cooking with her because it tasted so good. It was fun. I spent time with her. So that's where a lot of the influences… For Vietnamese cooking, my dad and I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen as well.

He came home first from work. And so, during middle school and high school, and we always have Vietnamese for dinner, like having American food or French food was always like a weekend thing. And it was like a treat, but every night was Vietnamese food, rice, protein, a vegetable. So, like stir fry and then a soup.

Like that was what we had for family meals. So, I learned how to make Vietnamese -- like home-style cooking from my dad. And at one point, he was sick and he had heart issues. And so, we had to change up our diet and Vietnamese food has a lot of sodium, like fish sauce. You use a lot of like various things. So, I had to learn how to cook it in a healthier style. And I think that really helped shape my cooking. Now that you see on the YouTube videos where I try to make it really healthy.

Liz Tenety: You talk about your dad. And you talked about your grandma. Yeah. You know, it, it has me thinking a lot about how food traditions are passed down and how they're maybe not passed down anymore.

So many amazing things that have happened from the world, opening up to women and having all these options to be out in the world. Do any job, have all the ambition. But speaking for myself, I think that. You know, somewhere along the way, this idea of passing down the culture by way of food became less prominent in our family's life. And you are someone who has brought your cultural background and infusing it with your husbands into just like mainstream culture in a fresh way through this YouTube channel. Is there intention behind any of that, about how women have maintain these cultural and culinary traditions, in many cases in what you're doing?

Dzung Lewis: Okay. So, I will be the first to admit that I'm not very good at speaking Vietnamese. And so, it's really important for me to teach my kids about my culture. Nate is on the other side of the spectrum where he's half Korean and he doesn't speak a lick of Korean. He can't even read it. He doesn't understand it. And so those traditions weren't passed down to them. And so, for me, I find it really hard to be able to explain to them about what this is means, like what certain words mean Korean because I can't, and I think it's so important for them to maintain that just because my parents taught us so much about. Keeping our culture alive. I mean, I had to go to Vietnamese school every Sunday.

Liz Tenety: Tell me about Vietnamese school for, for those of us who didn't have to go to Vietnamese school.

Dzung Lewis: It was pretty much like regular school. You have homework, you have to learn how to read. You have to learn how to write. You learn about the history I can read. I can write. Speaking… I mean, it's funny because when I went back to Vietnam with my parents, like 15 years ago, I met my cousins there and they're like, ha ha, you speak funny. I'm like, what do you mean?

I always thought like, I could speak well! And I can communicate with my parents. Still speak Vietnamese to my mom, my dad passed, but like, I could still speak the, to my mom and she understands, we speak Vietnamese… so, it is what it is. I'm working on it. People can understand what you sound like. That's good enough, but I can read and write and what I'm trying to get at is like, I want to pass down my traditions, my parents' traditions down to our kids. And the best way that I know how to do that, at least on the Vietnamese or the Korean side is introducing them to food because food is like, it's.

Our food has so much history. I can tell them about their grandparents, how we used to make this together. Like my kids are never going to be able to meet grandpa because he passed and they're never going to be able to meet grandma on Nate's side because she passed before they were born, like passing down those stories, like how his mom used to buy kimchi every weekend.

You know, it ties back to our family history and our culture. My parents have been through a lot, like immigrating over here. They'll never know what it means. I don't know what it means to do all that, but respecting and honoring our culture through food, I feel like is the one way that I could continue our history.

Liz Tenety: Watching a lot of your YouTube videos preparing for our conversation, you mentioned you're introverted Youtuber, which is not an oxymoron, but you, you have such a friendly tone and it's seems like you are just totally in your element when you're cooking that you're, you seem like you're alive. You make it very welcoming to cook. But I was reflecting on that because, you know, I have four kids. I work full time and I wasn't raised by cooking people. Like we were sort of microwavers, not really cooking… and to me like cooking is a chore, but I think of, I know women like you, who, who seemed to see cooking for their family, not all the time, but a lot of times, and maybe during special times, like the weekend or a Friday night meal as an act of love and something that they look forward to and a source of rejuvenation and meaning. So to those of us who don't have that relationship to cooking right now, help me understand and step into your shoes of how you see food and cooking for your family as pleasureful,

Dzung Lewis: it's funny because. Cooking is a onetime where I get to escape. I don't get a lot of time as a mom. And I'm sure you can relate to that. And so, when I'm chopping vegetables, no one is bothering me. I have a knife in my hand… no, just kidding! But no, like, like it's dangerous. I don't want my kids around me, right?

I've always found chopping vegetables to be so therapeutic. And that's probably one of my favorite parts about cooking is just like the mundane act of prepping. Because I'm alone with my thoughts. I'm focusing on cooking. I'm chopping stuff up that I need, but at that moment nobody's bothering me. So maybe for like that five, 10 minutes where I'm prepping vegetables, that is my alone time.

I don't really find… like showering. Like Nate tells me like showering is my alone time. I'm like, no, I'm trying to get that the heck out of there as fast as possible. You know, there, there could be, see that escape that you can find it, especially with the pandemic where everyone was forced to be at home.

And I feel like so many people became appreciative -- I mean, that's a lot of the people that were just over it just don't get me wrong -- Forced into this act of cooking for yourself or for your family. And whether you found it enjoyable or not, it was something that you kind of had to face and kind of had to learn to do.

And the good thing is so many people came onto my channel to tell me, like, I just found your channel because I have to cook and these recipes are so easy and I can do it. And another thing is like, when you're trying to challenge yourself to do something new, for me, cooking has always come easy, but, okay, so for me, drawing is really hard. So, when my daughter asked us to do like, draw her Peppa pig or something, I'm like, I can't draw, I can't do that. Like, but I'm forced to do it because. She's really asking, mama, can you do this for me? I'm like, I'm not going to say no.

So, I'm going to try my best at it. But when you're challenged to do something and you give it a good shot, the end result could be really surprising. Like I never knew I could draw anything, but like, Hey, actually looks decent. So, it is the same for cooking. It's rewarding to try new recipe to challenge yourself in the kitchen. And at the end of the day, you can eat it, which is even better.

Liz Tenety: A friend once said to me, like, even if you screw up, you can just throw some cheese on itAnd it will taste good. You know, um, you know, thinking of you describing the chopping as therapeutic, um, two things came to mind, one that. We all live such like overstimulated digital lives.

We've got our phones all the time or have email. We have FaceTime all this stuff coming in, and there's definitely something about being in the kitchen that like when your hands are wet and you're not on your phone, you know, just like it helps you get a break from that. But also for me, I relate to that in cleaning, just like when I commit to like, okay, I'm going to start this room. I'm going to clean it up. And I did this like all day, every day, but that is therapeutic of setting things. And creating order where there is disorder. I think they're interesting creative arts that are like, satisfying. I can't solve all the problems in the world, but like, I can take the trash out, you know, or I can put the toys away and you can make a delicious meal for your kids.

Dzung Lewis: Yeah. For cleaning example, like once things are organized, you feel like you can breathe again. And does it, isn't that such an amazing thing.

Liz Tenety: Can we talk a little bit about how your cooking style has changed since you've become a mom? My oldest child is about to turn eight. I started out like. You know, Oh, well my kids will never eat ice cream will never eat simple carbs, all of that stuff.

And then we've like, everyone else you evolve. I'm sure you get asked all the time, but I'm still eager to hear. I know our listeners are too. What are the ways that you build healthy habits into the foundation of the way that you feed your kids and build their relationship to food?

Dzung Lewis: So I gave her everything under the sun when she was beginning to eat solids and she was so good at eating vegetables, she ate everything, turn to something snapped. I don't know it was, but she refused to eat anything green. And I was such a struggle for me because I'm like, why won't you eat your vegetables? Even carrots. She won't even eat steamed, roasted, however, and she used to eat all of that before.

And so, I started making some smoothies just to make sure I was getting her veggies in. And she really liked it because it was made with fruit. I'll give her fruit and she'll like, finish it off. Now, at dinner, we give her greens and whether she eats it or not, at least it's always there.

I'll always encourage her. And we'll always do like, Hey vegetable, cheers, broccoli, cheers. We're making some progress. She's starting to take bites of it. She won't eat the whole thing. Obviously, the full serving won't ever disappear, but she's starting to become aware that it's always going to be there and that we always encourage her to eat it. And hopefully it's something that she can overcome soon. My, my hope is that once Rowan starts eating the same food, as her, she'll see like, Oh, he's eating it, I'll eat it too. Like, that competition,

Liz Tenety: Sibling rivalry for broccoli.

Dzung Lewis: Exactly. I'm hoping like he will peer pressure her into eating.

Liz Tenety: Do you eat the same meal as a family. Do you have any traditions around, like, we always sit down for dinner together. What does that look like in your home?

Dzung Lewis: We really try to sit down for dinner together and Nate has a different diet. He fast. He does the fasting until however long. And then he counts calories. He's like very strict about it.

Me, on the other hand, I eat whenever I get a chance to, and. I mean lately, it hasn't been the healthiest. So, I'm really, really trying to have stuff ready in the fridge so that I could just either heat up or just grab a salad and eat that. Because if I get hangry, I find myself just like snacking on stuff that I shouldn't be eating or that's not good for lunch. So, I'm really trying to just have stuff prepared and ready to go so that I don't get to that point for the kids. Well, I'm preparing things for four different people at the house at this point, they're all different. Cause Rollie is still eating solids. I'm introducing him to really soft solids that he can do, like baby led weaning on, but I'm also making blended stuff for him.And then Aerocy is super picky. So, I'll try to do as like healthy things for her. So, I don't always eat that stuff with her. I don't eat the same foods. So, I've never used to buy packaged salads or prepared meats or, and stuff like that. But trader Joe's has amazing salads and meat stuff that I can just easily heat up. And that's kind of been my thing lately. And then dinner will always make something fresh for dinner.

Liz Tenety: I definitely latch onto the idea that you mentioned around having things prepared. So, like one little trick that I figured out with four kids is that I have to prepare breakfast for me and the kids the night before. So, I set up my coffee because I cannot function without my coffee. I mean, trust me, I cannot function without my coffee.

And then I set up breakfast. So, I'll, I'll get little parfait cups ready. I will make a batch of oatmeal. Like, that's about as fancy as I get, but I like, I am not capable of watching for kids getting them ready for the day and cooking them breakfast. So, I always have to prep their breakfast the night before. That's my one trick that has really helped.

Dzung Lewis: Do they eat the same thing?

Liz Tenety: No. No. So, one of my children has like sensory issues. So, his diet has gotten a lot more narrow as he's gotten older. He used to eat absolutely everything. And now we've gotten like a narrower and narrower. And so he'll eat like kind of bland carbs, like oatmeal.

He really into oatmeal and he will eat oatmeal forever. You know, he was eating like a can of beans yesterday and like, thrilled about it. That's like his love language. Bland carbs. My other kids, you know… I have an almost four and six and they they're pretty good.

They love parfaits, like yogurt with some fruit on top. We do that pretty regularly, but my husband loves that. I mean, you can see, like I'm a vegetarian, they eat meat. It is a circus! And then, feeding the baby and we also have a puppy. So, that's awesome. But anyway, my one trick is like, I prepare it… the parfait or the oatmeal the night before, so I can just serve it instead of having to also cook it in the morning.

So. Can you give our moms listening like three tricks to just simplify mealtime or to get ahead of the, , I am constantly feeding my kids cycle that we feel like we all end up in.

Dzung Lewis: Yeah. You know, that's funny that you mentioned that you'll cook up oatmeal the night before, and then the par phase, because in my mind I was thinking, have you tried overnight oats?

Liz Tenety: Yes. And I know like you have just for our listeners, like if you want to feel inspired, Dzung has this overnight oats rainbow series where you try all different flavors and colors of overnight oats. So those look amazing. In terms of myself, I've tried them, but we always buy the wrong kind -- like we always buy, steel cut. And I'm supposed to use rolled oats?I never had the right kind.

Dzung Lewis: I mean, so for example, overnight oats are life savers. I feel like they are filling, they're delicious. And I come up with like a hundred different types of combinations and you don't get bored of them just using like seasonal fruits or like chocolate or peanut butter or whatever, but like changing the flavors up for certain things. Like the base of things can be really interesting for the kids. They could make it something new. I used to make a lot of things from scratch, but I've given myself.

A little bit of grace and have accepted that. It's okay to give them case a deal with cheese and ham. They're still getting a lot of nutrients and they're full they're fed.

And so, like I rely on these types of things to get me through really, really busy days, especially actually filming days. We don't always have time to make them like really fresh foods. Just like, make sure that whatever you're serving, for example, like quesadilla with cheese and ham. I always give some fresh fruit or something like precut fruit is even better.

So, three things that I recommend: precut fruit. Do it yourself, or buy it up, just so you can have it ready to give to them. If they're hungry, pre-packaged stuff. I am a fan now, I didn't use to be, but I like them just because they help get through lunch. And then, also if you're cooking the night before, make a little bit of extra stuff so that you can give it to them in a new way.

So, for example, if you're making burgers from the night before, have some ground meat ready, so you could toss it into a pasta the next day, so that you already have the ground meat or like enchiladas become like enchilada soup or something. So, Aerocy doesn't like to eat the same thing twice. So, I'm going to try to find a way to turn something that was like that we had the night before into something totally new, like fried rice or whatever, have you.

Liz Tenety: So, if a listener hasn't watched your using to channel before, and you have like tens of millions of views, so there's a good chance they have, but if they haven't, especially if they're a busy mom, are there, let's see, say three episodes that you think would really help with meals that would help the lives of busy moms.

Dzung Lewis: Okay, so if you guys are new to my channel, I would say the three videos that would be really helpful would be…. So, I made these videos with the idea that was catering to our life. At the time it was back in January, Rollie was three or four months old. For the videos that we create, we always try to apply it to whatever's going on to our life at the moment.

So, I have frozen ingredient recipes, three easy meals. And in that video, I take, for example, frozen salmon and I create it with some prepackage like potatoes and green beans from Trader Joe's and roast it. But we turn those salmon into like a honey mustard glaze thing where you still get like the fresh cooked, but you're using the frozen and the vegetables to help make the side. And it's a one sheet pan thing. Also, I use frozen pot stickers with miso ginger broth that I bought at trader Joe's, throw it in with some fresh vegetables and there you have a pot sticker soup. So, stuff like that is really easy. Another video and on my channel, you'll find a lot of, videos where I make five different things so that you get a lot of ideas for one topic. So, we have like eggs, five ways like scrambled eggs. So, in that video, you'll find like eggs or with rice, which is how I grew up eating eggs with rice and soy sauce, but done in a really yummy way. Or you'll find a scrambled egg eggs with like a grain bowl.

You could put it with like some vegetables, roasted vegetables have like a really fresh take on that. And then also one pot meals. I love one pot meals. Cause it's fast. It has everything in there. You have meat, you have your carbs, you have your vegetables in there and it's tastes good. So, like our one pot pasta video is also really fun. I'm going to give three different ways to, to inspire you, to make your own pasta.

Liz Tenety: Thank you so much. I can't wait to check those out. I, especially, like, I'm not a great rule follower. So, I think one of the problems I have with like cooking is that like, is it really like one cup of this and half, like, I just kind of want to improvise more.

So, I like that your approach is a little bit forgiving, you know, in the way that you like teach people to use what they really have there.

Dzung Lewis: So, yeah, for sure. Especially again, going back to the whole pandemic. Like I had to ration, our ingredients, because we weren't going to this store as much. And so, I had to use what we had and I would just cook on the fly and I do it based on taste anyways. And so, if this one, like the rice one pot, rice looks a little bit dry. Well, I'll just add more water or whatever.

Liz Tenety: You've talked about the family you grew up in and how you kind of came full circle all from, you know, learning from your grandma, another learning from your father, then kind of going off into the finance world, coming now to have this massive YouTube, following a book, coming out a cookbook and really owning what cooking and food represents in your own life about passing on your family's traditions and that of your husband. So, I'm wondering when you step back and look at the role of food and cooking you and to your family, what does it all mean to you?

Dzung Lewis: Oh, wow. You know, it's funny because food and cooking is my career now.

And it's, it's funny. It's like, it's how we put bread on the table, but it's also a really fun. And it is a family thing too. She has her own little kitchen in our kitchen. You know, it was like fake toy ones, and now she's really starting to get into it. She loves cooking and baking with me. If I'm starting to like bake something, she'll come in and she'll be like, I'll mix, I'll mix, mix, mix, mix, which is our tagline on the show, so if she loves to do that, like, she'll ask me if she can make brownies or help us in some way. I won't let her like cut stuff. But she has like a wooden knife that she'll cut playdough and she'll like, try to mimic me and stuff like that. So not only is it our job, but it's become kind of like a family activity for all of us to really enjoy and love. And I love that. I could show her that cooking isn't a chore. It's fun. You get to create something. And if you don't want to eat this this day, one day, you can make something else. That's just as delicious. Like use your hands, use your imagination. It's like a sensory thing for her to, to learn, but it's become so much more than just making dinner and putting food on the table. It's our career. It's our lives. It's so much of who we are.

Liz Tenety: Okay. So, at Motherly, we believe that motherhood brings out our superpowers. Um, and I know that, oftentimes, there are things that we didn't even know were there until we became mom. So, what do you think your superpower is?

Dzung Lewis: I didn't think that I could care for this many people and do an okay job at it. I mean, I was that girl that liked to go out a lot. I used to hang out with my friends after work, having kids, like I mentioned earlier was not a thought. Like there was one point in my life where I said, I don't want kids. Like, I don't want to be pregnant. I don't want to push something out like that. It just seems so hard to me.

And I never thought that I could do it. And so, once I finally became a mom that confidence to be able to take care of someone and like, see them grow in this way to become this little person that could talk. And now could like help me cook in the kitchen. It's just like, I feel like it gave me the confidence.

Liz Tenety: Well, Dzung Lewis. Thank you so much for joining us and for the wonderful conversation on the Motherly podcast.

Dzung Lewis: Thank you for having me. It was a great conversation with you.

Liz Tenety: So, Grant, What's your favorite food that mom or dad

Grant: Cooks eggs.

Liz Tenety: How do you like your eggs?

Grant: Yolk-a-fied.

Liz Tenety: And what does Yolk-a-fied mean? Do you mean, it has the yolk and the white – so it is yellow and white?

Grant: Yep!

Liz Tenety: that's it for our show this week. Thank you so much Dzung and thank you for listening. Please spread the word about the Motherly Podcast. We've had so many amazing guests and touched on a lot of really diverse and interesting topics this season. I can't wait for you to hear what we have planned, and I can't wait for you to listen.

So, if you can please leave us a review on Apple podcasts. It takes 20 seconds. It's really easy to do. I read every single one and I take all of your, the feedback to heart, but most importantly, it helps other mamas discover our show.

The Motherly Podcast is produced by Jennifer Bassett with editing help from Seaplane Armada. Our music is from the blue dot sessions and I'm host, Liz Tenety. Thank you so much for listening.

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Hosted by Liz Tenety

Liz is an award-winning journalist and editor, and the co-founder of Motherly. A former Washington Post editor, she thrives on all things digital community + social media strategy. She's passionate about helping to provide women with more support, (and way less judgment), on the journey through motherhood. This podcast is an extension of her commitment to hosting honest conversations about modern motherhood. Liz resides outside NYC with her husband, two sons, one daughter and one amazing au pair.

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