“We are better people by bettering others.” – Molly Ritter
I’m a big believer in viewing food as a source of fuel, which is how I fell in love with Molly Ritter’s mission of fueling and healing people through healthy eating. Through her blog, Dump And Pray, Molly shares how she stays healthy and strong through proper nutrition without taking the fun out of food and eating.
Her passion for living a healthy life isn’t just limited to food and fitness. She donates her time and talents to several different organizations, including playing for Alzheimer’s Association‘s Blondes vs. Brunette’s annual fundraiser. As this week’s #WCW Spotlight, Molly shares where her passion for food and giving back comes from.
Me: What inspired you to start your blog and share your love of food with people outside your immediate circle?
Molly: Growing up in a foodie family, I have always been passionate about food, or at least opinionated about it! I love sharing recipes and would often find myself sending friends novel-long texts of ingredients and how-to’s. Over the summer, I started getting approached on a daily basis by friends as well as strangers, asking me what I do to stay in shape. Most would assume that I’m obsessive about the gym, but the reality is, I exercise three to four days a week, the rest is proper nutrition and fueling my body on a regular basis with uber healthy, delicious meals.
I see so many young women risking their health to try to achieve a certain image, and as an actor, I feel I have a responsibility to use my public image as a launch pad to give back, so I chose to create my blog, Dump & Pray, as a platform for good, vegetable-filled food, and self love.
Me: How did you come up with the name, Dump and Pray? Is there a significant story behind it?
Molly: The story behind Dump & Pray, comes from my mother. She is the most creative, hilarious cook I have ever encountered. She glances at a recipe, then makes her own version, full steam ahead, “dumping and praying,” no measurements, no guidelines, just an inspired, fun meal time experience. More often then not, I’ll hear a little chuckle as she haphazardly adds the wrong ingredient, followed by an, “Oops! Dump and pray!” I cook the same way.
Me: I love the story you share on your blog about your mom having a theme for each night of the week when it came to family dinners. Have you found that influence has carried over in any way as you create recipes?
Molly: My mom obviously was, and still is, a huge influence for me in the kitchen. I always admired the ease with which she put together meals. I’ve adopted a few of her tricks to make grocery shopping easier, like having a set grocery list, then getting creative at home to find news ways to eat the same things. This also keeps costs down and allows me to still maintain a veggie- filled diet.
My all time favorite recipe I’ve created so far would have to be Sweet Potato & Greek Yogurt Donuts. They are so good, and so easy, AND healthy, if you can believe it! I literally eat them every week. It was my first post, but I’m kind of tempted to repost it, they’re that good!
Me: Has charity and philanthropy always been something you’ve been passionate about? Or something that has developed later in life?
Molly: I think it’s always important to give back to the community, whether it’s monetary, or making sandwiches, or raising awareness. We are better people by bettering others. As kids, my mom had us volunteering at clothing banks, packing lunches, and playing music at retirement homes.
Our latest endeavor as a family, is to cook breakfast on Christmas morning for a women’s shelter in Colorado. Seeing these often battered, worn women, walk with such bravery when they’ve known such hardship, melts my heart and takes my breath away. We usually make my grandma’s cinnamon rolls, roasted potatoes, and an egg frittata.
My hope is that through my blog, I can share not only great food, but give the gift of health and a positive body image.
Me: Your love of food seems to come from a place of viewing it as nourishing and essential to remaining strong and healthy. It’s clear that you have a real passion for healing people through food and care. Do you think attitude has impacted your desire to give back in other ways as well?
Molly: This past year, I also participated in the Blondes vs. Brunettes powder puff football league to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. Going in to our first practice, I knew nothing of this disease and the devastating effects it has had on so many dear ones. I learned through my teammates and then from doing research, that a cure has yet to be found, but that by generating funds, we can aid in the research and process of caring for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. I also found it to be very inspiring to be around other young women who were so focused and dedicated to making a difference.
Me: What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve encountered so far in this experience of food blogging and sharing healthy eating lifestyle ,while also using your personal experiences to give back?
Molly: Dump & Pray went live November 1st. December 1st, I came down with a terrible cold/flu that lasted for two months. It was extremely hard to get myself out of bed every day, let alone try to create beautiful meals, photograph them, edit the photos, do write ups, then put together the blog posts. It was a huge setback, artistically, physically, and emotionally. I was beyond frustrated. I realized though, that my blog is a living, breathing art form, and that while I may want to post three times a week, that isn’t always possible. And the same goes for my readers. We all have a million things going on in our lives, and it’s important to remember to enjoy our passions, not make them a task. Time-management has been difficult. I may go to sleep with an idea that I’ll spend the next day blogging, only to wake up to four back to back auditions, for which, I have to remember, I am very blessed.
Me: What has been your favorite part of this experience so far? What has kept you motivated to keep going, despite all the set backs?
My favorite moment in this process so far, was when I received a text from my thirteen year old cousin Maggie, who I didn’t even know had my phone number, with a picture of her holding a tray of granola that she’d made from one of my recipes, and saying how much she enjoys reading and cooking from my blog. THAT is precisely what I hope to achieve: a teenage girl in middle America, laughing into the camera, proudly showing off the delicious food that she made, on track to live a happy, healthy life.
Q: What is the one piece of advice you would want to share with someone who wants to follow in your footsteps of using their own unique voice to give back?
My dad always says, “make a plan, but don’t fall in love with it.” When I was a senior in high school, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life, in hopes of narrowing down the field for the college application process. The list looked something like this:
Write a cookbook
Perform on Broadway
As you can see, I had a hard time deciding what to do. So I divided my goals and studies into decades, with the thought that things like art and cookbook writing could happen in later life once I’ve exhausted my more physically demanding goals.
But plans are just plans and the cookbook has taken the form of my blog, and has become a huge, and very meaningful part of my life. If I had stuck to my rigid plan of writing my cookbook in my seventies, I would have missed out on this incredible opportunity to share and give back. I’m so grateful for that reminder from my dad to stay flexible, while still staying true to myself and my goals.