#26: Erica Nkansah – This African Cooks Blog
Erica Nkansah Podcast Transcript
Neil Dudley: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Pederson’s Farms podcast. We are so excited you’re here. We appreciate you joining us. And we look forward to sharing these conversations with thought leaders from our industry. They’re going to paint a picture from every perspective – consumer, customer, vendor, employee, and peer – that I think is going to be super valuable, and we’re really excited to share. So, thanks for tuning in. Remember don’t tune out, and grab life by the bacon.
All right, everybody, we’re back again here with Erica Nkansah on the Pederson’s Farms Podcast to learn some more about where your food comes from, what Erica does with Pederson’s and what she thinks about Pederson’s, what her story is. I think she’s just a beautiful person that we want to introduce you to, make sure you have a chance to learn from her. And without further ado, I could ramble on, I’m not going to try to tell you everything there is to know about Erica, we’ll let her do it. So, Erica, welcome to the show. By the way, hi everybody out there on YouTube. We are also recording this, so it’ll be out there in audio format and video format. Erica, tell us a little bit about who you are. I think that story is just really unique and fun, so I’d like everybody to get to hear that about you.
Erica Nkansah: So, my name is Erica, obviously. We’ll start with where I’m from. So, I’m from West Africa. I was born in Ghana. I left when I was probably about eight years old and then I moved to Europe, the Netherlands to be exact. And then I lived there for a couple of years, and then my dad moved us over, me and my sister and my brother, to the US when I was I think in the seventh grade or something.
Neil Dudley: Oh my gosh. So, really quickly, I mean, I’ve never lived that experience. What was that like? I can’t imagine moving to a new country in the seventh grade. Like everybody knows sixth, seventh, eighth, there’s a lot of stuff happening in a human’s life at that age. What was that like?
Erica Nkansah: Well, I had already moved from one country, so I went from Africa to Europe, which I really loved, learned to speak Dutch. And I was speaking fluently, but not so much anymore because I don’t use it.
Neil Dudley: Right. I spoke Spanish pretty good at one time in my life, and now it is very, very broken. I think I could pick it back up if I was kind of forced into the situation for an extended amount of time. But yeah, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Erica Nkansah: That is so true, yes. So, I still speak a little bit, but not as fluently. So yes, when I was in seventh or eighth grade, I moved here. So sometimes when you’re in Africa, you have like a different view of America, basically.
Neil Dudley: I think that’s great. I want to hear about that. Like as an African, well, what do you think, what was the view of America prior to actually being here?
Erica Nkansah: I mean, you watch TV, you learn about like the foods and the music, like rap music, pop music, how people dress like a lot more different, snow, cold weather in general. When I was little, I remember thinking that America, like you would go on the street and there you go, there is money on the trees. But I was a little kid, so I really didn’t know any-
Neil Dudley: The thought, perspective, a picture in your mind what it’s like. I think we all have to watch ourselves a little bit in how I have pictures of places I’ve never been and cultures I’ve never been involved with that is just dreamed up. It’s not real, it’s not my actual experience. It’s only what I’m guessing about from whatever I might see on social media or learn from talking to somebody.
Erica Nkansah: Television.
Neil Dudley: We all have to kind of audit our thought processes through that lens. Just like, okay, cool, do I really know what I’m thinking here? Or somebody said once don’t always believe everything you think.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah. That’s why, like for me, I think it’s really important to get to know people from all walks of life, like all cultures. I love learning about different cultures, different types of cuisine. And just getting to know people, making friends from all walks of life. So, yeah.
Neil Dudley: So, when you came to America from Europe, where, what part of America did you land in?
Erica Nkansah: I’m in Michigan.
Neil Dudley: There we go. Okay so, hey, everybody up north. That’s why you mentioned snow.
Erica Nkansah: Oh gosh, yes. Last week we had like I think 11 inches or so. And I work about 40 minutes from my house on a dry day. Let’s just say I didn’t make it to work that day.
Neil Dudley: Well, I’m telling you, in Texas, which is where I’m at, for those of you that don’t know, we had like an inch of snow and schools shut down for two days. I mean, that’s the difference.
Erica Nkansah: You guys are totally not used to that at all.
Neil Dudley: Totally. And we had a kind of major winter storm last year, and so that’s really fresh in everybody’s memory that that might happen again. And it won’t happen-
Erica Nkansah: You don’t use salt on the road, right?
Neil Dudley: No, we don’t have the equipment or the salt. I mean, we’re not prepared for winter weather like Northern states are. Like you go to Colorado, Michigan, I don’t know, just name any of them that, sure, deal with a lot of that precipitation, snow, winter weather, cold temperatures, well, that’s their life. They’re prepared for it. We’re just not here.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah. I am not a big fan of the cold. I can tell you that. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, I do not like being cold, and I still get like anxiety about driving in the snow.
Neil Dudley: Have you ever like spun out and wrecked?
Erica Nkansah: Oh, gosh, you should see me when I drive. I’m like so anxious when it’s snowing. When I have to drive to work, I have to like mentally prepare and I grip the steering wheel just like this.
Neil Dudley: Well, you’re stressed when you get to work, even. Like my shoulders will be sore because I’m like so stressed out and scared.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah, I’m happy to make it to work. Then I have to think about the drive home. It’s like never-ending.
Neil Dudley: Okay so, you’re mentioning work. Now I know you from Instagram and social media and the things you do in that realm, but what do you- you must do something else. What is that?
Erica Nkansah: So, growing up, I always wanted to get into medicine, like my whole life I wanted to be a pediatrician. I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon actually when I was younger. Yeah, so I started off college, like pre-med.
Neil Dudley: Wait a second. Why specifically pediatric surgeon?
Erica Nkansah: I love kids.
Neil Dudley: But like you didn’t have a surgery as a kid and think, wow, that changed my life?
Erica Nkansah: No, I really just wanted to be able to help children. I’m like passionate about kids.
Neil Dudley: Do you have kids?
Erica Nkansah: I have one daughter.
Neil Dudley: Well, congratulations.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah. She’s six years old. She’s very sassy and strong-willed. And loves to cook.
Neil Dudley: All right, great. So anyways, I cut you off. You wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. What are you actually? A pediatric-?
Erica Nkansah: I am a nurse. I am an OB nurse, so I still work with newborns, but I also work with their moms too. So, usually after the patient delivers in the labor and delivery, after two hours, they come over to our side and they stay there till they go home. So, there’s like a lot of educating and stuff involved with being a nurse on an OB floor because a lot of them, well, some of our patients don’t know how to take care of their baby if it’s their first baby.
Neil Dudley: Sure. I mean, I’ve been there. Our first baby, we’re like yeah, uh, what do we do? I mean, there’s so much new stuff happening. It’s changing a diaper, it’s breastfeeding, it’s all the different stuff that comes along with thinking about taking care of this now new life. So, hey, big clap for you, big thank you. Really, I think the nurses and the people, like our health community, health care community is so under appreciated. Maybe they’re more appreciated now after COVID has come along and really shined the light on a group of people that have to go right into the fire without a choice. So really thank you for that.
Erica Nkansah: It was a very anxious time for me when it begun. So, I’m a lot better now.
Neil Dudley: Tell me a little bit why. Why was it making you anxious? And see, this conversation is for the listeners to get to know you, and eventually we’ll come around to how do you like Pederson’s products, and we worked together a little bit and those things. But I’m really curious, like I think other people have probably been scared by COVID too. What scared you about it?
Erica Nkansah: Well, first we didn’t really know much about it. You just know that there is this new virus that’s like deadly, basically. That’s what we’re seeing all over TV. The hospitals were packed. We were afraid to go to work because we didn’t know if we’re going to be exposed to it or not. And like bring it back home to our family. So, for me, that’s where my anxiety was coming from. Just like, I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to bring it home. I don’t want to bring anything home to my six-year-old daughter, but at the time she was four, but yeah. To my daughter, to my husband, or just in general. Just we were all like just feeling really, really stressed. But gradually once we started knowing more about COVID and how to kind of protect ourselves better, I’m feeling okay. I’m feeling good.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, sure. I mean, time always helps a little bit because you feel like, okay, now I’ve experienced the reality of this. When it’s just new, nobody knows the answer, everybody’s scrambling, you can hear the worst side of the equation is immediate death. The other side is it doesn’t matter, why are you even scared? So, it’s such a frantic kind of mind space.
Erica Nkansah: But we also kind of know what we see in the hospital. So it’s different from someone who’s outside of the hospital versus someone who works with and is inside the hospitals like daily. So yeah.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, sure. All right, so and my mind is just spinning right now. I think you mentioned anxiety. Does that tie to your food and cooking and passion for that? Okay, let’s explore that a little bit.
Erica Nkansah: That ties into me starting Whole30. Yeah, just having anxiety, having like joint pain, muscle pain, trying to figure out what was going on with me health-wise, being like- I was like super restless after I had my daughter, just not figuring out what was going on with me. I went to the doctor. I had all this testing done.
Neil Dudley: Do you think that was postpartum stuff? Postpartum depression.
Erica Nkansah: I didn’t have that. No, I didn’t have that. Just in general, I think I was just like really anxious about being a new mom and I wasn’t sleeping well. I was sleeping with my baby in the bed while I tell people not to do that. And it was a lot easier said than done. So, I was just like highly anxious about that. And I just kind of spiraled a little bit.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. I mean, you’re not telling a story that’s all that unique. I mean, it is to you, but I know I didn’t experience it from a female perspective, but from a male perspective, like there’s just nerves in having a child now and anxiety and the truth of how much food and diet affects that is so important. It’s a truth that needs to be talked about as much as possible. And this is kind of a great opportunity for us to do that. So, you dove into Whole30. What did you learn?
Erica Nkansah: Well, so I did my first Whole30 in 2018 after trying to figure everything out. When I did my first set or reset, I felt so good. Basically, everything that I was feeling was kind of like going away. I had more energy, less anxious. My joint pain went away, so that was a plus. And I was eating better. I was staying out of the restaurants most of the time, and also, I found the Whole30 community, and they’re super great and super supportive.
Neil Dudley: Yes, that is so good. And I’ve heard, I think it’s worth mentioning, or I’m curious your thoughts about this – well, is that just a placebo effect? Like you’ve changed something now in your life, and so all these things get fixed. What would you say to somebody that says, ah, I’m not sure that you have to do a Whole30, that is a mental thing?
Erica Nkansah: I mean, that’s just something, each person has to kind of just figure that out for themselves. So, I researched Whole30 before I actually went for it. I was like mentally ready to make a change in my life. I don’t feel like it’s a placebo effect at all because whenever I eat the foods that I stopped eating, like my symptoms come back. So, I don’t think it is. And I love to eat like pizza sometimes, and I have a big thing with dairy. My body does not like dairy at all. I’ll eat pizza, but basically when I eat pizza, I know what’s going to happen. My joints are going to hurt. I’m going to feel kind of like my stomach’s going to hurt. So, I kind of know what happens when I do it. So, I just do it with caution.
Neil Dudley: I mean, I think that’s a great insight for those people out there trying to figure it out. We all have to figure it out ourselves. There’s no perfect answer for everybody. It’s different for everybody. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of pizza. I mean, I think Melissa puts it that way a lot. Just, hey, it’s food freedom. Now you understand how your body is going to react to these changes.
Erica Nkansah: And is it worth it? Sometimes it is.
Neil Dudley: Oh my gosh, that’s so true. Sometimes not so much. I’m doing this thing called 75 Hard, so I haven’t drank any alcohol for now going on 75 days. I started in late December. It’s two workouts a day. It’s drink a gallon of water a day. It’s read 10 pages of a book. Anyways, I’m learning so much about, wow, I mean, Whole 30 cuts out alcohol too. And I’ve done a couple Whole30s, but they were just for 30 days. And I think I focused more on the food than realizing the alcohol had a huge effect on me. It’s not that I drink a lot, but just a couple of glasses of wine at night or on the weekends watching the game, drinking some beer. I don’t miss it that much. I think I feel a little better not with that.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah. I think that’s how it is with like sugar, how she talks about the sugar dragon. Like when I did my first Whole30 nothing- I was not cutting off sugar. And then like when you did the reintroduction, like anything that was sweet tasted like extra sweet to me. Yeah, so definitely.
Neil Dudley: Melissa was on the podcast. She was actually our very first guest.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah, I remember, that was a good interview.
Neil Dudley: We talked a little bit about how once you get off sugar, almonds are sweet, strawberries are very sweet. You realize, wow, a lot of this food is naturally in it’s just natural, fresh state very sweet. When you don’t have the cover-up of sugar in every single thing you eat.
Erica Nkansah: I think that like, I don’t know, people are used to having a lot of sugar in everything basically. So yeah, I think that’s the number one struggle for most people when they want to do the Whole30, giving up sugar and alcohol.
Neil Dudley: Okay. So, tell us a little bit about your social media presence and how you got started doing that and what your goal is, if you have a goal. Tell everybody where to go learn some more about you or follow you or pay attention and be a part of your journey.
Erica Nkansah: So, I started my blog in 2016, and when I started it, it wasn’t- I was just creating recipes that were like I was making bread, I was making cakes, like nothing to do with Whole30 whatsoever. And the blog was actually started by my husband. He set it up for me and he was just like, “Just go for it. I think you are a great cook. I think you should just do it.” So, I went and I did it. But after I did my first Whole30, I mostly turned my blog to focus mostly on Whole30 paleo-based foods and recipes. So, it’s called This African Cooks, thisafricancooks.com. And when you go on there, you’ll find Whole30 recipes, you’ll find some old recipes that are more food freedom, and then a lot of paleo recipes too. And now with the new plant based Whole30, I’m going to be putting some of those up too.
Neil Dudley: Oh awesome. So, you’re doing some plant-based- Tell me a little bit about your thoughts about plant-based Whole30. What do you- just what is the purpose of it? Is it to not exclude the community that is staying away from meat? Talk to me a little about that.
Erica Nkansah: There are some people that are plant-based and they- I know that Whole30 used to have like a- they have in the book a part about, and on the website, a part having to do with plant-based eating, but I know they just rolled this one out, which like a completely different program from the original Whole30. And I believe you’re not supposed to combine the two, like I know somebody asked me before like can you do a plant based and Whole30? You’re not supposed to because they’re two different programs.
Neil Dudley: Okay. See, that’s news to me. Like I’ve seen it rolled out, I’ve heard a little chatter, but I don’t understand it. I’ve not done one. So, there you go. I haven’t experienced it. And so that’s cool. I’m glad we got to share that.
Erica Nkansah: I always wanted to try a plant-based diet. And I know my father-in-law just became vegan.
Neil Dudley: So, what was his reasoning for doing that?
Erica Nkansah: Well, actually he got remarried and his wife has been vegan for like 19 years. So, he was a hunter too, he used to hunt deer and stuff. So that’s different, right?
Neil Dudley: That is totally just interesting and also beautiful. Like he married this lady, and now he’s just living according to her wishes and standards and seeing how that works for him. I think it’s true for a lot of us in life. Like as you move along, you will find out some of those things that really just turn out to be part of who you are. All right, great. So, everybody go check out the plant based Whole30. It’s a new thing. Erica is going to be posting some recipes that fall within that program on her Instagram, blog.
Erica Nkansah: Instagram, website, yeah.
Neil Dudley: By the way, high five to your husband. Like sometimes don’t we need a little push off the ledge?
Erica Nkansah: He told me to do this podcast. He’s like, “Go for it.” He always pushing me to do better. He really is. I’m like so thankful for that, because I know like sometimes you have people in your life that are not always supportive. You may have like some crazy dreams, you may have- but he’s always telling me, he always wants to push me. So, I needed that in my life actually.
Neil Dudley: Y’all make a good couple.
Erica Nkansah: I think so, yes.
Neil Dudley: I think it’s fair to say you were nervous, it is kind of you’re being honest. I was nervous about doing the podcast. I needed somebody to kind of talk me into it. I’ve been chasing you for a while to get you on here. I mean, you’re busy. You’re busy, it’s understandable. I don’t always get a guest just day one. They’ve got lives to live and businesses to run. I’m so proud to have you on here though and share this because I know from watching your content, from working with you, just from talking to you, you’re just like a great spirit. It’s just you’re a good person to be paying attention to. And I would advise anybody that listens to this episode, go follow Erica, pay attention to the things she’s up to because I know they’re from her heart and come from a genuine good place.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah, I enjoy creating recipes that other people enjoy. I actually love to like invite people over to my house and like have them eat my food. I actually enjoy watching people eat my food and I love the experience.
Neil Dudley: One of the guys I work with, his name is Ben Warren. He’s actually going to be on the podcast. He helps us with our marketing, our retail digital marketing piece of our business. He did a Whole30 this January. It was his first one, and a big part of his experience is he wants his food, even if it’s Whole30 – I say even if – when it’s Whole30 to be exciting to his family because he cooks most of the meals for his family. So I think you and him would have that similar piece of the pie you really like, which is watching other people enjoy the meal you prepared, that’s a really good feeling for you.
Erica Nkansah: And surprising them is that it’s actually Whole 30 because I think a lot of people don’t even know what Whole30 is.
Neil Dudley: Why are humans that way? Skeptical immediately, as soon as you say it’s something, it’s a change, it’s different, oh no, I don’t like that.
Erica Nkansah: I was one of those, so I can’t even- That was me. It took me like two years to actually take a leap because someone else had told me about Whole30. It was like two years prior. But yeah, I was like, oh no, I can’t eat that, no. And then after looking at the different- health wise, it made more sense to me.
Neil Dudley: Well, see, I think your personality is analytical in that way. Like you want to have- see, I’m different, like Whole30, sure, let’s try it. I mean, it didn’t take me two seconds. Okay, cool. But that’s kind of what’s great about humanity is we’re different, and it’s kind of sad, too, because we all don’t necessarily allow that enough. I think it’s like, hey, we’re just different, and that’s kind of the best part of it. We don’t all have to think about every political issue the same way. It’s fine, we’re different. We have different experiences, opinions, all that stuff. And that’s what makes it great actually.
Erica Nkansah: I think that’s what- I mean, that’s what makes the world unique. All the diversity and the different ethnicities and cultures and all of that, I think it’s important to learn about different cultures and places.
Neil Dudley: And it takes work to do that. You can’t do that without trying. You have to kind of try to do that. So, hey, if you’re listening folks, that’s a yeehaw. Seriously, in today’s world, you should try, spend time, you have to make a conscious effort to learn about other people, other cultures, other viewpoints. My wife’s on me pretty hard because sometimes I don’t listen to both sides enough. I need to listen to both sides more, and she pushes me in that way, just like your husband might push you to do a podcast. I want to ask you, just out of curiosity, well, and market research, what are a couple items you wish Pederson’s made that we don’t? Like in your diet, is there a product you wish you had that’s hard to find?
Erica Nkansah: I don’t know if it’s so much hard to find, but I think- You don’t make any jerky, right? I haven’t seen any jerky. I think that’d be a great thing to make. And the reason why I say that is because when I work long hours in the hospital and I’m on Whole30, there’s not a lot of snacks I can actually have. So, I like to pack things like that, like jerky and ready to go foods. So, I think that’s something that you could- you have really good products. Like I love the taste of that ground beef and my daughter loves that bacon.
Neil Dudley: Bacon is just luckily good on everything and easy to sell. So, in my career, I started out selling bacon, and you don’t even really have to sell bacon, you just have to say I have bacon and people buy it instead of like really- I think it comes down to also we talk about our attributes. Our products are not cheap. I mean, it takes money to do the things we do and to give the animals room to roam, all this different just kind of callouts that go along with our products, ultimately cost us a little more money. So, we need to tell that story and make sure people value that. And not everybody will, and that’s okay. But the people who do will and then we’re in the community together.
Erica Nkansah: Yeah, I have- like, I’m one of those people, like I always tell people I know I spend- like I go shopping. I go to Whole Foods. I’ll go to like Trader Joe’s. I go to different places to shop. And oftentimes I think I spend a lot of money on groceries, which I don’t mind because I think it’s more important what goes into my body than what I look like, like what I’m wearing. So, I spend most of my money on food, I would tell you that, high quality foods, and I think it’s worth the money.
Neil Dudley: That is I think a perspective shared by a lot of people, me included. I don’t dress, well, I mean, to the nines or anything, but I do try to eat quality food. I do try to make quality food. If you could tell our audience one thing, what would it be? One thing about your journey, a front of mind thing for you right now today, like just in your life, something that’s been really helpful to you, I don’t know, anything. Like as we’re kind of bringing this to a close, what’s one thing you want somebody listening to just know?
Erica Nkansah: When it comes to your health, you just have to look outside the meds and all of that and just kind of look at what is going into your body, because whatever goes into your body, you’ll have some kind of result from it, if that makes sense.
Neil Dudley: Yes, totally. Erika, I appreciate you so much for being on the show, working with us, being who you are. And I can’t wait for people to hear this episode, get to know you. Go check out- we’re going to put all of your links to your blog, Instagram, etc., in the show notes. So people, if they’re listening to it on audio, they can check it out. If they’re watching on YouTube, they can look in the description and go learn more about you. Thank you so much. Tell your husband big high five from the cowboy in Texas for getting you to come on the podcast and stay warm.
Erica Nkansah: I’ll try. All right, have a good day.
Neil Dudley: Bye. Thank you, ma’am.
Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. It’s been a blast bringing this to you, and I sure hope you enjoyed it and found value. If you did, tell a friend, share it out on social media, hit that subscribe button, or go check us out at pedersonsfarms.com. We sure hope you do. And thanks for being here.
Visit us online at www.PedersonsFarms.com
(1:10) – Erika’s Background growing up in West Africa & moving to the United States
(6:21) – Erika’s career in medicine
(10:29) – How Whole30 helped with Erika’s anxiety and joint pains
(16:06) – Erika’s Food Blog – ThisAfricanCooks.com
(17:14) – Thoughts on plant-based Whole30 & making food exciting for everyone
(21:58) – Why are people skeptical when it comes to changing diets?
(23:56) – What are some products you want to see from Pederson’s?
(26:18) – Erika’s advice on health
The Pederson’s Farms Podcast is produced by Johnny Peterson & Root and Roam.