We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Epstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Elizabeth, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think taking risks is essential to innovation and contribution. Prior to going to medical school, multiple people discouraged me because of how difficult the path to becoming a physician can be. While I was troubled by their foreboding words, I persisted nevertheless and now find being a physician to be the most incredible, rewarding, and intellectually stimulating job I could ever imagine. To me, it’s not just a dream job, but a life mission. Similarly, prior to writing my cookbook, another cookbook author told I would never have enough time to write the book during medical school and that, what’s more, the market for cookbooks is already saturated. But again, I persisted, and in fact I did write the book over four years in medical school and was ultimately able to publish it and make an impact on my readers’ lives. Despite that there are many cookbooks on the market, I was able to create something unique, and I’ve had readers tell me that the book “changed their life by showing them they could cook delicious, healthy meals at home–even after a long work day.” I took a big risk, and I accomplished my goal. The truth is that nobody is you, so someone else cannot possibly know what your experience will be like, what you will like or dislike, and what your potential truly is. If you have a passion for something and a good intention, I believe you can accomplish anything.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have a career in medicine, but I prefer to call it more of a life’s mission because while being a doctor is my job, it is also my way of contributing to society, serving others, and it aligns with my values. I set out long ago on my path to becoming a physician and finally attained that goal when I graduated from UC San Diego School of Medicine in 2019. Now, I’m a physician in internal medicine and pursuing further training to become a cardiologist with a special focus on prevention and, in particular, evidence-based integrative approaches to prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. I think my background in integrative medicine and the additional skills I have obtained along the way to help me provide holistic care to patients is what sets me apart. I had the unique experience of studying integrative biology as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, which set me up from the beginning with a broader view of biology through the lenses of history, sociology, psychology, and even art. When I started in medicine, I automatically viewed medicine in the same way, and my goal has always been to build a positive healing relationship with my patients, understand the myriad additional factors in their lives that affect their health, and ultimately partner with them to promote their wellness. I define wellness as as state of physical and mental health that allows a person to live a happy and fulfilling life–and that’s always my hope for my patients. In order to help promote their wellness beyond my medical knowledge, I also wrote an evidence-based, heart-healthy cookbook, obtained training in yoga, fitness, and healing touch, and am open to evidence-based alternatives that may sometimes be appropriate components of my patients’ care.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Take my favorite running loop that goes down through Bird Rock, back up along Windansea, into La Jolla Village, and back. Another option is hiking up Mount Soledad for some 360 views of San Diego. Pick up breakfast (bagel sandwiches at Busy Bee’s or breakfast burritos at the farmer’s market) and walk down to my favorite spot by Windansea beach to eat by the water. Other favorite breakfast spots are Coffee Cup and Harry’s Coffee Shop. Walk around La Jolla Village, treasure hunt in some of the thrift and consignment shops, then walk along the cove and wave hello to the sea lions and other critters (maybe dolphins!). Other favorite San Diego activities include walking around Encinitas or the Solana Beach Arts District and taking a trip to Julian for a day of hiking and pie. For lunch or a snack, grab the best açaí bowl in San Diego (or the world?) and maybe some freshly baked sweet treats at Brick and Bell. Another favorite bakery is Wayfarer Bread. At night, grab tickets to a comedy show at the Comedy Store for some therapeutic laughs or a show at Belly Up for some tunes. For dinner, my favorite restaurants for a nice night out are Isola, Blue Ocean Sushi, Marine Room, and Eddie V’s. For takeout, I love Oscar’s (best fish tacos), Spice & Rice Thai, and Wheat & Water.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A good mentor is essential, whatever your path may be. I am constantly humbled by the incredible support that my mentors generously take the time to provide me, truly out of the goodness of their hearts. I have several mentors in cardiology, lipidology, and prevention of cardiovascular disease who continue to teach, advise, and inspire me every day, particularly Dr. Pam Taub and Dr. Michael Wilkinson at UC San Diego. In terms of accomplishing the publication of my cookbook, I’d like to recognize Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, where I had the opportunity to live and work prior to starting medical school–an experience that changed my life. The Allen family, who own and run the restaurant, hotel, and cookery school, inspired me with their treatment of food as a sacred way to serve others. I witnessed their commitment to giving people an incredible experience through food, and I knew I wanted to serve people through medicine in the same way. When I got to medical school, I saw that food could actually be used as medicine to prevent cardiovascular disease–and in fact, it’s the best medicine we have by a mile! So I sought out to combine the concepts of food as medicine and food as art and wrote a book that would empower readers to cook delicious, evidence-based, heart-healthy food at home.

Website: https://www.abeautifulheartcookbook.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abeautifulheartcookbook
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/elizabeth-sage-epstein
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lizziesagemd
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abeautifulheartcookbook

Image Credits
Photographer: Justin Galloway Food Styling: Carolyn Pascual

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.