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

Hi Mallory, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
I love this quote from Oprah that says: “Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself”.

This quote first is very encompassing about the importance of having self-confidence. It reiterates how imperative it is to believe in and choose yourself first and always, before relying on others to choose you back.

I firmly believe that having confidence the single-most important ingredient that someone needs in order to have success. Confidence, to me, is having firm beliefs, ideas, and intuition that you trust for not only yourself, but for your vision in everything that you do. Having confidence in yourself first is what will permeate into other aspects of your life such as in building successful relationships and also in growing your business or approaching various career opportunities.

This really resonates with me because confidence is something I realized early on in my career was essential in getting to where I am today, where I learned that only “I” was going to get me there — No one was going to do it for me, and no one was going to believe in me until I proved that I believed in myself and my work. If you believe in you, then the right customers, people, and opportunities will gravitate to you.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I created Dash of Mal initially mostly because of my love for creativity in cooking, but also because I had struggled with digestion and stomach issues chronically for years. In the first few years of battling a multitude of issues such as (what was classified as) food allergies/intolerances, IBS, and SIBO, I basically only allowed myself to eat the same few foods over and over again, due to a developed fear of food. I was a broke college student at the time, so, I kept it cheap and safe. I limited myself to things that I thought would prevent a bloating or digestive reaction and not break the bank.

Over time, I realized that by restricting myself I was actually hurting myself, and I was always so stressed about eating something that would warrant a reaction, that I was still getting a LOT of inflammation due to the anxiety and stress that my diet was causing my body. Once I started my first full-time job and had a steady income, I felt empowered to try eating a wider variety of foods and creating healthy and hearty meals that I was actually excited to eat. I decided to document some of my first recipes when I was sitting on the couch so that I could share them with others. Being motivated to create something delicious and unique for myself to eat ultimately grew my skills and confidence in developing recipes.

I taught myself to develop recipes and food content in a way that I felt was relatable to others, based on the feedback that I was getting from so many other women who struggle with some sort of stomach or digestion issue. It was inspiring! I also was on a mission to provide people fun and filling recipes who struggle with cooking in an allergy-friendly way. I know what it’s like to have to eat gluten-free and only are able to order a salad at a restaurant – Seriously the worst!! We all love a dish with a creamy sauce or crispy chicken from Chinese takeout, and I wanted people to know that they don’t have to give those things up if they cook from home!

I am thankful because in growing my Dash of Mal platform, I’ve harnessed a lot of skills I learned getting my degree and early on in my Tech Career and was able to leverage those things to my advantage. I don’t think rewarding things ever come easy, and I still have a long road ahead to reach some of my business goals. I will say that overcoming challenges is what has provided me the most growth and lessons learned along the way. When I am having trouble with a particular thing, I really believe that information is power, so I go out and try to find help from all of the countless resources out there. There is SO MUCH information out there that is accessible to us all – Podcasts, books, articles, you name it! When I educate myself, I feel more empowered rather than debilitated.

Overall, I would love the world to know that Dash of Mal is only in the beginning stages and I have so much more to give to my community. My vision is to empower people to feel confident cooking in the kitchen in a way that suits them, whatever that may be. Dash of Mal will continue to create a space where anyone can leverage information and tools to streamline the process of cooking, grocery shopping, and living a healthy life. I want to make it easy for you! I’ve experimented on myself for years and now I am eager to share what I’ve learned.

No one should be afraid of ingredients and we should do everything we can to leverage food as a means to improve our health, mentally and physically, and harness it as a means to improve our relationships and lifestyle.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are SO many places in San Diego that are worth visiting! I feel so lucky to live in such a lively, yet laid-back city with never ending things to do (and places to EAT). I’ll break it down by category for you all…


1. Coasterra – This upscale Mexican restaurant is on the water at San Diego Harbor with the best views of the Coronado bridge and San Diego bay. The food is superb whether you’re eating lunch or dinner there – Be sure to order the Acapulco Ceviche, Adobo Shrimp Tacos, or the Chargrilled Carne Asada dinner plate. Oh, and DO NOT forget your coconut margarita, it’s the best in town.

2. Seneca – A new Italian spot in downtown that also has some of the most amazing views, due to it being located on the top floor of the Intercontinental Hotel. The decor is very “insta-worthy” and the drinks and food do not disappoint. I’ve only gone one time, but highly recommend the seafood pasta with red sauce. They DO have gluten-free penne noodles, which is what I had with my pasta. Definitely make reservations far in advance, because the place books up!

3. Pacific Coast Grill – Okay so this is probably my favorite restaurant. I love that the inside is nice, but relatively casual and still gives you a neighborhood feel, despite the menu being pretty upscale. Their menu is mostly seafood-oriented, and they also have a sushi chef in-house that creates the most decadent rolls. We love to go with our friends and get a spot on the upper or lower patio and order a round of espresso martinis! A must… try to catch it before sunset, because this one is also right on the ocean in Cardiff.

4. Barbusa – So obviously I had to throw in a spot in Little Italy and it was hard to pick because there are SOO many. They have great Italian food with a ton of gluten-free and vegan-friendly pasta and pizzas, not to mention their extensive craft cocktail list. My friend and I recently went and were there for lunch for hours because they made us feel so welcome and loved the inside ambience – you really just feel like you’re at a classic Italian house and I love that!

5. Puesto – Best tacos and margaritas combinations in San Diego, hands down. The chips and salsa are also top notch, and they just bring it to your table, but also order the Classic Guac. Get their Cucumber Margarita with jalapeno (or a Spicy Skinny Cucumber Marg, which is what I always order). Their Puesto Perfect classic margarita is good too, along with the Mango! For tacos, my favorite is the Tamarindo Shrimp, it is unlike any other taco you’ve ever tried!! The short rib tacos and mushroom tacos are also to die for.

6. LUMI – This is also located on a hotel rooftop and has a super fun ambience. It’s upscale Japanese and Sushi-driven, but really an Asian Fusion type of place. It’s the perfect place to go for a special occasion, or with a group while you’re dressed up before going out on the town!! They also have amazing espresso martinis, but also loved the Fuka Sa for something spicy and sweet! The Spicy Chili Garlic edamame was the most flavorful appetizer ever, and my friends loved the “Sushi Pizza” that they serve there (I can’t have it since it’s not gf). The Charred Yellowtail roll is a MUST. They also offer bottle service if that’s the kind of night you’re having.

Places to Hang Out & Walk Around

1. La Jolla Cove & Village – This area is mini Beverly Hills overlooking the ocean! This area is the best place to grab a coffee or matcha at Parakeet Cafe, and walk around into shops and boutiques. You can get a glimpse of some of the best beaches in Southern California by walking the coastline or on the shores. After walking around the town, get a bite to eat at Duke’s overlooking the cliff for a Mai Tai and enjoy looking at the seals. You can also walk to Marine Street beach, a small private beach famous for its picturesque rocks and layout spots!

2. Kate Sessions Memorial Park – This is the coolest park with the best secret view in all of San Diego. I’ve come here for countless “park hang happy hours” with friends and it’s the best vibe – so relaxing with so many cute dogs running around. You can see the skyline of downtown, as well as Coronado, Mission Bay, and the beach for the sunset! Bring your own ice chest with drinks or picnic basket with wine and charcuterie.

Since there’s SO many here’s a list of more memorable places to get drinks with friends:

– Kettner Exchange (Little Italy)
– Ballast Point (Little Italy)
– Carruth Cellars (Little Italy)
– False Idol (speakeasy – Little Italy)
– Rustic Root (Gaslamp)
– Nolen Rooftop (Gaslamp)
– Tahona Bar (Old Town)
– El Prez (Pacific Beach)
– Liberty Public Market (Liberty Station)

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, I want to shoutout all of my friends and family who have been extremely supportive from the second I started posted photos of my recipes!! Even when I was initially just posting content for fun to try things out, it really helped me gain confidence in what I was doing, that I had some talent, and helped reaffirm that my content was being well-received. If you know me, you know that not much makes me happier than hosting loved ones and cooking for them. Having so many loved ones that want to test my recipes and appreciate a nice appetizer spread or charcuterie tablescape inspires me to keep leveling up! And specifically, shoutout to my sister for always remaking my recipes and collaborating on meal ideas with me for every single family get together or holiday!

Also, I would like to thank my followers that have reached out to me to tell me that my content resonated with them. I have received so many kind messages from people opening up to me about their experience with gut health, anxiety, and food intolerance/digestion issues, which is what inspired me to start my page in the first place.

Connecting with people and being able to bond about similar struggles, as well as similar passions about food and living a healthy lifestyle is what keeps me posting content and finding ideas for new recipes and products. I think that the “why” is one of the most important things that keeps one’s motivation and confidence steady in creating or starting a new venture, and my “why” is truly reaffirmed each time that I receive a nice message or comment from someone that’s sharing a little bit of their story with me.

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