April 20, 2022 | Newsletters
We all know those people that, when you hear their stories, you just can’t help but be inspired. When we first got in touch with Jill Sonlin, we knew we had found someone special with an important story to tell.
Jill is a registered nurse and award-winning chef, not to mention an amazing mom and superstar food blogger. She’s also a cancer survivor who has devoted her life to giving back and empowering people to make smart food choices that keep them healthy no matter what they may be up against.
In this week’s newsletter, we’re delighted to share some of Jill’s story. Read on!
Meet Jill Sonlin!
Award-winning chef, registered nurse, food blogger, incredible mom, and cancer survivor …
Tell us a bit about yourself and how your Food Blog, Jill’s Gourmet Dreams, came to be!
I have been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years. I have also worked with many local charities including Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Meals on Wheels. I also attended French Culinary School simultaneously as I worked as a nurse, and I then went on to receive two prestigious national chef awards.
In the next phase of my dual career as a Nurse-Chef, I am busy doing custom gourmet food art, custom catering, recipe development and marketing/promotions for food brands, and cooking classes. I also passionately work with cancer patients and families, as well as cancer support groups, in teaching important nutritional information for health and healing before, during, and after cancer treatments.
I do this because I am a five year breast cancer survivor, and I hope to help my fellow cancer survivors get well and improve their overall wellness with healthy food and my specific health boosting recipes. I love teaching cancer patients and their family’s how to make easy, delicious, and healthy recipes that can help boost overall health and immune functions in order to decrease risks of disease ever returning.
As far as my food blog goes, I’ve had it for about five years as a way to display my food art and recipes, my philanthropy, and other interests. I want my food blog to be visually welcoming to all, Zen and calming, stylish, interesting, and beautiful! I’m really happy with it and hope my followers like it as well!
At Olivia’s, we love eating clean and green! Can you share why eating clean and living a healthy lifestyle means so much to you?
As I mentioned, I am a five year breast cancer survivor. I always ate well and lived a healthy lifestyle my whole life. But since cancer in 2017, I’ve really stepped up all of my food and lifestyle healthy choices.
Now that I am five years cancer free, my risks of breast cancer returning are in single digits – thankfully! But I now hold a lot of knowledge that other people can benefit from and may not be up for all the research and studying of nutrition that I’ve done. I want to help others with chronic illnesses or cancer learn how to eat organic and improve their food choices for a better, healthier version of themselves.
You have so many amazing recipes and tips on your Instagram page and your Food Blog! Do you have any tips for people trying to incorporate healthier choices into their routine?
My best tip for people to incorporate healthier choices into their routine is to start with one thing …
Make an easy, healthy swap for something they know full well isn’t a good thing for them to eat or drink. An example of this is that I love chocolate so much, and eating milk chocolate was part of my everyday snacking routine. I was a self professed chocoholic. So what I did was switch to dark or high cacao chocolate only for my snacking.
It’s not every day that you come across someone who is a chef AND a nurse. How have these career paths intertwined?
I have always loved helping people since I was a little girl. I was a candy striper back in the day (a teen hospital volunteer) at our local hospital all through my teen years. I knew I wanted to be a nurse since I was five years old when teachers and family would ask me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I just always knew this was what I wanted to do. It’s a perfect fit for me.
I also found that I was very naturally artistic with food and entertaining. When I hosted holidays at my home in my 20′ and 30’s, I was always called “Martha” after Martha Stewart.
Now my goals are to fuse Nursing and being a Chef together to help people heal their bodies and live healthier lives by food they eat and cook.
So, how did you first learn about Olivia’s Organics?
We have a fantastic little gourmet market near our home. They sell a lot of organics, and I always buy your lettuces and veggies. Your packaging and logo are so cute and happy, and make me want to buy your organics over any other. Your brand literally makes me smile. Plus the quality of everything I’ve ever bought from your brand has always been stellar, crisp, and perfect in quality!
At Olivia’s, we love getting out and about and giving back to the community whenever we can. We heard you’ve worked with a number of amazing charities too! Can you talk about what giving back means to you?
Philanthropy is literally my whole life’s work. My new food blog hasn’t added all my philanthropic ventures of my life yet, but I am known in my community for charitable giving and volunteering. I first and foremost started a huge Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia back in 1993 (and ongoing some 29 years still), when my daughter’s life was saved by the heroic doctors at this Children’s Hospital. I do fundraising for them as a thank you for giving my daughter back to me from a life-threatening condition.
Also, I don’t tell a lot of people, but 20-50% of all my profits of my catering business I donate quietly to different charities I love (like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Wounded Warriors, Miles of Smiles, Meals on Wheels, and Indian Angel Network, where I’ve financially “adopted” a girl in her late teens who lives at an orphanage in India).
Word on the street is that you have a fabulous Chicken Noodle Soup recipe that uses Olivia’s Butternut Squash. Can you share the recipe with our readers?
Absolutely I would love to share my Easy Chicken Soup with your readers!! Its secret powerful health boosting ingredient is definitely your gorgeous bright orange Olivia’s Organics Butternut Squash!
Where can people find more information about Jill’s Gourmet Dreams?
If your readers are interested, have them check out my Food Blog at Jill’s Gourmet Dreams to learn more about me, or follow me on Instagram, JGD’s Facebook, and my small JGD’s TikTok account. My food blog was meticulously designed by me, and it reflects my love of health, vibrant color, and zest for a healthy life!
Thanks so much, Jill! We loved learning more about you and your incredible work.
Thanks for making Olivia’s part of your fresh, healthy life.