Monique Volz of Ambitious Kitchen Shares Her Cooking Secrets

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I always feel a spark of magic anytime I visit Ambitious Kitchen. The homepage is a study in all things aesthetic, eye-catching, and totally delish. Of course, there are the recipes rich with flavor and color, but there’s also the variety and volume of inspiring dishes Monique Volz develops (and tests, photographs, and thoughtfully writes about…). Having founded the healthy living and food blog over a decade ago, Monique claims a unique corner of the internet. It’s one that’s evolved alongside her growth as a blogger and business owner—and the vibrant, devoted community she’s built.

What Monique makes clear with every recipe is that what she creates isn’t just food—it’s a story. She weaves narrative, reflections, and personal anecdotes seamlessly into her recipes. From her writing, we learn not only about Monique, but about the ethos that runs through her brand. Ambition, in her words, isn’t just about getting things done. It’s about being present for the pursuit and honoring the journey that takes you to where you want to be.

Monique Volz drinking coffee.

Waking Up With Monique Volz of Ambitious Kitchen

Monique’s commitment to presence influences not only her work, but how she lives out every day. As a busy mom of three boys (under four, no less), Monique manages the shuffle of motherhood and running a small business with grace, acceptance, and a healthy dose of real talk. In reflecting on her morning routine, she jokes that she wishes she could share something more akin to the aspirational TikToks saturating every FYP. But she embraces the AM chaos, prioritizing those points of connection with her sweet family of five.

Often, in true Ambitious Kitchen fashion, that means sitting down to a tasty, nutritious breakfast. “Setting the tone for the day in a joyful way is important to me,” she tells us. It’s evident in how Monique describes her morning rituals and navigates her work, that she’s found a balance that supports her best in this season of life. By remaining mindful of what fills her cup—and aligning her day with exactly that—she’s able to consistently pour into her passions, grow her business, and make time for what matters most.

We sat down with Monique to learn more about her morning rituals. From her minimalist beauty routine (that yes, we will be stealing) to the outfit formula she swears by to her rules for success, Monique has plenty of inspiration to share. Let’s dive in.

Psst… For more delicious recipes (125 to be exact, including Glowing Skin Vitamin A Smoothie, The Best Cinnamon Rolls You’ll Ever Eat, Buffalo Chicken Chop Chop Salad, and more) pre-order The Ambitious Kitchen Cookbook, set to be released Fall 2024.)

Monique Volz living room.
Monique Volz drinking coffee.

Tell us about your career and starting a business. What has life been like as an entrepreneur?

I started Ambitious Kitchen when I was just 22 years old, and was able to take it full-time three years later, so this entrepreneurship journey has been what feels like most of my career. It’s been a blessing being able to share my passion for food and wellness with others for over 10 years now.

It’s also helped me heal from trauma, practice vulnerability, succeed, fail, and pick myself up again. It has taught me the importance of structure, time management, organization, and above all, determination.

From the beginning, I was determined to create a blog, even if I didn’t know what the path would be yet. In my 20s, I worked hard, often letting go of nights out and a social life to run my business and get it to where it is today. I’m so proud that I’m able to touch so many people’s lives with my recipes and storytelling. Whether that means getting them in the kitchen to try a new technique or recipe or just bringing my readers together for a joyful, comforting, and nourishing family meal. 

What has been your biggest learning over the past year?

To know my limits and to take breaks to be the best version of myself. To recognize when I am performing at my best and being willing to let go of things, or move things when I know my time or mental health will suffer. As an entrepreneur, I always want to say yes to everything, but setting boundaries has been critical, especially since I have become a mother.

Monique Volz journaling living room

How would you describe your personal style?

Feminine, romantic, and a little edgy.

What’s your daily uniform?

Black sweatshirt or shirt, jeans by Madewell, thick black belt, cute vintage colorful or patterned blazer or jacket, platform shoes or black boots! Pretty much my go-to outfit.

Monique Volz folding blanket

What does a typical day look like for you? 

It really depends. If I’m testing recipes, I’ll typically test them two days a week and do up to 5-6 recipes per day. They don’t always turn out perfectly, and I like to test most of my recipes 2-3 times before they go on the blog. When I’m not testing recipes, I’m writing and editing them, managing my employees, filming videos for our upcoming YouTube series, voiceovers or filming for reels, and doing A LOT of admin work. It’s crazy how much of my time has been spent doing the tasks I don’t love, but that’s a part of being an entrepreneur!

What time is your wake-up call?

Typically between 5:30 and 6 a.m. My kids wake me up most mornings. I probably get 6-7 hours of sleep a night. I definitely wish it was more!

Monique Volz pouring coffee
Monique Volz kitchen

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Snuggle with my boys, talk to them about our day, and of course, drink a cup of coffee. 

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like?

I wish this sounded like one of those incredibly inspiring morning routines that you see on TikTok, but the truth is, mornings are very chaotic for us. We have three boys who are four years old and under, and getting them fed and dressed in the morning is busy. Typically I wake up between 5:30-6 a.m. with my kids. I’ll brush my teeth and immediately get downstairs to unload the dishwasher and start coffee. I drink coffee with Califia Toasted Coconut AlmondMilk (so good!) then I’ll make homemade pancakes, waffles, smoothies, muffins or take something out of the freezer if we are in a rush.

Spending time with my boys in the morning is so important to me, and I love being able to offer them something nutritious before they start the day. I always felt so rushed when I was a little girl to get out the door and my mom hardly ever made breakfast. Setting the tone for the day in a joyful way is important to me.

After breakfast, everyone gets dressed and then we walk or scoot to school by 8 a.m. or so. A few days a week, I do a workout and strength train before starting my day. I’d like to do this more, but it feels like I’m in a very busy season of life, and I’m accepting that it won’t last forever!

What rituals set you up for success?

I always write down a list of what I need to accomplish and then rank it in order of importance. It’s difficult for me to get through all of my to-dos on any given day, but assigning importance to tasks helps me prioritize.

Monique Volz morning beauty products.
Monique Volz skincare serum

Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish:

There are two products that I currently use before I start my day. Dr. Dennis Gross daily peel pads followed by Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine SPF mixed with an organic rosehip seed oil. If I don’t have anywhere to be, I keep a fresh face without makeup, which I think is essential to clear skin! I switch it up often though. I like to keep my skin super hydrated and glowing.

Monique Volz opening refrigerator.

What will we always find in your refrigerator?

Siggi’s yogurt, Califia Toasted Coconut Almond Milk blend, Persian cucumbers, sambal oolek, gouchujang, honeycrisp apples, Siggi’s yogurt, cottage cheese, pickled jalapeños, and lots of fresh fruits.

Do you work out in the morning?

I used to work out almost every day, but now my focus has shifted from how often to the quality of my movement. I do heavy strength training three days a week and other days I’m out walking as much as I can.

Monique Volz smoothie

What do you eat for breakfast?

For breakfast, I typically like to enjoy baked oatmeal or smoothies. Lately I’ve been loving my blueberry muffin smoothie or my lemon poppyseed blueberry baked oatmeal.

Ambitious kitchen cat.
Ambitious kitchen coffee nook.

What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?

Any of my Spotify playlists. Most of the time, I like to keep it chill. 

What’s always on your nightstand?

My Hydroflask water bottle and a good hand or body lotion. (I love Nécessaire body lotion!)

Ambitious Kitchen Cookbook
Monique Volz Ambitious Kitchen Cookbook

I’d carve out an hour to focus on self-care and self-health, whatever I needed to fill my cup. To be honest, I’d love to go for a long bike ride every morning by the lake or catch up with a friend or my mom over coffee or head to a fun workout class.

What are one or two things you do every day to live a more joyful life?

Put away my phone during moments that presence is important, like dinner or when I’m playing with my kids. I always feel more joyful and present when I don’t have my phone. There isn’t a need to take it out to capture moments—the moments simply exist and I’m there to soak them all in!

If you could pin your success down to one thing, what would that be?

Determination and ambition. Just wanting to succeed in what I do and figuring out what that looks like to me and how to do it. And never, ever giving up.

Monique Volz working on laptop

Sentence Finishers:

I never leave the house without: SPF.

If there were more hours in the day, I would: do more self-care.

Healthiest morning habit: going for a walk within 1 to 2 hours of waking up.

Worst morning habit: not drinking enough water and drinking LOTS and LOTS of coffee.

One thing I want to be known for is: inspiring others to feel their best.

The one thing I fear the most is: losing someone I love.

When I feel that fear, I: focus on the present.

The book I always recommend: The Body Keeps the Score.

One trait you need to succeed in life is: unapologetically being yourself and living YOUR truth.

Bath or shower? What’s your favorite bath product? Bath. Love Epsom or magnesium baths!

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