Three bestselling authors team up this Thursday to bring together an evening of faith, food and friends during Compassion LIVE's Come to the Table Tour. Geared toward women, the unique night of fellowship takes place at Rolling Hills Community Church (1810 Columbia Ave., Franklin) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 - $35 available at compassionlive.com.

THE AUTHORS

Nationally known author and teacher Angie Smith is known her her guidance-infused titles like Seamless, Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story, Chasing God, What Women Fear, I Will Carry You and Audrey Bunny. She's the mom of five girls and a long-time supporter of Compassion International.

Danielle Walker is a three-times New York Times bestselling author known for her collection of conscious recipes as she navigates life with an autoimmune disease under her brand Against All Grain. Her most recent title is the Eat What You Love cookbook which includes 125 gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo recipes with a focus on everyday comfort foods.

Click here to read our review of Eat What You Love in our cookbook roundup!

On the heels of her latest, Remember God, bestselling author and nationally recognized speaker Annie F. Downs is the cornerstone of the popular "That Sounds Fun Podcast." She's also known for a string of popular books, including 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let's All Be Brave.

Q & A WITH DANIELLE WALKER

Nashville Parent caught up with Walker recently to talk about the Come to the Table event as well as her latest cookbook and eating healthier.

What can attendees expect who attend the Come to the Table Tour, and what do you look forward to sharing the most?

I am so excited for the Come to the Table Tour in Franklin. The city holds a very special place in my heart, and it’s really fun that I get to do an event with two of my best friends there! The experience is somewhat geared towards women because 3 ladies will be taking the stage, but honestly, everyone is welcome and I really think that anyone attending will leave inspired.  They can all expect lots of laughter! Angie, Annie and I will all share a little about our journey through life and how that’s looked with community, family and health. It will be a really special time to talk about things that matter most to us, together! I’ll also be cooking onstage which is so much fun!

Eat What You Love is one of the most visually appealing cookbooks of all time, and it's full of so many great, healthy recipes. What is the process like of putting together a cookbook of this magnitude?

Thank you so much! It was definitely one of my favorites to put together. The process started by repeatedly hearing from people who really missed their favorite childhood meals. Obviously, when you have restrictions on your diet, it’s not easy to eat things like Shrimp and Grits or Pop-Tarts. It’s hard to find options that are reminiscent of our childhood that are also made with whole ingredients. I decided to tackle all my old favorites and some of those from my friends in the South. I’ll never forget when I made them the Shrimp and Grits and the Cornbread Pie — I knew it would work if it had their approval! 

You obviously can speak volumes about the effect one's diet has on their body. Can you speak a little bit about the change you experienced when you switched to a paleo lifestyle and has your gluten-free, dairy-free food consumption eliminated the need for medication?

Yes! So, when I was 22 years old, I got so sick that the doctors were concerned for my life. After countless tests and hospital visits, I was diagnosed with a severe form of Ulcerative Colitis. 

Through my own research and seeking out others who had seen relief through food, I realized I had two choices – continue spending money on loads of medications that seemed to only give more side effects than help, or radically change my diet and pray that it would help me as I had read it had helped others. I am off most medications but am in constant communication with my doctors about the state of my health and what’s best for my body at the designated time. For the most part, the way that I eat helps and nourishes my body enough without medication.

For people who don't have specific dietary issues, how can a paleo diet be beneficial?

My family eats the way we do primarily because of my auto-immune disease, but also because we've learned so much about how the body processes food. I believe that cutting out processed and refined foods helps our bodies with inflammation. Inflammation is directly linked to autoimmune disease too, so ultimately I think it’s just a really great way to take care of ourselves. With everything from our energy to pain and even fighting sickness.

A lot of people who want to eat healthier often find it challenging, whether it's a matter of money or the thought that healthy eating means "bland." What do you say to those who are in that mindset to encourage them that they can do it?

One of the most common concerns that I hear from people wanting to transition to a healthier diet is their budget. While I understand the concern and can agree that healthy items are pricier, I think learning to shop smart could actually save you money (and your health) in the longer run. When you evaluate the cost of mass-produced, packaged foods, a lot of families find that they end up spending less when they switch to a real-food diet. 

As for taste, try one of my cookbooks and I think you’ll see that with the right ingredients you don’t have to compromise taste!

How did the transition to the Paleo lifestyle affect your spiritual health, and what can you say about how a healthy body can influence one's experience with God?

Big question! I think that my spiritual life has been significantly affected by my disease and the lifestyle that our family has now adopted. It taught me that He takes care of us no matter what our fears and doubts are. It was really scary to experience multiple near-death experiences; it forced me to evaluate things differently. It has and is still teaching me that God is with us, even when we don’t know what tomorrow will look like.

I also think it's so fascinating that He chose to show me healing a bit differently than I expected, and through the food that He created, in the way it was intended to be consumed.