About Beyond Mere Sustenance

If you need to contact me, email me at tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com. I usually respond within 24 hours!

Beyond Mere Sustenance is a food blog with creative (often unique) recipes that are mostly healthy (I call it healthyish) with a Latin flair. Having lived on or near the US southern border my entire life and traveled extensively in Peru, you’ll find a strong emphasis on Peruvian food and Mexican food. Sound good? Read on…

A collage of Latin-inspired healthyish recipes and a description of Beyond Mere Sustenance.

🌴 Hola! Mucho Gusto!

A photo of Tamara Andersen in a blue sweater.
In Cuzco, Peru August 2022!

My name is Tamara Andersen, and I’m an accomplished home cook. I have had no formal training, but I’ve been honing my culinary skills for over 50 years… since I was a girl of 14.  

Fun fact: In high school, one of my proudest moments as a budding chef was to prepare and serve escargot for my French class. I gathered my own “critters” from our southern California backyard!  While some of my classmates were hesitant to try them, the consensus was overwhelmingly positive. I still hear an occasional “eeeuw!” but the students that were willing to try them actually loved them!

I’m a border girl, having been born and raised in southern California, and spent most of my adult life in southern CA, southern New Mexico, and now (quite literally) on the border in McAllen, Texas. Mexican flavors have always been a favorite at Andersen casa, and when my brother married a Peruvian woman, I learned to cook and love Peruvian food.

I have traveled extensively in Peru having spent a full month in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022, and 2023 enjoying the food, culture, and scenery of that gorgeous Latin American country. As a result, I seek to bring Peruvian flavors to non-native home cooks.

💑 Our Family of Foodies

My husband (Mark) of 43 years and I have 4 adult sons – Nils (and Jamie), Evan (and Devin), Gaelen, and Gerritt – who would agree that growing up in a “foodie” household has given each of them a passion for food as well. All of our sons are accomplished cooks in their own right. Gerritt graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in December of 2016. We have 2 fur babies – both rescues – Belgium (Bel) and Dolly.

In 2014, we welcomed our first grandchild, Cade Christian Andersen into the Andersen family, and in 2016 little Carter James Andersen joined the family. At 7 and 9, they spend time in the kitchen with Gramma! We celebrate life with food and wine, wine and food… and great conversation. Buen provecho!

About Beyond Mere Sustenance

Why “Beyond Mere Sustenance?”  Food can (and should!) be more than just a way to fill your belly and keep it quiet.  It can be an adventure, it can provide comfort, it can become part of the foundation of a strong family across generations.

Conversation around the dinner table has become a casualty of our fast-paced, tech-reliant culture. Families rely on the “drive-up window” and processed foods to sustain them. Food then resembles the gasoline required by your car more than an opportunity to build relationships and enjoy life.

It is possible in this age of two-income families and crazy schedules to create and enjoy healthy, inexpensive meals quickly. For the more relaxed moments, the joy of cooking can provide new adventure and pleasure for a lifetime.  I cover the full range!

A cast iron skillet with Peruvian fried rice and shrimp with copper serving spoon and fork.
Peruvian Arroz Chaufa with Gulf shrimp!

🥘 What’s Cooking?

You will find everything from Breakfast, Brunch, and Lunch to Main Dishes, and Cocktails to Desserts. Most of my time and energy is devoted to creative ways to use fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients along with my well-stocked pantry in Latin-inspired recipes – especially Mexican and Peruvian.

I started out doing “healthy global,” but I have decided to narrow my focus to healthyish Latin American cooking. Keep in mind I am not attempting to duplicate abuelita’s recipes, rather I will continue to use flavor profiles to create new dishes using ingredients available in the United States. The transition has been a natural one for me…

My recipes, for the most part, are entirely my own. I love to “play” with my food… I didn’t allow my boys to do that, but I certainly do. My ideas typically start with an ingredient I want to work with. I then think about a flavor profile that works well with the ingredient.

For example, our first winter in McAllen (if you can call it winter), fresh oysters began showing up in my market… then, the citrus. ALL. THE. CITRUS. Well, we know about seafood and citrus right? Oysters and blood oranges became Fried Oyster Tacos With Citrus Salsa after I decided on Mexican flavors.

If my recipes are inspired by the work of another, or adapted from another recipe, I will credit the original author and recipe in the post and recipe. This is extremely important to me.

I rarely take shortcuts. I feature homemade salad dressings in my salads, I often make my own condiments (i.e. aioli, ketchup, syrups) using fresh herbs, and spices I grind myself. I will occasionally – in the post or the notes – include suggestions for shortcuts and substitutions.

To get a better idea of my cooking style, please see my Recipes Index

Subscribe to receive my newsletter by clicking here or entering your name and email address in the subscription box in my right sidebar. If you have questions about a recipe, feedback (positive or negative), want to gripe at me for my writing style, whatever, I love to hear from my readers! If you’d like to work with me or need to contact me, email me at tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com. I usually respond within 24 hours!

Lastly, sharing is caring.  🙂 This blog and the recipes I provide require a large investment of both my time and our financial resources. Social media plays a major role in the “success” of a food blog. I would love to have you share my posts on your favorite platform…

You can find me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook too. Let’s get cookin’! 

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.