This month we collaborated with Emily from @fruityemz to create some amazingly delicious recipes for you. Her take on nutrition and recipe creation is a unique one, and we’re excited to share her thoughts. Keep reading if you need some inspiration on study snacks, cooking healthy with a busy schedule and what it really means to be a plant-based foodie.
Hey Emily, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! We really love your recipes. You follow a plant-based diet. What does plant-based eating mean to you?
There are no right or wrong answers of what plant-based is, but to me, a plant-based diet avoids animal products and focuses on plants and whole foods, which includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. This lifestyle embraces plant-based whole foods for optimal nutrition and nourishment.
Your colourful steamed buns are all so cute. We’re sure it’s hard to choose just one, but which recipe is your favourite?
Hehe thanks for the compliment! I guess my vegan butternut mac & cheese would be my favourite recipe. Mac & cheese has always been my childhood favourite and being able to recreate a vegan version of it literally blew my mind. Ah, mac & cheese, I could sing thy praises for a lifetime. You are the chunky knit sweater of foods. Your warm, chewy, cheesy goodness is like a warm hug for my insides.
If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oatmeal! It’s no secret that I love oatmeal. In fact, I would gladly eat oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner… every day. Oatmeal recipes are so versatile, I enjoy having oatmeal both hot and cold, and I really enjoy the fact that I can be as creative as I want with the toppings.
You study nutrition. What inspired you to follow that path, and what are the challenges?
I used to be a big meat eater until five years ago when I started recognising the negative impact the diet had on my health and on the environment. The documentary What the Health really opened my eyes and I decided to quit eating meat and to not treat this as a diet but a lifestyle.
Having truly experienced what it feels like to go from processed to whole foods, and becoming a total health nerd, I decided to take the plunge and enroll as a Nutrition & Dietetic student. That ride has been amazing and being brought up in a family that emphasizes healthy eating, it was natural that I wanted to look for a job that I had a professional and a personal interest in.
When I decided to transition to plant-based, my mum wasn’t pleased as she thought that I would not be able to get enough nutrients by only eating plants. It took me several months to convince her that I was still able to thrive on a plant-based diet by explaining to her that plant foods contain all the essential nutrients (except vitamin B12) we need. I could still get B12 from fortified foods like plant-based milks and cereals, but the best source would be a B12 supplement. I told her that I’m now always full of energy and no longer feel sluggish.
What ingredients do you always have on hand?
Chia seeds. Chia seeds are not only a good source of antioxidants, fibre, and omega-3’s, they help thicken your overnight oats (hahaha I’m talking about oatmeal again) and make them extremely creamy and satisfying.
Nutritional yeast. I enjoy sprinkling it on top of my savoury dishes as it really tastes like actual parmesan cheese. It’s literally one of my favourite superfoods!
Peanut butter. You won’t believe how much peanut butter I can eat in a day.
How do make the time to eat healthy while studying?
To me, plant-based is not a diet, but a lifestyle! Even though I’m in my first year of nutrition school, my timetable is pretty hectic, but I always find the time to cook most of my meals. Usually before the start of the week, I will write down a general list of meals that I plan to eat for the week and invest a little extra kitchen time to prep my meals for the week. When preparing my lunch for the school day, I want to focus on foods that not only keep me full, but also provide nutrients that will provide me energy for the rest of my day.
A lot of people think that embracing a whole-food diet means giving up their favourite foods. What dish would you prepare to convince them otherwise?
My butternut mac & cheese of course! I know some people find it hard to give up dairy cheese, but this vegan version is a crowd pleaser (even with non-vegans). It’s a creamy, flavourful alternative to the dairy stuff that will leave you richly satisfied with your decision to leave the cows alone.
What’s in store for you over the next few months?
As mentioned, I’m in my first year of nutrition school and even though school is busy, I still plan to continue @fruityemz because it is a huge part of me and I enjoy what I’m doing. More collaborations and recipes are on the way, so stay tuned!
We love hearing about how people enjoy their Cocobella. What are your favourite Cocobella products and how do you use them?
I love Cocobella’s Coconut Yoghurt and my favourite way to use it is in my overnight oats which makes the oats sooooooooo creamy! Also, their coconut water is amazing too and I always add it to my protein shakes.
Do you have any other Instagram accounts you could recommend to those looking for plant-based meal inspiration?
Ahhh there are so many!! Here are a few: