In March I was lucky enough to meet Randle Browning during our weekend at Camp TXSC After talking with Randle for a few minutes she told me about her blog, Week of Plenty, and explained she blogs recipes that are within a plant-based food diet. We became immediate friends after talking about our recent love for any recipe including sweet potatoes. I loved getting to hear about her life and her vision for her blog during camp, and I love it even more that we've stayed friends.
Food is not something I usually write about, or talk about much, honestly. I've never felt like it was my place to talk about food because I'm notoriously a "picky eater". I was born allergic to milk and cheese, which limits a lot of foods automatically, so I've always eaten really plain meals (my go-to being chicken tenders for way too long). As an adult, my allergy list has started to grow. I now have allergic reactions to milk, cheese, soy products, bananas, avocados, pecans, and hoppy beers. However instead of eating less this time, I've decided to start eating differently and healthier too.
I've been flirting with the idea of a plant-based food diet, but I want to learn more about before jumping in so I decided to ask Randle a few questions about her experience. Plus we're sharing this delicious Blackberry Cobbler Smoothie recipe after the interview too!
(P.S. I also answered a few question Randle asked me on her blog, Week of Plenty, and I highly recommend spending some time to look at all of her yummy recipes.)
CG: How did you get interested in a plant-based food diet?
RB: In August 2014, my cousin, who had just become vegan, came to visit. Since I live in Waco, Texas, I thought it would be simpler if we both ate vegan food while she was here. Cooking vegan food at home for both of us was wayyy easier than trying to navigate the meat- and cheese-heavy restaurant scene here.
Side note: My cousin is full-on vegan, whereas I’m following a plant-based diet. The difference as I see it is that veganism is a lifestyle change that usually involves cutting out ALL animal products from your life—including things you might not think of, like honey, wool, beeswax, silk, leather, and gelatine. My plant-based diet isn’t as all-encompassing, since I still eat certain local honeys and eggs, and I haven’t cut all animal products out of my life.
CG: What is the biggest benefit of a plant-based food diet?
RB: After I eat, I feel energized rather than heavy and bogged down. If I resist eating 2 cups of hummus, that is... :P
CG: What are some of the ways you’ve seen a positive change in your life?
RB: My allergies evaporated. For years, I had extreme allergies and took 5 types of allergy medicines every day. If I didn’t take all those pills and inhalers, I’d end up in bed with a debilitating migraine. Within 2 weeks of eating a plant-based diet, I hadn’t had a single migraine and had stopped taking all but 1 of my allergy medications.
And my stomach problems went away! I was about to have surgery, and switching to a plant-based diet cured me!
CG: Do you have any food exceptions to the plant-based rule?
RB: Yes, I do eat farm eggs about once a week. I also make an exception for honey, and I don’t worry a lot about wine, which is sometimes processed using animal products.
CG: When you were starting this change in your diet, and lifestyle, did you start by slowly making adjustments or by diving all in? Any advice for people wanting to try it?
RB: I dove straight in. For about a week I had serious cheese cravings, but, luckily, I gradually got over my (previously undying) love for cheese. My tips for getting through the transition period are to keep salty, indulgent things around to supplement. I used a LOT of hummus, miso, olives, and strong olive oil to help me over the hump.
Even though it might seem more difficult, I think doing a clean break is better, because it allows your body to detox quickly, so you feel the benefits right away. The way you FEEL is the biggest motivation to keep going, in my opinion.
CG: What were some of the struggles you faced when starting and how did you overcome them? Are you currently working something?
RB: The thing I’ve struggled with the most is acceptance from other people. You’d be surprised how personally some people take it when you tell them you stopped eating all dairy, meat, poultry, and fish. It’s common to hear, “It’s just a little bit. Just eat it!” It gets tiring to have to explain all those reasons why even a little bit matters over and over again, without being rude.
CG: How do you handle ordering at restaurants?
RB: This is a tough one. I understand that people who have never thought much about eating animal products might be stumped, so I try not to blame the staff at restaurants when they don’t get my requests right away. But I do end up sending orders back because they forgot to omit the cheese, or something like that. It can get really frustrating for everyone involved.
I’ve found it’s best to be clear about what you want and say it with a smile. It also helps to double check that menu items that SEEM plant-based aren’t hiding secret ingredients, like a sprinkle of parmesan or a glaze of butter. Just ask before you order.
CG: How do you find inspiration for creating recipes?
RB: The farmers market! And lots of blogs and cookbooks. :) These are my top picks for plant-based cookbooks:
CG: What’s your current favorite recipe to make whether it’s yours or someone else’s? Recipe link please?
RB: The Spring Miso Soup with Lemon in At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. I love improvising and throwing in soba or rice noodles. I also really love the Sweet Potato Brownies on Deliciously Ella. I recommend reducing the sweet potato to 16 oz. and adding dark chocolate chunks so they’re SUPER chocolatey.
My favorite quick vegan snack is a Medjool date with the pit removed, filled with almond butter and a couple chocolate chunks. I know you didn’t ask, but it will make you forget Reese’s Peanut Butter cups ever had your heart.
CG: Tell me about why you started Week of Plenty.
RB: To give my readers the tools to enjoy simple, delicious plant-based meals that make them feel amazing. :)
Week of Plenty is about simplifying the way you eat so you can feel and look your best. We already design so many other aspects of our daily lives—our homes, our wardrobes, even our faces and bodies. And I always think of designs as functional structures that make it easier to experience beautiful things. I think the same is true with food. If you design a way of eating that works for your body, you make space to find a lot more joy in the process.
Thank you so much for all of your wonderful answers Randle. I'll definitely be doing more research about a plant-based food diet. And, as promised, here is the sweet Blackberry Smoothie Recipe she created:
Blackberry Cobbler Smoothie
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 cup frozen blackberries
- In a powerful blender, combine rolled oats, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup, and blend until the oats are completely smooth and not grainy.
- Add the blackberries and blend until smooth.
- Serve immediately.
RB: Pro tips for mega awesome smoothies:
- Once you go rolled oats, you won’t go back. Just remember, the key is really blitzing them up with the almond milk—so they’re completely smooth and puréed—before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Taste the blackberries beforehand to see how sweet they are. Adjust the amount of maple syrup accordingly.
- If the smoothie is too thin, add ice and blend again. If it’s too thick, add water or almond milk and blend again.
- Swap in any in-season berry.
Photography by Randle Browning of Week of Plenty.
Calligraphy by Colore Grace.