This month I got to interview the lovely Brenda De La Piedra, aka One Hungry Mami, whose instagram, chock full of delicious raw and vegan recipes, I've been following for some time and have always relished. Self-proclaimed simply as a girl on a journey into a plant-based diet, she's garnered quite a following and consistently shares healthy and beautiful recipes to an audience that just eats it all up. On top of OHM, she works in one of the busiest psychiatric units as a clinical nurse specialist in Sydney, Australia where she lives with her "clan" - two adorable little girls, Andie & Harper, her loving husband, Cameron, and their dog, Billie LuLu.
When did you start One Hungry Mami and what is it all about?
I started One Hungry Mami on the 24th of July 2012. I didn't know that it was going to turn into that at that moment, but it just kind of evolved into it. Initially, I just wanted to start documenting my life in food pics because I decided that I was going to try and go vegan for 12 weeks. It was just meant to be an experiment, but fast forward nearly two years and here I am, still plant-based and thriving!
You say you’re not a nutritionist or health expert, just a girl who loves life and making the best of everything, but where do you learn all the awesome information behind the recipes you share on your blog?
Well I've always been into food, exercise, and general health stuff so I'm always reading about it. If I find something that I like or that works for me, I research the crap out of it to educate myself, and then I share it with others because I figure that there's plenty of people like me who are into the same stuff.
What are some tips for people who are not vegan or vegetarian at all but want to be healthier and transition into this lifestyle? What are some simple things they can do or foods they can easily integrate into their lives?
My first tip is to remember that what works for one doesn't work for another so read, educate yourself, and experiment to see what you like and what suits your lifestyle. It's all about choosing something that sustains you, in mind and body, and that you can sustain. This will turn a diet into a lifestyle and you will reap those health benefits.
Simple things you can do is just start by adding as many greens into your life as possible. Green smoothies are a great way of doing this, and it lets you incorporate your fave fruits and veggies. Once you have the base right, it's hard to fluff it. Anyone can make a green smoothie!
Secondly, try and make as many of your meals as possible. This will force you to get creative, and it also means that you know what you're putting into your body. Also, when you make the food, put as much good energy in as possible and be grateful. Not everyone is lucky enough to choose the food that they put into their bodies. Don't waste this opportunity that the universe has given you. If you think it takes time or is complicated, then stick to recipes you like and prep ahead. Like the saying goes, 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail'.
Start moving your body. You need to exercise, it's a must for a healthy mind and body. We weren't made to live sedentary lives! Get out there and get your heart pumping. Choose something that you like, and do it. You'll feel amazing, I promise.
Meditate. it's the cheapest, most accessible way to finding your bliss. It will make you a happier person, and you will pass on this happiness to those you come across.
Don't compare yourself to others, it serves no one and greatly diminishes your amazing potential. You are unique for a reason!
Be kind to yourself. You won't always get it right, and that's cool. No event is without its lessons, so let it go.
What has this journey been like for you and your family? What has it been like to reach so many followers interested in what you’re sharing?
It's been a really interesting journey! Personally, apart from the physical health benefits, I'vee also noted lots of mental health benefits. I'm a worrier by nature which tends to manifest in panic and anxiety attacks, but I've noticed that going plant-based, and most recently taking up transcendental meditation, that this has greatly improved. It's been a while since I had a panic attack.
In terms of my family I've been really lucky. My husband has always been supportive of everything I do, and kids are so adaptable so they just go along with whatever, as long as it tastes good! Whilst they aren't plant-based, we have started having vegetarian month each quarter. They enjoy it, and it's great to sit down and all eat (nearly) the same food at the dinner table.
The response from the instagram community has been incredible. I never ever thought that anyone would care about what I was making/eating. It was meant to be just for me as a way of keeping tabs on myself, but there you go, so many health nuts out there, it's awesome. I've met some really lovely and inspiring people and have also made good friends through IG. There are so many amazing people out there doing such cool things, and I think IG exposes you to that. She/Folk was definitely one of those things. In general, I think it's a great way to connect with like-minded beings and become inspired and share what you know. It's a beautiful cycle of giving and receiving.
How do you balance your career, raising your children, and One Hungry Mami?
I think it's common as women to try and get as much done in a day, so I pretty much cram as much as I can into every waking moment of my day. Being busy keeps me going and to be honest, sitting idle has never been my cup of tea. One Hungry Mami is like a creative outlet for me so I do make time to spend on it, sometimes not as much as I'd like, but everything is a compromise, and I would never compromise having time with my children. So for now I keep One Hungry Mami time mainly to those moments when I'm not working, all the housework is done, and the kids and hubby are in bed.
What do you do to de-stress?
I recently started practising transcendental meditation so I do that twice a day for 20 minutes each time. I also exercise. It's probably my all time favourite way to de-stress. Whether it's running, a spin class, weight training, yoga or whatever - if my heart's pumping, the sweat is pouring, and I feel like I'm going to pass out, I'm happy.
Who are some women you look up to/admire?
My mum. She's been the best mother, so loving and always there for me and my sisters. She had a hard time as a new mum with me and had to do it alone for a while, but she did such a great job, and I don't ever remember my childhood with sadness or felt like I had it tough. She made so many sacrifices just so we could have a better life, and for that I will always be grateful.
My late grandmother, who had 8 children, and raised many more who weren't hers but treated them like they were and until this day - they still call her mum. She was an awesome lady and was so giving and loving.
I admire single mums because I know how hard it can be to raise a child, specially for the first few years, where you're functioning on next to no sleep, only just adjusting to what has happened. The mind takes a while to adjust to what has happened to your body!
Even with the most supportive partner and family by your side, it's really challenging, so to be on your own or with little to no support and still manage to give your child a loving and secure environment - it's amazing to me.
I admire women who do what they can for their community and themselves, and who build up others.
I admire women who in the face of adversity, have courage and go against cultural boundaries because of what they believe in.
I admire women who have experienced horrific trauma and still manage to see the beauty in life, be kind to others, and continue on pursuing their dreams.
I admire women in general, and I've always believed that if women were more kind to each other, this world would be a better place.
Lastly, what are some of your favorite recipes?
I love to make desserts, but I want to share some basics with you that you can include in daily meals: cashew mayo, green smoothies, and chia porridge.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed well.
2 TBS nutritional yeast
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp of dried dill
1/3-1/2 cup of water
Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
You can use this recipe as the sauce to zucchini noodles; just add some torn baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, and top with some hemp seeds. You can use it as a dressing on your favourite salad - my current fave is mixing it through a big bowl of thinly sliced silverbeet, kale, cos lettuce, cauliflower, capsicum (peppers), sweet potato, and radish, and topping it with some goji berries and some homemade sauerkraut. It's also great as a sauce on top of falafel and salad, and wrapped in a gluten free wrap, or as a dip for some veggie sticks. You can also make variations by adding different flavours like fresh herbs, sriracha, sun-dried tomatoes, e.t.c.
You can find my all time fave here: http://onehungrymami.com/love-food-love-love/
Basic Chia Porridge
2 TBS of chia seeds
3/4 cup plant milk (I normally use liquid stevia as a sweetener or blend the plant milk with a couple of dates and/or bananas prior to adding it to the chia.)
Put both ingredients in a glass jar with tight fitting lid. Shake the crap out of it a few times so that the chia seeds don't form clumps. Leave overnight in the fridge. The chia will soak up the liquid and you'll end up with deliciously thick chia porridge.
You can also play around with flavours and create something different each time. Before soaking just add: vanilla extract for vanilla chia; raw cacao powder for chocolate chia; hazelnut mylk, raw cacao powder, and some hazelnut extract for a delicious nutella flavour; blend some berries with 3/4cup of water and add that to the chia so you end up with a berry flavoured porridge; or stir in some pumpkin butter.
And don't forget your toppings! Some fruit, nuts, seeds, activated buckinis, unsweetened coconut flakes, goji berries, dried white mulberries, raw cacao nibs, e.t.c. I also love layering chia puddings with fruit or nuts/seeds for some added texture and crunch.