Health-Esteem Queen Francesca, the creative mind behind Plantifully Based, is an absolute delight! This girl proves that you can health up literally anything. Her mouth watering, vegan recipes are a must try for all. And her honest, down to earth and delightfully kind personality is impossible not to love. Her inspiring Instagram and YouTube Channel are an alluring and inspiring mix of delicious recipes; there’s something for everyone. And she adds her golden touch, sharing her outlook and motivations with each new creation.
I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to introduce the gorgeous Health-Esteem Queen Francesca and share the magic of her amazing creation, Plantifully Based.
Tell us about your health philosophy.
My health philosophy is all about balance. I don’t believe in “cheat days” or depriving yourself. I think everyday should be filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little bit of indulgence.
What’s your favourite part of your health-esteem journey so far?
I am really enjoying all the knowledge I am acquiring. For so long I thought I knew what healthy eating was. 1500 calories a day, 3 meals, 2 snacks, no this, no that. But everyday I am learning that those rules and boundaries are bogus. If you fuel your body with good things you don’t need to stay in a strict guideline. I think knowledge is power and I feel very in control of how I am living and what goes into my body now.
Why do you think self-love is an important aspect of someone’s health?
Our bodies are the only home besides Earth we will permanently have on this planet. You need to take care of your body and love it. You do not get a second body and if you push your body past it’s limits you get sick. As you learn to love yourself and care for yourself, you want to make sure you don’t hurt yourself… you want to take care of yourself as best you can.
What changes were necessary in order to achieve your state of self-love?
I had to tell myself “it is okay to mess up.” I used to be so hung up on the idea that if I messed up my “diet” I messed up the whole day. That meant that the whole day was a waste and I would never be “skinny” because I couldn’t stick to a diet. I needed to tell myself it is okay if I had that half of a chocolate chip cookie at lunch and that doesn’t mean the whole day of healthy eating is ruined.
Also, in an aspect unrelated to food, I’ve learned that I really needed to put myself first. To care about myself, to give myself time to decompress, relax and not be so stressed.
What inspired you to become the Healthy Foodie you are today?
January 2016 I looked in the mirror and I just said I feel so disgusting, I feel terrible and I look terrible. These pants don’t fit, my shirt is too tight and I don’t feel good or beautiful. So I started to cut out dairy. I knew dairy was not good for you.
So then in March comes lent. During lent Catholics do not eat meat on Fridays. So I decided I would eat plant based on Fridays, which meant that, in addition to cutting out meat, I’d be cutting out eggs. Eventually I found my way to eating a fully plant-based diet and I have never been happier.
Why did you choose to switch to a plant based diet?
I think we all know fruits and veggies are good for us. They’re the best and purest things you can eat. So why not comprise my whole diet of them? After I switched for health reasons, I definitely stuck with it for ethical reasons. I really learned about the effects our eating choices make on the environment and of course the animals. I feel much happier now, my skin has cleared up and I feel much less tired.
Any tips for those wishing to add more plants to their diet?
Smoothies are your best friend. They are delicious, you can hide vegetables in them and you can pack in tons of nutrients. My favorite is 2 bananas, 3 handfuls of spinach, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 3 tbsp cacao powder, a cup of almond milk and strawberries. Gets in a ton of nutrients first thing in the morning and it tastes like chocolate.
Describe a typical day on your foodie plate.
I typically have a smaller lunch – usually a smoothie, smoothie bowl or Ezekiel bread with hummus. After I finish at the gym I am starving so that is when I like to have a Buddha bowl packed with veggies, a grain like rice or quinoa and some tofu or falafel. Dinner I usually have with my family and my mom is great about making sure there are tons of veggies for me now. My favorite is lentil soup, a small baked sweet potato and broccoli.
What is a daily health ritual must?
Going to the gym. Even if I feel groggy and cranky, I make myself go. It always clears my head and I feel so much better after I leave.
What advice would you give for someone wishing to make some health invoking changes?
You need to do it for yourself and be patient. Things will not happen overnight. If you are doing it for any other reason than to make yourself healthier and happier, it is very hard to sustain. I once heard on a TV show “you didn’t gain that weight overnight and you are not going to lose it overnight.”
While the purpose of becoming healthier doesn’t always need to be losing weight, I think the statement applies to everything about creating a healthier lifestyle. You didn’t form bad habits overnight, you won’t break them overnight. You didn’t become unhealthy overnight and you need to give yourself that time to become healthier. You really need to have a lot of patience and believe in yourself.
What’s your biggest health misconception pet peeve?
You need to have a perfect body to be healthy. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. I know so many people with “perfect” bodies who do not work out, do not eat healthy and do not take care of themselves. I know plenty of people with “imperfect” bodies who watch what they eat and workout 5 times a week; they are much healthier than the person the with what we often view as the “perfect” body.
What is your favourite health food staple?
Cucumbers! They are so delicious, crunchy and they are basically just all water. They’re so great for hydrating your body! I love to put lemon juice with some garlic powder on them. It’s so good!
What’s your go-to healthy snack?
Hummus. It is full of protein and so delicious. You can also change the flavors up, so the choices are endless!
What does Health-Esteem mean to you?
Health-Esteem means having confidence in leading a healthy and happy lifestyle. Trusting yourself to make the right choice and knowing you can do it.
Please share a favourite health-inducing recipe
VEGAN RED LENTIL CHILI
2 large cans dark red kidney beans
2 large cans black beans
1 medium can of corn
3 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup red onion chopped
3 bell peppers (I used multicolor)
2 cups red lentils
Chili seasoning, salt, onion powder, coconut sugar, cayenne pepper
Water as needed
In a big pot on the stove with a little water just enough to fill it, sauté onions and peppers. Once onions and peppers are cooked a bit, add in beans, lentils and tomato sauce. Then add in your seasonings. I add in at least 4 tbsps of each give it a stir, let it cook and then see what you need to add more of.
Cover your chili on a low heat and let it cook for about an hour, stirring at times and making sure it’s not burning on the bottom. After the lentils and beans are soft, your chili is done. JUST NOTE red lentils get extremely thick and they like to soak up all the moisture so keep adding bits of water here and there to make sure the chili doesn’t dry out. After about a half hour, I add the corn. Once it’s done, top with some vegan sour cream (recipe below), vegan cheese, onions, pepper, and whatever floats your boat!
VEGAN SOUR CREAM
½ cup cashews
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
Water as needed to thin
Boil cashews for about 15-20 minutes to soften them. Strain and rinse. In a high speed blender or food processor add in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt and 1 tsp of water. Blend until smooth and thick. You may need to add a bit of water at a time to help the blender. You also may need to adjust the amount of apple cider vinegar to get more or less of a “sour” taste.
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