Happy Friday Veganista’s! Today we get to share with you; our lovely readers our latest interview in the series with Brenda; the founder and blogger of Crave the Benefits. She shares with us her vegan story, how she breaks up her day with her work for Crave the Benefits and which are her favourite recipes. If you are ever in need of some vegan food inspo, Brenda is the one…
Hi Brenda! Tell us a bit about your background and how you feel that has influenced you today?
I was born and raised in Costa Rica. Thankfully, my parents were always very supportive of me and did their best for me and my two sisters to be healthy and happy. I grew up reading all I could (both in English and Spanish), so I believe my love for learning, reading, writing, and blogging stems in part from that. In general, I believe my childhood shaped me to work hard, to do my best, to be thoughtful, and to never stop learning.
In the food and nutrition aspect, my mother cooked (and still cooks) homemade meals as much as she could before and after work, but there was a fair amount of fast and processed food in the mix growing up; especially on weekends. I got interested in healthy eating after realising that eating more whole foods and less processed foods helped me improve chronic IBS problems I’ve had for years. I began researching about the benefits of whole foods and how they can help your body thrive, and shortly after, I started trying to help my family make healthier choices. After I moved out of my parent’s house I decided to create my blog Crave the Benefits and start writing about realistic healthy eating, embracing healthy food for their benefits.
When did you create Crave the Benefits and why?
I created Crave the Benefits last year. I was passionate about the health benefits of foods and I wanted to share my passion and knowledge to get people excited to eat healthy to FEEL good, not just to look good. When you look at food from a perspective of nourishment and healing, instead of thinking of it in terms of weight loss or dieting, it becomes easier to make healthier choices. I want to help people improve their eating habits so they can be at their best.
What sets Crave the benefits apart?
Crave the Benefits is about making healthy eating easy and enjoyable no matter what your schedule or budget looks like. One of people’s main obstacles to eating healthier and take care of their bodies is the amount of work and the investment it takes to start buying and preparing healthier meals at home. It is not realistic to aspire to have the seemingly perfect healthy lifestyle that many wellness gurus and celebs have (unless you have a personal chef or tons of free time) – so I want to help people start where they are with what they have and make the process as easy as possible with quick and yummy recipes and healthy eating guides.
Tell us about your ethos when it comes to food?
I eat a mostly plant-based diet, but I am not vegan. I admit small amounts of seafood and cage-free organic eggs in my diet, but 90% of the time I eat vegan meals. In my opinion, following a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health, the planet, and the animals.
A lot of your recipes are vegan, why do you focus on this?
Because plants have so many benefits that nourish our bodies, and I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of following a plant-based diet to reduce animal cruelty and greenhouse emissions. Also… fruits and veggies are freakin’ delicious. Vegan food is anything BUT boring.
What have been your most successful recipes?
- 5 cups of frozen strawberries
- 1 tbsp of almond butter
- A handful of cashews
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups almond milk
🌿Toppings: Apple hearts and butterflies, and carnations for decoration.
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries
- 2 large bananas
- A handful of walnuts
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- White swirls: Soy yogurt
- Blue swirls: soy yogurt + blue spirulina
- Dark purple swirls: blueberry juice
- Glitter stars
- Banana stars
- 1 1/2 tsp blue spirulina (or 3 capsules)
- 1/3 cup blueberries
- 1 1/2 bananas
- 1tbsp almond butter
- A handful of walnuts (for brain power)
- 3 tbsps rolled oats
- 1 cup almond milk
- Coconut flakes
- Homemade chocolate syrup
- Edible glitter stars
- More blue spirulina
What did you find most challenging about first getting healthier and prioritising your health?
The most challenging thing was learning how to cook things that were healthy and quick at the same time. I didn’t (and still don’t enjoy) spending too much time cooking – which is why now I like to create recipes that are both quick to make but also healthy. Once I learned key cooking tips, coming up with fast dishes became easier. Another challenging thing was learning to slow down and take the time to exercise, meditate, and cook healthy meals on a daily basis. Once I start working, it’s hard for me to let go and take a break to take care of myself. It’s still hard, so I remind myself each day the importance of self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes.
Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes?
Creating daily recipes helps me stay creative. I’m also fortunate to have connected with really talented foodies on Instagram like @cloudberrytales @talinegabriel @frei_style @alpha_foodie @ps.ny @singh.monisha @rachelrenelorton @morning_moringa @myberryforest and many more who make amazing food creations that inspire me to create my own.
What is your favourite recipe you’ve created?
My favourite recipe to make was the Galaxy Smoothie Bowl above, but my go-to smoothie recipe is definitely my creamy green smoothie:
- 1 cup of frozen mango
- 1 1/2 cup of spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- A dash of turmeric
- A dash of cinnamon
- 1 cup almond milk
What’s it like being vegan in the city you live in?
I live in a city called Alajuela in Costa Rica. It can be challenging to find vegan food or restaurants sometimes as the vegan movement is not too big yet but it is completely possible if you cook mostly at home. Since the population in Costa Rica is 4 million people total, it is really difficult to find vegetarian or vegan people in real life. I have a few go-to restaurants in which I know I can find really great vegan options, but they’re not the majority.
Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?
I believe it is because of the increased awareness that is created by the easy-to-access to information about the food industry, climate change, and nutrition. The more research that is done in these areas, the easier it is for us to realise the impact of our lifestyle choices and change in a way that benefits us all. Knowledge is power when we use it.
What’s your average day like?
My average day looks like this:
- Wake up at 8:00 am (I’m trying to become a morning person after years of being a night owl) and do my morning routine: make my bed, meditate for 10 minutes, do a flexibility yoga flow, make my daily smoothie or other healthy breakfast and snap photographs to share on Instagram. I then read for 30 minutes while I eat my breakfast, then take in some sun out on the balcony.
- Edit and share my photographs on Instagram and connect with the lovely community.
- Work with my clients and on my blog. I usually work from home although I like going to a café from time to time.
- Take a break to lunch at around 2:00 pm. I would usually have dinner’s leftovers as I prefer to work on the day and cook at night.
- Keep working.
- Take a break to catch up with my boyfriend when he comes from work.
- I also prefer to exercise at home with weights and routines from Youtube videos. I personally love Fitness Blender.
- Cook dinner.
- Eat dinner with my boyfriend and spend quality time with him.
- Go to bed at around 11:00 pm -11:50pm.
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
I love what I do, so I don’t see my work as something I should balance with my life – it’s part of my life. However, I’m not great at taking breaks at times I should, especially when I’m working on a particularly long project or on a deadline.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part is when I can be helpful and inspire someone to eat healthier and take care of themselves. It’s amazing to receive emails and comments from people that have enjoyed the articles or recipes I share. Connecting with the community is definitely the most rewarding part!
What words do you live by?
I don’t have specific words, I’m always trying to learn new perspectives from which to look at life. These are 3 of my favourite quotes right now:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
“if you were born with the weakness to fall you were born with the strength to rise” – Rupi Kaur
What’s next for you and Crave the Benefits?
I recently launched a free 7 Day Nourishing Breakfast Challenge to help people jumpstart their mornings with yummy, quick and energising breakfasts that sets them up for a kickass day. If you want to create healthier habits, have better mornings, and enjoy tasty breakfasts that take less than 15 mins to make – this is the challenge for you! I’ll be focusing on helping all the challenge takers in the upcoming months.
If you were as inspired by Brenda and all her inspiring recipes head on over to Crave the Benefits here.
If you are vegan blogger, business or just about anyone leading an inspiring vegan lifestyle then please get in touch about being part of our interview series 🙂
All images via Crave the Benefits.