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jessica murnane’s clean treats to help you feel good inside & out: brighten up for spring

One Part Plant’s Jessica Murnane is a huge believer that good food makes you feel better.  To help us feel clean & refreshed going into spring, she created her own Simple & Crisp perfect pairings, full of plant nutrients & goodness.
Jessica Murnane

Photo by Emma Arnold / Tres Awesome

Why we love her:

Jessica Murnane is a common-day Johnny Appleseed—busy adding a little more plant love to Chicago, where she resides and runs One Part Plant, a guide to clean eating.  As a designer and self-described “plant-vangelist,” she works directly with restaurants and clients to coach them on the benefits of plant-based diets.  Her best case study is herself—ever since she chose a plant-based diet, her life has changed for the better both personally and professionally.

Between running One Part Plant, publicizing her new book A Year of Cookies, and working directly with other foodie influencers, she’s got her hands full!  We love her passion for this lifestyle, her belief in its virtue, and her devotion to helping others feel just as great about themselves too.  We wanted to learn more about Jessica (lover of lemons and often found eating her favorite Pesto Veggie Bowl), as well as ways we can incorporate more plant goodness into our diets.  With spring approaching, Jessica created some plant-tastic perfect pairings for us to feel cleaner and happier both inside and out.

When did your passion for food begin? 

I’ve always had a passion for food…meaning I stuffed my face with anything I could get my hands on.  But it wasn’t food that was good for me and I most certainly never cooked it myself.  My passion for cooking—and specifically good food—only started a few years ago.  I changed my diet to manage a health condition I have, but the change took me on the biggest food adventure of my life.  I love cooking now and have discovered foods I didn’t even know existed because of it!

You sort of stumbled into a plant-based diet out of necessity—tell us a little more about how you came to change your diet & the effect it had on you.

I was faced with getting a hysterectomy or going through crazy drug therapy.  I opted for getting the surgery because I just wanted the pain to go away and get back to feeling myself.  But then a friend swooped in and told me how plant-based eating might help.  I was skeptical, but also desperate, so I gave it a try…and it worked, so I didn’t get the surgery!

Don’t be fooled by the exclamation point, it wasn’t easy at first.  I was a huge brat the first few weeks—my body was going through withdrawal from all the garbage I used to put in it.  But my body slowly adjusted and I’ve never looked back.  My whole life has changed because of it and I couldn’t be happier.

What were some of the biggest changes you had to make to your diet?  What was the result?

I didn’t want to stop eating the things I loved, so the first thing I did was figure out how to adapt my old recipes into plant-based versions.  There were a lot of physical changes that happened—shinier hair, clearer skin, better smelling pits—but one of the greatest changes that was my new relationship with food.

I always struggled with food and weight issues, which really interfered with how I saw myself.  By putting good things into my body, I started to have better thoughts about myself too.  It’s crazy how it happens, but it does.  It’s not something I thought would happen as a result of this diet change, but I feel so incredibly grateful for it.

For many of us, a “plant-based diet” is a novel term—what does it entail?

A plant-based diet focuses on whole or minimally processed vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes.  Plant-based diets are packed with healthy nutrients—compared to other terms, like vegan and gluten-fee, which don’t always mean healthy, necessarily.  Oreos are vegan, but they’re not something I would suggest eating everyday.  I think these types of labels can scare people, oftentimes focusing on what you can’t eat, rather than what you can.  Regardless of personal diet choices or labels, my goal is just trying to get more plants in everyone’s bellies!

One Part Plant Nacho Pizza

Do you still find it challenging to stick to this diet—finding the right ingredients or accommodating restaurants?

I don’t find it challenging to eat this way anymore.  I now know how good it makes me feel, so I don’t want to compromise that.  The only time it can get hard is when I’m on the road, so I make sure to have snacks ready to go and use apps like HappyCow to find healthy food wherever I am.

You’re now certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, operating One Part Plant full time & working directly with clients.  Why did you decide to turn your nutrition & diet into your career?

I started with my One Part Plant restaurant program, working with restaurants to get more plant-based options on their menu.  Then I wanted to transition into working with people on a more personal level too.  I help my clients clean up their diets and learn new tricks in the kitchen, but there’s also a huge component of my program that is helping them adjust to their new lifestyle.  It’s not just physical, but mental—how to deal with social situations or people that aren’t fully on board with the new you.  The process has a lot to do with food, but it also has a lot to do with being kinder to yourself along the way.

We love that you seek out restaurants to partner with; what does this relationship entail? 

My restaurant partners are the best!  It’s hard to find plant-based options sometimes, so I wanted to change that.  A lot of people get embarrassed asking for substitutions or drawing attention to themselves because of their dietary needs—but with this program, they don’t have to!

All of my partners have agreed to have at least one plant-based option on their menus.  I have a steakhouse on board and even just signed on a fried chicken restaurant!  These chefs are some of the best in the country and it’s truly amazing how open they are to the concept and inventive with their dishes.

You just published your first book, A Year of Cookies!  That’s certainly a great title—are there a lot of cookies in there? 

Yes, there’s one for every month of the year!  I have a lot of great contributors too—NYC’s Baked, Laura Wright from The First Mess, and Julie Lee from Julie’s Kitchen.

I love every recipe in A Year of Cookies, but you certainly can’t go wrong with the Oatmeal Molasses Cream Pies.

Jessica Murnane One Part Plant

You love getting inspired by others, especially through “So, How Was Your Day?” & series like your “For Reals Meals.”  What are some of the best tips you’ve learned from working with others? 

I wouldn’t have half of my adventures or experiences if it weren’t for the inspiring people in my life.  Both “So, How Was Your Day?” and “For Reals Meals” are a way for me to share these incredible people with the world.  I’ve learned a new lesson from every person I write about—from not comparing myself to others to learning how people deal with creative blocks.  I can’t believe that I get to connect with such incredible people that make me a better person and push me to do more everyday…okay, don’t make me cry!

We love your phrase on One Part Plant that sometimes we simply “need a little help getting our sparkle back.” How do you personally “brighten up” & get your sparkle back for spring?

Good question!  I make sure to start my day with something green and always ensure I’m getting enough Vitamin D (if you live in Chicago like I do, that might mean in the form of a vitamin).  I’m not the kind of girl that loves working out, but I make a big effort to do it…even when I don’t want to make the time.  It really changes my whole day for the better.  And I’ve made a conscious effort to surround myself with people that are sparkling too, ones that want us both to do well.

One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson: “Know that there’s enough room for everyone to be passionate, creative, and successful.  In fact, there’s more than room for everyone; there’s a need for everyone.”  Having passion and sparkle can be contagious, so seek out people that have it too and it might surprise you what happens next!

What are your own Simple & Crisp perfect pairings to help us brighten up & feel good this March?

1. Simple & Crisp Pear with Kiwi, Coconut Cream & Mint

Add a slice of kiwi to your pear crisp and top with a dollop of coconut cream.
Finish with a sprig of mint!

Easy Whipped Coconut Cream:

  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Take chilled coconut milk carefully from the fridge; do not shake (the coconut cream and water will have separated, and you want it to stay that way).  Open the can and scoop the coconut cream from the top into a small bowl.  Add maple syrup and salt; use an electric mixer (or a fork really fast) to mix until stiff and creamy.

Simple & Crisp Pear with kiwi

Simple & Crisp Pear with kiwi

2. Simple & Crisp Apple with Almond Butter & Dark Chocolate

Simply spread almond butter over half of the apple crisp.  Dip in melted dark chocolate and refrigerate until chocolate becomes hard.

Simple & Crisp Apple with almond butter & dark chocolate

Simple & Crisp Apple with almond butter & dark chocolate

3. Simple & Crisp Apple & Pear Cinnamon Cookies

I used the Cinnamon cookie recipe from A Year Of Cookies and placed the crisp in the center before baking.  You could use this technique with any cookie recipe for an extra fruit treat on top!

Simple & Crisp Apple & Pear Cinnamon Cookies

Simple & Crisp Apple & Pear Cinnamon Cookies

For more information on Jessica Murnane, you can visit One Part Plant, as well as follow her plant love on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

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