When I saw that someone new (Erica C.) had signed up for the Mini-Plant coaching program, I was really excited (I always am). And when I saw that she lived in Las Condes in Santiago, I was even more pumped. I’ve never been to Chile and am not super familiar with the food scene there.
We had a video chat, talked through the program, and did a mini pantry raid. Erica told me that she was ready to get started, but that it was going to be a bit of a challenge because there wasn’t much around her in terms of healthy grocery stores and restaurants. As the weeks went by, I figured she would do a great job and do her best. But I wasn’t expecting for her to go above and beyond like she did….making her own vegetable broth and putting out a search party for B12.
I was so impressed by her that I wanted to share her story here with a little Q & A. Thank you Erica for truly being an inspiration!
An interview with Erica C.
How long have you lived in Chile? What brought you there?
I’ve been here for about 18 months. I came here for a job teaching middle school social studies at an international school in Santiago.
What made you want to shake up your diet?
To be honest, I have always eaten and felt generally well. I watched a couple of documentaries on food and eating, and just wanted to try it out to see HOW much better I could feel.
What challenges have you faced and how did you make it work?
We have great produce here in Chile, but the clean-eating/plant-based-type lifestyle has yet to catch on. There aren’t any Whole Foods where you can just go pick up a carton of organic veggie broth or jar of almond butter. Vegetable broth comes in the form of a flourescent yellow tablet you dissolve in boiling water. So I’ve had to research – and make those things from scratch myself. Lots of Googling, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m eating more at home and brown-bagging my lunch every day. Thankfully, almond milk has made its arrival to Santiago.
Any new go-to recipes? What have you enjoyed cooking?
I’m eating sweet potatoes like it’s my job. I always loved the sweet potato hash at True Food Kitchen (in California), and now I make my own on a weekly basis. Toss some cubed sweet potatoes and chopped red onion in olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper and sea salt and throw on a baking sheet in the oven. It’s great tossed with quinoa, hot or cold. Throw that combo on some mixed greens and add chopped apples, nuts, and a cider vinaigrette. Stop. It.
Proudest moment during your six-weeks of going plant-based?
Moments like the one when I realized how much guilt had accompanied my eating for so long. Not like eating-disorder type guilt, but just the kind that made me think “well, I shouldn’t eat x-food because I already had y-food today/last night/this week”. And then I would eat x-food anyway and subconsciously feel bad about it. Now, I eat as many plants/grains, etc. as I want, when I want. And the truth is, if I really want x-or y-food, I eat it, and I don’t feel guilty because I’m eating so well all the time. Also, it’s been really satisfying every time I figure out a way to improvise and make something myself that I can’t just run to the store to pick up.
Any other tips you want to share?
I can’t find kale here, so I sub swiss chard. I look for Indian food recipes where I can sub coconut milk in for cream or milk. I enjoy looking through food blogs like Naturally Ella and The Sprouted Kitchen for recipe ideas. It definitely takes A LOT more planning to eat cleanly, since you can’t just crack open a box or bag for a snack, but it definitely can be done. Also, working with you has been awesome.
What are some of your favorite websites and resources for recipes? Share them in the comments!
And learn more about starting your own kickstart to wellness here.