Tips on Plant-Slant Parenting from a Biomedical Scientist

 

Somi Igbene, PhD, is a biomedical scientist, a certified nutritional therapist, and a plant-slant foodie creating the most beautifully-plated meals and bowls. Her focus is on promoting wellness for women of African descent, and she advocates for a return to a traditional African diet to combat rising levels of obesity and chronic disease among African communities around the world. She shared her parenting advice, her inspiration in the kitchen, and tips for plant-slant beginners.

1. You have so many beautiful recipes on your website and Instagram. Where do you find inspiration?

I get inspiration from my childhood meals, watching cooking programs on TV, and also other food bloggers on Instagram.

2. What inspired you to change your habits and steer toward plant-slant nutrition?

I developed an itchy throat after having my daughter. When my doctor couldn’t find anything wrong, she suggested I could have developed a food intolerance. Once I cut out meat and animal by-products from my diet, my throat healed itself.

3. What about being a parent has been the most challenging and the most rewarding?

The most challenging part of being a parent for me is trying to make sure I instill good values in my children. Sometimes I think I’m doing okay, but external influences can be very difficult to deal with. The rewarding part of it is having them in my life. They bring me so much joy, especially when I’m very stressed.

4. How has being a parent changed your outlook on health?

It has made me a lot more conscious about food and how it impacts health and well-being. I find that I spend a lot more time planning meals to make sure that I’m feeding myself and my kids a diet that is as nourishing as possible.

5. Do you have a favorite recipe? And what about your kids?

It is so difficult to choose, but if I had to choose now right now, it would be my Coconut Rice and Jerk Mushrooms recipe. My kids love rice and beans — very easy to satisfy.

6. What is the best way to introduce plant-slant eating to your children (or picky adults?)

I always suggest to start with foods or dishes you’re already familiar with. If spaghetti bolognese is your favorite meal, for example, you can start by swapping the meat for soy mince, which is probably the closest texture to meat or lentils. Repeat the process of swapping meat-based foods with plant-based ones in recipes you enjoy, and once you get comfortable you can start trying new foods and recipes. While swapping things around and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. In no time, you will be eating more plants and may eventually decide to become fully plant-based.

7. How do you manage stress and balance your life as a parent, recipe creator, wife, etc.?

To be honest, this one thing I don’t really have a handle on just yet. I’m still actively trying to find a way to find balance. My stress levels are very high, but I’m trying to work on it by incorporating meditation and more calming exercises, like yoga, into my routine.

8. What is your purpose, or ikigai?

My purpose is to help as many people as possible gain optimal health through plant-slant nutrition and living.

9. Where are you happiest?

At the risk of sounding like an elderly grandma, I’m the happiest laying in bed listening to jazz and reading a book.

10. What advice can you give to those just beginning their overall wellness journey?

Wellness is not something that anyone achieves overnight — or ever completely achieves. I believe it always evolves. Trying to change everything at once will only set you up for failure, so I would advise starting slowly.

11. What are you most proud of?

Without a doubt, my children.

12. How do you promote living a simplified life?

At the moment, I’m focused on doing it by sharing simple plant-slant recipes. I hope to expand into simple beauty recipes as well as fitness and general wellness tips.

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