Tell us a bit about your background.
I started sharing healthy recipes on Instagram in 2013. While on maternity leave with my twins three years later, I started my food blog (healthyfrenchwife.com), became a vegan and started to study Human Nutrition. I graduated as a nutritionist in early 2019 and now combine nutrition, food blogging and plant-based eating.
Please explain what a plant-based diet is and its benefits.
A plant-based diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Eating mostly plants, with no or very little animal products and very little or no processed foods, it is a diet very high in fibre and low in saturated fats. This brings lot of health benefits such as a healthy digestion and a healthy gut microbiome, balanced hormones, better sleep, better weight control, more energy and reduced risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases including high cholesterol and hypertension.
What made you decide to follow a plant-based diet?
I tried a 30-day vegan diet after having my twins to regain my health — and after watching the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix. I had always been interested to try eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, but the documentary actually helped motivate me to try.
Has it been an easy switch?
Yes — I switched the next day. I found it very easy to make the change at home, but back in 2016 it was a little more difficult to eat vegan outside of home. Now, though, it is relatively easy in many cities to eat plant-based when eating out.
What have been the effects on your health and wellbeing through such a diet?
I felt much better health-wise immediately after the 30-day vegan diet, which is why I just kept going. I lost most of my extra pregnancy weight in that month, increased my energy levels and improved my digestion and bloating issues.
And how about your children’s?
My children are healthy, happy, thriving children. My twins Eloise and James now eat predominantly vegan, apart from when visiting friends and family if no vegan food is available. Annabelle, my third child, has been vegan from birth. They all are very good eaters and enjoy eating healthily and helping me in the kitchen. I don’t want to force them to stay vegan forever, but I want to teach them the importance of eating plant-based foods for their health.
What would be a typical daily menu for the children?
We start the day with porridge or bircher muesli, fruits and seeds for morning snack or some healthy muffins (such as the blueberry muffins from my cookbook), chickpea omelette with baby spinach and salad or vegan quesadillas (both recipes in my cookbook, too). In the afternoon, they might have a glass of soy milk, bliss balls, more fruits or a veggie and hummus grazing plate, or simply a nut butter sandwich. For dinner, we all eat together as a family and it varies between a pasta dish, a curry such as the dhal in mycookbook, healthy falafel bowls, homemade pizzas and tofu or chickpea noodle stir frys.
How did the idea for the cookbook come about?
I originally created a little ebook back in early 2017. As a mum, I knew creating healthy, plant-based family recipes for the whole family was something I wanted to do, but I couldn’t find any relevant cookbooks at the time. Healthy Little Tummies aims to show parents that eating healthy plant-based meals as a family is possible. The recipes in the cookbook are what we eat together around the table, not just recipes for kids.
Do your children enjoy cooking, too? If so, what sort of things?
Oh yes, they love it! Baking, rolling bliss balls and helping cut vegetables now that they are a bit older. They have been involved in my food blogging journey since they were little, stirring and tasting. I think it has really helped them be open to trying new foods.
What are your children’s favourite dishes?
Like any children, they enjoy pasta and rice dishes the most. They love the avocado pasta, the pumpkin mac and cheese pasta bake, my chickpea satay, and lentil dhal. Eloise also asks for my cauliflower potato bake every week!
Do you have any particular advice or tips for someone wishing to follow a plant-based diet?
Start slow. Change one meal at a time. For example, start with breakfasts, making porridge or smoothies. Use recipe books or take inspiration from the internet — there are so many great people to follow on Instagram for meal ideas. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing — do what works for you and your family. As long as you are adding more plants, more legumes and more wholegrains, you are still getting health benefits.
Healthy Little Tummies by Claire Power, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£14.99)
Photography by Clare Winfield Ryland Peters & Small