Maybe it’s Valentine’s Day, maybe it’s finally finishing my cookbook manuscript (phew), or maybe it’s the slightly above freezing temperatures in New England. Whatever it is, I am feeling so much love today that I wanted to share a little with these 12 real women who inspire my balanced life.
You see, it’s been very hard for a former fat girl like myself to find inspiration. Sure, there are hundreds of health magazines, diet experts, and lifestyle bloggers – but most of them do not focus on the real woman. They tend to idolize the perfect woman, the woman I thought I needed to be, but I’m so over perfection.
You too? Good.
Through my wellness journey, I’ve learned to really love me just as I am. I’ve also found handfuls of women who, I’d like to think, just get me. Irrelevant of size – because they’re every size – they project realness every day.
Honestly, these women make me excited to be a woman.
It’s such a transforming time for the ladies, in all ways, and these “12 real women who inspire” keep me going and remind me that it’s okay to just be me.
Some of these women identify as “bloggers” and that’s cool, but they’re also talented craftspeople who write, photograph, style, develop recipes, and run their own businesses. I label them as how I see them.
I thought, perhaps, you may be looking for some real inspiration and wanted to share who I follow on the regular. I hope these women energize your life, too.
Chef, Food Stylist, Recipe Developer
Camille Becerra is way cool in a welcoming sort of way. I remember bumping into her in one of her previous restaurants. I was a little star struck by her beautiful, produce-powered food and she was just real and warm. Camille makes the sort of food I want to eat everyday and looks like a real woman doing it. I hope to visit De Maria before the month is through. I’m so excited for her residency at Merci in Paris – my favorite hangout in the city of light. Follow her on Instagram.
Yoga Instructor, Photographer, Recipe Developer, Holistic Health Lady
Renee Byrd makes the kind of plant-powered food that really inspires what I do in the kitchen. She literally makes me want to get off my chair and go create in the kitchen. Renee is based in Virginia but her food suggests California hippie, in a super cool way. Between her holistic advice and all those candles, Renee’s kitchen window is where I want to exist. Follow her on Instagram.
Blogger, Recipe Developer, Pop-up Chef
Sherrie Castellano is the woman who helped make me well. She’s my former health coach and you’ll hear a lot about her in my next cookbook. She’s also a writer, photographer, and recipe developer who makes real food look so darn special. Her food glimmers on the screen, all bright and radiant. I could write a thousand words about her, but let’s just say she makes veg look and taste really good. Follow her on Instagram.
Author, Food Stylist, and Photographer
Aran Goyoaga is a storyteller, the sort who breaks your heart with just a few words. I’ve known her for years but was particularly moved by a raw speech I witnessed where Aran just got real – her photos forever changed for me that day. I aspire to write in the same way that she makes an image – a girl gotta have a dream. Ultimately, she makes me want to be my truest self. Watch these videos to really get to know her truth and see her rawness in this piece. Follow her on Instagram.
Designer, Photographer, Artist, and Founder @ Chickpea Magazine
Cara Livermore is the founder of Chickpea Magazine, a vegan food and writing quarterly focused on bringing whole food cooking to a practical level. What I know about her comes through the Chickpea Instagram feed and her wise small business advice shared on Serif & Script Co. She teaches photography and I could stare at her hand-lettering all day long. Her studio reminds me of my early days packing food gift boxes and I love it so hard. Follower her on Instagram.
Author and Founder @ Arthur Street Kitchen, Neighborhood Studio, and Peddler Journal
Hetty McKinnon is the real deal; she started out making and delivering veg-packed salads from her bicycle in Sydney, Australia. Two beautiful vegetarian cookbooks later, she now lives in Brooklyn where she operates a community kitchen called Neighborhood Studio. Her food is veg-powered but also egalitarian, made in a hearty way for everyone to enjoy. She recently launched a new publication, Peddler Journal, that explores the multi-cultures of food. Hetty is also a fellow Roost Books author. Follow her on Instagram. [Food photo by Maria Midoes]
Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Chef, Author, Vegan Champion
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, perhaps before everyone on this list, was my first source of vegan food inspiration. She’s written at least nine vegan cookbooks (I own several) and started the original Post Punk Kitchen, a website and cooking show available on public-access television in the early 2000s. I feel most connected to Isa via her Instagram Stories – they’re hilarious and real and so far from perfection. Simply put, she makes vegan food funny. Follow her on Instagram. [Food photo by Kate Lewis]
Plant-Based Recipe Developer, Blogger @ Faring Well
Jessie Snyder is my dreamed-up version of the quintessential California hippie. Over on her plant-based blog, she shares recipes that are so easy and so good. I’ve got her Wild Rice Pecan Burgers on my to-do list and her Lemon Saffron Ice Cream was delicious. Her pantry is a total wonder, clean and well organized. Ultimately, I love the everyday nature of her whole food recipes – the recipe may look involved but the actual method is always way easy. Follow her on Instagram.
Artist, Senior Designer @ Bon Appetit
Alaina Sullivan’s Instagram feed feeds my soul. The images may seem dark and moody but, in reality, they’re just real. Remember, most of us don’t have extra lights mimicking daylight in our kitchen and Alaina’s kitchen looks kind of like my own. Her recipes are often vegetarian, always comforting, and depict her unique flare for making the everyday super special. Her cavolo nero pesto is calling my name but all her recipes, like this chicken soup, feel like they’d heal me right this very second. Check out how she shops for food. Follow her on Instagram.
Author, Photographer, Shop Owner @ Quitokeeto
Heidi Swanson has been making vegetarian food look and feel so good for a decade. She’s written several award-winning cookbooks (I have them all) and tells a story with grace and ease. That said, I’ve been particularly inspired by her site’s reinvigoration over the last several months. Her recipes are even easier, brightened by pops of color, and she’s even taken to the Instant Pot trend (and, gosh, it’s so hard to find really good veg-based IP recipes – so thank you, lady). Check out Heidi’s new style of storytelling in these way cool videos. Follow her on Instagram.
Recipe Developer, Fitness Lover, Holistic Lifestyle, Plant Lady – all @ Lee From America
Lee Tilghman is beyond real. In one post, she’ll share her bingeing story and in another she’ll take you through her experience trying all sorts of CBD (cannabidiol) products. Her recipes are pretty effortless and are more focused on balancing your hormones versus, for example, losing weight. Her most popular recipe may be her Coconut Fat Balls and she’ll tell you how to quit processed sugar. She shares her worries and her triumphs daily, which makes me a proud follower. Follow her on Instagram.
Susan Jane White
Author, Recipe Developer, Columnist @ Ireland’s Sunday Independent
Susan Jane White is an original whole foods writer based in Ireland. She veers away from damning wheat, sugar, or dairy and focuses on recipes that supercharge every part of you. I have both of her cookbooks and appreciate their everyday style and cleaned up treats that will keep you well. Susan Jane’s also a fellow Roost Books author. Follow her on Instagram.
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Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.