“The first questions you always get when you tell someone you’re vegan or trying out the vegan thing are ‘Where are you going to get your protein? Where are you going to get your calcium?'” Jenné Claiborne says.
The New York City health coach, head chef of healthy food service The Nourishing Vegan, and the blogger behind Sweet Potato Soul, Claiborne makes it her business to prove that a vegan diet can be nutritionally abundant.
“It is nourishing and it can be very fulfilling and satiating and balanced,” she says. And with a peak inside her greens-loaded refrigerator, Claiborne shows us just how “super easy” it is to practice what she preaches.
We’ve got to start with all of the bottles on the top shelf. What they are?! Juices? Kombucha? The one on the far left is almond milk. I just make it myself because it’s so easy, it’s less expensive, it’s fresher and tastier. And then the two bottles in the middle are kombucha—I also make it here at home. It is extremely easy. The tall green one is just water.
You’re very industrious! I see have a good stock of brussels sprouts, a good in-season vegetable. What other produce items are you a fan of this time of year? I always stock up on butternut squash. I roast them often, make soups with them, all sorts of things. Also, sweet potatoes. All year I have sweet potatoes. And I eat a lot of fruit. Not as much in the winter, but I have lemons, oranges, apples, pears and bananas year round.
What’s in store for the bunch of cilantro on the second shelf? I made a recipe book called “Five Ingredient Vegan” and basically there are five recipes and each recipe has just five ingredients. So that cilantro was for the cookbook, for these Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes. It’s basically chickpeas with quinoa and cilantro and Mexican spices stuffed inside of a baked sweet potato.
I see you have tempeh on the third shelf. Do you use that a lot in your cooking? Oh, I love tempeh! It’s another one of my favorite foods. I make a lot of barbeque tempeh. It’s super easy. Or I just marinate it or bake it or sauté it, but I do eat it at least once a week.
Tell us about what’s in the Tupperware on the bottom shelf. Meals you’ve cooked up? I have quinoa and leftovers of sweet potato Mexican dish. Also there’s millet, and basically raw cookie batter that never made it to being cookies. I make a lot of grains and just keep them on hand. That’s the key to eating well: Being prepared.
As a vegan chef, what are some of the essential ingredients you are sure to always have stocked in the fridge or pantry? Probably number one is tahini, and I like to have a good sea salt. I like the Himalayan sea salt actually. I always have my miso, and maple syrup is important for me. Also, nowadays I’m all about coconut nectar. I also have a lot of different spices. I like to play around with a lot of different things.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you’ve posted on “Sweet Potato Soul”? I’ll tell you the first thing that came to mind. I haven’t had them in a while but my banana brownies are super good. I lay little strips of banana on top, so it bakes into the brownie and it’s so gooey and delicious. —Amy Eley