Guest Author: Amy Lanza
We caught up with Nuzest Affiliate Amy Lanza, otherwise known as Nourishing Amy. Amy is a plant-based food blogger, recipe developer, content creator and food stylist. We are in envy of Amy's creativity and how much she has achieved!
How did it all begin for you?
My journey to where I am today began with my simple love for foods, making cakes for special occasions and sharing good food with friends and family. I am passionate about my plant-based lifestyle which started a few years ago. While being at university, I became increasingly interested in wholefoods, grains and what I realised were “vegan alternatives” and began to follow healthy food blogs and experiment in the kitchen. The more I tried plant-based living and using more chickpeas and tofu, for example, the more I loved it. I felt great – my skin was glowing; I was full of energy and I felt lighter and brighter. My journey to veganism was gradual and it has been over three years that I have been fully plant-based. While it began with reasons of personal health and wellbeing, my veganism spans much further now – my passion is fuelled by doing my best for the planet and the animals. At the same time as I explored veganism, I similarly explore social media and I started posting my daily dinners – nothing fancy but delicious, nevertheless. I started to chat to “IG friends” and realised what a wonderful, supportive and inspiring community there is online. I would meet up with friends, go to blogger events and attend food festivals and I’ve made some of my closest friends through our love for plant-based foods. As I continued to post, my following grew slowly, and brands offered to send free products which felt AMAZING! From free gifted products to recipe creations and then paid for campaigns and content, I am growing and learning every day.
Did you overcome any challenges to get where you are today?
I think we all have our everyday challenges that we face – from where to find inspiration for new recipes to logistical challenges of creating and selling an eBook (which took a lot more hours than I was expecting). It is how we rise to the challenges and deal with the uncertainty that speaks volumes. It is safe to say that my friends and family did not believe you could make money, let alone a living, from styling food and taking photographs as well as from social media. But with my passion and determination, I sent out lots of emails, I practised, and I learned along the way. I am continuing to learn and grow each day and it is their support and my determination and passion that keeps me going!
What does a workday look like for you?
No two days are ever the same for me! I work part-time at Creative Impact Co, an online collective of creatives looking to make an impact with their passion – we provide support, tools and expertise in all things social and practical. These days are laptop days, filled with Zoom calls, emails and social media planning (and finished off with Nourishing Amy working in the evenings). The other 4 out of the 7-day week are on Nourishing Amy. This is split between answering and sending emails, making a mess in the kitchen, washing up, styling food, taking photographs and spending time planning recipes ideas and shoots. I do make time every day for my morning matcha latte, though, and tend to break mid-late morning for brunch and then again for an early dinner with my family.
What is your favourite recipe?
That is such a hard question! I love sweet and savoury recipes that I share, and I make sure to be 100% behind each recipe I post. That said, this year, I have set myself a banana bread challenge where I create a brand-new banana bread recipe each month (before it was a lockdown craze!) so I would probably say one of those. I love the Sticky Orange Banana Bread or the Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread. But then again, I have a big love for my homemade nut butter, too, and Homemade Gnocchi.
What has been your hardest creation?
As far as creations go, it tends to be the ones I assume that are going to be easy that pose more of a challenge for some reason or other! Or it is the easy ones that take the longest to shoot… I made my friend’s wedding cake in summer 2019 so that was probably the most pressure I had felt. I made sure to practise it many times beforehand, but it was definitely the most rewarding, too. You can see the Vegan Vanilla Cake here: https://nourishingamy.com/2019/08/11/vegan-vanilla-cake/
What are your thoughts and advice around failure? Do your recipes ever flop? Do you ever get knock backs and what is your philosophy on getting back up?
Setbacks and “failures” are part of life, but I try to always see the positive or at least reflect on what I can learn from the situation. I used to be quite scared of yeasted bakes after so many failed rolls and buns with the temperature not being quite right and the proving conditions all wrong… but I made sure to do my research and plan! Planning is key… to-do-lists, talking things through with friends and never being afraid to ask for advice. We are all on a journey and are at different stages. We can learn so much from those around us.
Knock backs are hard and I definitely take them personally, or when my social media posts don’t do “well” - but the more open I am with my feelings, the better I feel.
How do you respond to the age-old question "where do vegans get their protein?"
Luckily, I do not get asked that questions too often anymore, as I think the vegan scene is widening and the world is waking up. Most people seem to know a thing or two about veganism today which is amazing but when I am asked, I tend to reel off the classic list: beans, chickpeas, legumes, peanut butter, tofu, tempeh and then you have the vegan meat alternatives, too. I also like to add that some of the biggest and strongest animals on the planet eat plants, so clearly, they’re doing OK!
I always like to add a scoop or two of delicious protein powder to my breakfast recipes and baking – which is something not constrained to the vegan scene, either!
What are some fun ways you have found to use Nuzest protein in your recipes?
I am a big fan of the flavoured protein that Nuzest has and I especially love the Chai Maca Turmeric one in a warming bowl of porridge. I love to add vanilla protein to my granola before it bakes as it adds so much vanilla flavour and texture, too, while I also add protein to my baked oats and vegan cookies! If I’m after a quick snack, protein yoghurt/mousse and berries is a favourite: simply stir together your favourite yoghurt and protein powder and it turns into a thick mousse! And don’t forget the energy balls, too…
You once spoke about intuitive eating, what does that mean to you?
While I am not qualified in nutrition or dietetics, I am fascinated by all things foodie and health, so when I heard about something call “intuitive eating” I was curious. I listened to podcasts and read a few books and really started to tune into my body. For me, it means listening to my body and its cravings: thinking about what it is that I really fancy eating/drinking at that moment and honouring it. Some days that means chocolate porridge for lunch and other days it will be harissa vegetables and a chickpea omelette. It has taken a long time to be able to hear my body, though, as I think there is the worry that all you will eat is chocolate cake. Each day is totally different, and it is not possible all the time to do this – if we’re out and about our options may be limited or if we are on holiday. So intuitive eating also means being gentle with myself.
Aside from cooking what do you like to do? What lights you up?
Anything food and styling/photographing lights me up, but I also love spending time with friends and family. Brunch is my favourite meal of the day – whether that is at home and specially to go out with friends. Avocado toast is my go-to!
Enjoying walks in nature is something I love, and we often go on hiking holidays in the Lake or Peak District. I also love being by the sea and listening to the waves. I like to read books that make me cry and films that suck me in emotionally, and to unwind I love practising yoga at home. I love going to classes but don’t get to go often enough and when I’m with my PT friend, I love a sweaty HIIT session.
You've already published a wonderful plant-based recipe book, what else does the future holds?
My first eBook, Nourish Me was such an amazing experience and I really want to create another one… I have so many recipes just sat here on my laptop waiting to share with people. It’s the classic thing of “I don’t have time” to put it together - so that is certainly something on the horizon. A published cookbook would be the dream when the time is right; I would love to see my recipes in print!
How can people find you?
Social Media: https://www.instagram.com/nourishing.amy/
Nourish Me eBook: https://nourishingamy.com/ebook/