Shamelessly Fabulous Celebrating Irene of Irene’s Green Cuisine

Hello love! Welcome back to another Shamelessly Fabulous Friday!! That means it’s time for another celebration! Shamelessly Fabulous Friday was born from my desire to share and celebrate those that inspire me, uplift me and add a little sunshine to my day in the hopes that they will do the same for you!

Today I am celebrating Irene of Irene’s Green Cuisine! I discovered Irene through Shauna’s Sunday Shout Outs and all I could say was ‘WOW”! I went to Irene’s page and was greeted with the most mouthwatering and nourishing meals! I was blown away at the detail and love that is crafted in each of these meals! That admiration went a bit further when upon talking to Irene during our Soulversation, she revealed that she doesn’t actually enjoy cooking, for her, its a form of self care! Knowing that Irene using nourishing her body and creating meals as an act of self care, made me appreciate them that much more!

Veganized Crab Cakes made of Hearts of Palm

I had the pleasure of having a Soulversation with Irene about her plant based journey, motherhood, self care, mindful living an so much more, here’s what she had to share:

Can you share your plant based journey with us?

I became plant based about 5 years ago after a scare. When I gave birth to my son in 2012, the doctors told me I had heart failure. It really shocked me, because I felt fine, but apparently during delivery when they hooked me up to monitors, it looked like my heart was working much harder than normal. The cardiologist visited me and said it happens to some women during pregnancy and after, For some, they go back to normal, for others, it becomes something they have to live with. The actual condition is “Past Partum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM). I had follow up visits for well over a year and continued with medication they gave me. They told me my lifestyle would have to change, I would have to watch my salt intake and change my diet. It was a lot to take in, especially after giving birth. About two years after diagnosis we had moved State and I was seeing my cardiologist for a while and he said things are kind of just the same and he felt like I needed a defibrillator. This was a procedure where there would put a device in me that would work to restore a normal heartbeat or that would shock the heart into restarting in case it ever stops. Well mine malfunctioned in 2015 and shocked me when it should not have. I went to the Doctor and they told me, the lead was not working properly. They shut it off and its been off since. Instead I’ve been taking the medication….had one more procedure to help with arrhythmia. That was what it took for me to say enough. I had enough of the poking and prodding. I knew I had to start eating more healthy. It was not enough that I did not look unhealthy, if anything I weighed even less than I do now  (which is why I always say, don’t focus on weight alone, you can be skinny and unhealthy). I needed to do something to take care of me. I chose to learn how to eat healthy to stay alive.

I was also inspired by Chef Ahki. I saw a YouTube video of her and she was so convicted with her knowledge. She knew what her body needs and I wanted to have that kind of knowledge.

Have you noticed any improvements since you stopped eating animals and the products that come from animals?

I noticed a difference my skin clearing up when I stopped eating dairy products. I felt less bloated. I felt like I could move.

Have you always been amazing in the kitchen?

No. I don’t actually enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking as a form of self care.

What is something you wish you knew before going plant based?

Can I a few? A couple of things I wish I knew first being that just because its vegan, doesn’t mean its healthy. Secondly…portion control, regardless of it being plant based, you can have whole foods and still put on weight. Third, understand your body and what works for you. Just because eating one way for someone else is gaining them certain results, does  not mean it will work for you. Listening to your body is very important.

Are there any foods you avoid? Why?

Yes, I avoid soy, it doesn’t agree with my body. I avoid processed foods. Also certain packaged foods especially those in pouches that are on shelves. I’m just very wary of food that can sit outside on a shelf like veggies, soups. It often means that have had to add ingredients that make them shelf stable. I also just try to stay away from man made food alternatives that are branded plant based. I feel like companies are taking advantage of a trend and what may have started off as a good cause, is being hijacked again by big companies who are just in it to make a profit. 

But I consume canned goods occasionally like tomatoes or beans as well as frozen vegetables. I never said I’m perfect but I’m a work in progress and do the best with what I have.

At the same time I understand people that choose to eat them out of convenience, or people have no choice and they have to do what they have to do. 

I recognize I’m speaking from a place of privilege with this answer. Its part of the reason I had a hard time answering this question. I truly believe you have to do what is right for you in any given moment. I recognize not everyone has the privilege to avoid certain foods because of circumstances. Does that mean you throw in the towel and give up altogether on eating healthy hopefully not. So I prefer to advocate for people to make the best decision that fits their circumstance.

This is the reason I always try and ask people to read the ingredients and understand what it is that you are consuming. It’s the reason I prefer whole food plant based. I know that too is being manipulated but until I can grow my own food, it’s the best that I can do

What is one food you cannot live without?

I love beans but they don’t love me. Herbs and spices. They make foods so much more interesting.

How did you get into photography?

Pretty much the same time that I started cooking, that’s when I hunkered down on it. I enjoyed the whole process of where to put certain things, certain items. Then I got involved with something else, I became curious about the plant based dyeing of cloth.

How did you get into dyeing fabric with avocado pits?

Fabric Dyed With Avocado Pits

I got into it after I saw someone on Instagram. She was having so much fun with it. She lays out the whole process on her website. Its such a fun thing to do.

For more information about dyeing fabric with plants.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your reflections about motherhood, that quote hit the nail on the head:

“Mothering is hard when you are still trying to find yourself”-Yasmine Cheyenne. I saw this quote recently and its something I could instantly relate to because I don’t feel like we talk enough about this aspect to motherhood. I feel like it is glamorized. When I look back on my life after the birth of my kids. I honestly felt really lost and confused, but I didn’t have time to really focus on it because I was just going through the motions of trying to get through day to day life. As they are older now and I’m having more moments to myself, I realize what this internal struggle has been…I had not been able to put it into words until I saw the quote. I don’t have the answers yet to the many questions I have about my life and where its headed at times because I’m still working on me. I used to hate that I didn’t have it all figured out but now I know its okay. I give myself grace, something I had a really tough time doing. I am very tough on myself and the expectations I have for myself. I used to think the people around me were the ones with high expectations. Truly it was just me projecting. I’m learning that its okay to still be on the journey of figuring things out and I don’t have to have it all together. A lot of that has meant having to define for myself what is important to me. As opposed to living to make everyone else happy. 

What is keeping you grounded these days?

Thinking about the future and planning ahead. We are focusing on what’s next. Journaling is keeping me sane. When I journal I realize just how much I keep bottled in. My personal relationship with God and understanding the bible for myself keeps me grounded.

Who inspires you?

My husband, he always has such a positive outlook to life, he’s such a go-getter and he’s so encouraging. My kids inspire me because they are everything that I want to be and I see them living it out.

In the social media world its people like Brandy of Easy Living Gardens and Shauna of Blaq Vegan. My followers inspire me a lot on this journey that I’m on.  When they say something that I’ve cooked has made them rethink their path or made them want to incorporate more healthy food, that inspires me.

Also people who live their lives authentically just being themselves, I love that and I’m drawn to that. Most recently I’m inspired by people who grow food in their homes, backyards, gardens, farms. That’s what I eventually want to get into.

What book has made the greatest impact in your life?

The Bible. Its gotten me through some pretty rough times and I always turn to it. Not just through the bad but through the good too. Journaling as well. The second time I left home, I left to go to Australia. I didn’t know anyone so for a whole year, I spent my time meditating and really focusing on what I hoped to achieve when I was away. I was journaling and praying a lot. I will say that the best time of my life has been Australia hands down. That focus that I had and that vision that I laid out in the journal about how I want things to be.

What are some simple things that bring you joy?

Road trips, making tea, cooking, family, dancing, music, quiet moments, reading, planning for the future. I find that I’m reading books about immigrants and they resonate with me so much and I find myself laughing out loud. Learning the art of candle making, dyeing cloth with food such as avocado. I love working with food and my hands. I love seeing all the different possibilities that exist creatively. I also want to get into gardening

What are your favorite self care tips?

Taking time away from all the noise, switching off and figuring out what is important to you. That may be fitness, it may involve praying, meditating, quiet time to focus on you. It does not have to elaborate and resemble what the world says is self care. For me its tea time, a good book and a couch. Its using my hands creatively in the kitchen to cook, make something artistic.

Self-reflection and unlearning – Taking the time to unlearn all the things that I have learned about myself that doesn’t elevate me. Replacing these old thoughts with new ones. This involves a lot of self reflection and that’s why quiet time is important for me.

Can you tell me a little more about the tea making process?

Once the herbs come out and my family can see me making tea, they know it’s my quiet time. Just the process of creating it is something I’m enjoying more. I’m recognizing what I need and how I feel and then I create a tea that will help me with those things. I have a lot of herbal tea books for refference.

What is something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I’m not a fan of small talk. I appreciate true connection. I’m an introvert but I’m not shy. I am a thinker and I notice a lot of things because I’m an observer. I prefer a few close friends. If we connect, then you matter me and I don’t take that lightly, I’m fiercely loyal. I struggled with this identity for a long time because for a long time I thought it was wrong for me to be this way but now I embrace it fully. 

What is one song that can instantly put you in a good mood?

I love afro-beat songs. They get me through a lot of tough days. Right now i’m enjoying Rema the most. His music is mind blowing. Also another group that I love is called Sauti Soul from Kenya.

What are your best practices for getting through challenging times?

Quiet time with God and in the Bible. I journal a lot. I’ve journaled since I was in High School. I have all my journals. I find that I’m more articulate and able to express my feelings more clearly when I write in my journal. Things that I did not even know I was feeling, comes through when I write. I got through one of the toughest times in my life journaling. I wrote everything out on how I would get through it. Everything that I wrote, came to pass. That’s how much I believe in the power of writing things down. Be still and surrendering.

What are your words to live by, or your motto?

“Do it afraid” Many times we think we should wait to do something until we are no longer afraid. But if we did, we’d probably accomplish very little. 

What are you grateful for?

My sanity! There have been so many times when I feel like I could have lost it so I’m grateful for my sanity. My family, I appreciate them so much, they really help keep me going. I’m grateful the trial that we are going through now because it’s uncovered so much. People are being forced to evaluate their own values.

What is something that gives you hope for the future?

I’m hopeful that we’re going to get through this no matter what we’re facing right now, I’ve seen so many glimpses of humanity. People are aware and they are making a conscious effort and that’s all you can hope for.

Who do you think would fit into Shamelessly Fabulous Fridays?

Cool Vegan Mama , The Canadian African , Love Vegan Soul, Sedjedo , Norma J Reynolds

Where can we find you? ( Blog, Instagram, YouTube ect)

I’m still working on my website. Until I complete it you can find me on Instagram , Irene’s Green Cuisine.

For the full Soulversation

Definitely check Irene out! Her meals are definitely inspiring! Thank you so much for stopping by, until next time, Stay Fabulous!

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