My friendship with Ashley blossomed through Instagram where our passions led us to each other. Luckily she is a Winnipeg girl so we often get together and chat about our foodie filled lives and where we hope it takes us. Rae of Sunshine makes the most glorious looking vegan dishes and will without a doubt inspire you to eat with color. She is a bright star with such a heart of gold that influences everyone to be kinder to each other, to animals, and to our planet.
1. Hi Ashley! First of all, thank you for joining me and spreading your sunshine over here on the Nutty site! My first question for you is how did you fall so in love with real, fresh, and health promoting food?
Thanks so much for having me!! Well, I don't want to say it all happened for a reason, but I truly believe it did! When I first went vegan in 2010, I wasn't eating healthy food. I was eating A LOT of gluten (pastas, baguettes, toast), french fries, veggie burgers (not saying these are bad at all, but I ate them way too much) and not nearly enough fresh food - literally, fresh vegetables and fruits! A few years later, 2012, my husband and I moved to Toronto and I met one of my best friends there. She was one of the first vegan friends I had ever had and she was really inspiring to me because although we had the exact same ethical beliefs around food, her diet was entirely different than mine. She was drinking green smoothies, eating a lot of raw dishes and seriously reaping the benefits of eating clean (she's effin gorgeous.) I started to learn about juicing and smoothies from her and my diet quickly changed because I felt so much more amazing eating whole, fresh foods. It was like veganism had been re-invented for me and it was awesome, I was SO inspired!
Then, in that same year, we had a fire in our kitchen. I was cooking onion rings, the oil got too hot and within seconds our kitchen was up in flames. I called to my husband to get our cats so we could evacuate but he couldn't catch them. I yelled to him "open the door" and without thinking, put my oven mitts on, grabbed the burning pot and ran out the door. While I was running, the fire burnt my face and my hair and the oil spilled down my body covering my legs and feet. I was completely scorched with second degree burns. I decided (after calming down because I was freaking out in shock for a long, long time) that I didn't want to take any medication and that I was going to heal my body naturally by eating organic, raw fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of green juice and resting TONS. I saw the doctor A LOT during my healing process and because I was treating my body so well, I didn't need surgery.
A year and a half later, my legs and feet are completely better and I don't have any scars. During that time I didn't even take a Tylenol for pain; my healing was strictly powered by plants! It was during that time that I fell IN LOVE with health and wellness and began to seriously promote nutritious food and self-care!
2. Wow! What an incredible story! So glad to hear you came out of that like a champ. What are some of the benefits you have experienced since maintaining a nutritious vegan diet?
It's so funny because before I got married I was trying to lose weight (yeah yeah, all brides do....) and because I was eating so much gluten, I gained weight!! Since living as a HEALTHY vegan (there's a difference between vegan and healthy vegan), I've lost over 20lbs, I'm strong, I rarely get sick, I used to get migraines and they're gone, my blood pressure is absolutely stellar, I sleep well, I have a ton of energy and I'm seriously in tip top shape! Also my body survived a seriously traumatizing and dangerous accident and healed itself on plants alone - holllaaaa!
3. How do you spread your sunshine regarding veganism in such a positive and embracing light? I find you to be easily approachable on the subject and have noticed that you never force your ways on others- have you always been so accepting of others eating habits?
I wasn't always like this and I'm not afraid to admit that. I'm a vegan first and foremost for ethical reasons, I LOVE ANIMALS! And when I started learning about the dairy industry, the egg industry, factory farming, animal testing, god you name it, I was angry. I was disgusted, depressed and judgemental. I was angry that people wouldn't listen to me when I tried to tell them about what they were eating, I was angry when people would delete me off of their Facebook friend list because of the articles I was posting and I was ....just angry! It was exhausting!
I never want to say things happen for a reason, but that fire seriously woke me the eff up. I had to chill out while I was healing, I couldn't get angry because my body was under enough stress and pressure already. I realized that the approach I was taking was pushing people away and that my body was undergoing a serious (natural) miracle and if I wanted to share it with people, I needed to change my ways! I have reached so many more people with my message since focusing on the positive and spreading light and I feel better, too!
4. What advice would give to those wanting to start eating more of a plant based diet?
Have fun with it! There are SO many resources out there for you on Instagram, Pinterest, blogs....millions and millions of recipes to try! Make an effort to make your plate colourful, have fun with the textures and beauty of vegetables and don't be afraid to try new things! Take one of your favourite meat dishes and look up a recipe on how to veganize it. You can literally veganize EVERYTHING. Take it one step at a time, be brave in the kitchen (I had no idea how to cook at one point either) and seriously, just have fun with it. In the end, you'll end up with something delicious to eat!
5. What are three things that you include in your daily routine that brings you comfort and peace?
Drinking my espresso in the morning in silence, cuddling my cats and cooking in the kitchen. Cooking is therapy for me.
-Life with Ashley-
1. What is your/a favourite quote?
Oh wow, I have no idea. I love so many!! I think it would have to be-
I loooove Lea Michele. I posted this quote shortly after Cory Monteith died and I thought it exuded so much confidence, bravery and truth. I carry those words with me on days that I feel like giving up....because we all have them.
2. What are your hobbies?
I want to say being active but lately I've been RoS'ing so much that my physical activity is hurting! BUT I love being active, riding my bike, running, taking photos, cooking (of course) and being outside. I love being still outside and enjoying the fresh air. I also love drinking wine and sitting around a table with good company, enjoying delicious food and laughing!
3. What is your favourite healthy recipe?
My favourite healthy recipe would have to be my Nourish Bowl - I LOVE rice/rice noodle bowls!
Ashley's Nourish Bowl Recipe:
- 1 package of rice vermicelli noodles, cooked and drained
- florets from 2 heads of broccoli
- 3 carrots, peeled & sliced
- ½ cup green onions, finely chopped
- 2 cups snow peas
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp palm sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp pure sesame oil
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tamari sauce
- Fill a bottom heavy saucepan with water, boil and cook rice noodles until they're soft.
- Rinse, drain and set aside.
- Fill another bottom heavy with water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli florets, carrots and snow peas. Boil until broccoli is soft.
- Drain the vegetables and add them to the noodles.
- In a food processor combine the oils, sugar, garlic and rice vinegar and blend until the garlic has been chopped extremely fine. If you don't have a food processor, mince the garlic very fine and whisk the ingredients together by hand in a bowl.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles and mix well.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
More on Ashley:
Facebook: Rae of Sunshine