We’re so excited to introduce this new interview series today! It’s something that we’ve had in the works for a while, and we’re really happy to be kicking it off with such a special guest. Self-care has been a very prevalent topic in the wellness sphere lately, and it’s something that we’re both very passionate about, as evidenced by our love for nourishing foods 🙂 We do, however, find that many articles on the subject can be quite generalized and anxiety-inducing, often leaving us with a feeling of not doing it right, or not doing enough. We became interested in digging a little deeper, in order to see what self-care looks like applied to real life, by real people we admire. We are fascinated by the quiet elegance of everyday routine and always searching for day-to-day inspiration, which we’ll strive to discover plenty of in the series. We hope you enjoy these in-depth conversations, and feel free to reach out with suggestions for future interview guests!
Today’s dialogue is with Laura Wright, blogger and author of The First Mess Cookbook. Laura is a magician when it comes to approachable, plant-based cooking, and we look to her blog and cookbook almost every day for reliable, delicious recipes, as well as beautiful photography and an overall feeling of warmth and lightness. In this interview, Laura talks about her approach to self-nourishment, exercise, beauty, stress, fun, and much more. As expected, her self-care routine is full of wisdom and inspiration.
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
I get in moods where both are equally important. I stick to a certain rhythm with my early mornings and evenings though because I find it makes for better sleep and more productive days.
— What do your mornings look like? If they differ from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I wake up with the sun and take our dog out. Then, I drink a huge glass of water and make coffee, tea, matcha, or some sort of elixir. It’s usually coffee though. I read for a bit while I have my first morning beverage, or I’ll do a bit of journaling. After my partner leaves for work, I head out for a walk/run or do some form of exercise. Then, I fix up breakfast (usually a smoothie) and plan out what I’d like to accomplish that day.
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
This time of year, I do most of my gardening after dinner, and I find that really helps me wind down. Just being out there as the sun’s going down seems to send a good message to my brain that it’s time to relax. Also, limited screen exposure after dinner is key. I use the Saje Natural Wellness Sleep Well roller on the soles of my feet, too.
— Describe your typical or ideal meal for each of these:
Breakfast – Either a smoothie with greens and healthy fats (avocado, almond butter, coconut etc) or steel-cut oatmeal with tons of toppings in the winter.
Lunch – Usually whatever I’m working on suffices as lunch, but ideally a salad with a little bit of grains tossed in and some legumes/nuts/seeds for protein. Stuff on toast is a go-to lunch for me as well.
Snack – Right now I’m really into plantain chips with guacamole.
Dinner – This time of year, we grill almost all of our vegetables and serve them with a big salad or slaw, whatever protein we’ve got, and a little heap of fermented vegetables or sauerkraut. I’ve been making these amazing grilled veggie tacos with cassava flour tortillas lately too.
— Do you partake in caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
Yes! Coffee, matcha, black tea, green tea–I love it all in moderation. I can be sensitive to caffeine sometimes, so I try to limit myself to 2 caffeinated beverages a day, and always before 2 pm.
— Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, how do you keep it in check?
I try to never skip breakfast because when I do, I need something sweet by the time 3 o’clock hits. I find that consuming a good amount of healthy fat in the mornings helps me curb those cravings. Sometimes you just need a treat though.
— Are there any particular supplements, herbs, or tinctures/tonics that you take regularly and find to be helpful with your energy level and general wellness?
So many! I have this tray on my counter with all of these powders and tinctures that I sprinkle into my coffee/tea or other elixirs. For supplements, I take a probiotic, Vitamin D3, B12, and Omega 3 daily. With superfoods/powders etc: I like all of the mushroom powders these days (reishi, chaga, lion’s mane and cordyceps) because they help soothe my nerves as well as provide a focused mental energy of sorts. I put spirulina in every smoothie I make because it has so much going on nutritionally. I take ashwagandha and mucuna pruriens to help with stress management. I love all the Moon Juice Dusts, too (Spirit Dust is my go-to).
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
I could count a hundred personal influences in the realm of self-care, but I think Jason Wachob’s Wellth is a good place to start for a lot of people thinking about the subject.
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
I do! I’m always changing it up because I like variety. I like to run, hike, do weight and resistance routines, swim in the summertime, and yoga here and there too.
— Do you find exercise to be pleasurable, torturous or perhaps a little of both? How do you put yourself in the right mindset in order to keep up with it?
I really like it, but I find I need some convincing to get started. Getting to it early in the morning is the safest bet for me personally, just to have it ticked off the list before the day really starts. And thinking about the delicious smoothie I’m going to drink after always helps 🙂
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
Getting a step tracker! I know that sounds weird. I work from home and sometimes I spend way too much time puttering on the computer or standing still in my kitchen. Now I head out for at least 13,000 steps a day in addition to my workouts. I sleep deeper and have so much more energy during the day. Plus our dog loves all the extra walks 🙂
— What is your idea of beauty – external, internal or both?
Feeling clear-minded, open, and confident in any situation.
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
My skin is so sensitive so I have my routine down to a science. I love to dry brush before I hop in the shower. From there, I use this special oil-based soap from France, and then while my skin is still damp, I moisturize with coconut oil. For my face, I use a similar oil-based cleanser, rosewater and witch hazel toner, the Cell Serum from Living Libations and Tata Harper’s Clarifying Moisturizer. I’ve also been using Cocokind’s Chia Facial Oil at night along with their Full Brow Balm.
— Are there any foods, herbs or supplements you find to be helpful to your skin/hair/general glow?
Tocotrienols! They make smoothies/hot drinks super creamy and my skin loves all that Vitamin E. Plus all the usuals like greens, proper hydration, and omega-rich foods like flax seeds.
— Do you have any beauty tips/tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years?
The only tip I have is to pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking! Your skin/hair/overall appearance is a direct reflection of what’s happening on the inside.
— Do you practice any consistent routines in order to avoid stress?
I’m a lot better at knowing my limits these days. I can sense when I’m bordering on overcommitment, and I just shut it down and start saying no to stuff. I try to nourish my body well and carve out frequent pockets of time for quiet and stillness.
— If stress cannot be avoided, what are your ways of dealing with it?
Going outside, meditating, reading a good book, cooking a beautiful meal with no intention of posting it to Instagram 🙂
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
I’ll eat lots of citrus and ginger and make a pot of vegetable broth with thyme, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms. I do immune tonics with mushroom powders too, drink lots of fluids, and take extra care to get a good night’s sleep and think positive.
— Do you strive to maintain a healthy work/life balance or do those things overlap for you? What is your approach?
Like I mentioned before, I’m a lot better at sensing when a project may not serve me/my career than I used to be. I think the work/life balance comes a lot more naturally now. When I was making my cookbook, it felt like I lived in that world, and I was eating a lot of takeout and just not looking after myself because I put that work first. When I start turning to certain shortcuts or I’m habitually depending on caffeine or working on the computer past my bedtime, I know it’s time to reset my outward glance. A reset usually means a day off with some gardening, intentionally simple meal prep, and creative pursuits that aren’t food related.
— Your way of coming up with healthful, plant-based recipes that are unique and modern, but also doable and approachable is unprecedented in the food blog world. What is your process when it comes to developing recipes?
That is very generous of you to say! I have a professional cooking background, but I also appreciate the comfort of ease and efficiency. Ultimately I want my recipes to bring some kind of enjoyment or sense of ease/relief in someone’s life. Those two goals are front of mind when I get to work on a certain recipe concept. The recipe will usually start out slightly chef-y (lots of ingredients, multiple cooking methods, longer prep time), and then slowly I edit it down to streamline and make it do-able for most lightly experienced cooks. I also read every food magazine/food media website I can to stay up to date on new cooking methods and ingredients.
Fun & Inspiration
— What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?
I work on my house! I like tinkering with the layout and picking up new pieces, plants, rugs etc. My favourite/ultimate “treat yourself” strategy though is booking a weekend (or longer) away somewhere with my partner.
— A book/song/movie to feed the soul:
Book – Invincible Living by Guru Jagat
Song/Album – The Master of None Season 2 soundtrack on Spotify. Italian disco, classic New Edition etc.!
Movie – Win It All on Netflix (such a feel good movie, seriously)
— We are captivated by Joan Didion’s compact travel packing list. What are some essential objects that would be in yours?
– A rosewater sprayer in TSA-approved size for a fresh/hydrating face mist
– Snacks (raw nuts, bars etc)
– Amazing Grass packets for when I need greens fast.
– Large scarf that doubles as a blanket
– A smoky quartz that I don’t leave home without.
– A hemp cloth and tiny container of oil-based soap because I always want to wash my face immediately after a flight, even a short one.
– Minimal clothing–usually neutral coloured basics that work well for a variety of situations. I tend to always buy clothing at my destination so I go light on it when I’m packing.
– Saje Peppermint Halo: I get back pain here and there and use this as a pain killer of sorts, both at home and away. It’s like rolling ice right onto the problem area!
– Bamboo utensils and metal straw for minimizing waste on the go.
All photos courtesy of Laura Wright