Career: Enlightening author and founder of VegieHead.com – an online community with scrumptious plant-based recipes aimed to empower people in the kitchen – and in life. Mentors clients across the world with her Recipe for Life sessions.
In the spotlight: Her book “The Vegan Cookbook. Feed Your Soul, Taste the Love: 100 of the Best Vegan Recipes” is being released globally from March 2014 PLUS the upcoming launch of Vegie Head Academy, the world’s first plant-based online cooking course.
As told to Ingerlise Svaleng
The blogosphere is filled with tales of perfect lives that aim to inspire, but end up doing the opposite. But there are others too – amazing stories of people who when they open the door to reveal their real self, their passions and dreams, they inspire the rest of us to shed our layers and do what we were always meant to do: become the best version of ourselves. ADELE MCCONNNELL, creator of the Vegie Head community, is one of these people.
When Adele became a vegetarian at 16, she found herself subject of stereotypes and bullying. Now, her Vegie Head site has hundred thousands of monthly visits and a global book launch underway. We met to talk about life, adventures, passion and flourishing in – and out – of the kitchen.
We love your non-judgmental approach to veganism. Most of us are our own worst critics… How do you apply that approach to yourself and life?
Thank you! I believe that is the way to approach every situation. No one wants to be judged for their choices, so why should we judge others? It is hard to take the non-judgmental approach, especially when it comes to how we look (only we see our ‘flaws’), however what we speak about, we bring
about. So why focus on the bad? Why judge?
After doing Vegie Head on the side of a fulltime job for three years, you’re now self-employed. What was it like taking the step to work fulltime for yourself?
Petrifying, empowering and the best thing I ever did. I had an amazing job before I became self-employed, so I was very lucky and they supported my decision. I’ve had a few moments of fear, where ice has gripped my heart and stopped my breath (where will I get enough money this month?!) but if that old feeling pops up, I surrender to it, and let it go. I mostly ask myself ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?!’
…And now, you have a book about to hit newsstands in 40 countries. Time to spill the beans!
It’s so exciting! I was approached by a senior editor of a publishing house in late 2012, and completed the book in March 2013. It’s been a really long process, eye-opening, and a lot of work! It’s called ‘The Vegan Cookbook’ and will be available everywhere late March 2014.
I hear rumors you’re also working on an online academy?
Yes! When I first started exploring veganism, I had no idea how to find the right information without feeling suffocated by rigid moral views. I had to teach myself. And I would have loved to have a truly compassionate teacher, gently guiding me through the process. Now, I see that it was my life purpose to become that teacher that I missed so much. The Vegie Head Academy is a course for people who crave the knowledge and practical skills required for a plant-based diet. Because life is already complex, I designed the course to replace a sometimes negative charge around what you eat and why.
What do you love the most about being in the kitchen? Have you always loved it?
I haven’t always loved it! It wasn’t until I moved out of home that I really began to enjoy it. I love the opportunity to create something delicious out of a bunch of ingredients, and choose the food that will fuel me for hours to come.
What’s your favourite word?
Creation. Our lives are our creation. Create the best one you can.
Adele’s blog opens the door to reveal her real self, her passions and dreams – and in the process inspireS the rest of us to do what we’ve always meant to: become the best version of ourselves.
< Adele: vivacious and thoughtful, playful and spiritual.
For those of us struggling to get a flow in the kitchen, what’s your advice?
Finding your power is akin to finding your passion in the kitchen. In my workshops, I convey my love for food and cooking so much that sometimes that’s the only inspiration people need. Often people who struggle to cook could be blocked in a number of ways – from the way they view food, to a bad experience they’ve had with their own cooking. I teach people to start small, experiment, and be open to making mistakes. I teach them how to listen to their intuition. They already have all of the knowledge inside of them that they know. It’s just about listening to it. This is what guides me in the kitchen.
You’ve become an icon followed by thousands of people across the world. How does it feel?
Surreal and completely humbling. It’s a beautiful thing to be looked up to, and asked for my opinion and advice. I am truly grateful to be able to do what I love every day.
… And who do you look up to?
A few years back, I was the Victorian Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day. As a part of that, I contacted Joe Cross, from ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ who flew out from LA to Melbourne to join me on the day where we screened his documentary. Joe is definitely a man on a mission, and I consider him to be an amazing influence, trailblazing health.
If I say passion, you say….
Food. I truly believe the two go hand in hand. People can be taught food, but to have a real passion for it, that’s a very personal thing.
Talking about passions, I have to ask about your two cute furry friends at home. What do you love the most about having dogs?
The way they have taught me patience and unconditional love, as well as providing us with SO much happiness, is the best thing ever! We can’t imagine our life without them now.
That leads me to my next question. What does happiness mean to you?
Being happy with yourself and finding the happiness in every situation. We choose our happiness. We can create any life we want to, and I refuse to live a mediocre existence. I fill my days with things that light me up, make me happy, things I love to do. I know that not everyone can work a job they love – but up until July 2013 I was still working a day job! So on nights and weekends, I worked on my business which gave me so much joy (still does!) and the drive to keep going. When we are on the right wavelength with ourselves, we attract exactly what we need and it’s always perfect. So in your current situation – whatever it may be – is exactly what you need right now. What lessons can you learn? What can you change? What do you love about where you are in life? Learn to see the good, and more good will come.
Many of us get trapped by too many “shoulds” and “musts”. How do you avoid letting “shoulds” get in the way of your happiness?
I remind myself that we are exactly where we need to be, right now. The only ‘should’ in life, is that we ‘should’ choose to be happy and healthy!
I agree! Now, time to get girly… You always look amazing! And that lipstick…! Can you share some of your beauty routines with us?
Thank you! I am a trained Beauty Therapist, and specialized in antiaging skin treatments. I personally cleanse and moisturize with coconut oil morning and night, give myself regular facial massages and facials at home (I have some videos on my website) and choose to put the most natural products on my skin. I love mineral make up and I’m currently creating a line of organic red lipsticks. It’s quite a process!
You’re one of the busiest persons I know – yet you shine so strong! What’s your secret?
I make my health a number one priority. I walk the dogs twice a day for about an hour in the morning and an hour at night, I meditate and eat a lot! I’m releasing a program in the coming weeks that will have all of my secrets – food, life and love!
What about your online life with Instagram, Facebook, your blog, Twitter and more… Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the digital world?
Absolutely! I switch off everyday while I’m working and make it a rule that I’m not online for more than an hour at a time…Which can go really fast when you have thousands of notifications to wade through. I do have an amazing team that assists me though.
With such a busy day, how do you switch off and unwind at night?
I have a bath every night. I light candles, pop some crystals in the water, and use Sacred Self oils (Peace, Divine and Goddess are my faves!) to help me relax. Then I close the door and listen to either a meditation or some music. I meditate before bed as well, and often in the morning. I truly believe that it has shifted my mindset and my health. I love to read, and journal, and often find that sense of peace when I’m cooking and photographing (as long as I don’t have to clean up afterwards!).
What does meditation mean to you?
Sitting, breathing and just letting it all go. I have an amazing meditation teacher, Sara from The Space in Between, who has taught me that meditation is really whatever it’s meant to be. People have an image of someone sitting, cross legged, “Ohm’ing” but for me, that’s the last thing I do. I lay down to meditate. Sometimes I fall asleep, but I don’t let myself get caught up in what meditation “should” be. For me, anytime I spend simply breathing is a good time.
You’re a very spiritual person, and I have to thank you for doing an animal reading for me a few months ago. What else have you been exploring this year?
I completed my Reiki training this year, so I’m really just perfecting the gifts I already had – which we all have – and relying on my intuition to make decisions in my life. I use oracle cards a lot, but not the ones with fairies and angels on them (they aren’t my cup of tea!). I like powerful cards that have strong images and intentions set with them. I find power animals fascinating and connect with them very easily.
Talking about cards, what’s on your night table right now?
A few different crystals (rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone and blue lace agate), some of my favourite cards, some Calm and Clear bushflower essences and my journal for writing down late night thoughts!
Writing can be such a powerful release and help us articulate our dreams… And on that note, let’s talk vision boards!
Oh I LOVE vision boards. I made four in 2013 – one for each season. It’s amazing to look back over them and to see exactly what has happened. Again, where we focus our energy is where it flows, so when you are focused on your vision – no matter what it is, how big it is, how crazy or wild or expensive it is, I believe you can make it happen. We can do anything.
And is there anything on your current vision board that you want to share with us?
I’m in the midst of creating my first vision board for 2014. It’s going to have a beautiful picture of the beach on it. Thinking about my vision boards from 2013, they all had a beach on them – and in March, we move to Queensland! It’ll also have a 4WD – I need space for the dogs – and images of the goals I’m going to reach this year.
Finally, what’s the best question someone has ever asked you?
It’s also a question I ask myself everyday….’What can I do to serve the world today?’The answer is always perfect.
Bango Tango Breakfast Smoothie
“Luscious and creamy are the best words to describe this smoothie... Perfect for summer mornings!”
PREP: 2 mins
BLEND: 1 min
READY IN: 3 mins
2 bananas chopped and frozen
2 mangoes flesh only
2 passionfruits – pulp only
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup ice
• Blend the ingredients in a mixer for 1 minute until smooth and creamy. Then… enjoy!
Sneaky Green Smoothie
“This is one of my brand new smoothie recipes… and already a summer fav!”
PREP: 2 mins
BLEND: 5 mins
READY IN: 7 mins
600 ml Natural Raw C Coconut Water
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp power super foods Raw Cacao Powder
1 tbsp MicrOrganics green Super foods powder
• Blend until smooth and serve immediately
Vegie Head Chocolate Butter
“Mmmmmm. Why opt for commercial brands when you can make your own in fifteen minutes?!”
Makes just over 2 cups
PREP: 5 mins
BLEND/COMBINE: 10 mins
1 1/2 cups coconut oil melted gently in a sink of warm water
1/2 cup coconut oil melted as above
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup raw cacao powde2 tsp Maca powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
• Pour melted coconut oil and butter into a blender, then add sugar and blend until dissolved
• Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined
• Pour into sterilised jars and allow to set in the fridge overnight, then serve at room temperature
• The chocolate butter will last about 3 weeks in the fridge
Hazelnut Chocolate Tart
“This is one of my most popular recipes. Do I really need to say anything else? No… it speaks for itself!”
10 servings (35cm tarts)
PREP: 15 mins
COOK: 10 mins
READY IN: 2 hrs 25 mins
220 g hazelnuts
30 g shredded coconut
40 g raw cacao powder
50 g raw coconut sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1x 240 ml can coconut cream 280 g dark chocolate chopped fresh berries to serve
• Preheat oven to 180.C
• Lightly grease your tart pan with coconut oil and set aside
• Process hazelnuts and shredded coconut together in a blender until it becomes a fine meal
• Add the cacao powder, the coconut sugar, coconut oil and salt, and blitz again until combined
• Press into your tart pan and bake for 10-15 minutes; set aside to cool
• In a small saucepan, bring the coconut cream to a gentle simmer, and add broken chocolate
• Stir continuously until smooth and velvety and pour into tart pan
• Refrigerate for 2-3 hours then top with berries and serve
10 Minute Thai-Viet Noodle Bowl
No time to cook?
We challenge you to try this quick & easy bowl of goodness!
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 small eggplant, diced
1⁄2 small sweet potato, cubed
1 cup diced button mushrooms
1 tsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red chilli, sliced finely (optional)
2 cups boiling water
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chilli sauce (optional)
210g dry udon noodles
Fresh mint and coriander
Bean shoots to serve
• In a medium sized saucepan, add the zucchini, eggplant, sweet potato, mushrooms, ginger, garlic and chilli. Top with the boiling water and bring to a high simmer. Add the tomatoes, chilli sauce and udon noodles, stirring, and bring to a boil.
• Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes or until sweet potato is fork tender and noodles are cooked. The noodles will release a ‘starch’ to create a thicker sauce.
• Add salt if needed, top with mint, coriander and fresh bean shoots.