Jen Hansard first made a name for herself with her site, Simple Green Smoothies — and her first cookbook by the same name solidified her status as a wellness expert. And now that she’s come out with her second cookbook, Simple Green Meals, we wanted to catch up with the best-selling author, speaker, runner and nature lover to learn more about her life and her new cookbook (which, you know, could make a pretty rad holiday gift!) … and to see if she’d be willing to share one of her favorite recipes.
(Spoiler: she was! Scroll on down to get all the deets on her amazing cauliflower tacos.)
Fit Bottomed Eats: What’s your favorite recipe from your new book?
Jen Hansard: The Austinite BBQ Tacos. I am a taco girl all the way and when I can pack in the veggies and the flavor like this, it’s always a winner.
FBE: Which recipe do you anticipate being most popular with people who buy your book?
JH: The Lemon Meltaways and FairyTale Porridge are already being made in kitchens all over the world! I think readers are looking for quick, healthy meals they can whip up — and these super simple recipes make that possible.
FBE: What tips would you offer someone who’s just beginning to move toward a more plant-based way of eating?
JH: Allow yourself to be curious and playful in the kitchen. When I first started cooking with vegetables, I had no clue what I was doing. I would find a recipe and then improvise because I didn’t have the gadget or knives like they did. Yet I found my own style through all of this play and encourage everyone to do the same. Recipes are for guidance — yet when you tweak them and make them your own, that’s when it turns into a lifestyle.
FBE: Are there any simple but surprising swaps you’d suggest?
JH: Cravings can be vicious! Especially during that “time of the month,” which is why I have my go-to healthy swaps. When I’m craving a soda, I swap it for kombucha (which is good for your gut and lower in sugar). When I’m craving potato chips, I’ll reach for trail mix which is salty and has protein. When I’m craving Sour Patch Kids, I try and reach for the dried mango (unsweetened).
FBE: You not only embrace a plant-based lifestyle, but you do so while training for endurance events, like the 45-mile Grand Canyon Rim to Rim. Could you share what your daily eats look like when you’re logging those kinds of miles?
JH: On days when I’m logging 10-plus miles, I’ll start the morning with a few bites of overnight oats using almond butter and maple syrup. While out on the run, I like to have dried figs, Clif Shots and Sports Beans on hand to fuel up every 30 minutes or so. It needs to be quick sugars to make it easy on my body to process and taste good. When I get home, I’ll drink a green smoothie to rehydrate and replenish my body. Then I’ll have some trail mix to increase my protein intake. Then I’ll have an extra large portion of dinner like Almond Butter Swoodles and be right back on track.
FBE: And how does that differ from how you might normally eat when you’re not gearing up for something so huge?
JH: Most mornings, I start the day with a cup of coffee with grass-fed butter, mct oil and collagen. Then I have a green smoothie to add in the nutrients. If it’s a busy day, I’ll often have a second green smoothie for lunch as a meal replacement. I keep nuts, dried fruit, avocado toast, and sliced fennel and carrots on hand for snacks. Then dinner is something the whole family wants — usually a veggie bowl where we can each choose our toppings from roasted veggies to BBQ chicken. It all depends on what we’re craving that night!
FBE: You’re not the only one in your household that’s big on veggies — you’ve also gotten your family to embrace plant-based nutrition. What were the biggest challenges you faced there, and how did you overcome them?
JH: We first embraced fruits and vegetables as a family out of necessity. We were exhausted and always getting sick and without health insurance — and I knew something had to change. As soon as we added in a daily green smoothie, we saw radical transformations. We stopped getting sick and we had more energy to do the things we loved. We also started to naturally crave more vegetables and they became easy to add into meals. I remember the first time I made kale chips and we fought over who got the last one. We alllll loved them! Once you give your body a foundation of plants through a daily green smoothie, the rest comes naturally and easily!
As much as I love eating the plant-powered way, I’ve never been one for a label. We listen to our body first and foremost. Sometimes that means we add grilled chicken to our veggie bowls. My son will always want pepperoni on his pizza (and we go for it!). The most important thing is to celebrate the moments we choose veggies and make them taste amazing, so it’s easy to want them more and more.
Austinite Tacos Recipe
From Jen Hansard: Austin, Texas, is one of my favorite cities, thanks to the great music, the variety of healthy foods available, its natural landscape, and the fact that my aunt and uncle live there. When I created this recipe, it just felt like it had an Austin flair going on, so I named it after that city.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil, melted
- sea salt and ground black pepper
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1⁄2 cup BBQ sauce, plus more for serving
- 12 organic corn tortillas, warmed
- 1 cup simple Cashew Coleslaw (recipe can be found in Simple Green Meals, or use your favorite slaw!)
- 1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread the cauliflower, sweet potato, and onion on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and add the chickpeas. Drizzle the BBQ sauce over everything and toss to coat. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.
- To serve, spoon the BBQ filling into the tortillas and top each with a spoonful of the coleslaw, a sprinkling of cilantro, and any additional BBQ sauce you’d like. Serve immediately.
Do you have a recipe or a dish that reminds you of a certain city? —Kristen