My sister is a treasure trove of information. I don't know how she does it, but somehow she finds most of the things that make me happy. I have her to credit for putting me on to today's interviewee. Jessica Murnane is an inspiration. She's a podcast host, cookbook author, plant-based eating evangelist, and mother to one of the cutest kids I've ever seen (seriously). I had the chance to meet her through helping to launch her cookbook baby, One Part Plant, into the world. I was so excited that she agreed to let me interview her to share with you here.
Before jumping into the interview, I wanted to share something I've been struggling with that Jessica addresses below: the old self. The old Lisa has been haunting me a bit lately. Old me ate until she was beyond full. She shoved every sugary thing in her mouth. She was sick, but she ate anything that she wanted. It isn't hard for me to admit that I miss old Lisa, even if I didn't feel well then. I want to eat pizza and not stress about what on the menu I CAN eat. What IS hard for me to admit is that I actually really like the idea of the new me. While I've still been feeling pretty fatigued, I like the idea of enjoying exercise and having great digestion. Of balancing my hormones and skin naturally. It's a work in progress, but I have to remember that it's barely been a year since I radically shifted my lifestyle. One day, this will be easier, but for now I just need to have a little patience with myself and keep up the good work.
[Side note: In case you are unfamiliar, endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that makes up the lining of the uterus attaches itself to other parts of the body, usually within the abdomen. As the lining builds up during the cycle, the rogue tissue builds up as well causing pain and cramping. Jessica refers to this condition below.]
Tell me about why you started the One Part Plant Movement?
I changed my diet because of my Stage IV endometriosis. Well, I should say I "tried" to change my diet for Stage IV endo. I didn't think it would actually work. I had tried so many things to manage my pain and symptoms and nothing helped. I planned on getting a hysterectomy before a friend intervened and suggested I try a plant-based diet. I told her I would try it for three weeks and see what happens. In the back of my mind, I thought I'd still get the surgery. But then in just a couple of weeks, I began to feel better. I was able to get out of bed, exercise, and feel alive again. I never got the hysterectomy.
But changing my diet was one of the hardest things I've ever done. There were moments where I thought it would just be easier to get a hysterectomy. I didn't know how to cook. I didn't know what to eat if I did cook. I felt so alone in my new food choices. I created One Part Plant for all those people like me. People that didn't wake up loving kale smoothies. People that struggle with food choices and change. I never want anyone to feel the way I did!
Did endometriosis affect your digestion, skin, or hormones before you changed your diet?
I mean, my endo still affects my digestion, skin, and hormones. But now it feels manageable. In the old days, the week before my period you'd find me curled up on the bathroom floor crying. I was out of control emotionally. My face would be a mess and had terrible digestion.
Now is a different story. I'm not saying I don't get moody now, because I can still be a little asshole the week before. But I'm more in control. I'll still get a pimple from time to time. And if I go off my endo diet, I'll have bathroom issues. But I'm a completely different woman!!
Once you changed your diet and your endometriosis began to be managed, did you notice any other changes physically?
I still battle with inflammation issues (which I'm working on), so I'm not rocking a six-pack or anything . But overall, I just look healthier. My eyes are wider and whiter, my skin is softer, and I just feel so much better physically. It's been a huge lesson in my relationship with food. I make food choices based on managing my pain and symptoms and not on what foods make me "skinny" or "fat".
What about mentally?
There is a huge difference mentally for me. When you live with chronic pain and you know that every single month that you will lose a few days-week of your life because of your illness, it can put you in a very dark place. I was severely depressed and there were some days that I just didn't want to wake up knowing the pain I'd be in.
I think it's so important that we raise more awareness about endo because of infertility issues and unnecessary surgeries, but we can't forget to talk about the mental toll it can have on a woman. It's very real and needs to be talked about.
On a recent podcast you spoke with Minaa B about your "old self". This is something I am grappling with right now, too. Can you tell me what your old self was like? Do you ever miss her?
My old self still lingers around. I don't miss her, but do recognize the fact that she's made me who I am. She's the reason I got to change my life, write a book, and talk to you right now. She's insanely strong and determined, but was just in so much pain, (mentally and physically). She creeps back in when I'm struggling with negative self-talk. She can VISIT, but I kick her out because sometimes she overstays her welcome!
What has been toughest about reconciling your new self to your old self?
Pizza. Kidding. But not kidding. Pizza meaning just being able to go out with a group of friends to grab some pizza and not having to plan ahead about what options I can eat there. I get bummed about this, but then remind myself just how shitty I felt after eating that pizza. I could be in bed for the day because of it. Having to plan ahead is worth feeling good...even if sometimes it feels like a pain.
How do you celebrate the person you've become while still honoring your past?
By acknowledging her and not pretending that it wasn't hard to get here.
As a teen, and even into adulthood, I had no idea what was going on in my body. You've been starting to speak to young girls about endo. What has the response been? Are things clicking for them?
At first they are like "who is this chick coming in at 8am to talk about periods?!". I'm a pretty open person and have to remind myself that they are still teenagers and aren't as open yet (and may not ever be) talking about periods. The thing that always gets them to get more engaged is when I tell them that 1 in 10 women have endo. They can look around the room and know that one of their friends or themselves might have it, it makes it less of an abstract idea.
The most important thing is for them to know the symptoms. This is something I focus on a lot in my sessions with them. Just knowing the symptoms is a huge education moment. Not just for themselves, but they might be able to help other women around them.
When you began this lifestyle and diet change did you use any herbs or essential oils to assist you in the transition?
I didn't! I wish I did. It was weird enough to me that I was eating vegetables, essential oils were not even on my radar. Since then, I know the power of them. My friend, Giselle Wasfie (she's a Chinese Medicine Dr.) has educated me on all things herbs and oils. My favorite phrase she says is "HERBS WORK". They do. They are so powerful and it's important to find which ones work and don't work for you. I loved my interview with her on my podcast.
Do you have a daily self-care routine?
It really varies every single day depending where I am in the country. I've been traveling a lot on my book tour. But I always try to get in some form of body movement. Even if that's just doing a 20 minute yoga class on my Aaptiv app in a hotel (I just did that on Saturday!) or finding a quick workout somewhere in the city I am visiting. I always make sure to take my Tumeric, B12, and D. Eat something green. And I try to make someone happy everyday.
I think lots of potions, powders, and self-care "stuff" is cool. But I try to keep it pretty simple, so I don't get stressed about adding more to my day or feeling guilty because I forgot to skin brush. P.S. I do love skin brushing, but am usually half-way through my shower when I remember I was supposed to do it!
Before guests leave your podcast they always share their favorite plant-based recipe. What are you sharing with us?
AH! Turning the tables. I love this Creamy Mushroom Lasagna from the One Part Plant Cookbook. It's one that for sure doesn't taste "healthy" and you can share with all type of eaters in your life, plant-based or not.
Creamy Mushroom Lasagna
Olive, grape seed, or coconut oil, or veggie broth for sautéeing
3 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces mushrooms, chopped (you can use a mix of different mushrooms)
1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours (overnight is best), drained
1 cup veggie broth
2 big handfuls spinach
10 ounces gluten-free lasagna noodles (I love Tinkyada’s brown rice pasta)
4 cups marinara sauce, store-bought (a 32 oz jar) or homemade
Nutritional yeast (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat a glug of oil or veggie broth over medium. When the pan is hot, add the garlic and sauté until it becomes fragrant. This will take about a minute. Add the mushrooms, tamari, and thyme. Cook, stirring every minute or so, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mushrooms release their water and a little broth starts to form.
Combine the cashews and veggie broth in a high-speed blender and blend until the mixture is completely smooth. This might take up to 5 minutes, depending on the speed and power of your blender. Pour the cashew sauce into the pan with the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for a couple minutes to let the sauce thicken, stirring frequently. Throw in the spinach and stir for another minute.
Prepare the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Make sure to do this after your mushroom sauce is ready to go, so the noodles don’t sit for too long and start sticking together. Spread a third of the marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with half of the mushroom cream. Add a layer of noodles. Use another third of the marinara to cover these noodles. Add the remaining mushroom cream. Add the last layer of noodles and cover it with the remaining marinara sauce.
Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast over the top, if you like, and bake for another 15 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Thank you so much to Jessica for answering my questions! You can find out more about her and the One Part Plant Movement by heading to her website and connecting with her on Instagram @jessicamurnane and @onepartplant. Be sure to tag @onepartplant and #onepartplant if you make this yummy lasagna!