Recipe Inspiration – Michelle Chen of @run2food

Michelle is one foodie passionate about creating nourishing and nutritious vegan food (her raw snickers caramel slice is on our ‘must eat!’ list). We loved chatting to Michelle this month about her love of creating plant-based recipes, where she finds inspiration and her favourite ingredients to use.

Hi Michelle! We’re excited to have you here with us. First thing’s first, what made you choose to go plant-based?

My decision to go plant-based started when I attended a vegan potluck with my friend 3 and a half years ago, that’s where I gained exposure to just how amazing vegan food could be and connected with the kind compassionate souls who embrace the lifestyle. Following that, I worked at a health food café over my summer holidays, where I was further introduced to plant-based options daily and making them. This sparked my interest, and I began to do my research. Watching a few documentaries convinced me that going vegan was the least that I could do, and I haven’t regretted it since.

Looking back, I feel like I was destined to be on this journey because I’ve never really been a big “meat-eater”. For example, when I was little, I would get scolded because I would only eat the skin of my dumplings and not the meat inside, or I would pick only the vegetables out of a stir fry and leave all the meat behind. As a teenager, I was an athlete, and I used to force myself to eat big slabs of animal protein because I thought that I needed it to be fit and strong. Fast forward to now, I’ve been vegan for just over three years, put on 6kg of muscle, and I am the strongest and fittest that I have ever been!

You make amazing recipes, where do you get your inspiration from?

People inspire me to create. Nothing inspires me more than the thought of people trying my recipes or creations and loving them! If I am making a dish for a particular person, I will always tailor the flavours and ingredients to their liking, so I know for sure that their face will light up when they eat it. Other sources of inspiration are my Asian heritage, seasonal produce I see at the markets, new products I see in the supermarket, cafe/restaurant dishes and of course, the awesome creations that other talented bloggers make. I am also a huge gym junkie, so I love thinking of recipes which incorporate various flavours of vegan protein powders.

If someone asks you to make the best dish you could possibly make what would it be and why?

It would be my raw snickers caramel slice or a cake/slice that incorporates chocolate or peanut butter because they are my favourite ingredients. I’ve made this slice for lots of people before, and they were all impressed and could not believe that the slice was completely vegan! Showing others that vegan food can be delicious and seeing their joy after eating it honestly makes me so happy! – so what better way than to start with my favourite dessert right?

You are very clever with incorporating different ingredients with your recipes (we love your peanut butter sauce recipe), what’s the one ingredient that you cannot cook without?

That is such a difficult question! Currently, I would say that I am really vibing with cauliflower. It’s a super versatile vegetable also I can use it for both savoury and sweet dishes to add volume, nutrients and fibre without changing the flavour profile of the dish too much. Some ways that I incorporate cauliflower would be in things like sauces, porridge, smoothies and soups. I have heaps of recipes where I use it, so you guys need to try it!

Is there a specific ingredient that you haven’t tried using? What is it and what would you like to make out of it?

I haven’t tried using couscous! I got a message from a lovely follower the other day asking if I could make a couscous salad and I am totally down for that!

If you could eat just one thing for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

It would be acai bowls! I love how they make me feel and how they are so versatile. I can eat them all day and not get sick of it! You can jazz it up by using different fruits, nut butter and protein powders in the blend – and don’t get me started about the toppings. The possibilities are endless!

How do you decide which recipe to make? Do you plan it or do you go by what you feel like eating for that day?

I always have a list of the recipes that I want to make written down on my notes app. I tend to think of them when I am sitting in traffic or when I’m running, and I like to write the idea down on my notes app as soon as I get the chance.

My weekday lunches are always meal-prepped and usually consist of large amounts of vegetables to pack in heaps of nutrition. Weeknight dinners are regularly just super easy “throw together” meals based on what I’m craving because I feel so short on time on weekdays.

The weekend is when I finally get time to turn my ideas into a dish. I look forward to it all week!

Help us decide what to eat! What do you think is the food that everyone should try ASAP!

I honestly think that everyone should try nutritional yeast. I love sprinkling (more like pouring) it on top of my savoury dishes as it takes like parmesan cheese – minus the saturated fats and salt. Furthermore, it’s packed with vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, which are fantastic because these vitamins – especially vitamin B12 – is often more difficult to obtain on a plant-based diet. Seriously, nutritional yeast is such an underrated superfood!

What Instagram accounts should we be following?

There are too many incredible accounts that I love, but from the top of my head, the accounts that I have been loving lately are:

@healthyvegandesserts

@deliciouslyhealthysweets

@noashealthyeats

@veggie_elise

@healthybodyhealthymind

@stephssun

@lisakitahara

@earthlingsasha

@mealsbymiri

@raimeeleigh.fitfood

@rainbownourishments

@fruityemz

@plantpoweredprue

@healthiieelife

@veganbowls

What’s in store for Michelle for this year?

I am actually in my final year of dental school, so I hope to graduate and find a good job! I still hope to continue running my Instagram page because I genuinely love doing it and it provides such a lovely contrast to dentistry. I’m honestly open to all opportunities and collaborations because life is built upon experiences and I want to continue enriching myself. Everything happens for a reason, so yeah, let’s just see where life takes me!


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