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Love. Joy. Food. If you think these sound like the perfect ingredients for a memorable meal, newly minted cookbook author and popular food blogger Michelle Braxton of Supper with Michelle would wholeheartedly agree. Add a generous serving of vegetables and you’ll get a feel for the vibe of her debut cookbook, “Supper with Love: Vibrant, Delicious, and Comforting Plant-Forward and Pescatarian Recipes for Every Day,” released this month.
“Food is a way to share the love you have for whomever you’re feeding,” affirms the Decatur, Georgia, native. “For me, a plant-forward lifestyle is essentially making an effort to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables as possible into your weekly meal plan.”
A Plant-Forward Lifestyle
Braxton’s journey to a plant-forward lifestyle began in college after hearing a lecture by rap artist KRS-One. “I had decided at that time I was going to stop eating pork. And gradually over the years, my desire for meat just went away.”
The food blogger has followed a pescatarian lifestyle since 2009, which Braxton admits varies among individuals. “In my house, pescatarian cooking is eating mainly a vegan or vegetarian-friendly foods—and occasionally fish and seafood. Also, in my case, I often include dairy products and eggs,” she shares. “But some pescatarians may not choose to consume dairy or eggs products.”
Cookbook Inspiration From Supper With Michelle
As for the inspiration behind writing her cookbook, it all sprang from the vibrant community Braxton created via her popular food blog, Supper with Michelle. Prior to starting her blog in 2014, Braxton would post photos of the meals she made on Facebook and Instagram.
“To my surprise, a lot of my friends and family would say, ‘This looks delicious. Where’s the recipe?’ I wasn’t even prepared for that! I didn’t think people would actually want the recipes,” she shares.
Today, Supper with Michelle boasts 50,000+ page views per month and has landed Braxton collaborations with brands like Staub, Cuisinart, Kroger Company and Zwilling.
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“The Supper with Michelle community has been tremendously supportive over the years and I had received so many requests to write a cookbook…So this book is definitely for them,” shares the self-taught cook who began learning her way around the kitchen at the age of seven, making simple things like scrambled eggs and grits for herself and her hard-working single mom.
“I did not go to culinary school nor do I have any formal training,” shares the cookbook author who currently makes her home in Atlanta. “But I was often excited to learn different things in the kitchen. My [culinary] schooling came basically from whatever my mom showed me when I was growing up or time spent at my godparents’ and friends’ houses or by watching other elders in my community cook.”
For Braxton, the joy of cooking—and one which she hopes to share with others— springs forth from her love of food. “Everything about food I love,” she affirms. “With cooking, the possibilities are endless and there are so many directions you can take.”
Putting the Fun in Cooking
For her cookbook Braxton shares her best, well-loved recipes (85 to be exact) organized by meals: Salads, Soup for the Soul, Handy Things (her take on sandwiches), Substantial Sides and Suppers.
“I also have a chapter on Brinner; breakfast for dinner,” shares Braxton. “I wanted to make this book as fun as possible and so I provided a QR code for readers [of the cookbook] to be able to access a playlist that I made specifically for ‘Supper with Love’ because I personally love listening to music when I cook. So, this was a way for readers to get a feel for the of vibe of the book,” says the food author.
How To Eat Your Veggies Creatively
In keeping with the plant-forward recipes, cookbook readers will find creative versions of classic dishes, which usually include meat, re-imagined into veggie-friendly versions. Braxton details, “I offer ways to veganize recipes because a lot of the readers in my community are vegan. I also offer countless ways to substitute ingredients in the book, with something I call ‘Freestyle It’—so readers can make the recipes their own and substitute ingredients based on what they have on hand or what is in season.”
If following a plant-forward lifestyle seems daunting, Braxton assures it’s as simple as picking three vegetables you enjoy and coming up with three different ways to incorporate them into your meal plan.
“Think about how to prepare them differently: raw, grilled, in a salad, roasted, blanched, etc. Then consider all the ways you can season those vegetables or add different types of sauces,” coaches the Supper with Michelle food creator.
“This is what really opens up the versatility for you. Those are just three vegetables. When you multiple that by the whole rainbow of veggies, it really opens up the world for you.”
Exploring Plant-Based Meals
Written for all levels of cooks, Braxton hopes to give readers an easy on-ramp for exploring plant-forward meals. “I wanted this book to be as approachable and as adaptable as possible by making sure the ingredients [in the recipes] were things you can find at local grocery store or your farmers market. I wanted to make sure these [recipes] were accessible for everyone,” she shares.
“I also want readers to feel like this book is a foundation for them to grow from; so they feel comfortable in making more plant-forward meals and incorporating that into their weekly meal plans, if they aren’t already.”
Whether you follow a plant-forward lifestyle, are curious to dip into a new cuisine or simply looking for delicious recipes to kickstart your meal plans, “Supper with Love: Vibrant, Delicious, and Comforting Plant-Forward and Pescatarian Recipes for Every Day,” may just fill that craving.