Everyday Icon: January Guest Editor, One Part Plant's Jessica Murnane

Welcome to 2017! We could not think of a better way to kick off a new year than by getting to know our Guest Editor for January: a podcast host, cookbook author, women's health advocate and powerful proponent of plant-based eating.
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"Nutella" swirl waffles. Easy cheesy curry popcorn. Stuffed mushrooms with butternut squash cream. These are just a few of the mouthwatering recipes you'll find catalogued on Jessica Murnane's website, and they all have an important commonality: they're concocted sans meat, dairy or eggs. 

For Jessica, shifting to a plant-based diet was the transformative key to physical and emotional wellbeing – and the impetus for her career as an advocate for women's health and nutritious (plus delicious) food. But what's most refreshing about her work is her realness. Whether she's hosting juicy conversations on her One Part Podcast, speaking out about her personal struggle with chronic illness (which she explains below), or serving up some serious mealtime inspiration, she insists on honesty, openness and an easygoing approach to self-care. We're thrilled to have her sitting in as this month's Guest Editor and think you'll relish her insights as she inspires us all to take our lives one day (and "one part") at a time.

Your site and your podcast have been a source of inspiration and an impetus for change for many. Will you tell us how this all started?

About six years ago, my life dramatically changed because of a condition I have called endometriosis. I had to completely change what I put in (and on) my body. IT WAS HARD. I struggled so much with this change. I felt really alone and had no idea where to even begin. I never wanted anyone else to feel this way...so I started my website, podcast, and wrote my cookbook (One Part Plant, Harper Wave, February 2017) to not only help others going through big changes, but form a community to be there for one another as we navigate our way through them.

For those who are not familiar with endometriosis, can you share some information about your diagnosis and how changing your diet improved your quality of life physically, mentally and emotionally? 

1 in 10 women have endometriosis, but so many go undiagnosed. It takes a women an average of 10 years to be diagnosed! It's alarming, and education is the first step to help other women. So let me take a minute to explain what endo is...

In brief, endometriosis is a disorder where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows on the outside. It usually involves the ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis, though sometimes it can spread beyond the pelvic region. Symptoms can include very painful periods, lower back and abdominal pain, pain during or after sex, painful bowel movements or urination, fatigue, bloating and urinary frequency, among others.

I have Stage 4 endometriosis and was facing a hysterectomy because of it. Nothing worked to help my pain, so I agreed to get the surgery...until an angel friend of mine did her own research on the disease for me and found a plant-based diet could help endo pain. I tried the diet. It worked. I didn't get the surgery and my life has forever changed. It was a long road to get here, but I'm so happy I stuck with it. Not only am I not in constant pain (and most of my symptoms are gone), but I'm no longer severely depressed, and I've kicked my insomnia that plagued me since I was a little girl. 

Food isn't a cure for everything. But man, it's such a good place to start to begin to heal what's making us hurt, mentally and physically.

What three foods would you advise we all avoid? On the flip side, what are three foods that we all need to include more consistently in our diets?

The "a" word ("avoid") freaks me out. It puts too much pressure on us to be perfect! So how about we say, "foods to be mindful of because they might eff you up" instead? If I can choose three of those, I would say dairy, sugar and heavily processed foods. If we break that down even more, it comes down to inflammatory foods. Inflammatories can cause so many issues in our bodies and brains. Maybe you don't "avoid" these foods forever, but maybe you begin to think about how they make you feel and determine how much you actually want to include them.

And foods to include more of? PLANTS! My mission is to get everyone on this planet (I'm dreaming big) to eat at least one plant-based meal a day. It's not about going from zero to kale smoothies. It's about taking one meal at a time. Once a day is so much more manageable than all or nothing. Right? 

You are a force not just for health and wellness, but also for empowerment. What has been the most rewarding part of your professional experience and personal transition thus far?

Wow. What a great question. Professionally, it's getting to connect with so many special women working hard to create change in themselves and for our world. I'm inspired by someone new almost every day. Personally, the most rewarding is not having my life ruled by pain. Not being in pain everyday enables you so much freedom. It's liberating.

Do you have a favorite podcast interview, or one that was most surprising (and why)?

Oh man. There are so many. Can I choose three?

Episode 23 with Mariah Naella. I wasn't expecting the deeply personal story she shared, and it stuck with me.

Episode 57 with Giselle Wasfie. We talked about past trauma and learned so much in this one.

Episode 66 with Jennifer Snyder. This was a really raw and moving episode about processing grief.

These all sound heavy. I swear there are REALLY fun ones too...but these were most impactful for me and my listeners, for sure.

It's Tuesday night and you have nothing planned for dinner. What is your go-to recipe in a hurry?

It's always the same! I whiz some almond butter, tamari, veggie broth, salt and lime juice in a blender. Sauté whatever veggies I have in the fridge with some garlic. Make some quinoa or rice. Throw sauce, veggies and rice in a bowl. Dinner in 20 minutes!

Do you have any sayings or mantras that keep you grounded?

Right now, on my laptop screen is an image that says, "I CAN AND I WILL." I'm gonna roll with that one for awhile. 

p.s. Inspired to try a plant-based diet? Here's a spicy soup and a sweet dessert to get you started.