What’s Cooking: How ‘Earthy Andy’ Fuels Her Family on a Plant-Based Diet

Andy, eating healthy at home with her two oldest children. Photo: Courtesy of Earth Andy

Andrea Hannemann grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada. Like many kids, she dreamed of visiting the Hawaiian Islands one day.

In 2000, her family made a trip to the Aloha State and Hannemann’s love for the islands only deepened. She watched countless surf films, painted waves on her bedroom walls, and worked hard to save money in hopes of someday making the move.

When she turned eighteen, she packed her bags and set off across the pond to turn her dreams into a reality. Shortly after arriving on Oahu, she met Shem, and within a week they were engaged.

Fast forward twelve years, and Andrea and Shem are living out their dream with three blonde surfer babies of their own.

Adventure is a staple in the Hannemann household. Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

Although Hannemann’s life is reminiscent of a fairytale, she’s had her own share of challenges. She battled chronic fatigue, Celiac disease, asthma, brain fog, and Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) for years and, after a number of fruitless doctor visits, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She switched to a fully plant-based diet, seeking solstice and healing from the fruits of the Earth. Through her blog, “Earthy Andy,” she documented her journey and quickly built up a widespread community of like-minded individuals.

By simply changing her diet, Hannemann was able to regain her health and live the life she’d always dreamed of – surfing, hiking, and playing with her boys. Here, Earthy Andy shares her go-to fitness routine, tips for getting kids to eat healthy, and one of her favorite recipes.

Tell us about your family and what sports everyone is involved in.

Our two oldest boys Tama (10) and Ira (6) love surfing, skating and anything active outside. We have a pretty rad backyard that has a cement wave to skateboard, a basketball hoop, and Shem built the kids a half pipe!

They mainly surf the breaks across the street from us but if it’s big, we drive somewhere else. Nalu is 3 months old and he pretty much loves to eat, laugh, and sleep!

“To all be able to surf and play together is what I live for.” Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

When and why did you switch to a plant-based diet?

I have spent most of my life struggling with poor health – Celiac disease, chronic fatigue, asthma, brain fog, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to name a few.

I saw quite a few doctors over the years, and after hearing that the option to feel better was to go on medication for the rest of my life, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.

My dad told me, ‘Devote this year to becoming an expert on you.’ And I did just that.

Hannemann changed her diet and in doing so, changed her entire life. Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

The more I read and studied, the clearer it was that I needed to give going plant-based an honest go. I decided to ‘trust in nature,’ believe there’s a reason why food grows from the Earth, and understand that plant-based whole foods have all the minerals, proteins, and vitamins we need to thrive.

I told myself no matter how I felt, I was going to go plant-based for 30 days and stick to it. Making the switch was a challenge at first because of the detox stage [people switching to plant-based diets can experience weight loss/gain, changes in the frequency they go to the bathroom, fatigue, headaches or other symptoms as their bodies adjust to a new regimen], but I was committed to going the full 30 days.

After about two weeks, I began to feel the benefits, and I am thankful every day for that decision to switch because I have my health, which means I can do the things I love without feeling sick or tired all the time! It has changed my life.

When did you start ‘Earthy Andy’?

I started Earthy Andy in the middle of the night when I decided to go plant-based for a minimum of 30 days, four years ago. When I went plant-based, I told no one I knew because I didn’t want people to have an opinion about what I was doing. I didn’t even tell Shem!

I wanted to use Earthy Andy as a journal to be accountable to myself and to get inspiration from other people that were plant-based. Doing Earthy Andy was meant to be a personal journal and place to learn and grow, but it’s become a community that has been so much fun and has allowed me to connect with so many people around the world and share what has helped me and continue to learn and grow together.

Is Hawaii a good place for plant-based living?

Hawaii is great for being plant-based, but can be very expensive if you don’t get creative. We have farmers markets, fruit stands, and many of the grocery stores sell local produce, but you need to find where to buy certain items or you’re paying tourist prices.

The best thing to do is to grow it yourself and trade and share with neighbors. It’s important to take on the belief that a healthy diet is worth the investment in yourself.

I would definitely say the North Shore of Oahu inspires a healthy, outdoor lifestyle – there is a very active, health-conscious, positive culture here, which is contagious!

I have learned that the better I eat, the better I feel, and the more I enjoy the life I live. Nourishing food is the fuel that allows me to live and enjoy life to the fullest. Trust me, I used to feel blah most days of the week and put on a smile for my kids but was cringing inside. The only thing that has changed is my health, yet my entire world seems brighter and better as a result.

What does your fitness routine look like?

Hannemann’s favorite form of exercise is surfing or hot yoga, but she’ll do whatever it takes to break a sweat. Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

I have a goal to break a sweat most every day, because consistency is what reigns supreme. I grew up playing sports and loving adventure; I have five brothers so being active has always been a big part of my life. Being a mom and running a business makes it difficult to get it in sometimes, which is why my goal of breaking a sweat most every day works.

Whether it’s a beach run, going on a hike, playing basketball with the boys in the backyard, throwing on a YouTube workout video, or whatever. I love hot yoga and surfing more than anything, but I’ve just got to get moving and get the heart pumping, because being limber when I’m 80 sounds a lot better than not being able to get out of bed!

Also, I have three active little boys. If I couldn’t keep up with them I’d get FOMO. To all be able to surf and play together is what I live for.

What’s your secret for getting your kids to eat healthy?

We have a rule in our house: ‘You don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.’ It works! Sometimes it takes five to seven times of ‘trying’ to ‘like’ that thing, but with a little patience it’s made all the difference.

We have found that whatever food keeps showing up on their plate is the food they think is normal to consume. Kids are smart and very receptive. If we are leading by example and creating a family culture that centers around healthy life choices, they are more likely to adapt those healthy habits as the norm.

Andrea & Shem encourage their kids to eat healthy to fuel their active lives. Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

Other things that help are involving the kids with the cooking process. Having them help in the kitchen at an early age gives us the opportunity to teach them about food and involve them. Whether it’s using a butter knife to cut bananas or peeling leaves off a head of lettuce, there is always something for them to do.

The more involved the kids are, the more they will love everything you’re hoping they will love. It will take time and patience if this is a new concept, but it’s just a matter of time and some consistency to make those changes that will benefit those kids for the rest of their lives.

What are some of your go-to meals?

Mexican-style dinners are a favorite in the Hannemann household. Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

We eat a lot of Mediterranean-inspired meals, like grilled veggies and rice, or pitas with hummus and fresh herbs, lemon and garlic.

We also eat a lot of Mexican-inspired dishes like purple-potato tacos and black-bean and avocado rice burritos. We love Thai food, like coconut vegetable curries.

We usually make a big pot of soup every week with vegetables that are on their last days. One thing we almost always do at every meal is have a big, leafy green salad.

Here’s Earthy Andy’s recipe for “Hempies,” a snack her kids love and that is packed with protein.

If you’re looking for a sweet, healthy treat, look no further. Photo: Courtesy of Earthy Andy

Earthy Andy’s “Hempies”
Base Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cup smooth, natural peanut butter (“a good tasting one”)
– 1/3 cup maple syrup
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1/3 cup hemp seed
– 3 cups Rice Krispies
Mix peanut butter, vanilla and maple syrup until smooth and then add and mix in hemp seeds and Rice Krispies.
 Pat into a wax-paper-lined pan.

Top Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
– 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Melt chocolate and peanut butter together, pour on top and spread evenly. Put in freezer for 30 min.

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