I don’t know about you but when it comes to weekday meals, I always end up cooking the same three dishes, and it’s almost always a pasta variation — boring I know! Life honestly gets too busy and my culinary creativity takes a serious hit after a long day at work. Food is such an important part of our everyday lives but having to cook daily can become mundane.
Enter Jessica Hylton Leckie, videographer, photographer, home-chef and the creator behind Jessica in the Kitchen, a multi award-winning vegan recipe platform. Completely self-taught (and mother/grandmother-taught), 31-year-old Jessica has been mixing it up in the kitchen for over ten years. Before establishing her blog Jessica had a successful baking business and also practiced law as an attorney for three years — talk about talent.
So if like me, you want to add a bit of flair to those weekday dishes, Jessica’s got you covered with some delicious vegan weekday meal ideas. Not only are her dishes interesting, she shows us how easy it is to introduce flavorful vegan meals into our everyday diets.
“I love trying new recipes, constantly improving on beloved recipes, and focusing on flavor, to show people that vegan food can and does taste absolutely delicious! I’ve always loved sharing and helping others, and this continues to this day in my business.”
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Getting to know Jessica
We also took some time to chat to Jessica about her brand, her favorite meals and where her culinary journey began.
Tell us about the ‘Jessica in the Kitchen’ brand.
Jessica in the Kitchen is an award-winning vegan food blog, where amongst recipes, I also share guides, travel and wellness posts. Through Jessica in the Kitchen (the website and the brand) I’ve been a speaker at over a dozen conferences on the topics of young entrepreneurship, photography, food and wellness. The brand has been featured in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Google, ESSENCE magazine, The Huffington Post, OPRAH Magazine, Country Living, SELF magazine, Buzzfeed and many more. On social media Jessica in the Kitchen has around 800,000 followers/readers and monthly on the website it ranges between 1-2 million pageviews depending on the time of year.
Why did you decide to start Jessica in the Kitchen?
I’ve always had a love for food and baking and making dishes from scratch, and I wanted to document that and share it with others in the hopes that it inspired them to do the same and feel the same joy I get from it too. I’ve been blogging for 12 years now; first on “Jessiker Bakes,” which was a pastry blog then transitioned into “Jessica in the Kitchen.” I like to think that the site has followed me alongside my entire life–Jessiker Bakes while in undergrad when I used to also sell cakes and desserts, then while in law school when it was a website online, then Jessica in the Kitchen while I was practicing law, which eventually led to me doing this full time. It’s still really exciting to see that what started as a hobby alongside an at-home bakery has really blossomed and grown into a full time career for me.
You’ve been vegetarian for a while and then you recently went vegan. Why did you decide to do this?
I originally went vegetarian for health, then vegan after recognising the impact dairy had on animals and the environment, plus on my own body (I’m lactose intolerant).
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I love making a vegan homemade pizza from scratch (I am known to spontaneously do this on weeknights) and my coconut chickpea curry!
What do you think about meal prep?
Meal prepping is most helpful when you prep more bases and ingredients rather than entire meals. It can get very redundant eating the same thing over and over, however if bases are prepped (think roasted veggies that can turn into multiple meals) then you can remix the bases throughout the week for ease. If planning whole meals, I usually don’t do more than 3 days worth at a time.
My top tips would be to plan out everything in advance to ensure a successful one time supermarket trip; that you have the right tools needed for what you intend to make; and to cook/bake similar timed/temperature meals at the same time so you aren’t spending the entire day cooking.
Top five kitchen essentials!
My air fryer, a great set of knives that you keep sharpened, great glass storage containers, a cast iron pan and a high speed blender.
Jessica in the Kitchen has loads of vegan recipes you can try. She also has an ebook to purchase with even more content. On her book Jessica shares, “I wanted to provide a resource for readers interested in going meatless to have a solid guide that they can follow, very similar to a cookbook, just online.”