Vegan social media influencer That Plus Size Vegan is launching a line of spices. | Relax

Starting with two options — an all-purpose mix and a “mac & cheeze” seasoning — Greenwood-based social media influencer JaLeesa Bone Wideman, aka That Plus Size Vegan, launched her own line of spices.

A third blend, Caribbean Festival, launches this month.

Wideman is also considering the launch of an electronic cookbook and continues to expand its spice line.

“Yet to come for those who like the flavor with a little spice,” Wideman said of the Caribbean Festival. “And one that would make my grandmother proud, someone who was known for her chicken and dumplings. Many will be dedicated to people who matter to me, who have passed away. At the moment I mix all the varieties myself. But, things have developed so much that I am looking for a manufacturer.

A family/community partnerships liaison with the Head Start department of the GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission and a married mother of two, Wideman said she had always struggled with confidence and self-esteem, but had encouraged by the number of social media followers who reached out to her. with questions about plant-based meal prep and more.

Among those who have asked Wideman for advice on plant-based meals and tried his first two spice blends are preschool teacher Jennifer Puckett and Alice Hodges, executive director of the nonprofit Meg’s House.

Hodges said Wideman’s seasoning launch caught her eye, but she had known JaLeesa for some time in Lakelands nonprofit circles.

“Sometimes I like to do meatless dishes,” Hodges said. “…I tried the All-Purpose mix first. What I like the most is that it is low in sodium and not overwhelming. It didn’t take away the natural flavor of the vegetables I used it on. I then tried the Mac & Cheese over a simple pasta dish I made at home. It is also very low in sodium and has a smoky flavor that enhances dishes.

Hodges said she cooks non-vegan macaroni and cheese, using lots of milk and butter in her recipe.

Although Hodges isn’t vegan, she says the smoky flavor of Vegan Mac & Cheeze Seasoning will add a nice touch to her next batch of macaroni.

Hodges said it would be great if Wideman’s brand grew to the point where restaurants and grocery stores started stocking and using its products.

Preschool teacher and longtime friend of Wideman, Jennifer Puckett, 45, has also tried the spice.

“I was one of the first to order when they launched,” Puckett said. “My kids used the Mac & Cheese over oatmeal and popcorn. I watched many of her live cooking demonstrations and made several dishes, including JaLeesa’s Vegan Macaroni and Cheese, which are very, very delicious. … When JaLeesa recently launched a seven-day raw vegan challenge, I did.

The challenge was to eat raw vegetables and raw fruits for a week, from May 1 to May 7.

“It was a bit difficult at first,” admits Puckett. “I did it the whole seven days, three meals a day. …Overnight oats with almond milk and maple syrup, topped with fresh fruit before eating in the morning, was the best meal of the day.

Puckett said she was not “a big fan of vegetables”, but ate more now, opting for vegetable-based noodles in pasta dishes and tomato sauce with vegetable crumbles.

Puckett said he noticed weight loss and increased energy after eating more plant-based meals.

“I always thought no one would believe that a big, tall woman was vegan, but I realized I had to show them,” Wideman said. “I had to be my own motivation. I think it’s probably my great-grandmother’s spirit in me too. She raised me and was a big part of my life. I really want to do a vegan festival here.

Wideman’s journey to a plant-based lifestyle that doesn’t include animal products has taken twists and turns.

“This is my fifth time practicing the vegan lifestyle,” Wideman, 34, said. “The first time, a cousin from Atlanta told me to watch the movie ‘What the Health.’ It was a scene from the movie where people were getting ready to turn pigs in. It was horrible.

When Wideman found out she and her husband, Brandon, were expecting their second son, Issac, in 2017, she reverted to a more conventional diet that included animal products.

Shortly after Issac’s birth, Wideman became a vegan again, but her great-grandmother fell ill and Wideman gave up the vegan lifestyle.

“I grew up on chicken and dumplings and cube steak and roast hens and broccoli casserole,” Wideman said. “I made my great-grandmother promise that I would lead a healthy life. For me, it was being vegan…After he passed away, I tried again…but the grieving process was difficult and I indulged in all the things I didn’t need.

On his fourth try, Wideman launched his social media influencer brand under That Plus Size Vegan and began posting photos of his vegan cooking and videos on platforms including Facebook and TikTok, sharing steak recipes. vegan mince and a bowl of cheddar and broccoli soup bread.

On January 1, 2022, Wideman began posting more of his own videos and live cooking sessions.

“I had over 30 people respond when I first did it,” Wideman said. “I wasn’t even expecting 10. My biggest goal is to create generational wealth for my children. An aunt of mine, MiGina Timpson, encouraged me to sell something like That Plus Size Vegan to market myself. She said, ‘JaLeesa, you love seasonings.’ »

This line of Plus Size Vegan spices has started to take shape.

A notebook with different spice blends helps Wideman keep track.

“I started with all-purpose and Mac and Cheeze,” Wideman said. “I haven’t come across many people who don’t like the flavors of mac and cheese. These blends can be used whether you are vegan or not, on many different foods.

Wideman says her husband is “a meat and potato guy — all the way,” but he and their sons, Ellis, 6, and Issac, 4, frequently try her vegan dishes.

“They love my vegan spaghetti,” Wideman said. “It’s often just simple pasta, marinara and a little basil in there and a little vegan parmesan. And, in fact, they prefer my vegan mashed potatoes.

For a change from spaghetti, Wideman sometimes incorporates a pesto base.

She also embraced foods with West African roots, including starchy fufu and okra.

“One of the biggest benefits I’ve noticed (becoming vegan) is losing weight,” Wideman said. “My mental clarity is better and my energy level. Even my skin is clearer. … Honestly, I think with the change, it put me more in tune with God. … When it comes to production, you get what you pay for with fruit and vegetables. The flavor does not fail when I cook.

Contact Sainte-Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518.

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