Sapana Chandra is a plant-based professional cook, food blogger, and Health Coach and the author of Plant Power Bowls. She launched Real + Vibrant in 2016 after healing herself from chronic illness. Sapana believes that small, everyday habits can lead to big life changes. Follow her on Instagram for a daily dose of inspiration or check out her blog, where she teaches how to cook simple, delicious, and plant-powered meals.
Q: Tell us the story behind Real + Vibrant.
A: After suffering from chronic migraines for well over a decade, I decided to focus on what I was eating. After integrating green juices, smoothies, and real food into my diet and cutting down on processed foods, I noticed my debilitating migraines were starting to disappear. I was full of energy and feeling really good. A few months into my new lifestyle, my dad suffered a massive heart attack and went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed into quadruple bypass surgery. Thankfully, he survived. I paused my corporate career so I could be with my family and help take care of my dad through his recovery. During this time, I started feeling a burning desire to help myself, my family, my friends, and others. I began learning everything I could about health and its relationship with food and reading every health-related book I could get my hands on. That was the beginning of Real + Vibrant. I never went back to my corporate career.
Q: What were you doing prior to enrolling at Integrative Nutrition?
A: I was working in corporate tech as a product manager. After getting my graduate degree in computer science, I dived into the corporate world and built a successful career. As a product manager, I really enjoyed creating working products that improved the lives of others. I learned so much along the way that, in many ways, prepared me for what I’m doing today.
Q: What led you to explore the Health Coach Training Program?
A: After my father’s heart attack, I began reading so much information online and in books about what was the “right” versus “wrong” diet for him, me, and others. I felt overwhelmed. I needed a solid foundation, which led to exploring the Health Coach Training Program.
Q: How has your life changed since becoming a Health Coach?
A: While I am not currently a practicing Health Coach, everything I learned through my training helped set me up for what I’m doing today. It’s allowed me to be more mindful of the recipes I create, how I take care of myself, and how I share information with others. What may help one person may not help another. I do not promote a specific diet as we’re all unique and our needs constantly change as we grow older.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes?
A: Everywhere. Traveling, different cultures, my friends, restaurants I eat at, and just experimenting with the ingredients hanging out in my kitchen. Inspiration is everywhere we look.
Q: How have you been able to create your niche market?
A: It happened organically by sharing what was working for me. After spending most of my working adult life relying on takeout and restaurants, I witnessed the benefits of making my own meals and the power of eating more plants. From a diet filled with mostly bread, pasta, and cheese, I started integrating more whole foods. The more whole foods I ate, the better I felt. I went from being a vegetarian who rarely eats vegetables to one who eats mostly plant-based. It felt natural to share what was making me feel good. My audience started growing on Instagram, and I knew I was on the right track.
Q: What are your tips for remaining authentic when working with brands and sponsors?
A: Work with brands you love, adore, and believe in. Brands you use in your everyday life. If you don’t believe in the brand you’re endorsing, you're only going to lose the trust of your audience. I say no to a lot more opportunities that enter my inbox than I ever say yes to. And when I say yes, it’s because I believe it authentically aligns with my brand and what I believe in.
Q: How have you been able to use your Instagram to further establish your brand?
A: Instagram gave me a voice to connect with others around the world in a way I never had before. It’s what led to my cookbook deal and countless other opportunities. I’ve connected with more individuals over the last few years than I would have at any other job. Thanks to social media, we can create and connect with almost anyone and the opportunities are endless.
Q: What do you love about your work?
A: I love that I get to create recipes that support other people’s lives and spark joy. Food is such an important part of our daily lives, and it brings me so much joy when someone uses one of my recipes to make lunch, dinner, or a quick smoothie in the morning. I’m grateful that I can help play a role in someone else’s journey, just like so many others did in mine.
Q: Congratulations on your new book! Why did you want to write a book and what was the publishing process like?
A: Thank you! I’m so grateful for the experience and opportunity to write Plant Power Bowls. The opportunity to write a cookbook came into my life two years ago after my publisher found me on Instagram. I received an email from my future editor asking if I had ever considering writing a cookbook! One thing led to another, and soon I signed my first cookbook deal! I was so excited because I believed it would be a new opportunity to serve my audience through an accessible and affordable platform, in addition to my blog and Instagram feed. It was truly an incredible journey – challenging (writing a cookbook is no joke!), filled with so much growth, and pretty special. I share all the details of the entire cookbook-writing process in a blog post.
Q: Why are you proud to call yourself an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach?
A: IIN helped me build a solid foundation! Coming from a computer science and technology background, IIN gave me the tools I needed to succeed in launching my career in wellness.
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