Get to Know Tuesdays – Lisa Kitahara of Okonomi Kitchen

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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Welcome to our “Get to Know” series! Each Tuesday (for the next year), we’re going to introduce you to a creator in the wellness space that we think you NEED to know. The creators we feature are of various backgrounds. Whether they’re an online content creator, coach, or owner of a product-based brand, they each have their own niche in the wellness world and contribute to the space, as a whole, in an incredibly meaningful way. We’re setting this up Q&A-style so that you can learn more about each creator’s why, the content that they’re most proud of, and exactly how you can be a part of and contribute to their journey. We hope you enjoy our conversations with these wonderful people and brands. We know they’re going to enrich your lives!

This week, we’re interviewing Lisa Kitahara of Okonomi Kitchen. Lisa says, “I hope with my platform, it inspires people to not only try the recipes I share but also to get others to experiment in their kitchen too!!” Follow along as we learn more about Lisa:

Why did you start your business?

Lisa: My business first started as a hobby when I was in high-school where I shared simple vegan meals that I made like smoothie bowls, oatmeal bowls, pasta dishes and lots of salads. As I learned how to cook and bake, I started to share a lot of vegan/gluten free recipes like mac and cheese, noodle dishes, soups, breads, cookies, tofu recipes, desserts and lots of muffins. When I came back from university, I started to crave a lot of Japanese food. I realized how much I’ve missed my moms cooking and the foods I grew up loving, I started to experiment more with those kind of dishes. It took some times and a lot of experimenting in the kitchen, but I soon found myself loving the process of trying to veganize those dishes. I started Okonomi Kitchen as a way to share these recipes and inspire others to include more plant based meals into their diet. I often get messages saying they want to go vegan or eat more plant based but are afraid of missing out on their childhood favourites and dishes from their culture— but with all the great alternatives on the market now, it really is much easier to replicate those dishes! I hope with my platform, it inspires people to not only try the recipes I share but also to get others to experiment in their kitchen too!! 

What’s your mission/purpose statement?

Lisa: I share my recipes to show that transitioning to a vegan lifestyle or simply eating more plant based does not mean you have you sacrifice your favourite foods, especially dishes that are nostalgic, close to our hearts and grew up eating! I know food is a huge part of culture and connecting with your family so my mission is to veganize those dishes (specifically asian-inspired) while still utilizing as many traditional ingredients/methods. 

What 2 (or 3!) pieces of content are you the proudest of?

Lisa: Currently, I am most proud of my series on Natto because it’s an unfamiliar (but very healthy!), ingredient that many people don’t know of or are afraid to try because of how it looks and smells. Since starting that series, I’ve had so many people tell me they now include natto into their diet and it just makes me super happy that people are open to trying foods from different cultures. 

I’m also proud of the vegan egg yolk I recently shared, that one took quite a bit of time to perfect. I’m still working on a soft egg white to pair with it but it’s getting there! Lastly, I think the eggplant eel inspired by the ones in Japan because it’s gotten so many people that don’t like eggplant to love it!  

Where are you going next? What’s your goal for the next year?

Lisa: Long term, my dream is to write a cookbook full of Asian/Japanese inspired plant based recipes. As well to cover Japanese cooking techniques and ingredients. Another goal is to start sharing more long-form videos over on youtube because I have so many ideas and recipes to share that I think would be much easier to show and demonstrate. I would love to be able to eventually hire a team to help out on the backend and front end so I can continue to share more plant based recipes. 

How can we (and the Fed and Fit community) best support you?

Lisa: The best way is to  follow my socials, engaging and signing up for my newsletter on my food blog. I always love connecting with my community, whether it be talking about certain dishes to veganize, recipes they’ve tried and questions about ingredients/cooking methods. I also love learning about new cultures and hearing about new dishes!

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