Heavenly Creature // Lynn Hoefer talks to TPP about healing herself (and our planet) with plant-based whole foods
We first learned about Lynn Hoefer of HeavenLynn Healthy through our best friend and photographer Elena Zaucke and organic make-up artist Lisa Scharff (who’s TPP feature you can read here). “You need to check out Lynn, you will love her,” Elena insisted. Boy was she right. With just one glance at Lynn’s Instagram we had already ordered her cookbook, Himmlisch Gesund, and screenshotted pretty much all of her recent Instagram posts, which we were craving to re-create at home. Being big health freaks and passionate cooks ourselves, it is no surprise that our love for HeavenLynn Healthy is vast. We immersed ourselves into Lynn’s world instantaneously, drawn to the authentic, positive and honest way in which she presents herself (and her dishes) to the world.
In today’s digital age, healthy eating and living has become somewhat of a promoted lifestyle that is oftentimes not internalized and lived solely on the surface – be it for social media purposes or simply to follow a trend. In Lynn’s case, this could not be further from the truth. Although she tells us that she has always cared about eating whole and real foods – her mother only cooked from scratch and her grandmother even taught cooking in high school – the real turning point came when Lynn was diagnosed with hypertension 2012.
“With my diagnosis, my focus in life completely changed. I went from being a healthy young woman to being medicated like an 80-year-old,” Lynn explains.
For those unfamiliar with hypertension, it is a cardiovascular disease that comes with almost no symptoms and is thus often referred to as the silent killer. Lynn tells us that when she read studies that showed how beneficial a vegan, mostly plant-based diet was for high blood pressure patients, she didn’t have to think twice about it. “From one day to the next I became plant-based, gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free. Everyone around me thought I was crazy.” Lynn was living and studying in the US at the time where the plant-based scene was already extremely developed, making it a lot easier for her to change her diet overnight. To this day Lynn’s blood pressure is still too high, but at least she was able to lower the number and as a result feels the best she has ever felt.
Back in Germany two years later, 2014 to be exact, Lynn launched HeavenLynn Healthy in the form of a blog and Instagram. In the past five years HeavenLynn Healthy has grown to become the epitome of all things healthy eating, nutrition and deliciousness. Not only is Lynn the face and badass boss babe of her own brand, she is also a best-selling author, a certified holistic nutrition / health coach and, as of recent, holder of a M.Sc. degree in business development. “After completing my master’s degree this year, I really felt free for the first time in forever,” she explains. “Now I have a lot more capacity and knowledge on how to make HeavenLynn Healthy even better for my readers and how to give it my all.” Even though Lynn has achieved and experienced more in her young age than most people do in a lifetime, she has even bigger plans for the future. “I want to focus more on gut and mental health, which I believe are strongly connected.” Lynn also strongly believes that the way we eat will “shift more towards sustainability and reduced emission cooking” in the future. These are topics that she is truly passionate about and wants to share with her readers.
After the success of her first German cookbook, Himmlisch Gesund, Lynn is currently working on her second cookbook, due in spring 2020. “The first book really is my baby,” Lynn says, explaining that it’s more than just a cookbook. “It doesn’t try to convert people to veganism or tell you what you’re not allowed to eat, which I think many people fear when they hear vegan cookbook.” When we ask Lynn how the book came about – after all, being published is kind of a big deal – she reveals that a major German publisher reached out to her completely unexpected. However, it didn’t take her long to learn that they wanted to market and sell her as something that she is not. Lynn passed on the very generous offer and instead partnered with a smaller, independent publisher who supported Lynn’s philosophy and approach to plant-based eating.
Lynn knows who she is and what she stands for. Following her intuition to live a thoughtful and deliberate life is something that comes very natural to her. That is not to say that Lynn hasn’t been confronted with self-doubt and insecurities of her own: “I get 99% positive feedback, which I am very grateful for. However, it’s super sad, but I don't – for the life of me – remember the positive as well as I remember the negative comments. I could tell you every negative comment I have every received.”
Earlier this year, Lynn started seeing a business and life coach out of fear that her second cookbook isn’t going to be good enough. “After my first book became so successful here in Germany, imposter syndrome started knocking on my door. I think I could have realized many more dreams by now if I did not have that fear of people suddenly thinking that I cannot write, that I cannot develop recipes and that I cannot help people feel better in all parts of their life,” Lynn tells us. It’s a spiral many of us are familiar with; the more you achieve the more you start questioning yourself and if what you are doing is good enough. Lynn is continuously learning that the negative feedback intended to hurt or offend her in reality says a lot more about the person criticizing her than the other way around.
We have experienced first-hand that living a more plant-based, holistic life can often times come with deep-rooted prejudice and unsolicited criticism. Food plays such a vital role in all social endeavors – after all, it connects people – that we have often found ourselves alienated and even felt ashamed for bringing our (glass) Tupperware filled with gluten free pesto pasta onto the plane with us. For us, eating whole and unprocessed foods is non-negotiable especially when our body is already in a stressful environment such as a transatlantic flight. When we ask Lynn how she deals with this without having to compromise, she explains that her philosophy in life is to give it her best 99% of the time, but not to feel guilty or stressed if she doesn’t find something fresh or healthy to eat.
“I also do not label myself as being vegan or anything else,” Lynn adds on, “being too focused on healthy eating can also become an eating disorder called orthorexia.”
The only time she really struggles is at big family get-togethers, when she is in the middle of nowhere and all that is served is pizza with a big layer of cheese on top. “Instead of eating nothing I will make an exception,” Lynn explains. We can’t always be perfect, and we definitely shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. Lynn recites a moment from several years ago when Jordan Younger (aka @thebalancedblonde) openly talked about how she would obsess about only eating super clean, pure, and vegan food and as a result live in fear of anything that could potentially harm her body. Lynn stresses the importance of accepting that we can't eat healthy and clean all the time: “our body is so incredibly powerful and just one healthy meal a day can already have such a big effect on our health,” she explains.
In the future, Lynn hopes that the plant-based food scene will expand even further and inspire those currently unaware that nutrition affects both our mental and physical health to lead a more holistic and mindful life. “My friend Janine op het Velt just opened her plant-based Deli Aendre in Hamburg and there has been a queue outside ever since the opening,” Lynn tells us. “I really believe that plant-based is the future. Not only for our health, but also for our planet,” Lynn concludes. Never mind those who haven’t jumped on the Mylk evolution or Meatless Monday initiation yet – we will forever bow at the altar of the heavenly creature that is Lynn Hoefer.
Q&A PART I
What time do you wake up?
Usually between 6 and 7 am. I’m a morning person.
What is your wake-up ritual?
I get up, have my morning tonic, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with water on an empty stomach. This helps regulate the ph-level of the body and aids with digestion. Then I normally go for a run or do a yoga class online.
How do you mentally prepare for the day?
I try to meditate every morning, but I’ve got to be honest that I don’t always take time to do this. My morning run is my only non-negotiable ritual and my kind of mediation.
Favorite city to visit vs. favorite city to live in?
I love Amsterdam! It’s such a beautiful and vibrant city! Hamburg on the other hand is definitely my favorite city to live in. Though I don’t actually live in Hamburg, but in a smaller town in the suburbs.
What is the last book you read?
I just read the biography of Patagonia-founder Yvon Choinard. Such an inspiring man!
Who is the last person that texted you?
My sister. Probably from some kind of mountaineering or trail running tour. She’s very outdoorsy.
What's the most attractive quality in someone?
Being able to listen.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Early bird! We’re having a day-wedding because I can’t stay up later than 11.
Q&A PART II
What’s your favorite meal of the day?
Breakfast for sure!
What does your ideal food day look like?
Breakfast would be a Bircher muesli with coconut yoghurt and fresh, seasonal berries, almond butter and homemade chocolate, cardamom and sea salt granola. My dream lunch should have some sort of fermented food in it such as kimchi or sauerkraut and lots of veggies, hummus and sweet potatoes. For dinner, I could always have homemade Thai noodles or creamy pad Thai.
What is a source of inspiration for you?
People who talk about food not only health-related, but with a holistic view. The people who have cared about food long before it became such a big thing or a trend. Like my grandmother, my mother or father or people I meet along the way. When someone talks about the heritage, history or tradition behind food, I feel inspired.
Favorite kitchen utensil that you own?
I don’t actually know the name, but it’s some kind of zester. Adding fresh citrus zest to anything can be life-changing.
How do you recharge?
When I run and when I’m at home with my fiancé (probably husband by the time this gets published). Honestly, there’s nothing better than a Friday night spent at home eating homemade foods and watching a tv show. Also face masks and then a visit to the farmers market on Saturday.
Words of wisdom you would tell your younger self?
Everything happens for a reason.
What do you hold close in life?
My family above all.
Cinnamon, Cardamom, and turmeric. Don’t make me chose just one!
Q&A PART III
Best gift you ever received?
My first food processor. My parents got it for me for graduation.
Any Persian, Middle eastern or Vietnamese restaurant. In Hamburg it is Ændre, an amazing Deli run by my friend Janine Op het Veld.
Beauty product you swear by?
I have been using all natural cosmetics for about two years now and won’t go back. I love the Pai products, Josh Rosebrook and Lovelyday from Berlin.
Biggest pinch me moment?
When I first saw my cookbook in an actual bookstore.
Something you recently discovered?
I read Samin Nosrat’s book salt, fat, acid and heat and learned so much! For example that I really should salt my pasta water more. Being hypertensive, I try to reduce my salt consumption, but actually most of the salt will stay in the water, not in the pasta.
Buttercups and poenies
Woman who inspires you?
Where will you travel next?
Mallorca or Portugal in the summer, South Tyrol in the fall and then probably Bali or Costa Rica for our honeymoon next year.
Q&A PART IV
What do you always take with you when traveling?
My water bottle. And snacks. Lots of healthy and fresh snacks.
Dinner party at your house. What do you cook?
My life-changing lasagna. Nobody will care or notice that it’s plant-based, gluten-free and full of complex carbs and veggies.
Favorite recipe from your book (If you had to pick one?
The easy Cajun Jambalaya.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Open. Passionate. Introverted.
What’s your most used emoji?
😅 and 🌿
What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn?
What’s on your bedside table?
My lip balm, hand lotion, my diffuser with essential oils, a thermometer (for birth control) and a gratitude journal.