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Gena Hamshaw

Meet the food blogger turned cookbook author

James Ransom

Before she became a food blogger in 2009, Gena Hamshaw was a longtime fan of so many others in the space. Still, she noticed something was missing. “I had been reading food blogs forever and thought they were great but noticed a lack of representation from vegan bloggers,” she says. “Veganism is a really big niche now, but at the time, the vegan blog community was small. I wanted to change that.”

So she did—launching her blog The Full Helping while simultaneously working full-time as a book editor. At the time, Gena was still relatively new to veganism, having discovered it while overcoming an intense personal battle with anorexia. “Veganism showed me that food didn’t have to be all about obsession and a fixation on what I was putting into my body,” she says. “It helped me approach mealtime as something meaningful, almost like a form of activism.”

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@TheFullHelping/Instagram

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@TheFullHelping/Instagram

Instead, Gena learned as she went, teaching herself all the basics—not just how to cook, but how to take blog-worthy photos and run her own business, too. Now, two cookbooks later (with a third on the way next spring), Gena is proud of her journey from blogger to chef. She’s also very busy. “I’m currently in grad school to become a registered dietician, which makes it hard to fit in time for recipe development,” she says. “There are weeks where I feel super organized and weeks where it feels like a beautiful mess. It’s a work in progress, but I’m excited about what’s to come.”

On her sources of inspiration for recipe development. “There are a lot of random kitchen experiments. Food itself is so inspiring and always gives me a lot to think about. Other times, I eat something at a restaurant or read about a dish and think: ‘Hmm…how could I veganize this?’ Other times it’s cookbooks or a fellow food blogger that I want to pay homage to. Inspiration is everywhere.”

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@TheFullHelping/Instagram

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@TheFullHelping/Instagram

Her go-trick for styling a food shot. “I always shoot with natural light. That means I have to modify my schedule to be home at certain hours of the day in order to capture the right aesthetic. I also aim for simplicity in all my photos. Basic props like linens and antique forks and spoons are my go-to.”

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@TheFullHelping/Instagram

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@TheFullHelping/Instagram

On her top three vegan restaurants in New York City. Candle Café and Candle 79. I love them both and I am very devoted to both of them. I also really love Blossom, which is vegan as well. Last, I love Souen. It’s not exclusively vegan, but I love going there for a great macrobiotic plate.”