Emilie Hebert, Miss LSU-USA 2016
Abby Photo, LLC
Emilie Hebert, recently crowned, Miss LSU-USA, has a passion for sharing her healthy lifestyle with others. While she is a full time student at LSU and will be a junior next year, she still finds time to not only eat a healthy diet but to share with others how they can do it too. Hebert, 20, says her mom has played a big role in her devotion to a healthy diet. “We’ve always been a healthy family and I thank my mom every day for raising us like that. She always made us a good breakfast, packed us lunch and cooked a healthy dinner,” says Hebert.
It was a 10-day challenge that she embarked on in high school that led her on this health journey. “I cut out all processed foods and stuck to real, whole foods - nothing from a bag or box with more than five ingredients,” says Hebert. What started as a 10-day challenge has turned into a three year quest for healthy eating.
Along the way, Hebert decided to go vegan, cutting out all animal products including meat, dairy and eggs. Hebert’s biggest motivation for cutting out processed foods was originally weight loss, however, the more she learned about ingredients and how they affect your body, she began to focus more on health than on weight loss. She credits the documentary, Cowspiracy, for her decision to eat a vegan diet. “I realized the negative environmental and health effects of raising animals for food and I also have a huge heart for animals, so that was a big reason as well,” she says. Raised in Chauvin, Louisiana, a small town in southern Terrebonne Parish, Hebert was taught to care for the environment and live as sustainably as possible. She feels that by living vegan and eating a plant-based diet, she can help take care of the earth.
As a sophomore in high school, Hebert entered her first pageant, Miss Chauvin. Never having participated in a pageant before, she thought it would be something fun and different. She won the local contest and went on to enter a few others along the way to Miss LSU-USA. The Miss LSU-USA pageant falls under the umbrella of the Miss Universe system, which includes Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. In her freshman year in college, Hebert participated in a preliminary pageant to the Miss Louisiana Teen USA, and placed in the top 10. She then moved on to the Miss LSU-USA last year and although she didn’t win, she had so much fun that she entered again this year. The second time was the charm as she was crowned Miss LSU-USA 2016.
Hebert loves challenges and says that she enjoys competing because it provides her the opportunity to work hard to become the best version of herself, both mentally and physically. She says, “There are ups and downs during preparation, but at the end of the day, I feel so confident and proud when I step on that stage because I know how much work I put in to get there.” Another perk of participation, Hebert says, is getting to meet all of the other contestants and forming friendships. She met two of her best friends through pageants. “You can make so many connections with contestants, judges and directors, you never know where those may lead.”
During her reign, Hebert says that she will be promoting two platforms- fighting for education amidst heavy budget cuts and promoting a healthy lifestyle. She is excited to be an ambassador for LSU and is looking forward to encouraging students to join the fight for the LSU campus, as well as directing them to speak up about why they love their school to the state legislators. Hebert is ready to kick off the school year in the fall with the incoming freshmen and hopes to inspire them to make the most of their time at LSU.
Hebert will represent LSU in October at the Miss Louisiana USA pageant. She is “beyond excited” to be competing for the title. Judges will evaluate 3 areas – interview, swimsuit and evening gown. The pageant will take place at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie.
Hebert began attending LSU in the fall of 2014. Her major is in mass communication, with a concentration on public relations, and a minor in business. She is the social media manager for MOMables and LauraFuentes.com. Hebert says that she has learned so much from interning for blogger Laura Fuentes. She started her own blog, EmilieEats.com, in August 2015. “I was becoming the go-to person for my family and friends when they had questions about cooking or healthy eating. I wanted a place to send them for recipes and inspiration,” says Hebert, who loves cooking and being creative in the kitchen. Emilie Eats is her outlet to share the recipes that she has created and to encourage people to cook at home more, eat real food and do their own research so they can make their own educated decisions when it comes to their health. Hebert did extensive research on how to start and grow a blog. Admitting that she likes for things to be “perfect”, her blog was no exception. She began practicing her food photography, and when you visit her site, I think you will agree that she has mastered the art. Her photos pop off the page and leave you convinced that you must try her fresh food recipes. Hebert spends a great deal of time coming up with creative concoctions.
When asked if it is difficult to create vegan recipes, Hebert says that almost any recipe can be “veganized”. “Many people think that going vegan means depriving yourself of your favorite foods and only eating boring stuff. It really is the opposite!” Hebert proclaims. She gets inspiration from restaurants, Pinterest and random ideas that just pop into her head. Hebert credits eating a plant-based diet with helping her to be more creative in the kitchen. “You have to think outside of the box because you can’t just have chicken and a vegetable,” explains Hebert. She loves creating recipes that show people a plant-based diet can be delicious, varied and simple. For example, on her blog, you can find recipes for cornbread, chili, pancakes and even cheesecake and much more. We have included two of her recipes on page 19.
As a self professed “pro” at label reading, Hebert recommends that you stay away from packaged foods with ingredients that you don’t recognize and to stick with the least amount of ingredients possible, while still being whole food ingredients. “Look out for added sugar (under many names!), opt for foods with “whole wheat flour” rather than “bleached white flour,” and try to steer clear of highly refined oils like canola or vegetable oils.” Her biggest tip is to eat more whole foods that don’t require a label, like fruits, vegetables, oats, whole grains and nuts.
In addition to a healthy diet, Hebert enjoys a variety of fitness activities. She loves Les Miles’ Body Combat, Body Attack, Body Pump classes and hopes to become a certified instructor soon. “I enjoy strength training and lifting weights because I love being toned and strong, but I also love incorporating yoga and Pilates into my routine to stretch my muscles and connect my mind and body,” says Hebert, who enjoys “a little bit of everything”, which she says keeps boredom at bay.
Message of Health
Hebert undoubtedly has a bright future ahead. “The ultimate goal would be to blog as a full time job,” she says. “I always say that my blog isn’t for me, it’s for others, and I truly care about the health of our society.” She currently has approximately 120,000 page views per month. When someone comments to Hebert that her recipes have inspired them to eat healthier, she says that’s when she knows “that all the hard work is worth it.”