Jackie Akerberg of Jackfruitful known for vegan recipes on Instagram – Des Moines Register

This is one in an occasional series on Iowa influencers who are finding new ways to tell the story of the state through social media.
Des Moines-based vegan influencer Jackie Akerberg has no beef. 
For the 31-year-old metro area native, that means no meat from animals — and no negativity — on her positivity peppered Instagram page @jackfruitfulkitchen.
The Valley High School alum, who now boasts nearly 90,000 followers on Instagram, catapulted to internet fame in 2020 with her creative, colorful take on vegan recipes. 
Now, ahead of the Jan. 17 release of the debut of “The Clean Vegan Cookbook,” the Jackfruitful.com creator is dishing about the journey that brought her a slice of food blogging success.
Akerberg was born Jackie Bassman to Bob and Diane Bassman, a local couple who co-owned Bassman Vending, a corporate catering and vending company. 
During Akerberg’s childhood, the stocked vending machines and prepped catered food made from scratch at their company.
Akerberg spent hours in the kitchen in the company’s warehouse alongside Diane, who was famous for homemade chocolate chip cookies, as her mother prepped menu items. She first gained an awareness for cultivating creative recipes at home and in the warehouse with her family, Akerberg said.
The family of three ate homemade meals each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast at the Bassman house was a sit-down event and the family of three would regularly share large dinners with homemade Italian pasta sauce, fresh pizza dough, salads, dressings, sauces, and various desserts.
For most of her life, Akerberg identified as a pescatarian because she would occasionally consume salmon and eggs. Her dad would cook steaks and other meats, but they never interested her palate, she said.
“This new version is going to be the one that changes your mind,” Akerberg said her dad would say about each new meat dish he cooked.
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Akerberg later graduated from Valley High School in 2009 and attended Aveda Institute Des Moines to receive a cosmetology license in 2012. Akerberg worked as a colorist at Salon Spa W in the East Village, where she met her husband Clinton, before starting her blog Jackfruitful.com in 2019.
That year, Akerberg also fully became a vegan and began posting original plant-based recipes produced with whole foods on her blog. In March 2020, her Instagram account @jackfruitfulkitchen only had about 1,000 followers. By July 2021, her following had increased to 10,000 followers and as of Jan. 12, the account has nearly 90,000 followers.
“I used to post a picture with a recipe every day and people kept telling me that I needed to show my face,” Akerberg said. “It was actually when I started sharing a lot more of me and being more personable that people connected with my account more.”
Akerberg is known on Instagram for peppy dancing in videos while holding up whole food ingredients and introducing followers to plant-based recipes featuring a rainbow array of colors.
Akerberg posted a cranberry beet salsa appetizer, featuring finely chopped red onions and cranberries with a whole lime and salt alongside other ingredients, around Thanksgiving in 2022 and earned nearly 130,000 Instagram views. A Labor Day dish called the “sesame cabbage crunch salad,” with Napa cabbage, chopped broccoli and homemade sesame dressing racked up 1 million views on the social sharing platform.
Another popular post includes Akerberg’s signature guacamole, with hints of lime and sprinkled salt, paired with restaurant-style salsa that uses tomatoes, crushed red peppers, red onion, and other ingredients.
Akerberg, who works full time as an operations manager at The Wealth Consulting Group with her husband and managing partner Clinton, also runs the couple’s Ingersoll Avenue co-working space Collaborate DSM in Des Moines and oversees the family’s rental properties.
On Jan. 17, the Des Moines-based food blogger’s “The Clean Vegan Cookbook,” from Salem Mass.-based Page Street Publishing Co., will hit bookstores. Akerberg began writing the cookbook in October 2021 and submitted her manuscript in June 2022.
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Akerberg said she believes in a no-shame approach to veganism. Her social media is scattered with healthy alternatives to meat-friendly foods and puts a positive spin on plant-based meals without the heavy chatter about diet culture
“A lot of documentaries are shame based and fear mongering. It’s good to educate yourself, but no one wants to see that,” Akerberg said, referring to common cultural conversations surrounding veganism. 
Akerberg said that vegan naysayers should consider watching “The Game Changers,” an “empowering” film that is executive produced by six Hollywood heavyweights such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and sports legends like Novak Djokovic, about high-performing athletes who have embraced plant-based diets.
She added that veganism is “just a different way of eating” and said she encourages people to try a plant-based diet or find vegan alternatives to meat-focused diets.
“People will always apologize to me if they are eating meat and I don’t care what other people do,” Akerberg said. “It’s just that you can have positive impact on your health when you choose to consume plants.”
While vegans are often criticized for being extreme, she said it is important for influencers and food bloggers to be kind and inclusive to people during their food journeys. Her goal is to simply see folks lead healthy lives.
“My perspective on it is vegans get a bad rap for being kind of extreme, but I think that I take the approach that I am accepting and excited for how much people can enjoy food when they prioritize plants,” Akerberg said.
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“The Clean Vegan Cookbook” features recipes for 60 plant-based dishes, and is available at bookstores and online at Jackfruitful.com. Customers can purchase “The Clean Vegan Cookbook” locally at Eden, Des Moines Mercantile, Campbell’s Nutrition, Storyhouse Bookpub, Beaverdale Books, Allspice Cullinarium, and Kitchen Collage of Des Moines.
Jay Stahl is an entertainment reporter at The Des Moines Register. Follow him on Instagram or reach out at jstahl@gannett.com.


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