Christy Morgan, Blissful Bites

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7/25/2012:

Part I: Christy Morgan
Blissful Bites

A vegan macrobiotic chef, Morgan offers environmentally-conscious eaters a variety of easy, palate-pleasing, healthy, and environmentally-friendly recipes in her cookbook, Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals that Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet. Also known as The Blissful Chef, Morgan helps home cooks make healthy, delicious meals with seasonal produce, many of which cater to raw and gluten-free diets.

Passionate about helping people change their lives and helping save the planet through a healthier, plant-based diet, Morgan’s work has been esteemed by bestselling authors of Skinny Bitch, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Neal Barnard. Blissful Bites has also been featured in VegNews, Diet and Nutrition Magazine, Green Child Magazine and on Martha Stewart Living Radio and PETA.org.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you are listening to It’s All About Food. Thanks for joining me, it’s July 25, 2012 and if you have been listening to me on a reasonably regular basis, you know that I’ve been in California and I just got back to New York this morning. I was traveling on a red-eye flight and it’s always a surreal experience after being somewhere for three weeks or so and then coming back to a place that you are very familiar with. But, I’m really glad that the weather here is quite pleasant because when I left, it was quite horrible. And, yeah, so I’m back here in New York and I got here early in the morning and I’m really tired because it was on a red eye and so the first thing I did was make myself one of these great fruit smoothies with some green powder and all kinds of wonderful healthy food to get me a little energized. And, ah… {laughs} this is my story for the day…I don’t know what motivated me or didn’t motivate me, but I didn’t put the cover on the blender and a whole bunch of purple-ly, dark goo splattered all over the place and I cleaned it up and then I did it a second time {laughing!} And, then, finally, there was some left and I had my smoothie and then just before starting the show, I thought I’d make myself a cup of mate and I don’t know what motivated me, but I looked upon on the ceiling and I don’t know how it got there, but a lot of what was in the blender was now on the ceiling! It would have made Jackson Polack proud. That’s what happens when you don’t get enough sleep! Sleep is so important and if you’re wondering why you’re tired, one of the first things I like to ask is: Have you been getting enough rest? And, I hope you have and I’ll get some later—I’ll be fine. And…I wanted to remind you before we get on with our first guest, that I have a non-profit called Responsible Eating and Living and my website is www.responsibleeatingandliving.com. I do another broadcast called Ask a Vegan and I just did my 100th episode last Sunday and I wanted to let you know because it was a really fun show and you might want to check it out. I interviewed a 13 year old boy who was quite interesting and articulate. So you can go to www.responsibleeatingandliving.com., go to the Real Radio tab and you can see the It’s All About Food Archive which has all of my 158 shows and counting and the Ask a Vegan Archive, as well. So, check them out!

Okay, one of the things I like to do about this show, you know I love talking about food and it’s all about food. And, I have an agenda and that is, to help people eat more plant foods because it’s so important for the planet and I think the most effective way to do it is to tell stories. I like people to come on and tell their stories. So, were going to hear a bunch of stories today and hear about food and the first guest is Christy Morgan. She’s a vegan, macrobiotic chef and she offers environmentally conscious eaters a variety of easy, palate pleasing, healthy and environmentally friendly recipes in her cookbook, Blissful Bites – Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body and Planet. Also known as The Blissful Chef with a website www.theblissfulchef.com. Morgan helps home cooks make healthy, delicious meals with seasonal produce, many of which cater to raw and gluten free diets. Welcome to it’s All About Food, Christy!
Christy Morgan: Hi! Thanks for having me!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well you sound like you do everything that is really important to me.
Christy Morgan: {Laughs} Awesome.
Caryn Hartglass: Making vegan meals that nourish the mind, body and planet that’s all there is. That all about food and that’s what it’s all about! Now, what is your story? In brief. How is it…
Christy Morgan: {Laughs}
Caryn Hartglass: …you became inspired to make vegan meals and share them with the world?
Christy Morgan: Well, I moved to Los Angeles after college and I went vegan after watching this really graphic video on animal food production.
Caryn Hartglass: Which one was that?
Christy Morgan: So…ah..Meet your Meat…
Caryn Hartglass: Meet Your Meat…yep…that’s a good one. Or, a bad one…yeah.
Christy Morgan: …and I went vegan overnight…
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Christy Morgan: And, so it’s a whole new way of cooking and looking at food. So,I had to teach myself. This was 10 years ago, almost. And, back then, there wasn’t really a huge amount of vegan restaurants, or vegan products so I had to teach myself how to cook.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmmm…Hmmm!
Christy Morgan: And, I met up with other vegans in the vegan community and went to potlucks and started cooking for other people and I just really loved it and so, decided to go to culinary school.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, good for you. Where did you go?
Christy Morgan: I went to a macrobiotic, natural foods cooking school in Austin called The Natural Epicurian.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, were they supportive of a vegan diet?
Christy Morgan: Yeah. It was macrobiotic so it was mostly vegan…
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm…great!
Christy Morgan: …and now…now, the program actually is vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic and ayurvedic, and raw foods. The program has expanded to include all kinds of plant based foods and the plant based food movement..
Caryn Hartglass: Hmm…Ok. Austin is a pretty hip community. I know Whole Foods started there and for Texas, it’s probably pretty evolved for the rest of the surrounding community.
Christy Morgan: Yes. People are very conscious of their food choices and environmental choices. Lots of people bicycle and they’re into outdoor sports. It’s a great town.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. I notice in the beginning of your book…one of things I wanted to mention is that the vegan world is really a community. And…ah…I don’t know how to explain this exactly, but a lot of us are on a mission, just like the title of your book…the subtitle: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body and Planet. We have a mission, we want to make this world a better place, we want people to be happy and healthy, we want the planet to be clean and healthy for generations to come. And, as a result, vegan chefs just tend to be part of a big community and I notice in the beginning of your book, you have a number of comments, testimonials or support for your book and it’s from a number of other vegan chefs in the movement and it’s really nice to see that they all come out to support each other.
Christy Morgan: Yes, it’s a very supportive, especially, anytime you go to a new city, you just basically google: vegan and your city and you will have a wealth of people waiting with open arms {laughing}.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Thanks to the Internet for that. I think that’s what’s really helped our mission, the Internet.
Christy Morgan: Definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Chritsty Morgan: Yeah. It’s really helped educate people on…because there’s this old school…these old school myths and old school knowledge of nutrition and how nutrition works and we’re really stepping away from that and people are…their eyes are being opened to the fact, that you know, dairy isn’t really that good for you. It’s causing all this inflammation and all these issues you may be having or maybe you should check it out. We’re just opening minds. And, through the Internet, all these people are writing articles and just educating each other. It’s really amazing.
Caryn Hartglass: And, it does help that every week we hear about more and more celebrities that are going vegan.
Christy Morgan: That doesn’t hurt, for sure. I don’t like to look to celebrities, necessarily, because I mean, they’re people, too, who are going to make mistakes and they get more publicity on the mistakes they make sometimes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. That’s true.
Christy Morgan: But, it definitely helps to get veganism out there. Vegan eating mainstream.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you know…I think a lot of people are afraid. They’re afraid of change, and when more people are doing something, it makes it seem more ok to many people…
Christy Morgan: More normal…it’s not weird anymore! {Laughing}
Caryn Hartglass: Not weird anymore! No! {Laughing} Ok, now there are lots of different vegan diets and that’s something that really surprises people when I talk about vegan diets because there are many kinds. There are some unhealthy vegan diets and there are some that are healthier and there are just different kinds and science hasn’t told us whether one is better than the other. There’s just a range of different ones and macrobiotic is one of them. Now, why is it you decided to focus on the macrobiotic style?
Christy Morgan: Well, macrobiotic is not inherently vegan. The vegan diet means specifically to exclude animal foods from your diet and try to reduce harm to animals as far as entertainment, clothing, animal testing and all of that. So, being vegan isn’t just really a diet, it includes all of that.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm.
Christy Morgan: So some raw foods and some other kinds of things that look vegan are vegan just in the diet. They don’t, necessarily, include all the ethics that go behind the vegan diet. So, I just wanted to clarify that.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm. That’s good.
Christy Morgan: Macrobiotics is, actually, not inherently vegan. A lot of people who study macrobiotics eat fish and some of them eat other animal foods because it’s not a one size fits all diet.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm.
Christy Morgan: So, I had no idea what it meant before…what the word meant…until I went to the culinary school.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm.
Christy Morgan: So, I, actually, had no idea, but I feel really blessed that I did that culinary school and I learned about it because it taught me more about the whole foods diet. It taught me more of a holistic view of health. So, it wasn’t just about the food, it was about health, how it affects the planet, how it affects your organs, your mood, everything about you, your relationship with others. So…it’s more than just fuel to nourish us, it’s everything…to me {Laughing}.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm…Well it is!
Christy Morgan: Well, so, that’s what that taught me and it taught me about balance. It taught me about eating in season, it taught me about organic food…so…I really feel blessed…because I learned how to cook in a natural foods way. I never learned how to cook junk food. I never became a vegan who was a junk food vegan because I was exposed to all of this wonderful whole foods.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm…yeah, that’s lucky! You know, I’ve been doing this for decades and it’s been a lo-o-o-ng journey! {Laughing} of learning and ultimately coming to a very, very clean, whole food place.
Christy Morgan: And that’s what I try to share with even vegans because…just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So my mission is to help everyone, but especially, help vegans to actually learn to cook and to eat whole foods. Because it’s so easy these days to just buy packaged foods or buy Tofurkey dogs and all that stuff which is delicious, but you don’t want to make that all of your diet, right?
Caryn Hartglass: You know, you said that what moved you to the vegan diet was watching the video Meet Your Meat for people who aren’t familiar with that video, it’s put out by PETA and it has some very difficult to watch scenes of animals in factory farms. And…ah….that’s what moved me to this diet is the pain and suffering of animals that I don’t want to support. And, so, many people see videos like that and decide they’re not going to eat animals anymore and they end up eating a diet that isn’t healthy. And, I’m with you, Christy, because personally, I used to say vegan was a lifestyle, but now after an interview I had a few weeks ago with Gary Steiner, I’m now saying it’s a moral imperative, the vegan diet. It’s more than a lifestyle, it’s a moral imperative because of what we’re doing to our planet, the environment, animals and our own health. We need to change the way we eat and it’s important, to me, that all people that are promoting a plant diet look good, and feel healthy and look healthy because we are our own marketing.
Christy Morgan: Yeah. I mean, it’s a touchy subject that I’ve talked about before on my own blog and with other people…it’s a tricky subject….because just going vegan does not mean you’re going to get healthy, does not, necessarily, mean you’re going to lose a ton of weight and transform your whole life. It can happen, it happens for many people, but there’s a fine line we have to walk between promoting veganism for vanity and promoting it for health and the health of the planet and animals. So, it’s so much more than food, obviously, and it…and…a lot of people go into it because they think it’s going to help them, but I really hope that people dive deeper than that. That they experience the true passion that comes from not eating animals.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, we’re all on our own path and the range of how deep we’re going to go or the pace at how deep we’re going to go is really an individual thing, but…
Christy Morgan: Of course…
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah…but I believe that first eliminating animal foods from our diet and knowing that you can survive without eating animals really, I think, opens a crack into a whole other world and then you can go deeper and you can learn more. It’s first knowing that we don’t need animals to live!
Christy Morgan: Yeah, that’s a pretty big battle for people in and of itself…
Caryn Hartglass: Big battle!
Christy Morgan: …yeah…I applaud anybody who takes any steps to reduce the harm that they do and the animal foods that they eat. You know, I think it’s important that we are flexible and understanding of other people and support people on their journeys. Because, it’s really…not everyone is going to go vegan overnight….at least not tomorrow. So, if we can get people to make small steps, those accumulative small steps really become a massive tipping point and that’s what we need right now. In order to save ourselves and our planet, we need to end factory farming. It’ is so detrimental to our planet and our health. We all know that, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah…
Christy Morgan: I support anybody who takes any steps…Meatless Mondays…Vegan ‘til 6:00 p.m….whatever you want to do, just do something. Right?
Caryn Hartglass: {Laughing} There is momentum definitely happening. More people know the word vegan and they’re more open to it. It’s not a foreign word anymore. We hear about it in movies and on TV and everybody knows people who are vegan and so, there’s this momentum going on which is great. But, at the same time, there are other movements happening, as well, that are counter to what’s happening in the vegan movement. There’s so much promotion of eating pork and bacon and ham and making it trendy and hip…
Christy Morgan: Gormet…foodie…
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! It’s kind of crazy. I was just thumbing through Prevention magazine. I haven’t looked at it in so long and they showed two different recipes. One had bacon and one had ham with some fruits and vegetables and I’m thinking: “C’mon, this is 2012, you still don’t get it? “ {Laughs}, but there we are!
Christy Morgan: Yeah….
Caryn Hartglass: But, you have…I wanted to mention, in your book…one of things that I really like to do and I’m glad to see you have a recipe for it…is tempeh bacon!
Christy Morgan: Yeah, that’s one of my most popular recipes, actually…
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Christy Morgan: …and you can find it…people can find it on my website, as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s good. Now, you can buy it in the store, but what I like about making it at home, is that you can really adjust the flavors to the way you like it. I don’t like using a lot of salt and the tempeh bacon in the stores is r-e-e-e-ally salty for my palate.
Christy Morgan: Yeah, it is…
Caryn Hartglass: But, making tempeh bacon, it’s so good and tempeh is such a great food!
Christy Morgan: I love…yeah…I love tempeh.
Caryn Hartglass: Tempeh…they use a lot of tempeh in macrobiotic cooking, don’t they?
Christy Morgan: Yep! Yeah, that’s where I learned about it in cooking school. I would choose tempeh over tofu any day!
Caryn Hartglass: Well, what’s great about tempeh is that it’s more of a whole food, because tofu is more processed. Tofu is just curdled…the juice from the soybeans…pressed out of the soybeans. It lacks fiber and then it’s curdled and made into a cheese. But, tempeh is the whole bean, fermented, which makes it more easy to digest.
Christy Morgan: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: And, it has a nice flavor. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but I find people either like tempeh or they don’t like it.
Christy Morgan: Yeah! That’s what I find, too, in my cooking classes, but thankfully, I like…every time I do a class on tempeh, there is at least one person in the class who says, “I hate tempeh!” “I can’t stand it, but I like yours.”
Caryn Hartglass: Oooh…so what’s your secret?
Christy Morgan: Somehow, I’ve created tempeh dishes that turn people on to tempeh. But, I’ve had people say that about other things. People will come in and say, “I hate Brussels sprouts!” And, they have mine, and then they like it. So…
Caryn Hatrglass: Well, I think..yeah, that’s great…I think one of the important things with tempeh, especially, for people who don’t naturally like that fermented, mushroomy, nutty kind of flavor that it has, is to marinate it in something. And, it’s so good with a variety of marinades and when…plus I think it’s good, too, to hydrate it a little bit. It makes it moist and chewier and gives it a nicer texture. That’s what I like to do with tempeh.
Christy Morgan: Yeah. You should really try my tempeh bacon!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay! Definitely will! And you know they’re popular…there’s so many things you can do with tempeh bacon. You can have a BLT and just so many different things and, probably, you could put it on ice cream. Just they’re doing at Burger King right now! Did you hear about that?.
Christy Morgan: No-o-o…
Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh, they’re putting these bacon bits on ice cream as a new sundae sensation. It’s like really?
Christy Morgan: Oh…that’s gross! {Laughing}
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! But, maybe tempeh on a coconut, banana frozen ice cream or something…who knows…maybe your next book!
Christy Morgan: {Laughing} Okay, you’re giving me some ideas!
Caryn Hartglass: {Laughing} Another thing is that you have one of my favorite quotes in here by Joseph Campbell: “ Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” And this is so profound and this is really one of the wonderful things about this diet, this lifestyle, this moral imperative, there are some many things going wrong in this world today and this is such a wonderful, joyful, delicious thing that you can do that’s RIGHT! That makes a difference!
Christy Morgan: Yeah. That’s why it’s called Blissful Bites that’s why I’m called a Blissful Chef because eating this way really does make me feel bliss and it makes me feel so good every day that I can live my true self and my compassion with everything that I do. People don’t realize how important it is to eat this way because it is something you do the most. Like, we sleep and we eat. That’s what we do the most and you can make the most profound difference with your fork! And, people think, “Oh, it’s just food and I just need to feed myself so that I can have energy to work all the time” or something. But, it’s like: No! It’s much deeper than that!
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm. It’s, it’s…well…once you come over to our side, you’ll see how blissful it really is. {Laughing}
Christy Morgan: {Laughs} Exactly!
Caryn Hartglass: Did you have any specific physical changes when you transitioned your diet?
Christy Morgan: Well, I started when I was really young. I was right out of college when I started so I didn’t have any health issues, a lot of people go to this diet because of health issues, but I didn’t really have any because I was young.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Mmm…Hmm.
Christy Morgan: What I have noticed is that over the years, I keep getting healthier and more fit, and younger as I age which is totally the opposite of what other people do. Most people who eat a standard American diet, they degrade as they age.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right!
Christy Morgan: I stopped aging…I stopped AGING!
Caryn Hartglass: {Laughing}
Christy Morgan: I’m in better shape…I’ve become an athlete, now, later in life and I’m in better shape than I was when I was in college and I was an athlete. I can do more…
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. What are you doing now? What kind of sports?
Christy Morgan: …I can do more with my body now. I can work out harder and longer and have super quick recovery times or there is no recovery time. I can just keep going. It’s amazing. I do everything. I love being active. I do Zumba, I do kickboxing, I lift weights, I run. I did my first triathlon last year in September…
Caryn Hartglass: Whoo!
Christy Morgan: …and I’m doing the Tough Mother in October which is one of the hardest obstacle races in the country.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, Good for You!
Christy Morgan: So, it’s so exciting…it’s like, Hey, I can be an athlete now! And…and…on a vegan diet! So, I love going to the gym wearing vegan shirts! {Laughing}
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm! Oh, that’s really clever…that’s clever advertising!
Christy Morgan: My secrets out…!
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm…yep…here’s my secret folks! Well, it’s funny that you mention that because in the next part of the show, I’m going to be talking to Rich Roll…I don’t know if you know who he is…but he is…
Christy Morgan: Oh! Of Course!
Caryn Hartglass: …an AMAZING God! Who, in his 40’s started doing ultra marathons and all kinds of crazy physical stuff and he does it all on plant foods!
Christy Morgan: I know, he’s amazing. I love Rich Roll. Yeah! Yeah! There are so many amazing vegan athletes and they’re so inspirational and whenever I meet people at the gym who tell me about their diets, I tell them you should really look up Robert Cheeke, and Scott Jurek and Rich Roll and…
Caryn Hartglass: And Brendan Brazier
Christy Morgan: …and Brendan Brazier because there are so many amazing athletes. Although, there aren’t a lot of females that are that popular so I need to… Amy Dodes…she’s amazing and she’s a great athlete. But, we need to get some more females out there in the spotlight…
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well, you’re training…so, you know… maybe you’ll have to be one of them.
Christy Morgan: I’m not training enough, I don’t think, but yeah! {Laughing} I like to talk to people about fitness that’s for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s…it’s very important to exercise. It’s not just the food. You have to work your body and we just got ourselves into this crazy lifestyle of eating all the wrong foods, and sitting in an office and then coming home and then sitting and watching television and it’s all about convenience and it’s not healthy. We need to move, move, move. We need to be making things, we need to be moving our bodies and I just hope that we get there! But, you’re helping to do that with your very lovely Blissful Bites. {Laughs}.
Christy Morgan: Thank you!
Caryn Hartglass: I know that you’ve starred a bunch of your favorite recipes in here. Just before we go, did you want to mention any one in particular? To whet our appetite?
Christy Morgan: People always ask me this and I just love food so much it’s hard for me to pick. That’s why I actually put those Chef and Fan Favorite stars in there…
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…Hmm.
Christy Morgan: … so that people could look for that. But, really, I just love breakfast and brunch food…
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm…
Christy Morgan: …I just love it! I’m working on the next book and that chapter is 3 times the size of the other chapters.
Caryn Hartglass: {Laughing}
Christy Morgan: I don’t know what it is, but I just love breakfast food! I love Tofu Scramble. I make a really good tofu scramble and I love pancakes so, all of that!
Caryn Hartglass: {Laughs} Yeah. It’s cozy and it’s comforting. It’s the best way to start your day with some really good food in your belly.
Christy Morgan: And, I actually eat smoothies. I usually have a huge, green smoothie every morning and that’s what I have for breakfast, normally, but I do love to splurge and make brunch for other people.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I think, maybe weekends or for some particular festive time, I love taking out the pankcakes or the waffle iron and making a really satisfying, great breakfast. I think breakfast does it for me, too. So, I just wanted to thank you for speaking with me today, Christy, and best of luck to you with Blissful Bites. Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Christy Morgan: Thanks for having me! It was nice talking with you!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I’m Caryn Hartglass Bye-Bye. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. I’m going to take a quick break and stay with us because I’m going to be talking with Rich Roll and his book Finding Ultra. Be right back.

Transcribed by Gail Schriver, 6.9.2013

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