Part I: Jessica Nadel, Greens 24/7
Jessica Nadel writes the popular blog Cupcakes and Kale. She has a passion for healthy, local, plant-based eating and thinks that in a diet of vibrant, nourishing meals there is room for a cupcake or two, as well. She is also the proprietor/baker at Oh My Bakeshop, a natural and organic bakery of special-order vegan goods. She lives in Ontario, Canada.
Part II: Christina Ross, Love Fed
Christina Ross is an Ambassador of Healthy Living, a dynamic conscious recipe and product creator, educator of vitality through the art of eating and living vibrantly, a freelance writer and blogger. Christina’s recipes and healthful lifestyle tips have been published in Natural Child World Magazine through her column “Love-Fed.” Christina also contributes recipes and articles to popular sites and works such as RawfoodRecipes.com, Clean Food Living, Vegan Food Share, Organic Soul, Sheknows.com, Just Eat Real Food, RawGuru.com, and Kris Carr’s MyCrazySexyLife.com. Christina keeps her many fans full of nutrient rich content through her blog Love-Fed.com and through television appearances, which have taken her to TODAY, Good Day Chicago, as well as San Diego Living. Learn more at love-fed.com.
TRANSCRIPTION: PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass, and it’s time for It’s All About Food. Guess what we’re going to talk about today? We’re going to talk about…food. And I am going to fill you up with all kinds of delicious information on nutritious, nutrient-rich, wonderful, delicious food today. We’re just focusing on the good part about food today. So let’s have some fun, OK! But before I bring on my first guest, I want to tell you what I’ve been up to…so busy and you know that I founded Responsible Eating and Living along with my partner, Gary De Mattei, and we’ve recently released a lot of stuff on the website. And all I want to ask you to do is go over to http://responsibleeatingandliving.com/ and you have a lot of watching to do. We released our third web series episode, The Real Good News and Review, and we have an in-depth report on chocolate. There’s good news, there’s not-so-good news and it has a happy ending. I promise you that. But there are lots of different things that we need to know when it comes to chocolate, and it goes beyond reading labels. Okay? Then the second part, which is really fun, is our Transition Kitchen, which is our new food show and Gary is going to continue with his “Five Foundation Sauces”, the five mother sauces. And he makes a cashew cream béchamel and a tomato sauce that turned into a spicy marinara, and that has a really fun happy ending too. So, I hope you’ll check that out. And we’ve created this one big episode. It’s all in little pieces so you can watch them all in different sittings if you don’t have a lot of time. And then the last, one of my favorites, is a visit to a local vegan Chinese restaurant here in Queens, NY, the number one tourist destination for 2015, named by Lonely Planet. And we have this wonderful restaurant here and we feature it in our Real Visits. It’s called Simple Veggie Cuisine]. And if you happen to be in the New York metro area, it’s on that you should definitely check into. It’s clean and delicious and the owners are lovely and we just love it!
Alright, let’s move on to my first guest. And we’re going to be talking about not only food, but my favorite subject, green food! And that’s what Jessica Nadel who writes the popular blog, Cupcakes and Kale, she has a passion for healthy, local, plant-based eating and thinks that in a diet of vibrant, nourishing meals, there’s room for a cupcake or two as well. She’s also the proprietary baker at Oh My Bakeshop, a natural and organic bakery of special-ordered vegan goods. She lives in Ontario Canada and you can find her at http://www.cupcakesandkale.ca/
Caryn: Hi Jessica.
Jessica Nadel: Hi.
Caryn: Hi, so we’ve got you all connected.
Jessica: I hope so, yeah.
Caryn: I hear you. You hear me. That’s good. Everybody else hears, raise your hand. How are things up in Ontario? Are they warming up?
Jessica: Oh, ever so slowly. I’m trying to be patient.
Caryn: Yeah, I’ve heard that this is the warmest year on record globally, and yet all of us in the Northeast find that hard to believe.
Jessica: Yeah, I would think so. Especially where we are in Northern Ontario.
Caryn: All right, let’s jump into your Greens 24/7.
Caryn: Before we do, tell me a little bit about you and you got involved with greens.
Jessica: Well, I’ve been a plant-based eater for the majority of my life. I became a vegetarian at the age of ten and vegan in the past five or six years. And I think I’ve just always loved food. Food and family-style meals were just always really focal in my family growing up. And once I started to cook and explore the kitchen a little bit more myself, and became exposed to the amazing varieties at farmers markets and ethnic markets, I just really found a passion for food and vegetables in particular. And I do love my greens. And so I think that’s, in a nutshell, how things got started and how things evolved.
Caryn: Now tell me. You were ten years old. This fascinates me. So, did you have someone who inspired you? Did you figure out that eating vegetables was a good thing all by yourself?
Jessica: I think it had less to do with becoming a lover of vegetables as a ten year old and more to do with being a lover of animals. And making that connection between what was on my plate and the animals that I loved. I think that’s a pretty natural reaction for most kids to be shocked when they discover that they’ve actually been eating animals.
Jessica: And so, yeah, that’s how I become a vegetarian. Making that connection. From a profound love of animals. And that continues to inspire me daily.
Caryn: And your family was okay with that as a little girl?
Jessica: They were really supportive. I think probably they thought it was going to be a passing phase, but they were very supportive and over the course of the years both of my brothers have become vegetarian. One of them is also vegan and I think my parents would call themselves flexitarians too. They love all food and I was lucky to have the support of my family, for sure.
Caryn: I’m laughing to myself, I’m sorry, I just got a little distracted but I’m hearing the ice cream truck outside and I haven’t heard that tune for a very long time. And I don’t think it’s time for ice cream with the weather that we have, but I guess they’re desperate to get out there and get some business. But we can make much better frozen treats and even make them green. And you actually have a few in your book.
Jessica: Yes, I do. Absolutely.
Caryn: So let’s start in the back with some frozen dessert….frozen green, chocolate, avocado pop.
Jessica: You know I really wanted to inspire people to get excited about eating their greens and who’s not going to be excited if you discover you can throw vegetables into cakes and cookies and popsicles. You know? So I’m definitely not suggesting that that’s what you should do instead of eating raw veggies and instead of having a salad too…but in addition to. It’s a great way to play with your food and to sort of “up” your veggie intake.
Caryn: I have seen kale in some desserts before, but they’ve never looked as lovely as the ones in your book.
Jessica: Oh, well thank you so much. I was very lucky to work with an amazing food stylist and photographer, Jackie Sobon, based out of California, and she did an amazing job with my recipes.
Caryn: Yeah, they’re beautiful. Now, I’m a big believer in eating greens. I’m always reading about food and learning about nutrition and it’s really clear to me that humanity is in a tremendous transition phase, and I hope we end up on the good side, learning all what’s best for us and for animals and the planet. But, you know, things are all up in the air right now, and science is a bit confusing. But more and more we’re seeing the support of plant-based eating and that these dark leafy green foods are so important. It’s all very fascinating to me because humans, in our short life here on the planet, our food habits have continually changed. And it’s really hard to know what’s natural, what’s original. Our food keeps changing, we keep changing our food.
Jessica: Yeah. You know my husband and I, we were just talking about this. We were having a discussion along these lines just last night, if not two nights ago. We were talking about our vegan diet and our vegan lifestyle and that we’re raising our family, our young son, that way too, and he stopped and he said, “You know what? I can guarantee you that ten years from now, fifty years from now, five hundred years from now, no one’s going to look around and say, ‘You know what, we shouldn’t have eaten so many vegetables.’”
Caryn: Yeah, nobody got a heart attack from eating broccoli.
Jessica: I’m fairly certain of that one thing…that you can’t really go wrong if you’re feeding yourself, and feeding your family and your community an abundance of beautiful, whole, plant-based foods.
Caryn: Yay! I like that. See I knew what you were talking about last night. I just knew that.
Jessica: Yeah, and that’s not to say that it can’t be and shouldn’t be delicious and fun and nourishing and perfect for everyone around the table. And so I think that’s the beauty of vegan recipes and plant-based recipes, and ones in this book, in Greens 24/7, that are focused on the vegetables. And they’re perfect for everyone around the table. Whether you’re a vegetarian, an omnivore, whether you have a dairy allergy, whether you’re gluten-free. Most of the recipes are gluten-free in the book, or easily adapted. They’re really for everybody, which is the beauty of them.
Caryn: Yay! I’m looking at the first thing in your book. It’s a waffle with greens in it?
Jessica: Mmm, yes. Cinnamon and zucchini! That one’s pretty tasty.
Caryn: You know I eat a lot of greens. I juice every day and a I make sure I have a lot of kale and collards in my life in one way or another, but you have definitely given me some ideas because I eat a lot of waffles and I don’t put vegetables in my waffles. And now I’m seeing that I can very easily. And why not!
Jessica: Well that’s it, why not? Right? I, like you, still have my favorites. And I have my go-to green vegetables. And for me they tend to be kale and spinach and broccoli. They’re sort of my staple greens. But writing and developing the recipes for this book was a great experience because it forced me to learn new favorites and to sort of expand the variety of the greens that I was eating, which of course then expanded the nutritional content as well.
Caryn: Now you have to be careful sometimes when you’re mixing green food with other foods. Now I didn’t see any problems in your book. I think you did a beautiful job. But sometimes when we mix greens with things the color turns out pretty murky and then, especially the kids, they don’t want to eat it.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s true. Unless you give it a name like “swamp water” and it becomes funny. You know, especially with kids I think the more that they’re involved the more in the whole process of shopping for the greens, picking out a recipe, helping to create it. You know my son, even though he’s only two, he loves helping in the kitchen. I guarantee the days that he actively makes the smoothie himself, he drinks twice as much. Because I think involvement leads to investment and so I think it’s really important to get our kids in the process, as well.
Caryn: I’m looking at the kale and herb cornbread muffins. Now we eat a lot of cornbread and corn muffins here just because it’s so easy and I love baking and I love making things from scratch. We have them at least once a week in one way or another. I’m just looking at it and I’m thinking it’s not unusual to add green herbs to bread products. And why not, like you did, take it a little further and add kale.
Jessica: Absolutely. And to not stop at kale but if you don’t have kale it doesn’t mean you can’t make that recipe and try something else. Leafy greens and all green vegetables, frankly, they’re all so versatile. So that’s what I hope people take away from my book too is the versatility and a little excitement about it. I want a little enthusiasm and then motivation to go and experiment in their own kitchen too past the recipes in the book.
Caryn: I’m turning to the broccoli and greens quiche. We’ve made some similar things like this at home with chickpea flour which is the most magical flour I have ever worked with.
Jessica: Isn’t it? I was a little late to the chickpea flour game, but I’m loving it now.
Caryn: And it’s beautiful what you’ve made here. And I know it is very quiche-like without any of the guilt, any of the cholesterol, any of the cruelty.
Jessica: That’s right, but with all the protein. I mean it’s just so protein rich using chickpea flour too.
Caryn: Yeah, and I see it’s got, and this is important because you’ve added turmeric and basil and thyme and vegetable broth. I love chickpea flour but as you probably know, it’s so important to add other flavors because all alone sometimes it’s a little too beany.
Jessica: Yeah, well it’s one of those fours, and you’ll never make the mistake twice, you never want to taste it raw before you cook it.
Caryn: Yeah! Have we all done that?
Jessica: And I actually have made that mistake more than once because I’m someone who’s always licking the bowl at the end or tasting things for flavor and that always throws me off.
Caryn: And it can actually teach you some better habits in the kitchen. I’m talking about myself in terms of tasting and touching everything, you don’t want to eat that stuff.
Caryn: No. Okay, then lovely polenta fries. Love that!
Jessica: Yeah those are great. I love polenta as it is and it’s just so wonderful to have like a nice, rich [17:07] kale, walnut, pesto folded into the polenta and then sliced into fries and baked. It’s such a yummy finger food and different from how you normally might eat it too.
Caryn: Is everyone like starving now that we’re talking…I am. I want to eat some of these things. There are so many wonderful pictures in here. You know there are different kinds of styles of eating and I have to say that your style is very similar to the way we eat at home. I’m looking at all these things and going, “Yeah, this is the kind of stuff I like eating”.
Jessica: Thank you.
Caryn: Because I love my greens. And then another one I remember looking at was in the dessert section. It’s kind of fascinating to me to add vegetables to desserts, but I’ve just been socialized to think a certain way and that’s what’s fun about reading different books like this learning to just look at things differently.
Jessica: Sure. So which recipe was it that caught your eye in the dessert chapter?
Caryn: It was the cabbage strudel.
Jessica: That’s funny I just flipped to that page too. I had never really considered it, but cabbage really does have a natural sweetness to it.
Caryn: It does!
Jessica: Yeah it really does. I’ve noticed it mostly raw when there’s that big piece of cabbage that I’m not going to put in the salad because it’s too thick so I just crunch away on it as I’m cooking. It’s actually a traditional Hungarian strudel. They have used cabbage in the past as a sort of inexpensive apple strudel because it has that sweetness. Especially with a little sugar and some raisins and I like to add a little bit of apple to it as well to really bring out the sweetness. Yeah, what a fun way to eat your cabbage.
Caryn: Really! I can’t wait to do this because I can just imagine how naturally “appley” it could be if you just sweeten it up a bit.
Jessica: It really is. There’s only one small apple that’s used in the recipe and I know traditionally in the Hungarian version they don’t use any apples at all. So it’s possible to do it without it entirely, but I love that little apple sweetness in there too.
Caryn: All right, tell me about Oh My Bakeshop..
Jessica: Oh My Bakeshop is something that came to be a few years ago and I just decided that I wanted to fill a void in my own community. There was nowhere for me to go, myself, when I was out for a coffee and have a vegan cookie or snack and so I thought, “If I’m missing it, chances are other people might be too even if they don’t yet know it”. And so I decided to start baking commercially. And so I built myself a mini commercial kitchen and started baking to supply various restaurants and shops and cafes in town. And so I don’t operate a storefront. Not yet at this point. That’s maybe something that might develop in the future. It’s just done on a wholesale basis or then special orders, by email. People will come to me for parties, for weddings or get-togethers. Wherever they want wholesome, organic, vegan baking. And so that’s what I do.
Caryn: What’s the demand greatest for?
Jessica: I would say it’s a tie between cupcakes which I think are still really popular…everyone loves a good vegan cupcake, and I also do a chickpea blondie which is sort of like a blonde brownie but is enriched with loads of chickpeas and chocolate chips and everyone goes crazy for them. Those are naturally gluten free as well so those are really big sellers.
Caryn: You know, that’s another thing. I started gluten-free baking a few years ago and I’ve been using chickpea flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour that has chickpea flour in it and using it for cookies and cakes. And then at one point you realize, “I’m cooking with beans. I’m baking sweet foods with legumes. Chickpeas are very satisfying and they’re fattier than the other beans. They’re perfect for a treat.
Jessica: They are. I skip the step of making the flour and I use full chickpeas.
Caryn: That makes sense, yeah.
Jessica: So that’s what my bakeshop is, and I’m a full-time mom to my wonderfully busy and spirited two-year-old son.
Caryn: How does your son like vegetables?
Jessica: You know what, he has amazing days where he wants to eat everything in sight and then he has other days where he’s like any other two-year-old who wants nothing to do with anything except peanut butter toast cut in the shape of triangles. So he’s generally a really good eater. He loves his green smoothie and he loves broccoli and he’s recently discovered that he loves spinach salad if I make this rich and creamy cashew-based dressing. So he’s constantly growing and changing and surprising me.
Caryn: Well I always love to say, when we’re talking about nut or seed-based dressings that it’s important to eat fat when you eat leafy green vegetables because the vitamins are fat-soluble and they need fat in order to get into all of your little cells and work their magic.
Caryn: And whole fats from raw nuts and seeds are the perfect way to do that and they make great creamy dressings.
Jessica: They do. And my son just adores nuts and seeds. If he could eat nothing else, he happily would. He loves them.
Caryn: Well, this is the terrible twos now and I guess the next difficult period will be the terrible teens.
Caryn: And I wish you well with that.
Jessica: Thank you.
Caryn: But I think you know, and I’m not a parent, but everything I’ve seen, when parents have good food habits and have the right foods in the house and not the junk food, then it’s a good chance that the child will learn those habits and crave those right foods.
Jessica: Yeah, here’s hoping! You do what you can. You expose them to all of the wonderful things you want them see and learn and absorb and you hope that that happens.
Caryn: That’s right. Well I’m going to have to spin up some time in Ontario. I haven’t been there in quite a long time, but if I do get up there I’ll put in an order for Oh My Bakeshop for those chickpea blondies! Those sound good.
Jessica: Absolutely. You’ll have to make your way all the way up to Sudbury. My husband and I opened up a little vegan taco restaurant about three months ago now too. So we’ll have somewhere else to eat as well.
Caryn: Wow! What’s it called?
Jessica: It’s called Tucos Taco Lounge.
Caryn: Good for you.
Jessica: So we’re busy. We love our food up here.
Caryn: Well thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food, Jessica.
Jessica: It’s been wonderful. Thanks so much Caryn.
Caryn: Okay, take care.
Jessica: Okay, ba-bye.
Caryn: Bye. That was Jessica Nadel and you can find her at http://www.cupcakesandkale.ca/
And before we take a break I wanted to remind you again to go to http://responsibleeatingandliving.com/
Rranscribed 8/5 by Cheryl Maciorakowski
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, we’re back. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Did you get that snack I was talking about? I didn’t and I really wish I did because I’m hungry and now I’m just going to get a lot hungrier. That’s what happens when you talk about food. Yep, you get hungry. But we only talk about good food and talking about good food is not going to harm you…if you’re only talking. But eating good food is good for you too. Not just talking, but eating.
I wanted to remind you one more time…well maybe not one more time, I might do this a few more times…but spin over to ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com and view (when you get a chance) the REAL Good News In Review, The Chocolate Report, and our Transition Kitchen. And the Transition Kitchen food show is really a lot of fun. Gary makes a spicy marinara and a cashew creme bechamel that goes into a luscious lasagna. It’s a really wonderful treat. For people that are not plant-blased, this is something you can make that they would really really love. It’s so good.
Let’s go on and get into the love relation with our food and talk to Christina Ross who is an ambassador of healthy living, a dynamic conscious recipe and product creator, educator of vitality through the art of eating and living vibrantly, and a freelance writer and blogger. Her recipes and helpful lifestyle tips have been published in Natural Child World magazine through her column “Love Fed.” Christina also contributes recipes and articles to popular sites and works such as RawFoodRecipes.com, Clean Food Living, [2:03], Organic Soul, SheKnows.com, Just Eat Real Food, RawGuru.com, and Kris Carr’s MyCrazySexyLife.com. Christina keeps many of her fans full of nutrient rich content through her blog love-fed.com and through television appearances which have taken her to Today, Good Day Chicago, as well as San Diego Living. You can find more at love-fed.com.
Christina, how are you today?
Christina Ross: I’m great. How are you doing?
Caryn Hartglass: Good. I’m glad we were able to connect.
Christina Ross: Yes, absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: So you have some lovely delicious treats in your book Love Fed. As it says, purely decadent, simply raw. One of the things I like to say when I’m talking about raw food is the raw food cuisine really is the most exciting when it comes to desserts.
Christina Ross: I agree.
Caryn Hartglass: They’re like sinful but they’re not. They’re just made with whole foods.
Christina Ross: It’s amazing. It’s amazing what you can do with fruits and vegetables and turn them into cakes, cupcakes, and ice cream.
Caryn Hartglass: It is pretty amazing. I was just talking about (in the last half hour) how the human culture continues to change when it comes to food. We’ve eaten just about anything and who knows what we’ll be eating in the future. It’s not even clear if there is an ideal collection of foods, although everyone agrees we should be eating more plant foods. We’ve gotten away from eating whole foods to eating more industrial foods and a lot of flower, baking based foods. I love getting back to, or actually jumping forward to the raw cuisine, making things that are somewhat familiar but new. Crusts and creams all from delicious whole plant foods.
Christina Ross: Absolutely. You can have a craving for something like a tiramisu and find new ways of recreating those recipes to really get where we are consciously, what our bodies are craving and needing for vitality and energetically. It’s pretty incredible that we’re at this place of going back to simple foods, such as whole foods, that provide us with all of this nourishment as opposed to the processed ingredients we’ve become accustomed to for so long.
Caryn Hartglass: Now someone who is familiar with kind of standard American cuisine, standard European cuisine, with baking, I think the foundation consists of white flower, white milk, eggs, and white sugar. What are the counterparts in your style of preparing desserts?
Christina Ross: I think nuts replace the flower by grinding them down into a flour consistency, coconut oil replaces the butter. Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, any type of nut milk alternative replaces the dairy in the dessert. For binders you can use different ingredients like dates or maple syrup, agave nectar, different types of sweeteners hold and bind all of the crust ingredients together.
Caryn Hartglass: I think once we accept that little switch, it all becomes quite simple.
Christina Ross: Yeah. A lot of these ingredients we have on hand at home. We just don’t ever look at a banana and think ‘I’m gonna make a whole pie using that banana as the main, star ingredient.’ It’s really just reshaping the way we look at our fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and getting extra creative with them.
Caryn Hartglass: Most of the recipes have ingredients that most of us are familiar with but there are some that I haven’t heard of very much and maybe we could talk about some of them like lucuma.
Christina Ross: Lucuma is really amazing. In Peru it’s as common as chocolate and vanilla is here to us in the States. It’s a staple Peruvian fruit and it has a really sweet caramel-like taste. If it’s something that you’re not used to having in your diet, it’s really interesting to play around. If you’re really into plant foods and you’re looking for that caramel substitute or that butterscotch type of flavor that you want to impart into a dessert, then that’s a really excellent option that you can add in there.
Caryn Hartglass: And where do we find it?
Christina Ross: Easiest would be to find it online. I love using my super foods from Essential Living Foods, you can find ingredients from them that are harder to find super foods. You could also find it at a health foods store pretty easily. A lot of times you’ll see, if you’re shopping at a health foods store and you’re in the raw vegan aisle, you’ll see that lucuma. It’s usually mixed into different protein powders and chocolate bars, and things of this nature. Again, because it pairs so well with dessert.
Caryn Hartglass: So when you get it alone, is it already processed? Is it a powder? Is it a liquid? How do you get it?
Christina Ross: It comes in powder form. You can start tossing it into smoothies and shakes. I like to blend it in with the cashews on the base of my cake recipes. And again, it provides that extra sweet note in there. But not too sweet.
Caryn Hartglass: Well there are so many varieties of fruits on this planet. I love apples and pears and bananas. Those are my stables. Oranges, grapefruits…they’re the least expensive and they’re what’s available but when you travel the world and you discover all these other fruits that are out there, it’s the tip of the iceberg. You’ve got this one product that has a really lovely flavor and how many other products are out there that we’re missing?
Christina Ross: It’s just incredible how much is opened up to us in we travel, in terms of food.
Caryn Hartglass: So there are things to look forward to in the plant kingdom because most of us who have been eating plant-based for so long probably haven’t even experienced so many other flavors we’ve yet to taste. I’m excited about that.
Christina Ross: I still go to the grocery store and I wonder, ‘What is that new exotic fruit that they have?’
Caryn Hartglass: Well, it depends on where you live. For those of us who live in New York, California, or some other places, Chicago, big cities, our grocery stores tend to have a lot more variety. There are other places where the variety is not as abundant. Now let’s talk about Irish moss. In your book, you rehydrate it from dry to seaweed, right?
Christina Ross: Yes, you do. You want to hydrate it because that’s what is going to give your desserts that creamy fluffy texture. It’s not a necessity to have this ingredient. When I first started making raw desserts I never used it. I was able to get by without it but then I wanted to take my desserts to the next level. I think this is one of those “next-level” ingredients that if you come at it from a chef’s standpoint, you want to achieve that perfect smooth creamy texture that also has structure whenever you take it out of a cake mold, then that would be the ingredient to help you achieve that. It’s pretty neat because it’s a sea vegetable and it comes with all the sand and the smell of the sea right straight out of the bag. You’re like ‘How in the world does this go into and work in a dessert?’ Then when you hydrate it and blend it into the cake filling or pudding filling, it’s just miraculous how you don’t taste the sea vegetable. It just adds this magical creaminess to your recipe.
Caryn Hartglass: That is what I was going to ask you. It doesn’t have a fishy flavor?
Christina Ross: No. It originally does when you take it out of the pouch and it’s very light. It actually carries over no odor or flavor once you soak it.
Caryn Hartglass: I had Irish moss in powder form and I rarely used it because it gave a very nice texture but it also gave a fishy flavor. Have you ever used it as a powder?
Christina Ross: Yes, the flakes I believe you’re referring to.
Caryn Hartglass: No, it was a powder.
Christina Ross: Oh, no, I’ve never used the powder form.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, you’re now going to reconsider Irish moss because I had used this very fishy tasting powder. It was quite unpleasant. I’m kind of curious to use the kind that you’ve used.
Christina Ross: Yes, and that you can find at most Whole Foods and health food stores. You can definitely find it online. It’s just something that is so unique to play around with. Whenever I have it soaking on my counter and friends come over they’re like ‘What in the world are you going to do with that ingredient?’ They’re usually just so marveled at the fact that that went into their cake. It’s incredible, it’s really fun to play with. Texturally, too. If you’re one who is not scared of learning about new ingredients and how to incorporate new ingredients into your repertoire, then it’s a super fun one to have on hand.
Caryn Hartglass: And it works almost like a gel, or a foamy gel.
Christina Ross: It gives the recipe more of a gelatinous texture I would say.
Caryn Hartglass: Another thing that I really appreciated was your conversation about food coloring. I am horrified by artificial food coloring that so many people, especially parents of young children, use in all of the treats. It’s horrifying. But you gave some good recommendations about how to color some of your food naturally.
Christina Ross: Yes, absolutely. A lot of times when we just blend raspberries into our coconut cream base, it’s going to turn purple. Or blueberries, blue. Yes, we can just use our natural fruits and veggies for most of the coloring. If not, we can get extra creative and use something like a macha green tea powder, which is pretty easy to find, that you can just use to color dishes green. And carrot juice for orange. Beets just work magic on almost anything that you would want to add their juice to. I have a son and I wouldn’t think to feed him any of these artificial colorings, not knowing what they are, but definitely knowing that they are harmful to his health. It’s just amazing to see him actually eat real food that’s colored so vibrantly just from nature itself. I don’t think he would ever ask me for that bright orange thing that wasn’t straight from nature, I’m hoping.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m always so surprised where we’ve gone with all these industrial foods when we have this Garden of Eden to go to. So many fruits and roots and things that have such strong beautiful colors. And they’re good for us. Now, are you all raw? Do you eat an all raw diet?
Christina Ross: No. I like to eat cooked foots a lot of times too. I eat a lot of raw foods. I think they make me feel my most optimal best. When the weather cools down I definitely love to bake on occasion. I love a variety of foods.
Caryn Hartglass: I think if we’re going to eat desserts they should be these raw desserts.
Christina Ross: I agree.
Caryn Hartglass: I do. They satisfy the sweet craving and they’re just food. They’re just whole foods. I have two or three recipes I wanted to mention. One is the ‘Mini Cini Rolls.’
Christina Ross: Mmmm. Those are decadent. The beauty of something like a mini cini roll is they’re mini because that’s all you need. They’re so dense with nutrition that you really don’t need to eat a big jumbo cinnamon roll when you have these type of raw desserts. Every bite is so full of nutrition that you get full actually quite fast. Even if you’re not somebody who eats a whole lot of raw foods, I think you’ll find the nutrient density tends to…something builds in the body that says ‘Hey, I’m actually satisfied.’
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, you can’t eat a lot of these desserts. And that’s good. What I like about this recipe is how you created an actual roll. It really worked well with your dough, which is that nut base, which you can mold.
Christina Ross: You can actually take a rolling pin, too. That’s what I did for that recipe. You can really shape this dough just as you would be able to shape other dough. I was actually, for this book, able to create pretzels even. I kind of shocked myself with that one. I had the idea and I was like ‘I wonder can I get this so workable I can make a pretzel out of the dough?’
Caryn Hartglass: And doughnuts! You made doughnuts!
Christina Ross: And doughnuts! Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: You have a business and you sell some of these raw pastries?
Christina Ross: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m just curious, and maybe other people are curious, how do you go about starting a business for food? There are so many challenges and I know in the different states the laws aren’t the same. You’re in California, right?
Christina Ross: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: How did you get started?
Christina Ross: I basically just didn’t take no for an answer. The director of the health department lives right across the street from me. I went to him for questions and advice on starting it up and it sounded like I was never going to be able to get started based on information on the laws in California and not having a big budget to start. I just kept persevering. Just finding out about other options that were available. I found myself a shared commercial kitchen that, at the time, was legal to be able to sell to certain retailers, but not necessarily bigger retailers like Costco. It was good enough to get me into Whole Foods and farmer’s markets. That kind of gave me my start. I think the biggest thing was just believing that I could do it, and just knowing I had to get these products out there because there were people like myself who wanted alternatives in the market and there just weren’t any products that were going to satisfy those needs. I had a strong will to ‘have to get these out’ and didn’t take no for an answer.
Caryn Hartglass: What are the most popular, of your creations, that people ask for?
Christina Ross: I would say it’s most favored Raspberry Macadamia Cake. I actually just served that at the launch party and again, time after time, everybody tells me that that’s their favorite. The Carrot Collective Cupcakes are another favorite. Those go really really well. The kids love the blueberry dreamsicle. There’s one year-olds that just gobble down the blueberry dreamsicle. I think those are really special. I’m a fan of the really creamy Boston Cream Cups because they remind me of my childhood. I think those are really fun. The banana toffee pie is another favorite because people are like “You can make that beautiful of a pie just using those few ingredients?” And yes, you can!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes! I know, we’re just so dumb most of us. We don’t know what we’re eating, we don’t know what’s in our food, and we have no imagination. But, we’re learning right?
Christina Ross: Yeah, the imagination part. That’s what this book shows, all throughout the book, it encourages others to get inspired and channel their intuition when they’re in the kitchen. Listen to what their bodies asking of them and incorporate that into the treat they’re making.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the things I like are the pies. I like making all kinds of pies. I make traditional pies with flour foods as well as raw pies. They’re almost fool-proof. A flour dough sometimes can be so finicky to roll and handle. You said you rolled your nut based dough for the mini cini rolls, but most of them you just blend up in the food processor and just press it in. It’s the easiest thing.
Christina Ross: Absolutely. No baking. Your crust is done in just a matter of a couple minutes. It’s genius in a way. I don’t have to worry if I’m going to burn my crust or if it’s not going to turn out as crispy as I like it.
Caryn Hartglass: You don’t have to burn it or it doesn’t fall, it’s just perfect every time. Gosh, I love that.
Christina Ross: Stress-free!
Caryn Hartglass: Stress-free, yeah. I think that’s what it is.
Christina Ross: It makes it taste even better that way.
Caryn Hartglass: Does your husband eat the way you do?
Christina Ross: Oh, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: And he’s of French origin?
Christina Ross: Yes, he’s from Paris, so he’s got a love of pastry.
Caryn Hartglass: And he eats plant based…and did he do that before he met you?
Christina Ross: No, when we met we both gravitated towards it at the same time and motivated and experimented together. It just became our lifestyle. Very early on in our relationship we adopted this way of eating and it was pretty incredible to go through this transition with somebody so new to my life. I think it had us grow an even stronger bond together to experiment and explore the mind-body food connection. It was pretty incredible. I recommend it to all couples.
Caryn Hartglass: I love hearing this because I lived in the south of France from 1992 to 1996 as a vegan, and I never met another vegetarian. People were very good to me, my friends. They would make me some wonderful foods but it was like vegetarians didn’t exist there. It’s so intense with the culture, the animal-related foods in France, the cuisine capital of the world, that it’s really hard. So I’m always delighted when I hear French people that are moving towards plant foods. I think it was around 2005 or so that I went to the Veggie Pride parade in Paris, it was like two or three years old at the time. It was such a delight to come back and see all of these veggie activists that had come out of the closet to march. We have our own Veggie Pride parade now in Manhattan, that’s taking place this weekend.
Christina Ross: Oh, fantastic. It’s incredible when I travel back to France, we like to go back about every other year, just to see the growth and development of even the raw vegan foods that are now available. Fully vegan cupcake shops, fully vegan patisseries. It’s remarkable just how much the plant awareness has grown there as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Now what about cheese? Is he managing without cheese or are you making some nut based cheeses?
Christina Ross: Yeah, we make nut based cheeses but he’s a rare exception. He’s never really been big into wine and cheese. We always say he’s the most non-French French person we know.
Caryn Hartglass: OK, that’s what’s going on here.
Christina Ross: But he loves the nut cheeses and all of those things a million times over than anything he grew up having.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m looking for the day when all of these great cheese makers in Camembert and Bree and all these locations in France start to make cheese not just from animal milks but from nut milks. It’s going to happen and it’s going to be so exciting. Like I was talking about with fruit, there is all these flavors we have yet to experience that are out there, that are not only good for us, but delicious.
Christina Ross: Absolutely. I’m going to be dreaming of these future cheeses.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to thank you for joining me. I love the title Love Fed, that’s what it really should all be about. Love. So thank you for that. And thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Christina Ross: Well thank you so much for having me. Have a beautiful day.
Caryn Hartglass: You too.
Christina Ross: Bye bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Bye bye. That was Christina Ross, author of Love Fed. If you have a sweet tooth, and you can’t get over it, this is a really great book to make wonderful desserts that are plant based from whole plant foods. Really creative and they don’t look too complicated, believe me, delicious. Just a minute or so left. I mentioned the Veggie Pride parade, we will be there on Sunday. I’ll be speaking and exhibiting. If you’re going to the Veggie Pride parade go to veggieprideparade.org. It’s in Manhattan. You can get all the details there and say Hi. Then get your tickets to the Happy B’Earthday Revue, my birthday party and fundraiser for Responsible Eating and Living. Go to responsibleeatingandliving.com and please let me know what you think of the Real Good News in Review, all the parts. We’ve got some promos and food shows, and it’s just a lot of fun, and I’d love to know what you think about it.
Meanwhile, I’m also continuing with the What Vegans Eat ….oh, you know what I just realized? Oh, my goodness, just a minute left to go….today is my 6th year anniversary on It’s All About Food. I was thinking about it a little while ago and today is the day. It’s been six years I’ve been talking about my favorite subject, food, on this show. Let’s celebrate, shall we? Thanks for joining me on this special anniversary show…I didn’t even realize it until just now. It’s been fun. But I was telling you I’m continuing with my ‘What Vegans Eat’ blog and we’re on day 41, and that’s how somehow I thought about my anniversary here. And that’s it. Thanks for joining me. Thanks for celebrating with me and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you sometime soon. And remember, have a delicious week.
Transcribed by AC, 4/5/2015