Part I: Hannah Kaminsky
Hannah Kaminsky began playing in the kitchen at a very young age, encouraged by her drive to create accessible and delicious animal-free eats. By her senior year of high school, she was already busy working on her first cookbook, a vegan dessert book titled My Sweet Vegan. Now Hannah is the author two vegan dessert books, an award-winning blog, and a handful of eBooks. Here, Vegan Mainstream dishes with Hannah about blogging, baking and her newest project, a vegan ice-cream book titled Vegan A La Mode.
Part II: Alan Roettinger
Alan Roettinger has been a private chef for over 28 years, serving a broad spectrum of high-profile clients, from entertainers to presidents. A world traveler, he absorbed elements from many cuisines to synthesize a unique, creative, personal style. Alan’s first cookbook, Omega-3 Cuisine, showcases his ability to bring health and flavor together, offering a wide range of dishes that are simultaneously exotic and accessible to the home cook. In Speed Vegan, Alan has kept flavor and health, but expanded these parameters to include quick, easy, and strictly plant-based.
Hello! I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Happy, happy, happy January 25th, 2012. Time marches on and here in New York City it is a beautiful, clear, very unlike-winter day. It’s like autumn—keeps going on and it’s really delicious. Can’t help but take advantage of it and be outside. But I’m inside right now and I’m talking about my favorite subject: food. And it’s going to be a very, very sweet, yummy show. I hope you’ve eaten because if you haven’t, you might start salivating sometime soon and that can be dangerous. But I hope you have some great things to reach for if you do start wanting to feed your face. Anyway, the beautiful thing about plant-based foods: not only are they nourishing and gentle on the planet and kind to the animals but after decade after decade of different people getting involved with making great things out of plant-based foods we are finally on par, I think, with every other great cuisine that’s out there and that’s really exciting. And I think the thing that vegans do best is make desserts. We’re going to talk a little bit about that, or a lot about that, in the next half hour with Hannah Kaminsky. Now, she began playing in the kitchen at a very young age, encouraged by her drive to create accessible and delicious animal-free eats. By her senior year of high school she was already busy working on her first cookbook, a vegan dessert book titled My Sweet Vegan. Now Hannah is the author of two vegan dessert books, an award-winning blog, and a handful of e-books, Here, Vegan Mainstream Dishes with Hannah about blogging, baking, and her newest project, a vegan ice cream book titled Vegan Á La Mode. Welcome to It’s All About Food Hannah Kaminsky.
(Hannah) Hi, it’s good to be here.
(Caryn) Thank you and how are you today?
(Hannah) I’m great, how are you?
(Caryn) Great. I wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday.
(Hannah) Oh, thank you.
(Caryn) I was reading your very beautiful, delicious, salivating-making blog and I had read the post about your birthday so I wanted to wish you a happy birthday.
(Hannah) I appreciate it. It was a quiet one but nice.
(Caryn) Well, the thing that I appreciate (and) one of the great things when you’re good at making desserts is, at least for me anyway, I tend to make my own cakes and that’s kind of a nice gift to yourself when you can make exactly what you want—for you. Now it says in the brief bio that I read that you got involved at a young age in the kitchen and I can certainly tell that by reading your cookbook and the stories that you tell. Was anyone else in your family interested in cooking?
(Hannah) Well, my mom cooked but nothing beyond the standard everyday meal kind of thing. And she sort of, you know, encouraged me to bake and help out when I was much younger but it was just up to me to make decent meals for myself so I took that opportunity to really hone my skills.
(Caryn) And the vegan thing, when did that start for you?
(Hannah) I became vegan when I first became a freshman in high school because I was exposed to all these new people who are vegetarian and I thought that was so cool. So I went vegetarian for about a month and then finally did research about it and realized “oh my God, it’s so much worse to be vegetarian in many ways” and I just went vegan from there.
(Caryn) That’s definitely an “oh my God” epiphany experience when the veil is lifted, isn’t it?
(Hannah) Yeah, just you can’t look back.
(Caryn) And your parents were OK with that?
(Hannah) Well, they were really hesitant at first as any parent would be concerned about their kids getting proper nutrition.
(Caryn) Where are you going to get your protein?
(Hannah) I know, that was a big one, of course. But they helped me. They brought me to a nutritionist to make sure that I was doing it the right way. And basically the deal was as long as I was healthy, they were fine with it.
(Caryn) Now, things have changed quite a bit and when I read that it was your twenty-third birthday I was just reflecting and thinking that you probably were born a few months after I became vegan.
(Hannah) Ah, that’s a funny coincidence.
(Caryn) And things have changed quite a bit since I made that decision. But, actually, it was back in high school for me too that a friend of mine mentioned being vegetarian and the light went on. But it wasn’t until I was thirty that I actually became a vegan and the journey has been really fun for me. We didn’t have a lot of products available at the time but there was soy milk, there was tofu, and I had this paperback of The Joy of Cooking, which was not a vegetarian cookbook at all, but I was in there all the time just creating new recipes. That was like my platform. But now it’s just so easy because there are so many great cookbooks out there. I was reading your vegan desserts cookbook, your second book, and it’s brilliant.
(Hannah) Thank you.
(Caryn) You are a phenomenal writer, a wonderful photographer, and your recipes are beautiful.
(Hannah) I really appreciate that. I’ve really taken a lot of time to hone the photography skills especially so I’m really excited to be able to share that in this latest book.
(Caryn) Now is that something you’ve done on your own or have you had some help with the photography?
(Hannah) I started learning photography just to get the camera shooting away. I’m now taking classes. It’s my major. The photography is all mine in all my books and my blog and I do freelance photography now too.
(Caryn) Yeah, it’s great. It’s so important and I know that photographing cookbooks is expensive and a lot of publishers don’t want to do that but it makes the biggest difference in how much you’re going to really use the book I think. There’s a picture of every recipe in here.
(Hannah) Yeah, it’s a big deal for me because personally I’m a very visual learner and if I don’t know the way that something is supposed to look, I really can’t imagine making it or eating it.
(Caryn) Right. Well, gorgeous stuff in here. I wanted to pick out what my favorites are.
(Hannah) Oh, I can’t wait to hear. Very curious.
(Caryn) Well, I do a lot of cooking. One of things I liked about this, and I’ve seen―I’m trying to estimate now how many vegan dessert cookbooks I have and I have looked at because there’s a lot now, which is delightful…
(Hannah) Yeah, it’s amazing. When I first started writing recipes, there were like two. Now there are tons.
(Caryn) But yours is very, very creative. Very unique. OK, so my favorite, I think it was mostly from a visual, is the Watermelon Bomb.
(Hannah) Oh yeah, that’s a big favorite over here too.
(Caryn) It’s gosh, it is so adorable, so beautiful. And I’m sure it’s delicious.
(Hannah) It’s one of my favorites.
(Caryn) It just tickled me. I’ve always liked, personally myself, making cakes that look like things—for kids, like cartoons and things. And so I like making art out of food. And then the other one, maybe you could guess, but I love the Pumpkin Cookies.
(Hannah) Oh, of course, the shaped ones.
(Caryn) They look just like little pumpkins. And I love that you use the little pepita seed as the pumpkin stem.
(Hannah) Yeah, it took a lot of work to get a dough that would hold its shape and still taste like pumpkin. A lot of pumpkin flops. They would melt in the oven.
(Caryn) Did you do most of these at home? The preparation for most of your recipes?
(Hannah) Oh yeah, it’s all just my home kitchen. I photograph them on the kitchen table. Nothing fancy.
(Caryn) Yeah, but you’re in college now.
(Hannah) Well, I’m actually taking courses online so I’m still home. That’s the beauty of that.
(Caryn) Oh, that’s the other thing. When I was reading this cookbook and thinking about your age and my age, not that I’m concerned about age, but I was just reflecting and thinking how things have really changed. And I just wonder, how do I want to say this, I was just wondering what my life would have been like if I had had all of what’s available today when I was younger.
(Hannah) Oh, I feel so lucky to be alive in this time. I mean it’s like the Age of the Vegan. And technology makes the whole world more accessible. It’s amazing.
(Caryn) It really is. We can focus on things that are very unpleasant but at the same time there are things that are really amazing going on right now. And so I was like rejoicing at the same time thinking “gosh, there are just so many great things going on and we’re like evolving at an incredible pace.”
(Hannah) Absolutely. Things are getting better. I mean it’s never going to be perfect. There’s a lot going wrong but things are getting better on the whole.
(Caryn) Well, I just want to say that I had these thoughts looking at all of the beautiful dessert pictures in your book.
(Hannah) Well, I’m grateful for that.
(Caryn) It just exuded just such happy, positive, lovely things.
(Hannah) Yeah, and that’s what I want to share. I mean, it’d be easy to dwell on the bad things and the things that we don’t have yet…but have a dessert. Things are OK. You know?
(Caryn) The other thing that I like, what you’ve done in here is, (and) not many people do this, using egg replacer as egg whites in a number of different recipes. I mean that takes a bit of courage and you’ve done it quite well in here.
(Hannah) Yeah, I was really hesitant to share those recipes because I don’t like calling for specific brand-name ingredients. But I know people were just dying to know about the meringue. And I figure it’s better to let everyone know and give them that technology, if you will, and let them do what they will. If they want to buy the ingredients, great. If they don’t, there are more recipes in the book. There are not many that call for that. I think it’s just really neat to have a vegan meringue.
(Caryn) Oh, absolutely. I was, well, I turned vegan in 1988 and then I moved to France in 1992. So I was kind of a newbie vegan and living in a culture that was not very vegan-friendly at the time, although it has changed quite a bit over the decades. And I used to…
(Hannah) I can imagine that would be tough.
(Caryn) Well, yes and no because they really appreciate fresh food and fresh produce so there were lots of great vegetables and fruits around and people knew how to prepare them. And you could find in the health food stores all of the things I needed except a few things. And one of them was Ener-G Egg Replacer and so I used to buy it in the States and bring it with me back to France. And I would kind of enjoy making a lemon meringue pie and looking at the very dumbfounded, quizzical looks of my new French friends who weren’t vegetarian.
(Hannah) That’s great.
(Caryn) Yeah, so it is a great product.
(Hannah) Oh yeah. It’s one of the very few brand-name egg replacers that I will still buy. Because otherwise I don’t go out of my way to replace eggs. I just never learned to bake with them.
(Caryn) Which is a very, very good point. So many people that bake think that they’re so essential and they don’t realize that they’re not.
(Hannah) Yeah, it’s fascinating. It’s just a whole different way of looking at baking.
(Caryn) I’m sure many people have looked at you and said “how do you bake without eggs?”
(Hannah) One of the most common questions.
(Caryn) I have a chemical background and so I have that chemistry understanding and I appreciate that you kind of talked about the alchemy of cooking in your book a little bit. But there are different foods—plant foods—that can replace different properties of the egg. There’s not one ingredient that will do everything that the egg does because it is a pretty amazing food.
(Hannah) Yeah. I’m convinced that there are vegan replacements for absolutely everything out there. And if we haven’t figured it out yet, we will.
(Caryn) Absolutely. Without the toxic chemicals too.
(Caryn) Yeah, and I guess my favorite of all of them is the amazing flax seed.
(Hannah) Yeah, it’s a wonderful, versatile ingredient. I like that that’s what I’m replacing eggs.
(Caryn) Yeah, me too. I try to put it in everything because I know it’s so good for me.
(Hannah) That and chia seeds. Right there with you.
(Caryn) Yeah, you know, I haven’t gotten into chia seeds just because they’re not as readily available and they tend to be expensive.
(Hannah) I order them in bulk so I just throw them into everything once I have them.
(Caryn) Now are they a little different than flax seeds?
(Hannah) Only slightly in that you can eat them whole and they’re more easily digestible that way. And when you soak them in water they become a gel, which makes really fun pudding. It’s one of the more popular things to do with them.
(Caryn) I’m going to have to try that.
(Hannah) Yeah, it’s great. I mean, surprisingly great, because it looks kind of weird but it’s good.
(Caryn) Yeah, I’ve tried some a few times with just the gel itself and it was not very appealing. But I imagine it could really lend a very nice texture to different things.
(Hannah) Yeah, it can be a really great binder
(Caryn) And I imagine it’s just like if you wanted to eat just plain egg whites. That wouldn’t be appealing either.
(Hannah) Yeah, ew. I would not recommend that.
(Caryn) On many levels. OK, so are you working on a new cookbook?
(Hannah) I am. I am just about done with Vegan Á La Mode. There are over 100 vegan ice cream recipes.
(Caryn) And are the bases of the ice creams different or do they tend to be the same?
(Hannah) They’re all different.
(Caryn) All different?
(Hannah) I have some traditional flavors in there so that everyone’s happy. I mean, I’ve got plain old chocolate and vanilla. But there’s also some crazy things like a Bloody Mary Sorbet. And, what else? Matzoh and Adzuki Bean. You know, unusual combinations that you’re not going to find in the stores.
(Caryn) Right, I believe it. Because this book that I’m looking at is pretty, pretty creative. And the bases for the ice creams, are you using coconut milk or a cashew mixture of things?
(Hannah) It’s all different. I use a lot of blends of different milks but there’s plenty of coconut milk. And I leave it pretty open-ended. I suggest non-dairy milk, which can basically include anything that isn’t rice milk. That’s the only thing I’ve had a bad result with.
(Caryn) Right. Now I’m looking on your blog, which is BitterSweet…
(Caryn) OK, I’m looking at bittersweetblog.wordpress.com.
(Hannah) It all goes to the same place.
(Caryn) Very good. Well, you’re not just doing desserts. You’re doing savory foods too.
(Hannah) Yeah, I gotta eat too. I mean, I’m cooking so I might as well blog about that.
(Caryn) Yeah, well, there are some beautiful things here too. Are you going to do a non-dessert vegan cookbook after the ice cream?
(Hannah) I would like to. I would definitely like to. It’s just harder to find the right niche because I don’t want to be “another” vegan cookbook. I want to offer something different and I don’t think I’m quite ready to yet.
(Caryn) Yeah, OK, well, you’ll know when the right time is.
(Hannah) Yeah, I still have plenty of other dessert book plans still so stay tuned. There’s more on the way.
(Caryn) The funny thing is: the people that don’t eat this way, when you tell them you’re vegan, all of a sudden many of them go blank and can’t imagine what you eat. And yet, the variations, the recipes, are infinite.
(Hannah) Yeah. I feel like going vegan really opened up my palette more than anything else. I was such a picky eater. I basically subsisted on ramen noodles and hot dogs as a kid. And going vegan, it forced me to think about what was there left to eat. And there was so much, so much I had never tried or dreamed of trying. So I’m grateful for going vegan. I eat better now than ever.
(Caryn) Yeah, absolutely. You bring up a good point because I know a lot of teenagers get the idea to eat vegetarian because they don’t like what it’s doing to the environment. They don’t like what it’s doing to animals. They’re not really thinking about their health. But kids are picky eaters and they don’t like vegetables. And so I’m happy to hear that you went a route of eating better and expanding your horizons and your palette because of other motivations. And I hope that’s a good incentive for a lot of young people.
(Hannah) Yeah, it just kind of happened by accident for me.
(Caryn) Well, you were definitely meant to do this sort of thing I think.
(Hannah) I think so. I’m really enjoying it and I don’t see any end to the recipe writing and the photographing and all this.
(Caryn) Now, outside of cooking, when you went vegetarian and now, are you feeling strongly about any particular cause behind eating plant-based foods?
(Hannah) What do you mean?
(Caryn) Well, are you driven by factory farming, the environment, health?
(Hannah) Yeah, it’s more about the animals and the mistreatments and factory farms. That is a big deal for me. That was my main motivation.
(Caryn) Are there any traditional foods that you had as a youngster that you miss? Or that you are thinking (about) maybe you can recreate?
(Hannah) I feel like I’ve basically gotten them all, you know? I was big on cheese and ravioli and I know that that’s a big reason why a lot of people say they could never be vegan but we have amazing cheese now, are you kidding?
(Caryn) I know. We like to make a lot of nut cheeses at home. That’s my favorite.
(Hannah) I love cashew cheese. It’s amazing.
(Caryn) It is amazing. You know, I wish… I don’t know, is there anywhere in this country where we grow cashews or they all imported?
(Hannah) I think they’re all imported.
(Caryn) Yeah, it’s such an amazing nut.
(Hannah) It’s a tropical plant.
(Caryn) The fruit itself is really disgusting. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a cashew fruit but the nut is…
(Hannah) In pictures, not in person.
(Caryn) Yeah. And you talk in your book…there was a little story about how when your family would go out to restaurants you didn’t order the desserts very often. And you said it was because they weren’t very good?
(Hannah) Well, compared to what we would make at home. Even the simple things. We’d make chocolate chip cookies or just yellow cake. It would still be so much better than the mass-produced stuff with the neon frosting and, yick, I don’t even know. There was no point to store-bought desserts to me.
(Caryn) So you had a sophisticated palette at a very young age and your whole family did.
(Hannah) In some ways. We were just brought up on real food.
(Caryn) Well, I give your family a lot of credit for that.
(Hannah) Yeah, I can’t say it was always healthy food but real food.
(Caryn) Real food. Yeah, I know what you mean. But even that. Even meats and dairy products when they are minimally processed are better choices than some of the crazy manufactured foods that are out there today.
(Hannah) Yeah, there are some scary, like plastic, radioactive edibles out there. I don’t know what they’re trying to tell us is food.
(Caryn) Aside from cookbooks and photography, do you have any other projects that you’re working on or that you’re thinking about?
(Hannah) Well, in the meantime I work part-time at a restaurant called Health in a Hurry. It’s here in Fairfield, Connecticut. I’ve worked there…it’s been my first job since I was sixteen. Still there.
(Caryn) What restaurant is this?
(Hannah) Health in a Hurry. We’re a tiny little place hidden behind a building complex and, you know, it’s just wonderful. A whole welcoming community and you can try samples of absolutely everything we have on hand. We’ll chat you up for hours if you let us. You know, it’s just so friendly and comforting and it’s really wholesome good food.
(Caryn) It’s a restaurant?
(Hannah) Yeah. Mostly to-go stuff but we also prepare hot soup, muffins, baked goods. I take care of the baked goods most of the time. It’s a great place and I love it. And Sue, the chef and owner, is the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She is my best friend.
(Caryn) We need more of those everywhere.
(Hannah) Yeah. And she’s so helpful. She’ll guide you through everything that we have and if you’re new to being a vegan or if you have new dietary restrictions, she’ll give you plenty of advice. She’s very wise.
(Caryn) Were there any people or cookbook authors that inspired you when you were getting started?
(Hannah) Isa (Chandra), of course, is like the godmother of vegan cuisine so I’ve looked up to her. But other than that I can’t think of any specific names.
(Caryn) OK, well I was just curious.
(Hannah) I’ve found a lot of inspiration in non-vegan cooking just thinking how could I make it vegan.
(Caryn) Yeah, I’ve gone that route mostly myself. Especially, you know, I mentioned before I was living in France and I wasn’t eating any of the food because I was a vegan. But I looked at everything.
(Hannah) Yeah, there’s a lot to be learned from what’s around us.
(Caryn) From looking. More restaurants over there care about presentation. You could be in the simplest dive and the food was always beautifully presented. It was a lot to look at and a lot to learn.
(Hannah) Yeah, we eat with our eyes and that’s why I find the styling and the photography so fascinating.
(Caryn) Well, beautiful. OK, Hannah Kaminsky. I want to thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food and encourage listeners to go to hannahkaminsky.com. That’s “h”s on both sides. Let’s see, two “h”s, two “a”s, and two “n”s in Hannah. I like that.
(Hannah) Yep, a palandrome. Easy to remember.
(Caryn) And check out the BitterSweet Blog. It’s really beautiful. Beautiful pictures and great writing and great stories and great recipes. All the best to you.
(Hannah) Thank you. It was a pleasure to talk with you.
(Caryn) I hope to meet you sometime and maybe you can make me some treat.
(Hannah) I’d love that
(Caryn) OK, take care.
(Hannah) You too.
(Caryn) I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. We’re going to take a short break and be back with Chef Alan Roettinger.
Transcribed by Jennie Steinhagen, 01/13/2013
Hello I am Caryn Hartglass and you are listening to It’s all about food. Thank you for joining me and our second part of the show today. One of the things that I am always talking about is encouraging people to find their kitchen. In New York City, I know, it is especially hard. There are many people that have incredibly gorgeous kitchens. I have been in so many of them, all of the greatest house ware pots and pans that have never been used. It’s true. Why is that? I am going to bring on my friend chef Alan Roettinger. We are going to talk a little about that and what his plans are to help.
He has been a private chef for over 28 years, serving a broad spectrum of high profile clients from entertainers to presidents. A world traveler, he absorbed elements from many cuisines to synthesize a unique creative personal style. Alan’s first cook book Omega 3 Cuisine showcases his ability to bring health and flavor together offering a wide range of dishes that are simultaneously exotic and accessible to the home cook. In Speed Vegan Alan has kept flavor and health, but expanded these parameters to include quick, easy and strictly plant based.
Welcome Alan Roettinger to Its all about food. How are you doing my friend?
Alan Roettinger: I am super fine Caryn. How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Very good.
Alan Roettinger: It’s been a long time.
Caryn Hartglass: I know.
Alan Roettinger: Happy New Year.
Caryn Hartglass: Life just goes on.
Alan Roettinger: Thank God.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, and you just keep coming up with new ways to eat my favorite foods.
Alan Roettinger: Well, plants, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Plants
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, well not only that, but since we last spoke I have been teaching cooking classes and you would be surprised how many people sign up that are not vegan, not interested in being vegan, but they still want to know. It’s in the news.
Caryn Hartglass: They want to know about vegan cooking? Or they just want to know about cooking?
Alan Roettinger: They want to know how do you do vegan. Maybe they have a family member they have to deal with every time there is a party at their house. They want to make something that is for them and don’t know how. Or maybe, just at the core, people are curious because it is growing. Now that Clinton is a vegan. He used to be a junk food addict. So what is up with that? It is cunning.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re in Colorado?
Alan Roettinger: Yup
Caryn Hartglass: If people wanted to take a class with you, how would they know about it?
Alan Roettinger: That’s a good question because the way we have done it so far is: I find someone who is a candidate for using their kitchen, someone who has a big kitchen that would accommodate a lot of people. Then send out an email to everyone they know and that I know in the area and we get a fantastic response. We had 45 people in one kitchen this one time.
Caryn Hartglass: Whoa
Alan Roettinger: Yah and it went on for two hours and people were just like, whoa. It was exciting. It was fun. I put pictures on my blog about it. If people are interested in having a cooking class at their house and they live in the area. I am in the Colorado Springs area, but Denver is good for me, Boulder. If it works I will even go to Fort Collins, it’s a bit of a cliff, but I would be happy to go. What they can do is go to my web site www.AlanRoettinger.com or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and just give me their contact information and I will call them. That would be exciting.
Caryn Hartglass: What are some of the things that you make during these cooking classes?
Alan Roettinger: Well, usually something out of Speed Vegan because they can actually buy the book and have all the recipes. If they had a subject matter, we really want to learn to do blank. I would be happy to design the class around that so that they get what they want. I am sure they would be happy with it.
Caryn Hartglass: Do people get to do things hands on or are they just watching?
Alan Roettinger: It’s a watching thing. If they have access to some kind of teaching facility where they can, I would be happy to do that too. In fact I am working on plans for that. Basically when you have someone’s kitchen, they sit and watch and take notes and buy my books.
Caryn Hartglass: Have you gotten feedback from people that have come to the classes? The reason why I am asking is we know people love to watch food shows. They love to watch food being prepared.
Alan Roettinger: Yah
Caryn Hartglass: But, then so they actually go and do it themselves?
Alan Roettinger: Well, funny you should ask because I am working on a webinar now that will elicit that from people and it will give people confidence to do just that. So many people, you would be surprised, how many of my clients, the very, very wealthy people have kitchens just like you described everything there and they are eating out.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup.
Alan Roettinger: Or they have a chef. People not in the one percent maybe in the upper 99 percent, they have a beautiful kitchen , brand new, all the best and never use it. Literally, never use it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yah.
Alan Roettinger: My target audience is not just those people, but everyone. The best food and the healthiest food is always going to be the food you make at home. Whether it is your home or someone else’s home; it is where you know what is going into it and what is not going into it. You know that it is clean because you are seeing it and you know whose hands are in it. I don’t want to put down restaurants.
Caryn Hartglass: There is a tremendous leap of faith that so many people do, just blindly. We have some pretty strict laws here in New York City; I don’t know how they compare with the rest of the United States. I recently took the food handling certificate test. It’s a 15 chapter course you can take online and then there is a test. You need to have it if you want to supervise any food establishment like a restaurant or manufacture food. I am actually thinking on manufacturing food so I took the course. What I learned is all the regulations that restaurants have to comply to in order to meet the health department’s standards and I find it so hard to believe that they meet all of these regulations. It’s scary to think.
Alan Roettinger: You wonder how many football game tickets are given out to the [Sultan Peckers?] Caryn Hartglass: The first thing that they say in this course it that the health inspectors are not allowed to accept any bribes. Laughs.
Alan Roettinger: Well Duh, and either are congressmen.
Caryn Hartglass: We really put a lot of trust into the handling of the food we eat in restaurants.
Alan Roettinger: Now that is why I like to eat at home.
Caryn Hartglass: In conclusion.
Alan Roettinger: One, I get better food at home.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely
Alan Roettinger: It’s cheaper and it’s more fun, for me anyway, I enjoy cooking. That is what I hope I can convey to people, instill in people, really by example and by encouragement. You too could do this, it’s not that hard. You are not going to be a celebrity chef creating these very impressive dishes that stop people in their tracks. You could make very tasty, very good plant based food in your house very easily. That is the thrust of my webinars, getting a few basic skills, giving people a good idea. Busting the protein myth that people are just are just starting or transitioning. It would also be something for those listening to the show who are vegan and have friends or family who are not, but just starting to soften up to the idea. There is a sixth segment cooking series that I am doing, they could offer as a gift. Let them go on their own and see where they end up and I think at the very least, like the meatless Monday thing, if you just eat one meal a week that doesn’t have a big slab of beef. Just try it. That is what I did, just tried it and after 3 days I felt so much better, I haven’t gone back. There are people who can’t just jump in, they just don’t have it in them to just go okay I’m just going to leave it all and just do it. Maybe one day a week or more plant based dishes in their meal and perhaps greater quantities than the meat. Try that and see how that feels.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s all about moving the bar.
Alan Roettinger: Exactly, and in a non-judgmental way. I lack the gene for converting people. I am not out to hammer on someone. I like the forks and knives approach. They don’t get into the animal cruelty I leave that for PETA and people that are really good at that. To me it’s about, how about cruelty to yourself. Fix that first.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely
Alan Roettinger: Then you take it from there.
Caryn Hartglass: I like to concept of the occasional vegan. It’s all about moving the bar like I just said. I am talking about the food continuum. There is one end where people are eating only animal foods, flesh and bodily fluids, meat and cheese and fish. The other end of the spectrum is like breatharian.
Alan Roettinger: I have not tried that one.
Caryn Hartglass: Or all fruit or something. In the middle there are the omnivores and vegetarians and [pescatarians], vegans, healthier vegans, etc… We definitely need to change the focus and get people more interested in fruits and vegetables. We need to change the way we think about food. It’s happening, it’s slow, but it’s happening. People definitely need to get some new skills because we have lost the food preparing skills that were in our DNA
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, yeah. Also mentioning the word omnivore, human beings by nature are omnivorous. That means we can eat any number of things that are edible. We have a choice. Which, for example, lions do not have. They can only eat meat and they have to actually chase it down and then eat it in order to be healthy. The ones you see in the zoo look just so miserable. They get fed and they eat it, but they just are not happy with it. A lion needs to chase it down and kill it and eat it on the spot. We have, actually, a choice. So what the implications of that are, we can go whichever way we want. Instead of thinking I have to eat this. Think what my choices are. If you can get away from isolating protein to animal flesh then you can say I am getting my protein from this plant. I am also getting vital nutrients and micro nutrients and antioxidants and all this other stuff that I need, that I will not get form that steak.
Caryn Hartglass: And things we have not even discovered yet.
Alan Roettinger: Exactly
Caryn Hartglass: All in plants. Semantics sometimes plays a roll. Someone recently said to me to, we were going to meet somewhere, and this person said, since you have dietary restrictions, why don’t you choose where we are going to eat. I don’t have dietary restrictions. I am not restricted at all. I have variety and abundance and it is a choice. I am not restricted. It was interesting.
Alan Roettinger: It is a nice offer on their part because not too long ago my wife took me to her office Christmas party and there was not one single item on the menu that I could eat. Not one. Finally, I am going to have the onion rings. I got them and started to eat them and realized this is probably fried in really ugly stuff. It kind of ruined it for me. That is what you get when you go out. A lot of these places, especially the kind of places that office parties happen at are sports bars and they don’t have anything for someone who wants to eat, let’s not even call it vegan, let’s call it clean.
Caryn Hartglass: Yah, sometimes you have to call in advance to where you are going to find out what they are going to have or what they might have or just if you know it is helpless, eat in advance and don’t plan on eating.
Alan Roettinger: That’s what I do. I ate before I went actually.
Caryn Hartglass: Yah.
Alan Roettinger: That is my mantra actually, learn to cook and eat at home. I am passionate about that because I think the more I can spread that message that in itself is there is your health care plan. Health care is my responsibility. If other people can do this just think how much it’s going to save them, not just in money, but in suffering.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. My major motivation behind this diet is to reduce pain and suffering. Not just pain and suffering of the animals that I am not eating and killing, but human pain and suffering and planetary pain and suffering.
Alan Roettinger: It doesn’t really take that much. This is the other point I try and make and I am going to make this point in my webinar, it’s not like you have to go to school. It really is quite simple. If you want to go and learn more skills and learn more fancy stuff fine, but in order to feed yourself and your family it is not that hard. It’s very simple and it’s so enjoyable. You just gain a few basic skills and I am going to teach those in the very first webinar. You could really just take off. Then every day you are going to discover new things. I’ve been cooking professionally for over 30 years now and I am still coming across a vegetable, a fruit, something that I have never seen before.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely
Alan Roettinger: How cool is that. If you just stick to ice burg lettuce and mayonnaise, ham and white bread. Okay, fine.
Caryn Hartglass: There is a lot more out there.
Alan Roettinger: There are studies that show how you end up.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Alan Roettinger: There is no reason for it because if you can really enjoy learning to cook, cooking things and treating people. Inviting your family to come and sit down at the meal that you prepared.
Caryn Hartglass: That is my favorite thing to do.
Alan Roettinger: Yah. It’s a thrill for me.
Caryn Hartglass: We frequently host events at home and cook for days. Laughs
Alan Roettinger: Oh, can I tell you something? I did a Christmas dinner. My family is not on the vegan diet and neither is my extended family. Not last Christmas, but the one before, I did the whole turkey and the whole thing. I made myself a big Thai- sort of salad. People were looking longingly at me I guess like; what are you having and why are you having that? This year I said you know what, the hell with it. I am going to make something that I can eat every bite of.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes
Alan Roettinger: I made a four course meal. My extended family came; both my mother and mother-in-law were there.
Caryn Hartglass: Where’s the turkey?
Alan Roettinger: They didn’t. The “v” word didn’t come up. The “turkey” word didn’t come up. It’s like once you serve something and the conversations stops because people are slurping it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah
Alan Roettinger: That’s what I love.
Caryn Hartglass: Yah, well good for you.
Alan Roettinger: There were no complaints. In fact everyone was thrilled with it. So I thought ok, here you go. I’m done.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I support that. I am at a point where I could not prepare flesh for anyone and I believe if you make a beautiful meal and it looks appealing to you and you know it’s delicious and you want to offer it to people, that’s the way to go.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, well it works in a situation like that. My son, he’s still stuck on the meat pyridine.
Caryn Hartglass: If it’s just one meal that you are inviting people over.
Alan Roettinger: Exactly, that is my point.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re not telling them to go vegetarian. You’re just opening the door a little bit.
Alan Roettinger: It’s a treat.
Caryn Hartglass: Who knows, you plant seeds, but you’re not into prophesying, I know.
Alan Roettinger: No, I’m not prophesying, but I am very much in favor of demonstrating how good it can be.
Caryn Hartglass: How good it can be.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah. I mean how sweet it is. Where is the prophesying in that? It’s just; hey try this, you’re going to love it. If they only try it once and never come back, well hey, it’s not my health, it’s theirs. I’ve seen it happen where people just kind of go wow. In fact there is a client that I worked for last year. He was an ambassador to China, this really elegant gentleman. They were meat eaters, but would always make the meat portion really small and the vegetables really big because they wanted to eat healthy. This is how I respond. They were really cool with it and then about the 4th or 5th day that I was there, in the kitchen he was standing there with his fiancé, they were going to get married, he said “you know darling, I could be vegetarian”.
Caryn Hartglass: ooh
Alan Roettinger: She said “What?” He said “yah, well the food we have been having is perfectly delicious. There is no reason why, I don’t care, it’s good why do I care?” And he meant it. He was not saying it for my benefit, he was just commenting. So there you go.
Caryn Hartglass: Ah.
Alan Roettinger: If it is good they will come.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly
Alan Roettinger: If you hammer their heads they might go; oh the poor animals and then maybe one of them their heart will soften. I don’t know.
Caryn Hartglass: Here is the thing, if I could, I would cook for the entire planet.
Alan Roettinger: Laughs. There’s a challenge. I hadn’t thought of that.
Caryn Hartglass: I can’t do that though. Because I know that a lot more people would eat vegetarian and vegan if people were cooking for them.
Alan Roettinger: I bet you 30 percent of the people on this planet would eat it if it was free.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh there you go.
Alan Roettinger: If someone made them any food. I mean this is serious. There are a lot of people out there that are really hungry and they really don’t care what it is. No.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well there you go. I would like to cook for the entire, (sings) “I would like to teach the world… something like that.
Alan Roettinger: I was already going there.
Caryn Hartglass: But we can’t do that so we do what we do and we talk about food and get excited about it and put recipes on our websites and do a webinar.
Alan Roettinger: We can teach the people who have access to food, a way to cook and eat that is delicious and produces health and doesn’t ruin it, doesn’t make you tired and fat and slow and sick.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to just talk a little bit about this webinar a little bit more. So there are about 15 to 20 minutes you are going to be…
Alan Roettinger: People should go to occasionalvegan.com right away and register. It is a free introductory webinar that kind of, there is going to be a free gift in there I’m going to give and I think they will be happy with it and I am going to talk about this 6 part series that I hope people are going to sign up for because I think they will really enjoy it and it will benefit them. Register anytime, now. Get on it. I think they will really enjoy it.
Caryn Hartglass: Where are you going to be doing this? Is this going to be a live thing where people are watching while you’re doing it?
Alan Roettinger: Yeah, we’ll be live. We’ve actually got, there is going to be still shots. The video is going to be for that 6 part series where I am actually going to be demonstrating knife skills, the basic cooking methods; the ones that actually preserve the health benefits of food rather than destroying it. I am going to go into thee good fats vs. bad fats. I am going to have a whole segment on salads and raw food and the importance of that and the very different kinds of salads and salad dressings. I am going to do one about the animal protein myth and getting that protein that are so much more interesting to eat. You know what it means to eat meat, you put a chunk of it in your mouth and you chew it for 5 seconds and you get all these juices, whatever you think is good in there and then for 25- 30 seconds you just chew it so you can swallow it because the flavor is now gone. You never get that with a fruit or vegetable. You get flavor gushing out of it until you decide it is chewed up enough to swallow.
Caryn Hartglass: Gosh, I have not had meat in so long I didn’t even realize that.
Alan Roettinger: You remember what it was like (making gnawing noises). The thrill is gone, but you can’t spit it out and you can’t swallow it until it is chewed up enough, unless you want to choke.
Caryn Hartglass: Laughs. Okay.
Alan Roettinger: I am actually going to do a whole segment on shopping. A lot of people don’t realize, they go to Safeway or they go to whatever the supermarket is and that’s where they go. Some people may go to a health food store. There are so many other options. Indian stores, Middle Eastern stores, there is an Asian store. I have all of these in Colorado Springs.
Caryn Hartglass: Are you going to go to the stores in the webinar?
Alan Roettinger: I am going to go there. I am going to have someone follow me with a video camera and get some good shots and explain a few things; just open up the world that is out there of variety. Each segment, at the end, I will demonstrate a recipe that basically incorporates all the skills or all the facts that we have covered at the beginning so they can see how that ends up. The one I am going to do for the shopping segment, I don’t even know what it is going to be because that is the way I like to do it. I like to go into the store first and see what looks good and then decide what I am going to make.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, Absolutely. It’s kind of a little of both for me. I have an idea, but if I don’t find what supports my idea there is flexibility.
Alan Roettinger: Yah and that is why my favorite clients are the ones that just trust me. They don’t even care. They just want to come in at meal time and sit down and “oh, what’s this”. There are some that want to know in advance what the menu is going to be, they want to know in advance or they want to ask you, I want Stroganoff or something they have in their head. Then you have to find out, what are the ingredients, got to go find them. Sometimes you get to the store and the stuff to make what they want is all dead and limp but right next to it is something that is just bursting with life that just came in but you can’t do it because they want the other thing. It ruins it for them and it ruins it for you. I much prefer those clients that just say “you know what make it healthy, make it good and they trust you and then you can wow them with something that is actually good. So that is my approach to shopping and I am hoping it is well received. I hope people will enjoy it.
Caryn Hartglass: The shopping thing is really an interesting thing. It really depends on where you live but imagine more and more in the United States there are more ethnicities in communities and bringing in more ethnic stores. It just blows my mind. In New York City, the greatest city in the world, we have everything. China town is just crazy and we have two. One in Queens and one in Manhattan and they are huge and they are busting with things that, Americans that aren’t Chinese, don’t know anything about. There is a whole world of plants and mushrooms and herbs and its … I always feel like I am on a vacation when I go there, like I’ve traveled somewhere because it is so amazing. And then these Indian stores that have beans and spices and foods, produce that I don’t know what to do with.
Alan Roettinger: All different kinds of lentils.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup
Alan Roettinger: And Middle Eastern stores and Mexican.
Caryn Hartglass: There is just so many.
Alan Roettinger: It’s amazing. I used to think in L.A. they have it and New York they have it, but Colorado Springs. They have Korean markets. We are talking 100,000 people. We are not talking about a major metropolis. This is what I am going to suggest in that segment is, get to know your community. Look up ethnic food. Just try and figure out what is available to you and go there.
Caryn Hartglass: Go to the store and look around to start with. You don’t even have to buy anything. It’s just so amazing to go and like, what is this stuff.
Alan Roettinger: For me it’s like going back to my childhood in Mexico when you go to the open air market and you can smell all the produce. It’s not like sanitized. You can smell the herbs and it’s fantastic.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, when I go to some of these Chinese markets the smell is not always very pleasant because there is a lot of fish.
Alan Roettinger: They are into the pigs.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, it’s the fish that really stinks. A lot of stinky, stinky fish. You can go into some of their other herbal markets that sell herbal remedies and the smell in there is incredible.
Alan Roettinger: Licorice and ginseng
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, just fresh. Mind clearing smells. Laughs. We just have a few minutes left so; I imagine there is a cost for some of these webminars.
Alan Roettinger: Well the one I am inviting to today, occasionalvegan.com is free.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay
Alan Roettinger: They will come away with some recipes and they are going to watch something being prepared. They are going to get some information.
Caryn Hartglass: Will there be some interaction? Will they be able to ask questions during the program?
Alan Roettinger: Well we will see if that works that way.
Caryn Hartglass: Is it watch when they want to?
Alan Roettinger: I have people helping me with this so I am not sure the answer to that question. I hope so.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Yeah that would be fun.
Alan Roettinger: That would be good. The other ones I am actually going to, because it is the first time I am going to film them and prepare them, I am going to take the feedback I get from people who watch that for the first time
Caryn Hartglass: And make it better.
Alan Roettinger: For future webinars. They are going to get a really good deal. I figure in a class people would pay $50 a person and I get like 30-40 people in there. If you break it down it is basically a class would be $50. If you were to add up 6 of these it would be $300, right? I am giving the whole thing for $97.
Caryn Hartglass: Whoa
Alan Roettinger: So that really brings the cost down and it makes it possible for somebody to maybe give it as a gift to their niece or nephew or something.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, very nice.
Alan Roettinger: So that is the idea. My goal is to make it accessible. I want people to stop poisoning themselves at fast food restaurants and cook and eat at home. It is so much more enjoyable, so much better.
Caryn Hartglass: I agree. Let’s give people. First they have to find out where they are and then what to do in them. So stay tuned and check out, is it occasionalvegan.com?
Alan Roettinger: occasionalvegan.com
Caryn Hartglass: Very good Alan, a pleasure and one day my friend we will actually meet.
Alan Roettinger: Yeah. That would be great.
Caryn Hartglass: And we will eat.
Alan Roettinger: Meet and eat. Meeting without eating is cheating.
Caryn Hartglass: Until then, all the best to you.
Alan Roettinger: Likewise.
Caryn Hartglass: I look forward to this webinar and I will definitely check it out.
Alan Roettinger: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Alan Roettinger and I am Caryn Hartglass and you have been listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you so much for joining me today and have a very, very delicious week. Find that kitchen. Bye bye.
Transcribed by Mary Schings, 2/21/2013