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Del Sroufe is the author of The China Study Family Cookbook, The China Study: Quick & Easy Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, and Better than Vegan. Sroufe is also the co-owner and chef at the Wellness Forum, where he delivers great tasting, plant-based meals to clients in Columbus as well as throughout the continental U.S. Sroufe also joined The Wellness Forum as a member where, after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, he has lost over 200 pounds on a low fat, plant-based diet. He teaches cooking classes at local venues like Whole Foods, Community Recreation Centers, and The Wellness Forum. Learn more at chefdelsroufe.com.
Since 2009, It’s All About Food, has been bringing you the best in up-to-date news regarding food and our food system. Hosted by Caryn Hartglass, a vegan since 1988, the program includes in-depth interviews with medical doctors; nutritionists; dietitians; cook book authors; athletes; environmental, animals and health activists; farmers; food manufacturers; lawyers; food scientists and more. Learn about how we can solve many of the world’s problems today and do it deliciously, here on It’s All About Food.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! Hey there everybody, I am so excited today, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food and this is going to be a major love-fest today I’m just warning you, okay? Are you ready? I am. I’ve been looking forward to this since last week actually. I’ve been having a good time on this show and I hope you’ve been having a good time learning and discovering everything about food, my favorite subject. And more and more I’m going to be connecting the dots between food and all life on earth because it is all about food. Terrific, so I want to welcome my first guest Del Sroufe and he is the author of The China Study Family Cookbook, which we will be talking about today, as well as three other cookbooks, The China Study: Quick & Easy Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, and Better than Vegan. Sroufe is also the co-owner and chef at the Wellness Forum, where he delivers great tasting, plant-based meals to clients in Columbus as well as throughout the continental U.S. Sroufe also joined The Wellness Forum as a member where, after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, he has lost over 200 pounds on a low fat, plant-based diet. He teaches cooking classes at local venues like Whole Foods, Community Recreation Centers, and The Wellness Forum. Learn more about Del at chefdelsroufe.com. Del, how are you?
Del Sroufe: I’m great Caryn, good to be with you again!
Caryn Hartglass: So I am going to give you the virtual five year, fifth time on It’s All About Food robe.
Del Sroufe: Wow, I’m excited!
Caryn Hartglass: So this is like Saturday Night Live when Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin come out with their plush robes with the five on it, and this is your fifth time on It’s All About Food and I don’t have many people that come back very often, so congratulations.
Del Sroufe: Thank you so much! I just have to keep writing cookbooks to get invited back a sixth time?
Caryn Hartglass: Well, unless you, not necessarily, because the last time you were on the program, I don’t know if you remember, but you were actually on to save the day because I think it was Leeann Campbell who was scheduled to be on and she couldn’t make it for one reason or another. Do you remember that? She was having a Total Health Conference or something and then there was some crazy thing.
Del Sroufe: Oh yeah, yeah! Well I’m happy to be a fill-in guest, its fun for me so whatever you need.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay so we’re going to talk about The China Study Family Cookbook today and I want to say Del you have outdone yourself this time.
Del Sroufe: Aw, thank you! Thank you, I’m excited about it.
Caryn Hartglass: And I think my favorite part of the book is breakfast.
Del Sroufe: Yeah, me too. Well you know breakfast, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: No really, you’ve outdone yourself. So the first thing I wanted to talk about is using whole food ingredients and why that’s important and why some people may not realize it’s important. So we’ve gone through this industrial phase, industrial age, and in some ways it’s been good and in some ways it’s been absolutely horrible, and when it comes to food the industry has been putting in all of these low-quality cheap ingredients, cheap either because they’re cheap or because they’re subsidized, and people are used to this food and then health is degrading as a result. But in all of your recipes, which are fabulous, people can have all of their favorite comfort foods and I will bet that they taste better than the foods that they’re used to because the ingredients you’re using are not only whole foods, but they’re quality foods.
Del Sroufe: Right, they’re real foods.
Caryn Hartglass: They’re real!
Del Sroufe: They’re real food, and if you’ve been eating food out of a box for most of your life as a lot of people have then you’re going to taste real food for the first time, and I think that’s the exciting thing about that. And it’s interesting, this is my fourth cookbook, I feel only more encouraged to write cookbooks this way, not with just real food but with real food that you can get at a regular grocery store. Right? You don’t have to go anywhere special to get these ingredients, these are right there in front of us.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly, I was talking to someone recently, and I’m not going to say who because it doesn’t matter, but he was talking about all of the new products that are available and making them accessible. But I’m like you, I’m really into you can go to any grocery store get the beans, get the dates, get the whole foods, and make spectacular food.
Del Sroufe: Well look, if you’re a person that’s eaten… if you grew up in an Italian American household and eaten spaghetti and meatballs your entire life then what the heck do you want to do with quinoa? I love quinoa but if you’re new to this quinoa looks like some sort of foreign invasion to you, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, especially if you look at it closely it’ll creep you out because it’s got that little spermy thing in it or something, ha-ha!
Del Sroufe: Yeah, and if hamburgers and French fries have been your thing then you’re not going to go for this… you sort of have to approach people where they are to the best you can. And I’m just trying to do it with real foods so they can understand what they’re eating and not be so freaked out by it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay so some of the fantastic things, you’re sweetening with dates or date puree or applesauce, and these are all great ways to get the sweet into the food.
Del Sroufe: Yeah, when you sweeten with dates, when you sweeten with whole foods then you not only get the sweetness you get the fiber and you get all the nutrients in those dates, and dates are more than just the sweetness, they are packed full of vitamins and minerals.
Caryn Hartglass: Michael Greger at nutritionfacts.org has a video on sweeteners and what the most nutritious sweetener is, and of course he always saves the best part for last like it’s a thriller or something but dates were the winner because they’re a complete food, it’s nature’s candy, when you get that sweetness you’re getting the fiber and you’re getting everything else.
Del Sroufe: Its nature’s candy is the perfect way to say it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s say it again, its nature’s candy.
Del Sroufe: Its nature’s candy, eat up!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, fantastic. So I just dog-eared a few recipes…
Del Sroufe: Oh, perfect!
Caryn Hartglass: First one, I am going to be making this this weekend for my partner Gary De Mattei’s birthday, don’t anybody tell him, ha-ha! Chocolate Donuts!
Del Sroufe: Yes! I made these for a week-long cooking emersion last week and we did them in class and everyone was like, “what just happened?”
Caryn Hartglass: I bet they taste better than real donuts.
Del Sroufe: Well they’re real food!
Caryn Hartglass: I’m sorry! That was the wrong thing to say. I can’t stand when people say, “oh you’re eating fake cheese,” like no I’m eating plant-cheese or I’m eating plant-whatever, but these are real donuts, thank you.
Del Sroufe: These are real donuts.
Caryn Hartglass: Real donuts; and they’re made with whole wheat pastry powder, cocoa powder, sweetened applesauce, date puree, plant milk, vanilla, and then they have a little frosting that’s got sweet potato puree in it!
Del Sroufe: Yup! And the best part, you’re going to eat 2 or 3 donuts and it’ll fill you up, one, two you’re not going to have that sugar crash an hour later where you have to go lay down.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup, fantastic. Now I have to admit the last time I had something that I thought tasted like donuts, it was purple potatoes.
Del Sroufe: Ah, okay!
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know, and we did it all wrong because we were in Florida and we got them from my favorite Josh Steinhauser’s Farmers Market in North Hollywood. I don’t know if you know Josh but if you ever meet him he is like high on green juice; he’s always bouncing off the walls full of energy guy and he’s got a fantastic farmers market. But they were selling purple potatoes and we were staying in a little beach place and we only had a microwave, so we microwaved them, anyway they tasted like donuts.
Del Sroufe: Oh wow! I need some of that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but anyway I’m going to try these chocolate donuts, and then moving on I just wanted to mention the sweet potato hummus.
Del Sroufe: One of my favorite recipes; you know I’ve been making hummus for almost 30 years now in commercial kitchens and I get a little bit bored with just regular hummus, it’s still a part of what I do but the day that I made sweet potato hummus I fell in love with hummus all over again.
Caryn Hartglass: So I just have to make a pedantic obnoxious statement, and I’m just going to say it and then we’ll just pass on…
Del Sroufe: Go for it!
Caryn Hartglass: Now hummus of course in the original Arabic, Hebrew languages means garbanzo bean, and we have kind of taken that word and made it our own, which happens to a lot of words in vocabulary, and hummus now means like a creamy spread. So this sweet potato hummus does not have any garbanzo beans in it but its got tahini and sweet potato puree, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, it’s a fabulous color and I’m sure it’s fantastic.
Del Sroufe: And I tell you what, I make the distinction between hummus and then other bean spreads and here’s where I keep it at hummus; this is a traditional hummus recipe minus the olive oil, but everything else in there you’ll find in a traditional hummus, and then all we’re doing is replacing the chickpeas with sweet potatoes. And so I’m okay with that translation, our artistic license if you will, but I make plenty of white beans, I make a cannellini bean spread with rosemary and lemon juice and garlic, I do not call it hummus.
Caryn Hartglass: What do you call it?
Del Sroufe: Well I call it a white bean spread, ha-ha! I try to respect a little of the cultural heritage of the food that I’m eating because I love that. I love the history, the story, and the origin.
Caryn Hartglass: I love that too, thank you! I think food history is important. You know what I learned about garbanzo beans recently, I don’t want to call them chickpeas anymore.
Del Sroufe: Oh really?
Caryn Hartglass: I think I learned this during the food revolution summit, maybe it was Vandana Shiva, but anyway what she was talking about was how when the British came along and occupied India and they noticed all the beans that the people were eating they thought those beans were animal feed.
Del Sroufe: Oh wow!
Caryn Hartglass: You know chickpeas, for the chicks. Fascinating! Anyway so they’re garbanzo beans now, ha-ha.
Del Sroufe: Well I’ll be with you, I’ll call them garbanzo beans and I’ll give you another quick one, I use millet in a lot of recipes…
Caryn Hartglass: I was going to bring that up! Thank you for bringing that up!
Del Sroufe: It’s one of my favorite ingredients, but you know in America the millet that’s grown is used for bird feed and in fact I’ll get people that I show the recipe to, especially guys, and they’re like, “that’s bird food,” and I’m like, “Oh God.”
Caryn Hartglass: Okay let’s talk a little bit about millet and why we love it.
Del Sroufe: Well you know it’s an ancient grain, it’s been around forever, it’s gluten free, it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals and all of those things that we love, and it’s versatile, and it’s easy it’s quick cooking, it’s twenty minutes to cook and you can do so many things with it. I first encountered it in a Moroccan millet pilaf that…oh what’s her name…one of my favorite cookbook author’s recipes, and loved it. But then the second time I saw it was out of a PETA cookbook where they made meatloaf out of it.
Caryn Hartglass: And you made chorizo out of it!
Del Sroufe: Yeah I make chorizo, I make meatballs, I make everything like that out of it because it holds together on its own it doesn’t need any binder.
Caryn Hartglass: You know what I discovered recently, somebody told me this on this show but I never got around to doing it, that was you can make your own millet flour from millet, just putting it in a Vitamix.
Del Sroufe: Oh yeah, Vitamix, power of the Vitamix, certainly. Oat flour too.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, awesome. Then the last recipe I wanted to talk about was the mushroom bacon and we talk about bacon on this show from time to time, the unfortunate thing is that all of those bacon-lovers who don’t really care about where the bacon comes from and all they really are interested in is that salty, sweet, fatty flavor.
Del Sroufe: Yes, yeah and it’s just as easy to get out of something like mushroom. If you think about bacon, not the crispy bacon but the oven-baked bacon that they do so it never really gets crispy, it has that softness to it but it has the salty and the sweet, you can get that out of mushrooms.
Caryn Hartglass: I know, yes!
Del Sroufe: You can get that out of mushrooms, and oh my gosh.
Caryn Hartglass: The other thing I didn’t mention yet was in this cookbook, which is a little different from some others, is you’ve included some interviews with people and given their personal anecdotes.
Del Sroufe: Yeah, I love this part of the book. It really was a fun thing to do. Interesting side of it, you know I interviewed the Campbell family, Dr. Campbell who wrote The China Study and his daughter Leeann, and their stories about how they became plant-based and how they came to it is not only interesting but you know the most interesting thing about them is that their entire family adopted this diet. Dr. Campbell, all of his children, and all of their children eat plant-based, which is a rarity. And so I included this story for that reason but then you see other stories of people who to some level are not, the family is either on board with them or not, and how they deal with that those stories are important too because we’re not striving here for perfection, we’re striving to move forward in a better direction.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s it in a mouthful! That’s right, and the Campbell family, they’re like the plant-based dynasty.
Del Sroufe: They’re the royalty, yup!
Caryn Hartglass: The royalty, absolutely, and it looks like you’ve been adopted into their family with the China Study Family Cookbook.
Del Sroufe: Well I would be thrilled if that were the case and they definitely seem to like my writing cookbooks and I love them. I consider them really some of my favorite people, they’re the nicest family on the planet that I’ve ever met, they’re as nice as it gets, I certainly have been blessed to have been allowed this opportunity to write a couple of cookbooks for them.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, the last thing I’m going to say before we go is I always like to talk about cauliflower with you Del and I couldn’t not mention it, and in this book you have a few recipes with cauliflower and one is the autumn vegetable pot pie with biscuit crust. You could make that for me sometime!
Del Sroufe: Well we need to work that out because I’d be happy to. But you know the cauliflower is still, although the new book has a cheese sauce recipe that’s made from potatoes, I still have a fondness for the place of cauliflower purees for making sauces and cream-based things and people that I feed it to, even people who don’t like cauliflower, love the mouth-feel and the taste, you know it takes up the flavor of whatever you do to it, the taste that you come up with and then the things that you can do with it, it’s a totally versatile food. So I’m all in on the cauliflower still.
Caryn Hartglass: Fantastic, Del thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food, it’s always a pleasure talking to you!
Del Sroufe: Always fun! Thank you!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, thanks for writing the China Study Family Cookbook, 100 recipes to bring your family to the plant-based table, thank you!
Del Sroufe: Bye bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, bye bye. Okay, are you salivating? I’m just very hungry right now. Dangerous! Talking about food when you haven’t eaten since this morning.
Transcribed by Lydia Dearie, 6/15/2017