Ellen Jaffe Jones, Kitchen Divided


Part I – Ellen Jaffe Jones, Kitchen Divided
Ellen Jaffe Jones is the author of the bestseller, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” and just released, “Kitchen Divided-Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households,” and is under contract for two more books, one on vegan fitness. Ellen is an accomplished endurance and sprint runner…7th in the US in her age group for the 1500 meters, 10th in the 400 meters. She has placed in 58 5K races since 2006, and was the 5th oldest female to finish the Palm Beaches Marathon, her first, in 2010. She is a certified personal trainer and running coach, and a cooking class instructor in the Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida area.


Hello everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass you’re listening to It’s All About Food. It’s one of those beautiful crisp fall days, November 19, 2013 and it’s funny you have to be careful what you wish for sometimes. It’s so important to get a lot of rest and eat healthy food and exercise. I have a really packed schedule this week and I was thinking I wasn’t going to get in a run today. And then the subway was late, I got off a stop earlier than I usually do because they said they were passing my stop. It was crazy. I ran all the way here…in my heels. I got my exercise. And I’m feeling good. You know you can only do this kind of thing if you’re powered by nutrient-dense plant foods. They are absolutely there when you need them. And today, I started the day—I don’t always do this but I love it when I do—I started the day with a gorgeous kale, arugula salad with my favorite dressing, tahini dressing and these luscious super ripe, sweet, smooth pears. These pears are in season now and they’re just phenomenal, they melt in your mouth, delicious and I really can’t get enough of them. And then when they’re out of season I will have had enough. Let’s move on to my first guest Ellen Jaffee Jones. She’s a certified personal trainer, running coach, consultant, author and speaker and she has been vegan for more than thirty years. She’s a two-time Emmy winning TV reporter in Miami and St. Louis and winner of the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism. And she has a website at vegcoach.com. She’s with us on the show today to talk about her new cookbook Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households. Ellen, welcome to It’s All About Food.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you Caryn. Thanks so much for having me.

Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. Now I heard it was your birthday.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Nasty rumor.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes. So if you give me a moment, I’m going to give you a song.

Caryn Hartglass: (Sings Happy Birthday to Ellen)

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Wow! What a voice!

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. I’m a greedy songbird and any time I have the opportunity to sing Happy Birthday, I do.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Opera, I’m thinking you should do opera. Awesome.

Caryn Hartglass: I do, I do opera. Yes, you got that. Anyway, happy birthday and what I want you to do…do you like chocolate.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Mildly, yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Mildly? Is that not your favorite?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: It is my favorite.

Caryn Hartglass: It is my favorite. I was just hoping that Fran might be able to send me some.

Caryn Hartglass: So this is what I want you to do. I want you to close your eyes. I want you to imagine a vegan cake to live for, chocolate cake to live for, made by Chef Fran Costigan, for you and we’ve put a lot of candles on it, they’re soy-based of course, vegan candles and I want you to take a moment and make a wish, blow them out.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: I have to inhale first.

Caryn Hartglass: OK. Inhale.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: (Exhales) OK, I’ve made my wish.

Caryn Hartglass: OK. Yay Ellen. Happy birthday!

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: So we’re having a little party here on It’s All About Food in honor of Ellen’s birthday and in honor of so many things. It’s always good to take an opportunity to celebrate. So let’s celebrate your new cookbook Kitchen Divided.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: OK, interesting topic.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Yeah, you know I was running around the country talking about my first book, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day and I wrote in that book it’s more important to have someone who loves and respects you than a clone at the dinner table. And in one of my talks I just sort of, off the top of my head, I said “so how many of you live in mixed marriages, where one of you is veg and one of you is not?” So many people raised their hands and just rolled their eyes and lots of looks of frustration. I started asking this question every talk I gave. I thought, you know this is another myth that needs to be busted which is you can’t live with somebody if they don’t eat the way you do. I just wanted to come up with some recipes that would make the poor, stressed-out vegan eater not feel like a short-order cook.

Caryn Hartglass: Relationships of all kinds are difficult. I think that’s the greatest challenge we have as humans—dealing in relationships. Either romantic relationships or familial relationships, business relationships are all difficult and we all want to control and have it our way. It doesn’t work.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Especially in the kitchen.

Caryn Hartglass: So it’s the hardest when you’re living with someone. Some relationships make it a long time and some don’t. Very often two people are together and then they grow in different ways and they work things out or they move on. At the dinner table it’s such an important place to be at peace. You put together at the beginning of the book several different situations based on what feels good with the parties involved on how you might approach eating differently, together. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Right. I just found that in polling in that very scientific base on Facebook (laughs) most people’s ideas on how they coped. I came up with these different ways, plans, none of them are set in stone, some of them overlap with each other but it’s whatever works for you. The first one is peaceful coexistence where each person does his or her own shopping, preparation, cooking and cleanup. The vegan and animal based foods are stored on completely separate shelves in the pantry and the refrigerator. This one really minimizes the hassles and avoids arguments if you can do it but it really is like living in two different households if you do it that way. So the next program, the next way of looking at it, is a little more—we kind of give with each one of these methods—the next one is partial co-existence where one person buys all of the food. Each person does his or her own cooking and cleanup. Again you still have the separate storage and yet the shopping is simplified because if the non-vegan person does the shopping, this can be an opportunity for him or her to learn more about plant-based foods. The reason there is so much of this mixed-marriage stuff going around is we have a lot of new vegans who have come to the table as a result of high-profile people, celebrities, Bill Clinton going vegan, people have done it for health as well as animal-rights issues as the videos become so prolific out there that people can’t turn their head and pretend they don’t see but often they do it in a family setting or with their friends and other people around them are going…what? And so that’s one of the ways you can incorporate more and more people in your surroundings by inviting them to see some of the same kinds of movies and read the same books you have. So we get a lot of new vegans who are trying to figure how to incorporate everyone else around them into their lifestyle. The third way is the division of labor where everybody has specific assigned tasks. It’s very clear. The key to all of these different plans is making it very clear so everybody knows where the other person stands. The constraints are very specified so everyone adheres to rules about where the meat and the animal products are stored and also equipment and tools are segregated. This kind of follows the ground of, in the Jewish religion, keeping kosher and in some situations like that people when they go out they might make exceptions or do things differently. Really it’s whatever you work out with your partner, your family, your friends. There may be compromises made in the division of labor where only vegan is prepared and served in the home and that would mean the non-vegan partner can’t bring in animal food but can eat it when eating out. Those are the little things you negotiate.

Caryn Hartglass: It sounds like things that you can apply to almost any thing in life. You need to plan and you need to communicate. Organization and planning helps everything you do. If you strategize before the disaster happens it’s less likely that disaster will happen.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: That’s really true. It sounds a little trite but it’s all about communication and setting boundaries. I even encourage people to write these things down. You can identify for yourself where is the red line. What will you not do, what will you do to make your partner, your family, your friends happy.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m fortunately in a relationship right now with Gary who is vegan. We both love cooking. It’s a joy that we are able to do these things together. We cook together, we sing about vegan food together, we do everything about food together which is really fun. But I’ve been in other relationships and some time ago I was living in France with a French guy and he was very respectful about my vegan diet but we agreed that he could have milk and cheese in the house. What was really frustrating for me was I would make these great meals and he would look at it without even tasting it and just grate a bunch of cheese all over it. It’s just like people who salt food without even tasting it. Can you please taste it and see if it needs something? Many people are in that habit of not paying attention and they just think: Foods need salt, they need cheese, they need things that they are used to putting on them without paying attention. So planning and communicating is a good step in that direction.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Yeah. I love stealth recipes where you can—I have a chocolate surprise cake recipe, not, I’m sure not as good as Fran’s, but you know. It’s actually in Eat Vegan. I love when I’m talking, I’ll show a picture of the finished product and I’ll ask people to guess what the ingredients are. And they never guess that things like zucchini and pineapple are in this very rich, lush chocolate cake. I love being able to sneak recipes like that through at a dinner party and then pass out the recipe at the end.

Caryn Hartglass: Once again that just shows that most people don’t know much about food. They don’t know what’s in their food and then they think they have to have certain things in their food but they don’t even know anything about it to know what they need or not in their food to make it taste good.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Right. Many people just grow up a certain way and it’s very hard. I found in my cooking classes… I sort of joked, this is kind of a sad thing to say, but people get desperate on their deathbeds. And often it takes some kind of life altering event to make people consider making changes. Often especially the older they get it is common to see this, whether it’s cooking or in healthcare, that people get set in their ways and unless there’s a real compelling reason for them to change—whether it’s a movie or a relative or their own experience—it can be very challenging. I’ve structured recipes in the book so that there are recipes that would encourage or entice a meat eater to, like you say, give a second look with maybe not dumping the cheese and the meat into the recipe. There are also flex dishes that allow themselves to doing that kind of thing so if someone really wants to do that, they can. There are also side dishes that can be the main dish for the vegan and the meat eater can do whatever they want to them.

Caryn Hartglass: Organization is important and having different spaces and cupboards and refrigerators, it can work. You do need to have enough space. Some people don’t even have enough space for the little things that they have and it does require some organization and planning but there’s always a solution. I think you may have alluded to this but—you may even have said it—it still keeps the door open for those meat eaters to learn more about plant foods and maybe come a little over to our side more and more. Not that that’s your goal.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s my goal.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Just little silly things like planting a garden when you can smell the aroma, the fragrance of fresh vegetables and herbs it’s really hard to resist. The sense of smell is so powerful especially with children. Things like making a game of cooking when you can see that your partner is laughing or you start dancing around the kitchen—just things like that to make it more enticing. It’s not just about the ingredients but making it a positive experience as well.

Caryn Hartglass: So you got a number of responses, reactions from Facebook and other places. Have you gotten reactions from the recipes in this book yet from people who have tried it out?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Oh yes, in fact, an amazing woman—she’s just one of my followers on Facebook—she made it her challenge, she just decided to do this one day, she made every single recipe in the book. She posted a picture of it. She deals with this so I think I’m putting this out there. The response has been really really positive as people look for tools and ways to… I think some of the recipes, hopefully most of them in the book, are standalone great recipes even if you didn’t live in a divided kitchen. I really wanted to make all of these recipes be appealing for those that are stressed out especially. Because it’s about time, you only get so much time in the kitchen before the blood sugar kicks in and you just have to eat something. I just wanted to make it as simple, as tasty, as possible for people who are in these situations and just don’t want to feel like they’ve gotta be making everybody happy all the time.

Caryn Hartglass: We know that people need to find their kitchens and they need to learn how to prepare healthier food because most Americans today are lost in the kitchen and they’re buying ready made foods filled with salt, sugar and fat. They’re going out to restaurants and choosing all the wrong foods and as a result our health is in the toilet and we’re suffering and it’s not a good scene. OK, so people need to be making food. I think when people start to learn about making food they learn what’s in it and then can even make sensible choices when they’re buying foods outside of the home. Here’s what I’d like to see: Restaurants could use these recipes. So often you go into a restaurant and they don’t want to move, they don’t want to budge, they don’t want to be flexible. How many times have I been in a restaurant where they use chicken broth in their rice or in their risotto. You don’t need to use chicken broth and if they used a vegetable broth nobody would know…nobody would know! If they could make food for the least common denominator so that everybody could enjoy it, then they could add these things to it if they wanted them. And charge more for them.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Absolutely. Because you get healthy living as a result of eating these incredibly beautiful and health providing recipes. Just two quick examples of what she said in our area, we have a barbecue place about ten minutes down the road called Mr. Bones and I almost ran off the road one day seeing they had a big sandwich board sign outside saying “vegan and vegetarian dishes”. I ended up speaking to the owner and she said we just got tired of seeing kids come in and they couldn’t eat with their parents or the Europeans especially came in saying “what do you mean there’s no vegan restaurant for the next thirty miles?” They met the market demand. Also Chipotles in our area for those that don’t have access to them, it’s a very nice fresh Mexican fast food chain. They make a big deal about promoting fresh ingredients. They posted a sign about two months ago that said our pinto beans are for everybody, meaning they’d taken the meat out so that vegans could eat it. I thought, you know the world is changing.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Let’s just meditate on that for a moment. The world is changing. Can we do it fast enough, that’s the question. I think my favorite in the book here is “Quiche Your Troubles Goodbye”. It’s the very comfort looking food. I’ve been into making pot pies lately so I’m kind of into a savory pie moment. It’s the season for savory pies, in my belly. (laughter) OK, Ellen I want to know what are you doing for your birthday today other than boasting about your new book?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Actually this is the second radio show I’ve done. Doesn’t everybody do radio shows on their birthday?

Caryn Hartglass: They should. It’s all about you today.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: I’m telling the world it’s not only how healthy this food is but how cheap it is, not only what you can save at the grocery store but all those healthcare costs no matter what the government decides to do. And that’s just a whole mess but I keep saying we need to take responsibility for our own health and not depend on the government to do it for us.

Caryn Hartglass: For our friends who are young to do it sooner than later because our friends who are older are really struggling and panicking and thinking about their cholesterol and possibly having a heart attack and it’s so much easier when you get good habits when you’re younger and you’re going to be stunning longer.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Well you know somebody posted on my Facebook page this morning, well use today to have real chocolate cake. I said there is a real chocolate cake and I showed the picture of the one that I had posted, of course the vegan variety with this lush icing and I go, for me this is about feeling well and being around for the grandkids. I just placed in my 58th 5K race and I feel so energized and so much better than when I didn’t eat this way. I remember what that was like, almost died of a colon blockage. That is not fun, it doesn’t feel good.

Caryn Hartglass: No. No. It does not feel good and it’s not necessary. I’m all about flow, flow. Let’s all flow together. Bring it in, let it flow in and then out. OK, Ellen, thank you for joining me today. I want you to have a really spectacular birthday. Fran just walked into the studio because we’re going to be talking about chocolate cake for the next half hour. Fran, we’ve already served Ellen a piece of your virtual chocolate cake and blew out the birthday candles.

Fran Costigan: Happy Birthday Ellen!

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you Fran.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you for joining me Ellen. Your website is vegcoach.com?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: It is.

Caryn Hartglass: And what can people do when they get there?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: You can buy my books or you can sign up for a little personal training cyber-wise. I do that right on Skype so that’s very cool or vegan lifestyle coaching. I’ve been doing this for the better part of thirty-two years so…happy to share that and thank you so much for having me on.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Ellen, take care.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Bye bye.

Transcribed 1/1/2014 by Suzanne Kelly


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