Lois Dieterly is an elementary-school teacher in Pennsylvania and bakes vegan desserts for a local restaurant. She has been a vegetarian for the last decade and a vegan for four of these years. Dieterly lives with her family outside Reading, Pennsylvania.
Caryn: Hello I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. And we are about to be in our second part of today’s show, and I am going to bring in Lois Dieterly, who is a former baker and currently elementary school teacher, living outside of Reading, Pennsylvania with her family. And her book Sinfully Vegan has recently been re-released with new recipes. And we’re going to talk about that now. Lois welcome to, It’s All About Food.
Caryn: How are you doing today?
Lois: I am doing fine. How about you?
Caryn: Ok. There’s lots of reasons to eat plant foods, and I don’t know if you’ve heard any of the earlier part of the show, but a lot of it can be really overwhelming when we think about what is going on with animal agriculture today, and it’s impact on the environment, and sometimes it’s so overwhelming I don’t even want to think about it. And the good news is, we can think about all kinds of luscious, delicious plant based treats, and save the planet at the same time.
Lois: Absolutely. People say to me, “I couldn’t be vegan, I like my food to taste good. They don’t know how wrong they are. I’ve done so many
delicious things to eat, that are safe for the environment, and much healthier for your body.
Caryn: Well this is what I like talking about most. I love talking about food and I love talking about the real gooey,
Lois: The good stuff!
Caryn: Now your book is called ‘Sinfully Vegan’, and I don’t think it’s a sin to eat this food at all.
Lois: No. It looks sinful, so we call it that.
Caryn: Well a lot of people like to think they’re doing something wrong.
Lois: I’m a vegan with a sweet tooth, and I didn’t want to give it up. Frankly when I first started being vegan, which was about 15 years ago. The baked goods were just starting to come out, people were experimenting. There definitely wasn’t much commercially, which is why I came out with this book, just to help share what I learned, so that other people could eat it too, because I like sweets.
Caryn: Well I’m always talking about people getting back into the kitchen, and it’s to make anything. The savory foods or the sweet
foods. It’s so important to know what’s in your food, and know how to make it. And Especially if you’ve got kids, they love making things
in the kitchen.
Lois: Right. And I think going back to your last show, I was listening to that. And I was interested in T. Colin Campbell’s work, and the one thing that stuck with me is
that he said, “eat as close to nature as possible, and that’s why people do have to get back into the kitchen. It’s ok to eat sweets, so it doesn’t have that funny
stuff in it that you can’t pronounce.
Caryn: People have no idea what’s in their food. There are so many wonderful recipes in your book, and they are made with
ingredients that people know how to pronounce, they know what they are, they are recognized from plant sources. And gosh it’s
scary sometimes, when you eat a loaf of bread, or a cookie,if you can read the letters, because a lot of people have problems
seeing small print today.
Lois: Right and that’s why I get a magnifying glass, there’s nothing I don’t read the ingredients on.
Caryn: And Just hydrogenated oils. You talk about oil in your book, and you do it in language that people can understand, which is
very important. We don’t have to be rocket scientists to understand how to eat healthfully.
Lois Right. But it is confusing, so I try to explain it on a level-like you said- so people can understand. Because I’m just an
average person, so I explained it that way. To the average person picking up a cookbook, this is what it means to you. So you
know how to eat healthy, because there are so many oils out there, and not all of them are bad. I think we threw the baby out
with the bath water, with this fat-free stuff, and that’s not healthy either.
Caryn: Well I’m a believer in eating foods that are minimally processed, or minimally refined. Personally I like to get my fats
from raw nuts and seeds, avocado, whole coconut, and then occasionally when I have a treat, I will use earth balance margarine,
or olive oil, some simple organic oil. I don’t eat a lot of them, but sometimes if I’m having a treat, I want it to taste good.
Lois: Right and be healthy. That’s what I try to say in this book. There are still desserts and you can’t eat them without abandon,
they are much healthier, but they are a treat.
Caryn: Now I just want to talk about-. There’s a lot of recipes in here, and there’s certainly a lot that would satisfy, a lot of
different tastes. But a few that I found interesting, or amusing. You have a banana cannoli. Can you talk about that?
Lois: Sure can that’s one of my new ones. I was kind of flirting, with the almost raw food type thing. I don’t know a lot about raw foods, but that’s where this inspiration came from, and I do like cannolis. So that’s where that came from, and I had been playing around with avocado, and discovered how it makes such a creamy base. So I was playing with that. The chocolate has a strong flavor to go with that. Avocado makes a wonderful base for a whipped cream. So it has that chocolate avocado cream on the inside of it, and then the shell is just simply dehydrated bananas. So it’s very simple and it’s much healthier than a regular cannoli, and I found it delicious-and all my tasters. It’s just very different, easy and delicious.
Caryn: I haven’t tried it yet, but I am definitely going to check that one out. I just love the whole idea of it,and I haven’t seen anything like it.
Lois: It’s different. My daughter lives in California, so I get a bit of the western ideas from her. So we sit down and we brainstorm, and she’s a foodie also, we talk food. And she’s very much into the healthy things, but she gets that whole different mindset from California. There is much more of a raw-food influence, the Tex-Mex, or the Mexican food, -her husband is from Texas, that’s where the Tex-Mex comes from- but a whole different idea. So we were just spinning a whole lot of ideas around and that’s where it came from.
Caryn: You’re currently an elementary school teacher?
Lois:Yes I am.
Caryn: And what grades do you teach?
Lois: Fifth and Sixth, intermediates.
Caryn:That’s a very interesting age.
Lois: It is an interesting age. And I love- I’m not in the classroom anymore, I’m a math remediation person- but I used to love being in the classroom, because I would teach nutrition, and I would introduce the students to a more plant based diet, we had parties, we would make food together, healthy dessert, snacky things, like fruit salad and put it in an ice cream cone with coconut sprinkles on top or something. So it was a fun food, and that’s where some of the things came from in the chapter, not just for kids, that are fun kinds of treats, but I like them too.
Caryn: When you were making these treats with the kids, were you explaining why you were not using dairy and eggs?
Lois: Absolutely. They really knew where I was coming from, and tried to understand it. This was new to them, and they were very curious
as kids will be at that age. So we had a lot of nice dialogues about that, and they were very eager to try things. That aged child likes to try new things, and they were open.
Caryn: Did any of them go home to their parents, and say I don’t want to eat these foods anymore? Like meat, and milk, and eggs.
Lois: Some of them told me that they did. I don’t know. I didn’t have any parents coming to me, one way or the other. But some of them
had announced that they were going to stop doing that, and that they loved eating this way. I did actually have some parents come in years later, and they said they remembered when I had done some of those things and they did like that. Now whether or not they changed their way of living, I don’t know. But I hope I opened their eyes that they are willing, now to explore it.
Caryn:Now some of the problems today with food in schools- ok the food we have is just horrific, refined and too much sugar, and wrong fats etc. And a lot of people bring food into the classroom. And more kids are now sensitive to wheat, peanuts, and there are just so many more allergies coming around. I’m not sure if when you were a teacher you were exposed to any of this, but how do you handle that?
Lois: It’s a difficult problem, and I think schools are starting to change now, and not allowing as many foods to be brought in. And we don’t have at our school, peanut butter anymore, because of some of the allergies. It’s a difficult problem because of all the sensitivities.
Caryn:And they’re not all the same, there are so many different ones.
Lois: But schools really have to, in my opinion, start addressing the healthy foods. I know I had an issue with my school. And I did address it, I had written a seven page letter to them, because they were talking about healthy breakfast, but they were giving the kids french toast sticks, and fruity flavored cereal, with fruit drink on it-all the kids were pouring the fruit drink on it. It’s just not a healthy breakfast, so either give them a healthy breakfast, or at least don’t call it a healthy breakfast. Because we’re in the position of being educators, and we have to set an example and help kids.
Caryn: Yep. I got a little distracted here because I was looking at your orange creamsicle smoothie. When I was a kid I used to really love those creamsicles. Those frozen pops with the orange sherbert coating, and the vanilla ice cream inside.
Lois: I love them! That’s where that came from. I love that!
Caryn:And so I’m looking at this, it’s so simple. It’s just crushed ice, orange juice, vanilla vegan milk and vanilla extract. And I’m thinking, not only would it be a great shake, but you cold probably put it in those molds and make a nice frozen pop
Lois: Yes. I do have a section on some freeze pops, but any of the smoothies you could freeze as well. I have some that are just fruit purees, a little bit of the tofu cream swirled through it, which you can, but you don’t have to do. I just love those in the summer
Caryn: I don’t drink a lot of orange juice because it doesn’t feel- I get a little sensitive, but I think if I made it like this, and just sipped slowly on it- I think I’m going to try it very,very soon.
Lois: One of my favorite recipes in here, that I have all the time, at this time of year, because you can get the organic cherries and not too outrageously expensive it the chocolate cherry ice cream. It’s frozen bananas, frozen cherries, and just a little bit of water and cocoa. You just spin that up in a food processor. I love it. And I put chopped up almonds on it as well. Because I like crunch in my ice cream, but it’s
such a treat, like soft serve ice cream.
Caryn: The amazing thing is, not all of these recipes here, but many of them have just a handful of ingredients and are really simple to make. Some are a little more involved, the Boston cream pie, and some other things, but most of them are really easy,
and just amazingly good. And I always like to encourage people to have these things. Because they can be healthy and they really satisfy
those crazy-sweet cravings that we have. And there is really no reason to have all that junk that’s out there.
Lois:Right. Absolutely. My recipes run the gamut from very simple and very healthy, to more of the fancier ones, to some that are still vegan, but they are not quite as healthy, with the ingredients that are in them. But it’s to satisfy everything, some are definitely treats, others you could eat every day and it doesn’t really matter. So it’s trying to satisfy everyone.
Caryn: What’s it like being vegan in Reading, Pennsylvania? I haven’t been there in a very long time. I went to college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and I had some friends that were from Reading. That was a long time ago. And I remember reading not being as sophisticated, I would say as New York City.
Lois: Well it’s the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, so that’s the meat and potatoes, and lard in the pie crust, and that type of thing. So I tend not to use
the word vegan here, I just tell people I do not eat any type of animal product, and I have severe dairy allergies. That’s the way I explain it the times I do go out to eat, so I get people to take me seriously. So it is definitely a challenge to eat out here.
Caryn:They’re still doing the lard in the pie crust?
Caryn: I’m sorry to hear that. I thought lard went out a long time ago, oh well.
Lois: No. It’s in the farmers markets and all that. That’s the way it’s done.
Caryn: What about organic food?
Lois: That’s starting to be more available. There are some places at the farmers market that do deal in organics, so that’s getting a lot easier. Some of the larger grocery stores are carrying a better supply of the organic food, so that is getting much easier to get. I think that
is important, it’s just much less stress on the body, I feel when you are eating organic.
Caryn: Right. On your body, and also the environment, there’s a lot of farming in Pennsylvania, and with herbicides and pesticides, it gets into the solid, it gets into the water, and then it gets into our bodies.
Lois: Right it’s like dominoes. It’s something that we really should start getting away from, and I’m glad to see that there is a much bigger interest in the organic gardening, and farming in Pennsylvania.
Caryn: Well I want to tell you, I live in New York City, and I was in-I think it was a Barnes and Noble the other day, and I saw your book. I like to see vegan books like that in major cities, and everywhere else.
Lois: That’s exciting.
Caryn: What’s exciting nowadays is, most of the big bookstores-if they are still in buiness have actual vegetarian and vegan book sections.
Lois: Right, they are getting larger all the time, I’ve been noticing as I go by and look at them. I think it’s also interesting, I see that my book is on Kindle so they are getting them out wirelessly as well. I thought that was exciting. I don’t know how many cookbooks because I didn’t really look in that section, but I was looking for something else, and it came
Caryn: Are you planning any other cookbooks or is all your great work in this one?
Lois: I don’t know. I’ve been talking to my daughter about doing one, a collaboration, where we would do eating healthy, cheaply.
Caryn: A lot of people are really interested in that.
Lois:Exactly! You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Because we talk about this, about how easy it is to eat healthy, eat those good vegetables, lentils for example. And you really don’t have to spend a lot of money to feed a family. That’s something that we throw around, but at this point, no firm plans.
Caryn: Well it’s an important topic from a lot of angles. Number 1 we know that a lot of the food in the stores today, the prices are not real prices. The meat and dairy products are- we’re not paying for all of the expense to make those foods at the cash register at the store. A lot of the money is from our tax dollars, because they are highly subsidized. And so we are paying for those foods even if we’re not eating them. Even still, buying beans and rice- beans and grains, they have always been the foods that many impoverished people ate and it’s nourished them, and kept them going for centuries, and these foods are still very inexpensive and very nutritious.
Lois: And they can be delicious, you just have to know how to make them. Lentils you can make in almost no time. Quinoa
that’s another one of my favorites, which is not very well known around here anyway. I just love it, and it’s so easy to do so
many things with just those two things.
Caryn: I do love quinoa and I love how easy it is and I love how nutritious it is. My only concern is, we don’t really know how to grow it in this country.
Lois: That is a problem, you’re right. There’s an area-I read- somewhere out in the Midwest that they grew it.
Caryn: They are trying to in Colorado.
Lois: Yes that must have been where it was. And I remember thinking, that is a downside.
Caryn: Yea can we grow enough quinoa for the world? I think if we spend time with that problem, instead of genetically modified food, or how to factory farm more efficiently, I think we could figure out how to grow more quinoa sustainably.
Lois: I know we could. And I think that would be a much better use of the brain power in this country.
Caryn: Anyhow I want to encourage people to check out Sinfully Vegan, there’s just too many yummy recipes in here. And I want to thank you for speaking with me today on It’s All About Food. Thank you.
Lois:Ok. Thank you for having me.
Caryn: Ok we have just a couple minutes left, and I wanted to talk about a couple of things. Number one I want to
invite you to visit my website www.responsibleeatingandliving.com it’s a brand new non-profit that I launched a little over a month ago, and I’ve got a couple of blog entries that I invite you to read. Most recently I posted a letter I sent to Hilton Hotels. I was at one of their Hampton Inn suites recently and talk about their complementary breakfast. Because although it’s great when people offer all kinds of free food and it’s certainly nice when you’re at a hotel, when you get up
in the morning and have a free buffet. What’s not so nice is when the food is not healthy food. When it’s all refined sugary
products, and you can’t find non-dairy milks, no soy milks, there’s non-dairy creamers which are filled with hydrogenated oils. Everything
has high fructose corn syrup in it. The peanut butter isn’t just peanuts, it’s high fructose corn syrup, and other unnatural ingredients. This is when a free breakfast really isn’t free. There’s too many prices involved, devastation to the environment, cruelty to the animals, and this food is not healthy to eat. And so I’m hoping that Hilton takes notice to my letter, and I invite you to read it, and please do the same. Write the businesses that you frequent, if they are not doing things the way you think they should be.
Ok well thank you very much. I think this has been a really interesting show with Mia Mcdonald of A Brighter Green, and Lois Dieterly with Sinfully Vegan. I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food, have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Josh Nisenfeld, 8/12/2013