Interviews with Donna Michelle Beaudoin and Doron Petersan



Part I: Donna Beaudoin
Sister Vegetarian

Donna Michelle Beaudoin is an Author and Motivator who inspires and puts the burning passion in you to lead a healthy, drama-free lifestyle as a vegetarian or vegan.

She is the author of Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-Free Vegetarian and Vegan Living. She is a 45 yr old Vegan who knows how it is to try for years to become a vegetarian and then a vegan. She is a a vegan who incorporates 20% to 50% raw vegan meals weekly into my vegan meals for optimum health benefits. She is a Certified Raw Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Raw Vegan Chef through Raw Vegan Network-Ekaya Institute of Living Food Education. She uses her certifications to help people transition to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle by illustrating the importance of adding to weekly meals raw vegan and whole foods for increased health benefits.


Part II: Doron Petersan
Sticky Fingers Sweets

Doron Petersan opened Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats in 2002 drawing on her dgree in Dietetics from the University of Maryland and years of experience working in restaurants. She lives with her husband, Peter and their recued companion-animals in Washington, D.C.



Caryn Hartglass: Hello! This is Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Hello and how are you today? We have a great show coming up. I’m looking forward to both of my guests today.

This whole vegan thing, it’s been going on for a long time. And what we talk about on It’s All About Food is certainly food and how food affects our personal health, the health of the planet, and certainly the animals that we choose to either eat or not eat. What’s really wonderful is we’re gaining a lot of momentum and people are thinking about vegans differently than they used to, thinking about vegetarians differently than certainly when I got started, seems like centuries ago, maybe 30 some-odd years ago. The thing that we find is that everyone’s on a different journey. And we discover the vegetarian diet, the vegan diet, in a unique way, each one of us, we react to it in a unique way. And some of us decide to eat this type of diet, some of us choose not to. But each one of us has a different life experience and a different journey and so our decisions to do certain things are different, and how we do things are different. Okay, difference is the theme here. But some people find changing diets very easy, most people have challenges. And different people’s stories and message will resonate with certain people and not with others. And so that’s the great thing about what’s going on right now because there’s so many vegetarian voices out there that are going to connect with certain people and help them move to a better place in the food continuum. And we’ve got one of them today. We’re going to be talking to Sister Vegetarian. We’re going to be talking to Donna Beaudoin. Or you could correct me if I didn’t pronounce it correctly but she’s the author of a new book, Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-Free Living.

Welcome to It’s All About Food, Donna!

Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, Caryn! How are you doing?

Caryn Hartglass: Good. How do you say your last name?

Donna Beaudoin: Beaudoin.

Caryn Hartglass: Beaudoin! Okay. I was trying to make it French, like Boudoir or something.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s fine, that’s fine. Just call me Donna.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I just realized when I made some posts on Facebook and Twitter today that I made it Sistah Vegetarian, and not Sister Vegetarian because I was confusing it with Sistah Vegan and I apologize.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s fine. I call myself sister vegetarian because I see vegetarians and vegans as a part of the same family. We all want to get healthy, we want to the environment, we want to save animals. So I thought of sister as “I’m just a part of your family,” I’m your sister, I’m your aunt, I’m like a mother-figure. We’re all part of the same family so that’s why we’re all sisters.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I like it. Because people may not realize it but we’re all one family on this planet, we’re all connected, all of our actions, however insignificant they may seem, are significant to everyone else on the planet. We breathe the same air. It’s really powerful. I was watching a Deepak Chopra video just this week and he was talking about this concept. It really was profound, down to the cellular level, how deeply connected we all are.

Donna Beaudoin: That is true. Yes. And that’s why my book speaks to vegetarians and vegans. A lot of us start as vegetarians and moved to a vegan but it speaks to everyone in trying to help people to become a vegetarian or become a vegan. The recipes are vegan with a vegetarian twist, if that’s what you want to be.

Caryn Hartglass: A vegetarian twist, or with a vegan twist. Or a little lemon or lime.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. The challenge is people have a hard time on diets, period. I’m always saying it’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle. Or at least this particular path.

Donna Beaudoin: I agree. I agree.

Caryn Hartglass: And that’s part of the secret to having stability and success when it’s not something you’re going to do for a short time to lose a few pounds; it becomes your life.

Donna Beaudoin: it is a part of your life. It is a journey. It’s a lifetime journey.

Caryn Hartglass: But as you mentioned throughout the book there, it’s all these drama!

Donna Beaudoin: It is. And some people go through being a vegetarian and vegan easily and some don’t. It’s based upon my experiences alone, not being a medical physician or in the medical field, I base on my experiences and talking a lot to people. We go through different types of societal mess and things we hear, maybe among friends or family, at work, that when we start out being a vegetarian or vegan, good intentions, and we hear that little buzz in the ear and then we stop.

I mentioned in the book someone was a vegan for six years and then they just couldn’t deal with all the emotional things going around and then they just stopped being a vegan. So my book is addressing all the drama that we come across because I realize there are so many cookbooks out there and how to be a vegetarian, eating vegetarian or vegan but nothing really addresses the societal mess and drama we come across from friends and family and co-workers and just society alone. It’s just out there to address it, to help you to become strong. Because in the book, in the beginning of the book, I mentioned that you have to have a strong will; you have to have a strong mind. And that’s what you really need along in this journey.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, you need that to succeed in everything.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: I think that’s what I hear about most, the societal pressures that people have. I’m continually thinking that it’s not necessarily the diet or this lifestyle that really the issue; it just sort of brings out or magnifies everything going on in someone’s life. So if there are issues with relationships, or with the family, or with a co-worker, this is just an opportunity to make it work or bring it out, bridge the way.

Donna Beaudoin: Yeah. The recipes of being a vegetarian are wonderful. I’ve never hear anyone complain about eating the foods. It’s always just the little issues they have to deal with and maybe being the only person that they know who’s a vegetarian or vegan. That’s why I came up with 30 days, to try to help people through the different situations that they come across. Because as I said, we need to have a strong mind to know that we can do this, we can get over the mountain. We can climb up and just be on the top of the mountain shouting, “I am here forever! I’m a vegetarian or vegan forever!”

Caryn Hartglass: Whoooo!

Donna Beaudoin: So changing …Just because some person buzzes into our ear. So I wanted to make people strong, men and women, strong in being a vegetarian and vegan. I know they can dust themselves off. Everyone falls down but you have to know that you can get right back up. Dust yourself off and get right back up and keep walking.

Caryn Hartglass: This is a positive, motivational book, disguised as a vegetarian journey. But it really is something that we should apply to everything, kind of re-scripting those crazy voices in our heads.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly, exactly. And towards the end of the book I give ten energy bars, I called it: powerful tips to help you along your way.

Caryn Hartglass: Very good. You might even market them as in the shape of an energy bar.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: People can put them in their wallets. When they want to eat something, “No, read one of these.”

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I thought of energy bars because I run races and my husband hike, and energy bars give us energy in between the meals. And I’m thinking, “You know what, we need some energy, just little tidbits of energy to keep us going through the day in between our meals.” And that’s how I came up with those 10 energy bars, or 10 powerful points, to get us started.

Caryn Hartglass: Can you remember or did you have particularly difficult social situations, either with your family or work, that you might share?

Donna Beaudoin: Just being the only vegetarian, initially, mainly at work. So it is kind of difficult, initially, and then I started to convert maybe two people at work and people were starting to realize that, “Hey, this is a wonderful lifestyle.” I think my family was more accepting. My husband took awhile and he was very supportive though and now he’s a vegetarian.

Caryn Hartglass: I was going to ask you that because that wasn’t clear in the book.

Donna Beaudoin: Yeah, he’s a vegetarian now. He became one in June.

Caryn Hartglass: Congratulations! Tell him I congratulate him.

Donna Beaudoin: He’s very supportive but I think it was more so the outside. He spent a lot of time outside the home, in work situations and other types of groups and you get more pressure from there.

Caryn Hartglass: I think it’s the hardest in a relationship if you’re not eating similarly because eating is such an important even everyday.

Donna Beaudoin: It is. It’s definitely important.

Caryn Hartglass: And when you’re in a relationship, sharing…that’s such a great way to share.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s true. Initially, before he became vegetarian, cooking two different meals and it got kind of hard sometimes. And a lot of people asked me, “Well, if you’re spouse is not a vegetarian and you are, how do you work that out?” I mean, you still eat together; you still cook together. It can be done. A lot of people don’t want to become vegetarian or vegan as their spouse or their significant other is not, I say go for it. Just do it. A lot of people like to wait for the other person but if you do it, the other person is more than likely follow your lead also. You have to be the person that starts it.

Caryn Hartglass: I think …I’m on to something here and it’s not coming out. But I think you can definitely get on the vegetarian path and if your partner isn’t interested, you can ultimately prepare one meal but the other person who isn’t interested in being vegetarian can add the animal products.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s true.

Caryn Hartglass: You can always grate cheese on top of anything. And you can crumble it or put some grilled chicken on top of anything. You can ultimately eat the same thing.

Donna Beaudoin: That is true. I find out that with me and my husband, he’s a vegetarian and I’m a vegan, so we’ll have, maybe let’s say I’ll put out something easy like a pasta dish. And he, maybe, will, on his plate, grate cheese and I will probably have nutritional yeast, maybe on top of mine. But sure, you can add little things.

Caryn Hartglass: I lived in France in the early 90s and I used to make a lot of vegan dishes. That’s cheese country. Many of my friends, before even eating or try what I would offer, they were just grating all the cheese all over it. Okay, fine, that’s fine.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I used to be a cheese nut too. That was one thing that was hard to give up, switching from vegetarian to vegan, and it was hard for a lot of vegetarians to give up.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s addicting.

Donna Beaudoin: It is addicting.

Caryn Hartglass: There’s a lot of evidence now that shows that it does stuff in our brains that has addictive properties.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. And I’ve felt so much lighter and just so … I don’t know what the word for it but just on top of the mountain when I gave up the cheese and just became a vegan. Just felt so much more alive.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’re tiny. I caught some of your videos on YouTube and you can really see how fit and trim and slim you are.

Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, thank you. It didn’t start that way.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s what you described in the book.

Donna Beaudoin: Yes. I was always small and then I hit 40. About five years ago, I started to gain weight and in three years I went from a size 4 to a size 14. And couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I started to have a lot of stomachache problems too and I would say, probably, even before that in a 10-year period, I was hospitalized for a time for stomachache problems. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me so I put matters into my own hands. Last time I was sick I just said, “I’m just going to do it myself.” I gave up meat. I became a vegetarian. It was actually more so probably 90% vegan I was eating. And all my stomachache problems of over 10 years disappeared. My weight dropped immediately. That’s why I said it’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle change. I didn’t even do it to drop weight; it just ended up dropping. And my stomach problems stopped. I went from a size 14 to a size 4. I always did love to hike and exercise. And I never had back pains until I started to get heavy. I no longer have back pains or stomach pains. I mean. It’s just great.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s magic.

Donna Beaudoin: Yeah, yeah. I healed my body. Yeah, it’s great.

Caryn Hartglass: One of the things people often talked about losing weight is making smaller portions and eating less. I scream when I hear this because it’s hard for people to do that and to feel unsatisfied, not feel full, and yet when you’re eating correctly, and when I look at the plates of food that I eat, it’s ridiculous. I can’t get a bowl that’s big enough sometimes for the salads or the soups that I eat.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. Yeah. And people can’t believe how much I eat but yet won’t gain weight because I’m eating healthy foods and my body is being provided with nutrients and healthy foods that is just helps me to sustain my weight at what it should be.

Caryn Hartglass: Whole, minimally processed foods are so full of fiber, especially when they’re raw, they’re filled with water, and that makes the belly feel full and makes the brain satisfied because you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients that you need.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s true. And I eat a lot of raw foods. I incorporate raw foods in my meals everyday. Usually, I eat a lot of greens, I eat a lot of raw greens: collards greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens, beet greens. I eat a lot of raw greens everyday, rather as a part of a lunch like a wrap or a salad. Sometimes I’ll eat a raw vegan lasagna or raw vegan pesto. Or I make the pesto …

Caryn Hartglass: I like the mustard green pesto recipe in your book.

Donna Beaudoin: Thank you. And sometimes I put the mustard green pesto on top of shredded, raw collard greens. Collard greens act as a more of like pasta, instead of using a pasta.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. They have a good chew.

Donna Beaudoin: Yeah. It’s delicious.

Caryn Hartglass: I can’t say enough about eating greens. I really think that’s the secret to life.

Donna Beaudoin: It is. I’m not a physician and I tell you, I have not been sick in three years since I switched from eating meat to being a vegetarian, now vegan. Never had a flu shot in my life. And in three years, I haven’t had any colds, flu. Nothing.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s pretty good.

Donna Beaudoin: Nothing whatsoever. I don’t even take supplements or vitamins. So it’s something about living a plant-based diet.

Caryn Hartglass: Now you live in North Carolina.

Donna Beaudoin: I do.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. There’s a lot of problems in North Carolina. There’s a wide ride of lifestyles, from very rich to very poor, and lots in the middle. And there are areas that are called food deserts. And there’s a lot of animal agriculture that goes on there, most of it hidden. It’s a very interesting place. It’s got a lot of things going on.

Donna Beaudoin: It does. And solely the vegetarian/vegan community is rising, mainly in the Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh areas. In the Asheville area also, which is towards the mountains. Still lot of ways to go. We’re not similar to the communities more up north, maybe above Virginia but we still have a lot of ways to go. And North Carolina is still more so of the rib capital. They still love their ribs and barbequed meat. But we’re working on it.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. There’s a lot going on there. One of the problems people have if they want to eat better, some people are in neighborhoods where it’s really hard to access food. I think you even …. Did you mention something like that in the beginning of the book? I think I was reading where you were buying from a store near where you work …

Donna Beaudoin: Yes, one of my local stores near my home.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, now I remember what it was.

Donna Beaudoin: They did not have a great selection of, I’ll say, vegetarian/vegan products. The produce was good but they need a little bit more. They used to have, actually they still have it, it’s called “Talk To …”, I won’t say the grocery name but it was “Talk To That Grocery Store.” You email them after your grocery experience and write them and give comments. The next week I was going to the store, I was like “Wow, they added this!” I remember I mentioned it in my email. And then I emailed again because … I would give them positive feedback also. My husband and I have been shopping in that store for years. And I give positive feedback on the staff also. But another week, I mentioned something and they have something else there.

Caryn Hartglass: Nice.

Donna Beaudoin: So the grocery stores do listen to you. If you’re in a food desert areas, don’t think the stores won’t listen to you; they will. Email them, call them on the phone, and talk to the manager in person. They will listen; don’t think they won’t. You should have what you want to have in that store. They’re servicing you; you’re not servicing them.

Caryn Hartglass: There’s so many good points there. It’s so important for us to act as individuals because we do matter in everything we do.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s correct.

Caryn Hartglass: Make a difference. Just by simply asking. Ask and you shall receive.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly, exactly. And the great thing is, it’s so funny, after coming in all the time, the manager even posted something to the staff to say, “Hey, people are commenting on the email about the stores. Keep up the good work.” So they do listen. The stores do listen.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s nice. Okay so we have, I don’t know, about eight more minutes. One of the things about the recipes in your book, they’re really very straightforward; they’re pretty easy. It’s a really good beginning for diving in here. It’s based on beans, vegetables, and spices. All of this stuff is really flavorful.

Donna Beaudoin: And I love world recipes. I wanted to just put a lot of recipes in there that I enjoy and people throughout the world eat. There are many countries that are vegetarian-based and I put these recipes on here to make it not so hard. As a working person myself I know how hard it is to work all day and want to come home and cook a nice meal for your family. But in the middle of that, you both can, and everyone in the family can, just sit down and talk and enjoy. I have an Ethiopian dish there that is easy to make when you come from work that’s less than 15 minutes. You can have it on your table right away and with leftovers. It’s just meals that everyone can enjoy and introduces you to the world of vegetarian or vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: I was in …when was it, last year? I went to Argentina. Buenos Aires. I was always looking for the veggie healthy places. And I was in one, I think it was a Mediterranean restaurant, and I ordered hummus; I eat a lot of hummus. And it tasted okay but it tasted different. And then I realized it had peanut butter in it, not tahini. And I had never that before. I kind of chuckled because you mentioned in your book if you can’t find or don’t have tahini, you can use peanut butter. You certainly can but you should know because if you’re expecting one and getting the other, it’s like “Whoa!”

Donna Beaudoin: Yeah, it is a different taste. And then a lot of places don’t have tahini. Especially in the South parts, shopping, it is hard to find but you’ve been there, so that’s a good substitute to use. And then also I love hummus. I tend to make it every week. And I also let people know, experiment with hummus. Do different things. Just don’t do the basics. I love to experiment in making foods so one time I put beets in it and, oh my god, it turned out perfect. It had beets, smoked sauce and it was creamy; it was great. Another time I tried adding some raisins, giving it a little sweetness to it. Just experiment with hummus. Have fun with it.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, you can experiment just with the basic hummus, a base of garbanzo beans, chickpeas, or you can use other beans too.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. You can.

Caryn Hartglass: So the idea is that it’s a bean of fat and some flavoring.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I have used navy beans, red beans, to make hummus, black beans. You can experiment with so many different beans.

Caryn Hartglass: And then what’s great about it is it’s so versatile. People don’t even realize how simple the variety to be. So it can be a great spread on a sandwich. And the variations are infinite based on the beans that you use, the spice that you use, the fat that you use, or no fat. Some people just like to make a garbanzo bean, seasoned, and mashed.

Donna Beaudoin: Right, right. Sometimes I do it as a spread on one of my vegan sandwiches. I’ll grill a Portobello mushroom and use it as a spread.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Instead of mayonnaise or something, you could use this flavored bean spread. It’s infinite. Or you could thin it a little bit more and then it becomes a dip or a dressing.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. You’re making me hungry, girl!

Caryn Hartglass: Or it could be even as is like a pâté or something.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m nuts over beans, or beans over nuts. Or something like that.

Donna Beaudoin: I am too. You can’t catch me without some type of bean stew on my stove, usually on a Sunday.

Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know what it’s like in North Carolina but here in nyc, the greatest city in the world, we have everything and more.

Donna Beaudoin: You do. Yes. I grew up in New Jersey, actually.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. There you go. And because there are so many different cultures here, there are so many different stores with different foods. One of my favorite is this Indian store in Queens, in Flushing, the Chinatown in Flushing. And there are so many beans that I don’t even know if I’ll ever get to try them all. They all have different sizes, colors, and shapes. They all have different subtle flavors, texture differences. It’s a celebration.

Donna Beaudoin: It’s wonderful. I love it. I love it. I love finding new variety of beans and trying them out. It’s great.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. And the other thing is the colors are phenomenal.

Donna Beaudoin: They’re beautiful, yes.

Caryn Hartglass: And we have glass jars. We don’t have a lot of covered spaces so they’re all out on display in glass jars and they’re just lovely: yellow, orange, and pink.

Donna Beaudoin: That’s true. The cranberry beans are beautiful. The azuki beans, oh my gosh, yes. Like I said, you make me hungry! I’ll have a pot of bean soup on.

Caryn Hartglass: And you compare that with, I don’t know, a burger on white bread and it’s kind of a gray-brown food.

Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I love just putting varieties in my beans, such as in a stew. I use a lot of greens, different varieties of greens in a stew just to thicken it. Yeah, it’s great.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay, we have just a couple of minutes left. So you mentioned you’re eating more raw food. I think I read somewhere that you’re becoming certified as a raw food …

Donna Beaudoin: I just finished a certification in raw food. The purpose was mainly, because I do eat probably about 50 or more percent raw food a week, and just to show vegetarians and vegans to try to incorporate raw foods such as raw greens into their meals, either on a daily basis or every other day in some part of their meal, just for added nutritional benefits. Because like I said, I’m not a physician, but I tell you, in three years, in just eating vegan and some raw meals I really have kept colds and flus at bay. I haven’t caught anything. So it really does help us to stay healthy.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Well, thank you so much, Donna. Thanks for writing Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-Free Living.

Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, Caryn. Thanks for having me.

Caryn Hartglass: My pleasure. And keep doing it. You’re helping so many people.

Donna Beaudoin: thank you so much. And thank you everyone for supporting me, reading my blog …

Caryn Hartglass: What is that blog? Sister vegetarian….

Donna Beaudoin: It’s or you can go on the blog directly

Caryn Hartglass: Great! Thanks you so much.

Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, Caryn. You have a great and beautiful day.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. We’re going to take a quick break and be back with sticky fingers sweet Doron Peterson. We’ll be right back.

Transcribed by Diana O’Reilly, 2/17/2013


Hi, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. OK, now we come to the really yummy part of the show. We’re going to be talking to Doron Petersan who is the owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery and has a great, delicious new book out called Sticky Fingers Sweets: 100 Super Secret Vegan Recipes. Welcome to It’s All About Food.
(Doron) Hello! How are you?
(Caryn) OK! (noise in background) Do we have someone else on the show with us?
(Doron) This is Doron Petersan.
(Caryn) I know, I know. It sounded like it was a dog that was joining us.
(Doron) No, those are probably just our very loud refrigerators behind me. I’m actually in the shop today.
(Caryn) Oh, great. OK, well, thank you. So, I’m really excited to be talking about you. I love your new book. Beautiful.
(Doron) Well, thank you so much. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it.
(Caryn) Yeah, and we love stories like yours. Well, you know, this whole vegan thing. There are so many of us that have been vegan for a while, or some people that are new to it, and we love success. We love great food and when somebody does it and does it right and gets some recognition, you’ve got this whole happy army behind you.
(Doron) Oh my goodness. Well, thank you so much. That’s so sweet. I love all of those things too: food, success, sweets, fun.
(Caryn) Yeah. I have a Web site and I post a lot of different recipes up there: healthy food and all kinds of things. But whenever I post the treats, that’s what gets the most traffic.
(Doron) Yes. I’d say that we’ve definitely gotten most of our attention for our sweets. Over the years that’s been the strongest part of our business. It’s the part that keeps growing and growing and growing. And while our sandwiches are super fun and coffee is always a must, our sweets just really pull people in the door. I mean, you can’t resist looking at a cupcake or a cookie and not falling in love.
(Caryn) Yeah. Well, I’m always promoting healthy food because I want vegans to be models for the world because I’m coming from a place where I believe vegan food is the ideal for the environment, for health, for animals. And I want us to be glowing and beautiful and strong and living long, healthy lives so that everybody else wants to come along.
(Doron) Absolutely, we completely agree. And we think everybody should start their healthy day with a good dose of enjoyable dessert. I mean, there’s nothing better than eating food that you absolutely enjoy that’s really fun and is also better for you.
(Caryn) That’s right. Now, one of things on your bakery Web site that I love is that you have all of the ingredients for all of your products.
(Doron) Yes. We cater to everyone and we want to make sure that everybody knows what is going into their mouths and their bodies. So if we have people that are concerned about one ingredient or another or they’re trying to avoid an ingredient for a sensitivity or an allergy, we want to make sure that they can do that easily. But also we want to show people how simple and how straightforward our ingredients are. There are no scary ingredients. There’s not a ton of preservatives or things that you can’t pronounce. It’s straightforward food.
(Caryn) I was reading it…and I’m just going to reiterate everything you just said because it’s important. I think more companies are starting to learn that it’s important to divulge this information because so many people have food issues and vegans can be really militant when they want to know what’s in their food. So it’s smart to just make it easy and have it out there. I know I’ve been to so many places and when I ask the servers: “Do you know what’s in this?” They look so dumbfounded like: “What? It’s a piece of cake. What do you mean, what’s in it?” It’s really important. Then I was also really thrilled to see how clean your desserts are. They’re basically the same ingredients I use when I bake, pretty much.
(Doron) Yeah. That’s it exactly. That is our entire method that we want to send by putting out all of our ingredients out there as well as having the book available for folks as well so you can see what we’re using. We’re not talking about a lot of intricate, detailed ingredients. We’re talking about flour, and sugar, and different fat sources to develop the texture and the flavor and also your frostings and fresh fruits and chocolate. It’s real food.
(Caryn) OK. Now, you are the winner of the Cupcake Wars.
(Doron) True.
(Caryn) Can you tell us a little bit about how that all started? It’s just such a great story and I’m so glad you’re the winner.
(Doron) Yeah, I’m tooting my own horn over here. We actually won twice. We went on once and won up against one other vegan and two other traditional-style bakers. We went back a second time and didn’t do so well. We went back a third time and won against three traditional bakers who were also previous winners. So we’re the first vegans to win the All Stars of the Cupcake Wars. We’re very proud of that. Any chance I get I do have to tout our horn because it’s just such a fun thing to be able to talk to people about. It’s the Food Network too. It’s super fun.
(Caryn) Are they going to do something good with you at the Food Network? We’re all clamoring. Who’s going to get the first vegan food show on the Food Network?
(Doron) I have no idea. Unless Rachel Ray or Guy Fieri doesn’t go vegan anytime soon I think they’re going to have a tough run. But I’m open to any ideas or suggestions anyone has.
(Caryn) Now, are you expanding the bakery? Is it going to go franchise or chain? Are you going to stay small? What’s your plan?
(Doron) Well, right now we’re focusing on our wholesale. We have partnered with a facility who has been doing wholesale for years and years and years. We are now producing our Sticky Fingers products for the mid-Atlantic region, for Whole Foods, and for other national food stores. We’re really working on growing that right now. We have cakes and cupcakes and brownies and cookies. That’s really been a fun way to reach all of our fans and new fans and customers. As far as expanding the actual individual shop, I’m open to just about anything as far as what the future holds for Sticky Fingers. I haven’t signed a lease on a new place yet but it definitely is a lot of work to keep a business up and running. We have 26 employees here on any given day and a lot of product to move in and out of the bakery and a lot of people to keep happy. So, there’s nothing set in stone.
(Caryn) Wow. OK. I liked reading about the Korean company that came along and wanted to model your store.
(Doron) Yeah, that was really fun! That happened in 2005 as a result of a friend of ours being on kind of a 60 Minutes-style Korean TV show, documentary show. She came into our store while the crew was filming her and somebody saw the show (online) and thought that it would be an interesting addition to Korean food cuisine. And it was doing really well! Last time I checked. We went there and opened it and they have kind of free will to expand as they see fit for their environment.
(Caryn) Sure. I wish it had been there when I spent some time in Korea. I was there a lot doing some engineering work back in 1999 and 2000. I know that the country has changed so much in the last ten years. I read about all kinds of things and a lot of it is really great. But there were a few vegan restaurants. One of them I salivate to go back to but I wish the bakery had been there.
(Doron) Oh, wow. We had such a great time while we were there. It opened up just a whole new world of eating to us, definitely since we were blessed by having people there who could navigate the menus for us and make sure we were not eating any animals by mistake. We had such a great time with the tofu houses and the porridge and the Buddhist temples where we could go and get six-course meals of pure vegan goodness. Oh my gosh.
(Caryn) There was one restaurant where I went to, and I probably went there like three or four times a week, where they would put out 25 different dishes and it cost like nothing. And I’m like a plate-cleaner so I would work at one thing at a time and clean it up and then work on the next one. And I didn’t realize there were a few dishes that they kept replenishing…
(Doron) It could get you in trouble.
(Caryn) But it was all really good.
(Doron) The next thing you know you have like 45 servings of bean sprouts and sesame seeds.
(Caryn) Kimchee. So, you’re definitely one of the queens of vegan desserts here.
(Doron) I love that term and if that’s what you’re going to deem me, I accept.
(Caryn) Let’s back up a bit and get some history from you. How did this all…how it all began.
(Doron) Sure. Right around 1995 I became vegetarian after working with a veterinarian. I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian and I got to witness a surgery and saw the inside of a dog and noticed how it looked a lot like chicken. The musculature was a little bit too familiar to what I had been eating the night before. That’s changed the way that I look at what I eat and the animals and it’s been all a vegan journey since then. I went vegan after that and became really interested in the nutrition aspect and the health aspect of eating vegan and making sure that a vegan diet was done healthfully. Frankly, so many people always try and scare you about the B12 and the protein. I wanted to make sure I was not going to be one of those people so I fell in love with the nutrition aspect. I ended up going to school at the University of Maryland, which is where I took some food science classes, and lo and behold found out about the whole science behind baking and the fascinating aspects of building recipes based on the science rather than simply what each ingredient can do. So that’s where I started to look outside of traditional baking and think we could do this. And I’m really hungry for some real food.
(Caryn) Well, I think having good vegan treats is what really opens the door for so many people because they think “I can’t do this because I’m going to be deprived and I’m not going to be able to have all of those favorite comforting things.” We know that’s not true.
(Doron) Absolutely. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to make sure that you can become vegan without missing out on any of the things you remember like cookies and cupcakes and cakes and loads and loads of sweet stuff.
(Caryn) Now, unfortunately, people are having more and more food sensitivities. I’m not really sure where all of this is coming from: if it’s because the quality of the food is changing or maybe something’s happened over the hundreds of years of natural selection, who knows, that’s tripping with our DNA. I don’t know. But more and more people have wheat sensitivities and allergies and Celiac disease. It’s scary. There are soy issues and certain people have their own peculiar allergies, some I’ve never even heard of. Where does that fit in to your bakery scenario? Do you have some recipes that are accommodating to sensitive eaters?
(Doron) Yeah, absolutely we do. We have gluten-free, wheat-free items available. We have some soy-free available, though the Earth Balance products that we use at the store do have soy in them but the individual-size items you can definitely get soy-free so when you’re baking stuff at home you can easily convert to soy-free options.
(Caryn) It’s all in the chemistry. I’m a believer that there’s a lot of great gluten-free treats that can be made once you figure out the chemistry.
(Doron) Yeah, we play it very safe here and we make sure that the items that we have available gluten-free are very easy to do. So, our chocolate cupcakes with our chocolate frosting and chocolate chips. And of course we’re exploring every day. But still dairy and eggs tend to be the higher and more dangerous of the allergies that are out there and seen more prevalently in younger kids especially.
(Caryn) Now, you definitely had some great success with your bakery and the Cupcake Wars and your book that’s coming out. How’s your family responded to your lifestyle?
(Doron) Like my husband and my baby? We just adopted our first son in September so that was right around when all of this stuff was developing and while we were working on Cupcake Wars and finishing up the book. So it’s been an absolute crazy time. My husband is such a sweetheart; he’s just a great dad and a great support system and really having fun watching all of our hard work blossom. He’s just been amazing jumping in and taking over where I can’t.
(Caryn) How old’s your son?
(Doron) He’s five months old.
(Caryn) Right now what is he eating?
(Doron) Well, let’s see. Last night he had peas, pureed peas, for dinner. And we had some zucchini. We had some organic Earth’s Best soy formula. We ate a frozen washcloth for our teeth and he may have found a couple of dog toys on the floor too.
(Caryn) That’s great. Well, it should really be an interesting journey. Feeding children is interesting. Definitely fun. These early years are so critical and so many people don’t realize what an important thing it is to get your child trained on good foods and develop their taste buds for good foods early on.
(Doron) Absolutely. We’re a big believer in “feed real food” so we follow the rules as far as making sure that there are no allergy sensitivities and starting out the types of foods that we feel…he’s already started eating lentil soup and baked tofu and black beans. He really enjoys onions—not traditional for a little baby but it’s important to get all of those spices in there in the palette.
(Caryn) There’s a bunch of different people out today with vegan cookbooks. There are so many of them. I’m overwhelmed with how many are coming out, which is really inspiring, which means that the market is growing and that’s good. There’s a number of different vegan bakers out there. Do you connect at all with some of the other ones? It’s like this great little community happening.
(Doron) Yeah. I think it’s exactly that; it’s a community. I think the more we work together and support each other to continue creating wonderful desserts it’s just going to be a better food world and vegan cuisine. Absolutely. When I say work together, there are definitely people that I’m in contact with that I work with regularly looking at their recipes, building off of their items. Also just people that are food blogging about the stuff that they’re making in their kitchen, that’s really an inspiration for us and gives us ideas every day.
(Caryn) Well, the pictures for your treats are really, really lovely. It looks like you’ve put a little art into what you’re making. You don’t just make them taste good and I like that.
(Doron) Yeah, we had a lot of fun with the photos. Melissa Nyman is an amazing photographer and then Jenny Webb and I, Jenny who was on Cupcake Wars and I, did all the photo styling right here in the shop. It was fun.
(Caryn) OK. What else do I want to talk about before I let you go? Do you have any favorites?
(Doron) My absolute favorite cake and cupcake is our almond cream. I’m sorry, our coconut cream and then second is our almond cream. I’m looking at them in the case right now and they’re side by side and I think I want to combine them and eat one. The coconut cake is my absolute favorite. The almond cream is a very close second. But really, I like everything.
(Caryn) Of course, yes. And I’m sure that the cravings change from time to time or sometime you want…I’m looking at a coffee cake here, or chocolate…
(Doron) One of our bakers, Ramon, is in the kitchen right now working on some cherry-inspired items for the Cherry Blossom Festival coming up soon so that’s going to be a fun time and some fun desserts.
(Caryn) And you are in Maryland?
(Doron) We are in Washington, DC. 1370 Park Rd, Washington, DC. Colombia Heights. We’re about, oh, 3 miles from the Capitol.
(Caryn) Right. That’s a pretty hip place. I could see why you’re doing well there. That’s a good, growing vegan community there.
(Doron) It’s fun. Yeah, we call it the vegan bubble. Everywhere you go there’s something vegan and there’s someone vegan.
(Caryn) Your name, Doron(e), is that how it’s pronounced?
(Doron) That’s one of the ways.
(Caryn) How do you say it?
(Doron) I say Doron.
(Caryn) Doron. OK, well, I know—I’m not sure where the origin is of your name is—but I know other people that are named Doron(e) and it means gift.
(Doron) Yes, that is what we found is the derivative. However, my mother swears that it is a Greek derivative though I’ve only seen it as a Hebrew derivative. I’ll take what I can get as long as it’s a good name. I like it.
(Caryn) Well, I like it and I think you definitely are a gift.
(Doron) Oh my goodness, thank you.
(Caryn) That’s what I was leading up to anyway. I mean, anybody that’s giving the world these great…and we love cupcakes!
(Doron) Oh, you’re so sweet. Thank you so much for building this platform for us. This is a wonderful way to offer our information to tons of other people that really care about their bodies and their food.
(Caryn) Right. And I just can’t say it enough—this is all I talk about day in and day out—but you can have your cake and you can eat it too. It doesn’t have to harm anybody. There’s no reason to use milk from tortured cows. There’s no reason to use eggs from battered hens. It’s just not necessary and you’re proving it day in and day out.
(Doron) Yes, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. We’ve been here for ten years and we’ve been doing it successfully every day and come and try it!
(Caryn) That’s why you’re not just a gift to humans but you’re a gift to the animals too. OK, so it’s Doron. I’m going to say that right now. Doron, thank you so much for spending some time with me on It’s All About Food.
(Doron) Well, thank you so much.
(Caryn) And I hope to get to Washington, DC and definitely load up on some of your treats. But if I can’t get there I can get them online, right?
(Doron) You can get them online. We’ll happily send you your cupcakes or your cookies or your brownies.
(Caryn) Look at that; problem solved. And the Web site is…
(Caryn) Thank you. I wish you a lot of luck with your new cookbook.
(Doron) Thank you so much. Have a great week.
(Caryn) And I hope the Food Network grabs you soon.
(Doron) Oh, me too.
(Caryn) OK, thank you so much.
(Doron) Bye-bye.
(Caryn) Bye-bye. That was Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweet Bakery and she has this gorgeous new cookbook out—Sticky Fingers Sweets: 100 Super Secret Vegan Recipes. But they’re not secret; because they’re all in this book.

I just want to highlight a little bit here about what I was just talking about. There’s 60 billion or so, give or take a few, land animals that are grown every year, mostly in factory farms, in confined, filthy, horrific conditions. Many of them are chickens: chickens either for laying eggs or chickens for meat and we know more and more that this isn’t necessary. We don’t need these animals for any nutrients. We can get all of our nutrition from whole plant foods—all of them. We don’t need the cholesterol that these animal foods give us. We don’t need the saturated fats. We don’t need the acidic animal protein. We don’t need animals for our food. When it comes to heavenly baked treats, we don’t need milk. There are so many different non-dairy milk options out today; they’re everywhere. I see them in all the stores, not even just health food stores anymore. There’s soy milk of every flavor: unsweetened, sweetened, vanilla, chocolate, eggnog. And then you have rice milk, and hemp milk, and oat milk. You can make it yourself or you can buy it in the store. There’s no need to consume the bodily fluids of another animal. No other mammal consumes its own milk as an adult. Just think about that. The only mammals that consume milk as adults are the domesticated ones where we pour some milk in a bowl for them to eat. It’s not natural. We know that there are so many health effects that are not good for us that are linked to dairy consumption. Eggs, the eggs that are grown in factory farms with hens that barely see the light of day. The light of day, excuse me. They are debeaked and crammed in these cages with no room to move. They’re fed all kinds of garbage—literally. They live in their own garbage. And they lay eggs. Those eggs are laced with…what? E-coli. Salmonella. Who needs that? We don’t need eggs. There are so many wonderful, nutritious plant foods that can give the properties that we want from eggs. If you want a binder in a baked good, there are different choices. There are a number of starches out there: corn starch, arrowroot, potato starch, tapioca starch. You can buy Ener-G egg replacer, which is a combination of starches that works really nicely. I love using ground flax seeds. You can use the golden version, ground-up. You usually don’t see them in the baked goods, like a light flour cookie or a bread. Or you can use the brown flax seeds, and they’re nice too, but they’ll give you a little brown fleck in your baked product. Apple sauce works well. Bananas work. It depends on what you want to achieve. Then you can make all kinds of egg products, like “scrambled eggs” with tofu. It’s endless. We do not need to exploit and torture at all. And there we go. You’ve been listening to me, Caryn Hartglass, and I invite you to visit Lots of great recipes up there. That’s all for this week. Thank you for joining me. Have a really delicious one. And have a cupcake! A vegan one. Why not? Have a great week.

Transcribed by Jennie Steinhagen 01/18/2013

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