Interviews with Laurie Sadowski and Betsy DiJulio

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Part 1 – Laurie Sadowski, Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread
Laurie Sadowski is a certified personal trainer and nutrition and wellness specialist, food writer, and musicologist. She spends her time spreading awareness about balanced living, cooking, and baking, and continuing her research in modern music and art.
 
 
Part 2 – Betsy DiJulio, The Blooming Platter Cookbook
The author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, Betsy is an artist, journalist, teacher, and innovator in vegan cooking. Her concept of seasonality can be of audience interest for winter cooking, excellent for spring (and summer and fall, too)—topical four times a year as the recipes in her book take the guess work out of using the freshest seasonal produce in her creative and delicious recipes.

TRANSCRIPTION PART I:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Hello, good day; it’s November 30th. It’s the last day of the World Vegan Month. I can’t believe it’s going to be over, but that doesn’t mean that after November we can’t continue on the path to celebrate plant foods. And why we love them so much. Not only are they delicious, but they’re gentler on the planet then the production of animals for food, and they’re also a lot nicer all around. Now, I talk about a lot of things on this show – of course, it’s always related to food, my favorite subject – we talk about the destruction of the environment, we talk about the horribly cruel animal agriculture…But for the next three weeks, it’s party time here, it’s celebration, and we’re only talking about healthy, delicious foods. Because it’s time for the holidays, I want to give you lots of options and lots of ideas. There’s something for everyone. So we’re going to start with a topic that’s becoming more and more prevalent. It has to do with allergies. So we’re going to talk with Laurie Sadowski; she has a new book out called The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread. She’s a certified personal trainer and nutrition wellness specialist, food writer, and musicologist. She spends her time spreading awareness about balanced living, cooking, and baking, and continuing her research in modern music and art. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Laurie.
Laurie Sadowski: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Well thank you, and thanks for all the creative work that you’ve been doing! So I know you’re a bit of an artist, because you’re involved in modern music and art, but food is also an art…
Laurie Sadowski: Yes, I definitely agree with that. I’m very creative when it comes to it.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a good thing, because people appreciate delicious beautiful food; there’s no question about it. Sometimes, we have to get really creative, especially when we’re starting to eliminate things.
Laurie Sadowski: That’s exactly what I was thinking. When you’re diagnosed with Celiac or any food allergy, and then you add being a vegan or a vegetarian to the mix, you really have to think outside the box to eat what you want.
Caryn Hartglass: But the good news is, you can do it.
Laurie Sadowski: Yes, that’s very true.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been doing a lot of gluten-free baking and vegan baking, and I’m having a great time with it. I don’t necessarily have to do it, but I’m really enjoying and discovering – I’ve said this before, but when I eliminate foods, I find that all of a sudden, the door opens. I have more variety than ever.
Laurie Sadowski: That’s definitely something very true, and I write that in my book. Often, when we don’t have restrictions, we think, what do we use – butter, eggs? – and everyone asks me all the time, “Please, how do you bake without eggs,” or “How do you bake without butter or flour? But there’s actually about 23 gluten-free flours that are common, that’s not even the ones that aren’t, and then there’s so many options to switch out the eggs or the milk or the butter and stuff like that.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s back up a little bit. Can you share a little history about how you discovered you have Celiac disease?
Laurie Sadowski: Okay, sure. Like most people, I didn’t ever feel quite well.. I had a lot of gastrointestinal problems growing up. Things just didn’t seem right, but to me, I thought it was normal. I thought it was just how you were supposed to feel. When I went away to university, I just started feeling sicker and sicker, and I suddenly started loosing rapid amounts of weight. I lost 60 pounds in just a few months; I was getting a lot of neurological problems. I didn’t know whether to chalk it up to university – maybe just not taking care of myself as much as when I was younger – but then it just started getting frightening, as I was loosing the weight, and having up to 20 bowel movements a day. I ended up being diagnosed with Celiac.
Caryn Hartglass: You know, it’s important to talk about it for a lot of different reasons, but not everyone experiences the same symptoms, so it’s a little more challenging for the doctor to know, or for you to know, what you have.
Laurie Sadowski: It’s definitely difficult.
Caryn Hartglass: And it affects different people differently – where all of a sudden, people are devastated with this problem, and for some others, it gets progressively worse over time. Some people are diagnosed as a child, but other people can be perfectly fine, and then as an adult all these problems start happening. It’s really important to talk about it. What surprises me, mostly because the symptoms vary, is doctors are still misdiagnosing it and are not testing people right away for Celiac disease.
Laurie Sadowski: It’s become so much more common. We hear about it a lot more, and we see more products on the shelves. But doctors are still saying things about how it’s all in your head or how it’s just stress, it’s IBS – and that’s the blanket term for “we don’t know what’s wrong with you, so let’s just see if it goes away.” And it’s too bad, because people don’t feel well. It could, for some people, be stress, because stress can affect your gastrointestinal systems. However, for people who are going through debilitating symptoms, it’s probably not stress.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know, I’m not a medical doctor, but I would imagine it’s pretty challenging today with our crazy health care programs and insurance, and it’s probably pretty stressful there. I’m thinking that kids in public school should be tested every year for Celiac disease, just to know. There were three articles in the New York Times recently about Celiac disease, and one just came out like five days ago. It just – number one, I’m surprised that doctors don’t catch it right away. But some people tend to be a little glib about it. Micheal Pollan recently wrote an article in the New York Times, and he said he was dubious about all these gluten allergies – but there’s nothing dubious about it; it’s a serious disease, and a lot of people have it.
Laurie Sadowski: I think the issues is that a lot of people, like celebrities, go “gluten-free” and they talk about it like a diet. It’s almost difficult for Celiacs to hear. We need to be taken seriously when we go to places. I don’t eat at restaurants, honestly, I’m scared to. I was very sick at some point, but some people do eat at restaurants liberally, and they might say, “I’m Celiac and one crouton in my salad might make me very sick; cross-contamination is a big deal,” but then there’s a stigma going around that it’s a diet and a fad. I think that him being dubious shouldn’t be the amount of diagnoses there are, but instead, the amount of people who say they need to eat gluten-free, or want to. And maybe they do feel better and that’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with eliminating it from your diet if you don’t feel well when you eat it, but being laid-back about it can cause a concern, just like with any food allergy.
Caryn Hartglass: One thing that I recently read that I was surprised about, because I didn’t know – even a healthy intestine doesn’t completely break gluten down. So those of us who don’t have Celiac, or any other kind of wheat intolerance, still can’t break it down. And I think there’s a clue there that there are shades of gray. Putting Celiac aside, I think a lot of people have issues, because we don’t digest gluten.
Laurie Sadowski: There was an article written last year in a medical journal, and they discovered that there is such thing as gluten intolerance. It doesn’t have the same response in the body as Celiac does, but it did show that there’s actual intolerance to gluten that people have that isn’t Celiac. I think that’s a huge red flag, because I’m also not a doctor, but there’s also proofs that a gluten and casein-free diet may help children with autism – and that may work for half the kids, and it may not work for the other half, but for the half that does work, it’s significant.
Caryn Hartglass: I know, why not?
Laurie Sadowski: I mean, there’s nothing to loose, other than the possibility of not eating gluten again, which doesn’t have to be that big of a deal.
Caryn Hartglass: So people talk about how difficult eating can be – one, if you’re a vegan, two, if you’re gluten free – but personally, as a vegan, I don’t find it difficult at all. I started on this path decades ago, and it’s so easy now because the word is in our vocabulary, they talk about it on TV shows, they make fun of us, they embrace us – there’s all these great products out. Celiac, too, there are issues in restaurants, because it’s hard to trust. But there are certainly more products and more knowledge coming out about it.
Laurie Sadowski: Certainly for me, in five years or six years, I can’t even believe – there was nothing on the shelf when I was diagnosed. And I’m in Canada, so things are a lot slower here. And  I can’t believe that there’s sections and aisles dedicated to gluten-free. It blows my mind.
Caryn Hartglass: So let’s talk about the fun part. There’s a lot of great things that you can make that don’t require wheat. That’s where the challenge is, obviously. Do you have any favorite flours you like to work with?
Laurie Sadowski: Yeah, definitely! I love Sorghum flour; I use it as a sort of base flour and then build, using other flours on top of that. Sorghum flour is pretty high in protein, it’s pretty high in fiber, and it’s more of a whole grain. If I could eat wheat, I would never use regular, white all-purpose flour; it lacks all the nutrition. When I bake gluten-free, I don’t want to use something like white rice flour that lacks nutrition, so I was trying to seek something that still delivers a nice flavor without tasting whole grain or hearty, but that gives you that nutrition too. It’s the perfect balance; I love Sorghum flour.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you make it all with Sorghum in it, or do you add other things to it?
Laurie Sadowski: Depending on the recipe, I add other flours. Gluten-free baking works best with a mix of flours, and sometimes starches. So, in addition to Sorghum, I sort of mix a match of other ones – I like quinoa flour, because it’s very high in protein and it binds things together very well because of its protein content. It’s also very good for you. We hear it all the time now, how nutritious quinoa is. Teff is another one, an ancient Ethiopian grain that is also very high in protein and delivers a very earthy flavor, so it’s nice for loaves of bread and anything you want to give that sort of comforting, earthy, hearty taste. Rustic. That’s the word I’m looking for. I like millet flour for anything like cupcakes or cinnamon rolls that are really a little bit lighter, where you want that tenderness to it; millet flour is really nice for that. And those are whole grain, which is why I like to use them.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. The Teff flour I’ve had in Ethiopian cooking. They make a pancake or something –
Laurie Sadowski: Injera.
Caryn Hartglass: They don’t use forks or knives, and they use this pancake to scoop up everything. It has a nice, foamy texture and a great flavor.
Laurie Sadowski: It’s fermented for a few days. Obviously, our tough grain we get here isn’t what they have in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, a lot of restaurant who use it mix it with wheat flour on the side, so it’s not gluten-free.
Caryn Hartglass: A lot of times when you have specific food needs and you have family and friends who care about you, they want to prepare something that meets your needs. As a vegan, it’s okay – sometimes they say, “I put a little butter in it” and they don’t realize that even a little is not acceptable. But when it comes to being completely gluten-free, how do you handle that? If you’re going to an event, do people ask if they can make you something? Or do you just bring your own food?
Laurie Sadowski: I usually just bring my own, because it’s easier. It’s easier for me, it’s easier for them. Everyone always asks, and I’m appreciative, but really, I don’t mind packing a dinner. Then they don’t have to fret I don’t have to worry – I guess I’ve never been in a situation where it was a huge concern. Even for a wedding, I once packed a dinner, and it wasn’t a big deal. When I eat with my parents, I usually just make us dinner. If it’s an event like Christmas or something like that, I just bring some stuff. Or we talk about it before and we see what can be done – but usually, I just bring it to make things easier.
Caryn Hartglass: There are more places that are gluten-free or have certifications, especially by people who have Celiac disease, so you can have a little more trust in what’s going on. I don’t know about Canada, but I know in New York we have places.
Laurie Sadowski: I mean, New York would be a dream. I’m sure that if I went to New York, I would eat my way through it. I”m not too far out of Toronto, and Toronto is quite successful for me, and even though I’m quite the distance from Ottawa, Ottawa is quite good too. I live in a smaller area, but I also live quite close to the border, so if I do need groceries or anything, I can always hop over and see how much more you guys have. But there is definitely things here that are easy to get. And some vegan restaurant, especially raw vegan restaurant, are usually gluten-free, so I’m confident with eating at those. There are a handful of others too.
Caryn Hartglass: I didn’t think about that, but there is the advantage of crossover vegan diets where the raw wouldn’t have wheat. What about traveling? You have a website, which is your name, lauriesadowski.wordpress.com
Laurie Sadowski: And lauriesadowski.com just goes right there.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. And you have some tips about traveling through Walt Disney World. How is it traveling?
Laurie Sadowski: You know, I don’t travel too much, and usually if I do, it’s been in my car, so I’ll pack a cooler and know which grocery stores are good. I stay in a hotel and try to get one with a kitchen or minimally a refrigerator. Disney was literally, I mean, amazing. Anyone who wants to eat well, just go to Disney. You’ll eat better than you ever have there. Their food allergy protocol is intense. I’ve never had a problem, just because I’ve always organized it beforehand. I’ve never done anything where I’ve traveled to Europe or anything, since I’ve been diagnosed where I would have to release through a lot of details, as opposed to somewhere drivable, or where I can just access a grocery store easily. But beforehand, I always scope out restaurants in the area – “gluten-free Cleveland” or “vegan Cleveland” and then I mix and match, I make a lot of phone calls. It just require a lot of planning.
Caryn Hartglass: You do have to do some planning, but I want to say, fortunately, because it is becoming so popular, they’re certainly everywhere. There’s more and more places that will be gluten-free friendly.
Laurie Sadowski: Usually they know what it means. If you said it six years ago, they wouldn’t. I guess the difficulty is the combination of gluten-free and vegan…
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about that. That seems to be extra-challenging for some. They tend to say we’re vegan, but kind of allow some eggs and dairy into their lives just because it’s so challenging.
Laurie Sadowski: I definitely think that, just like with anything, you have to plan a little. And I think you have to like to cook. You can get away with some things off the shelves, but for the most part, they’re not super nutritious. I mean, you can eat some of the proteins, because you can’t eat anything with gluten in it. You would definitely need to experiment with it. But as long as you were eating a wide variety of foods – if you think, “What can I eat? – rice, peanut butter, apple juice?” – that’s not going to be nutritious for you. That’s not going to be nutritious for everyone. But if you think of all the different grains – quinoa and teff and millet and buckwheat, as well as rice and wild rice, and then you can maybe back a little, to be able to have some sandwiches and treats when you want them…and then you can focus on other things, like legumes and nuts and seeds and things that you should be eating as a vegan, so you’re getting all your amino acids and all your healthy fats so you can easily round it out. But it does require a bit of thinking outside the box, and being open to new flavors and new tastes. Chances are, you’ll probably try something that you haven’t had before.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I’m not going to say that it would be a good thing if everyone had Celiac disease, but t there are positive things to it. I’m always telling people to get back into the kitchen, and sometimes it takes something very serious to get people back into the kitchen. Many people have different debilitating diseases, chronic diseases, and they find that they can’t eat properly in restaurants or with prepared food – but then they learn how to cook, they learn what they need to do, and it all requires getting back into the kitchen and learning about whole foods. It really is simple, once you get to it. I think that anything that gets people back into the kitchen is a good thing.
Laurie Sadowski: And I totally agree. I didn’t really cook much before I was diagnosed because I was in my 20s and a university student and I made a lot of canned soups, and just basic sandwiches. I baked chocolate chip cookies; that was pretty much all I baked. And I realized that if I’m going to do this, I have to start learning how to cook, because I don’t ever want to miss out on one food that I liked before. Certain things are a little more frustrating than others, because things that are vegan that would be convenient aren’t gluten-free, and vice verse. But in general, I don’t really miss anything, I just have to try to recreate it instead.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m looking on your website and there’s a recipe index. Is this all the recipes that are in your book?
Laurie Sadowski: There’s recipe index on the website that’s just like my blog recipe index, but then there’s an area on my website called the Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, so if you click on that, there’s a table of contents, and you can see all the different recipes that are in the first book. This is the first in a series; the next is called Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies. So this one is all the breads and the muffins, cinnamon rolls, pizza, pizza crusts, stuff like that. And that’s all under the Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread area of the book.
Caryn Hartglass: This is serious, because there’s so many things that need to be in each book, you needed to make more than one book.
Laurie Sadowski: My plan was having a huge book with everything, but then I thought, let’s get the breads down pat here. Let’s get the things that people miss most. If you get diagnosed with Celiac, most breads at the supermarket are either not very tasty or are void of any nutrition – lots of white rice flour or potato starch – or they’re not vegan. The few that are good have eggs in them, and even there’s a bakery, a gluten-free bakery in Toronto, so I called and asked if their bread had eggs, because I would be int Toronto for the day and thought I could get a sandwich. I asked if they were vegan and he said, “Oh, come on. They can’t be made without eggs.” I was just like wait a second – but I just said okay, thank you, and I hung up. But they can!
Caryn Hartglass: They can, and I make some here myself. Once you know how to do it, it’s not complicated. Do you have any plan on having a vegan-gluten-free bakery?
Laurie Sadowski: I’ve definitely thought about it a lot. I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I really enjoy making the recipes and I wouldn’t even mind if I was in bakery part-time, but I think if I did it all the time, I don’t know if I would have the time to experiment and build new ideas, because I would always be supplying my bakery. I’m not sure that I would want it as a full-time thing, because I enjoy it so much right now. I just really like how it’s panning out.
Caryn Hartglass: You know, it’s hard word having a restaurant or having a food business, so you have to really, really want to do it. But there’s no question that the need is out there.
Laurie Sadowski: Mhm, definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: I think that breads are probably the hardest. So the next book you’re coming out with is cookies and cakes. That’s a little easier, isn’t it?
Laurie Sadowski: I thought it would be. But then when I realized that I wanted – obviously, I come up with the vast majority of recipes with myself; I just experiment and come up with new tastes and ideas – but there’s certain staples you need in your repertoire, like a chocolate cake and a yellow cake and stuff like that. To perfect some of those, both vegan and gluten-free and whole grain and no refined sugars was so important to me that I would never settle if it was just good, or even if it was great. I wanted it to taste excellent. A lot of people around me were inundated with “How good is it? Do you like it? Do you think it tastes regular? Do you think it tastes normal?” Because I want to make sure that it was what we remembered and it wasn’t just something that seemed like a bit of a knockoff.
Caryn Hartglass: When you say no refined sugars, what are you using?
Laurie Sadowski: I use, well, it depends on the recipe, but I primarily used unrefined cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, something like that?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Laurie Sadowski: But I also use agave nectar and maple syrup, I love maple syrup. So I’d say those are the primary ones that I use. And molasses. So just are a mix and match of those The only other one that I use which is sometimes refined is icing sugar, which is confectioner’s sugar, but we call it icing sugar here, which I just use for decoration. So the rest of the stuff is all unrefined, and even though calorie for calorie, it’s all pretty much the same as regular sugar, and sugar is sugar is sugar, at least you’re getting some of the nutrients.
Caryn Hartglass: Sure. Well, I think it’s ambitious, and I know it can be done, and I look forward to seeing that book as well. So Laurie, thank you for everything you’ve done, for this book and the great recipes – I know that many, many people are going to benefit from this work.
Laurie Sadowski: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: And I look forward to the next one. Your website, again, is lauriesadowski.com, the book is Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread – and there we go. Thank you so much for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Laurie Sadowski: Thank you so much for having me! I appreciate it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, have a great day!
Laurie Sadowski: Have a great day.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, we’re going to take a very short break, and then we will be right back to talk more about delicious food! I’m Caryn Hartglass; stay with us.

Transcribed by Sarah Brown 7/15/2013

TRANSCRIPTION PART II:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Because it is; it’s all about food. I bet everything that you think of, I could find a connection to food. And I love talking about it. Okay, so as I mentioned earlier in the show, for the next three weeks we’re going to be talking not only about food, my favorite subject, but about delicious variations on a theme. All kinds of great recipes for any time of the year, but especially for the holiday season people like to start talking about recipes and things so the next one we’re going to be talking about is The Blooming Platter Cookbook, with author Betsy DiJulio. Betsy, welcome to It’s All About Food.
Betsy DiJulio: Thanks so much Caryn. It’s an honor!
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. Did I pronounce your name correctly?
Betsy DiJulio: It’s actually, it looks exactly like you said it but it’s actually pronounced DiJulio.
Caryn Hartglass: DiJulio! Okay! Well.. noted.
Betsy DiJulio: Well, my husband is Italian on both sides and my father in law changed the spelling; so you pronounced it exactly like it looks.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, was it originally a ‘G’ maybe?
Betsy DiJulio: It was!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Betsy Dijulio: It was! And everybody pronounced it with a hard ‘G’ sound and so he just thought it was easier to change the spelling.
Caryn Hartglass: And look at that. Here we are in this very Spanish oriented speaking country.
Betsy DiJulio: Exactly!
Caryn Hartglass: So much for that. You may have to make it like, D-I-G-U-I-L-I-O. That’s how I would spell it.
Betsy DiJulio: Yeah. I’m a teacher so I answer to anything and some of my students call me DiJulio so it’s all good.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, how about just ‘Betsy’?
Betsy DiJulio: Yep! That’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Well, let’s see. Did I read about you here the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook, a harvest of seasonal vegan recipes. You’re an artist, journalist, teacher, an innovator in vegan cooking and, according to this little bio that I am reading, your concept of seasonality can be of audience interest for winter cooking, excellent for spring and summer and fall too. Topical four times a year as the recipes in your book take the guesswork out of using the freshest seasonal produce.
Betsy DiJulio: I don’t know, Caryn. It sounds like you’re talking about somebody else.
Caryn Hartglass: Well no, it’s good!
Betsy DiJulio: Yup! That’s it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so you’ve got this lovely book out and great title because vegan food is beautiful and full of color.
Betsy DiJulio: Isn’t it? Or it should be. Right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It should be. You know so many of the foods people eat today are white, tan, bland, grey, brown, loaded with salt, sugar and fat.
Betsy DiJulio: You’re absolutely right. I think as an art teacher, we all eat with our eyes, I guess that’s sort of a cliché at this point, but as an art teacher I may be even more attuned to color and that type of thing. And I’ve tried some new things this season just based on how attractive they were to look at like I had no idea you could actually cook and eat a Turk’s turban squash and I had driven past our local farmer’s market and they just had a sea of these pumpkins that were oranges and greens and striped and polka dotted, so I slipped in and one of the people that works there said that an older customer had been in and was telling him how you could roast these Turk’s turbans and of course you can so a whole new world is opened up to me I think just based on color like you said, it’s so enticing.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, I know I have, I’ve been doing this vegan thing for decades and I’m not quiet about it and in the corporate world when I would go to meetings where food was served, I was always making sure that there was something for me to eat and sometimes that meant talking to people in advance.
Betsy DiJulio: Sure.
Caryn Hartglass: Which is helpful, but then I would be served my plate and all the attention was on me because everything I got, it was the simplest, often, because people didn’t know what to do but they would serve me beautiful colors, fresh fruits, and everybody was like, ‘Oh! How did you get that?’
Betsy DiJulio: Right! And probably far more than you could ever eat in one sitting. I know when I get the classic vegetable platter, out like you’re talking about, it’s enough to feed five people. I think they think because the poor child is not eating meat she couldn’t possibly be satisfied.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s true some of the time. Because you could go to a restaurant sometimes and order sides and they are tremendously small. Because they are sides and I don’t know.
Betsy DiJulio: Yeah, it’s more that buffet setting. I mean not buffet the basic setting.
Caryn Hartglass: And the other thing about it is often there’s a lot of raw food, crudités, and you need to chew that stuff. Easy does it, it’s hard to carry on a conversation with your business colleagues. But chewing is very important; all of our food, we need to chew and I like to just mention that from time to time because people forget.
Betsy DiJulio: Well, exactly for the health of our teeth and our digestive system. Absolutely, chew that food up.
Caryn Hartglass: But I’m just looking, just to start with the cover of your book, you have a platter of cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, basil and peppers and the simplest of foods and yet beautiful on the plate, beautiful.
Betsy DiJulio: I know it. I think that complimentary colors like that, something in the warm family and something in the cool family, so the oranges and the reds and the greens really pop when you serve them. There’s just no way they can’t. That was my publisher and the good folks at Vegan Heritage Press that styled that and I think it’s gorgeous.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it definitely pops. And I like the French tile in the background.
Betsy DiJulio: I can’t even. That’s a topic of a whole other radio program. That was also their decision. I didn’t like the original background and we worked and worked to come up with something and John Robertson came up with this white tile idea and I just love it. It looks so clean and still ‘kitcheny’, very modern. And I love food against a white back drop.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, there’s a wide variety of plates out there to choose from and yet I always go with white.
Betsy DiJulio: You know, Caryn, I do too and when I was shooting the photographs for the book we wanted plenty of color in the photographs but I found the best way to showcase the color of the food was always on white but I found that I would put colored liner plates underneath the white plate that was next to the food and that always looks fun and it’s fun to shop that way too just whipping into Pier One or somewhere like that and buying some single tins and bright colors. It’s fun to play with the appearance of the food.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, some of the things I am always talking about, reiterating, being redundant, repeating myself, etc. because I am trying to make a point and people need to hear it over and over to get it is the importance of organic locally grown fresh food.
Betsy DiJulio: Yeah. I totally agree.
Caryn Hartglass: And eating seasonally.
Betsy DiJulio: Yes. And I have to tell you that what my goal for myself is now is to only buy things like my vegan dairy products and paper products at the grocery store so like natural sugar, and baking things, things like that, but to buy everything else from this farmer’s market that’s open year around. We have a lot of them around here but I think you have to factor in how far you have to drive to get to them and how much fuel you are burning. I drive a Prius but you still have to factor that in. There’s one that’s very near us. It’s open year around and I try to just build my meals around whatever they’ve got that’s seasonal, local, etc. so I totally agree with you.
Caryn Hartglass: Well we’re lucky we live in a global society and we have access to everything. I live in New York City and I have access to more than everything. We need to really pay attention and not buy things just because they’re there.
Betsy DiJulio: Or just because you have a craving for them. Yeah, I completely agree.
Caryn Hartglass: I have been talking about tomatoes lately because I was horrified to find out that our winter tomatoes come from Florida and there are slaves that are literally used to grow these vegetables.
Betsy DiJulio: Can I ask you how you found that out, because I think that’s important for people to know too is how to do a little poking around and find out the provencance of their food.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, thanks for asking. Well, I have a new nonprofit called Responsible Eating And Living and if you go to responsibleeatingandliving.com the video that we are showing right now is with the author Barry Estabrook who wrote the book, Tomatoland and he did a lot of research about what’s going on in Florida with tomatoes. But I think every food has a story and how much can we do to investigate? Because when it comes to profiting from a product, there are always going to be people who are going to exploit and abuse. We learned about chocolate a while ago. About what was going on with child slaves in the Ivory Coast and so there are more chocolate friendly suppliers now. That’s why I say I think every food has a story. But the best thing that we can do is know our farmers, buy locally and fresh as much as possible.
Betsy DiJulio: I totally agree. When I made the switch from vegetarianism, which I had been for decades, to being vegan, which is more like five years, it was really based on what you’re talking about. It just had to do with not believing the hype about the happy cows delivering the dairy and that type of thing and just not having the time to do research into where cows were treated as pets and also milk. I just felt that it was more responsible to cut it out of my diet entirely and I have never looked back. It was a great choice for me.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s an interesting point. I remember reading something similar to that when Jonathan Safran Foer came out with his book, Eating Animals several years ago. He talked about, because he was trying to be understanding and compassionate to those who really want to eat animal foods. He was saying it is really easier to be vegan because if you want to eat ‘humanely’ and get your dairy and your meat from humane sources, and I always use that word with quotations marks around it. It’s impossible to eat one hundred percent humanely unless you are growing your own animals and your own food because there’s not a lot of it out there and you can’t find many restaurants that are doing it one hundred percent.
Betsy DiJulio: And like you said when there’s a profit motive there you can’t necessarily trust what you are told because you’re not told so much. Yeah, I completely agree. It is much easier; easier on the conscience that’s for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but then for those that are considering humane agriculture of animals for the environment, I think what people don’t realize is there’s not enough land mass on the planet for people to eat the quantities of meat and dairy they’re eating today unless we intensify and cram these animals into small spaces. We cannot physically do it and that means people need to eat less and preferably none.
Betsy DiJulio: Right! No I completely agree. I live with my husband who is not a vegan and it’s not a source of huge strife. He’s an adult but he buys his own meat and he prepares his own meat and we just eat completely separate meals. I do wish that he and others would do much more research in the work required to get their food from as you say, ‘humane’ sources.
Caryn Hartglass: Were you vegan before you got married?
Betsy DiJulio: I was not. No, so it is false advertising. If fact, I think I quit eating beef and pork when I was seventeen and it was a dietary decision and then it gradually became about animal rights. Then I gradually cut out chicken and I think it was probably about eighteen years ago that I stopped eating fish but we had gotten married twenty one years ago.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay well it’s challenging because food is so important, especially in social situations.
Yes, it is so personal, but it is so political and I was listening to one of your promotional pieces between your previous guests and me and it was the God Speed Institute I think. But anyway, just the idea that everything at its core is spiritual or ethical and food is so critical to all of this. The idea that you make decisions about it that were not ethically based is just sort of inconceivable to me.
Caryn Hartglass: Did I say It’s All About Food before?
Betsy DiJulio: I don’t remember!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it is all about food. Everything.
Betsy DiJulio: Yes, it is all about food, absolutely. I don’t want to sound moralistic or judgmental but for me that is what it boils down to but I don’t always mention that in all settings.
Caryn Hartglass: Anyway, you have a very lovely book.
Betsy DiJulio: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s about some very lovely recipes. I am just thumbing through it and I notice you use some instant tea in one of your dressings; a sweet tea dressing.
Betsy DiJulio: Yes! You just steep it.
Caryn Hartglass: I love tea in food.
Betsy DiJulio: I do too. You know now I probably wouldn’t have used the instant version. I probably would have done a steep tea. There’s a frosting for some pear cupcakes in the cookbook and it is a steep tea frosting. It is such a subtle and delicate and yet complex flavor. I just love it.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I don’t like to use oil very much and so I sauté a lot in water or in tea.
Betsy DiJulio: Oh, what a great idea!
Caryn Hartglass: There’s one tea, it’s very intense. It’s a combination of a lapsang and a Russian tea and it is very unpleasant to drink.
Betsy DiJulio: But is it good for sautéing?
Caryn Hartglass: It’s great for sautéing! It’s a really hefty, meaty, smoky flavor to it.
Betsy DiJulio: Oh, it sounds perfect! Yeah, that’s such a great idea. I don’t do that. I still use olive oil but I think I will experiment with that a bit.
Caryn Hartglas: Oh sure!
Betsy DiJulio: In fact every recipe in the cookbook starts with heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. I think just about every single one. There was something I was going to tell you since you have mentioned eating seasonally and locally and of course that’s what the whole book is about, another one of the brilliant strokes by my publisher was to identify the seasons with these icons that are in the corners of each page so when you’re flipping through the appetizer sections you can flip right away to what’s fall, spring, winter, summer by the icon.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I see!
Betsy DiJulio: I thought that was just great. We had talked about organizing it by the seasons but then people would have a hard time finding a soup or an appetizer or whatever so this worked out great.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, it really is a good idea because… How do I put this tactfully?
Betsy DiJulio: Oh, why be tactful?
Caryn Hartglass: People don’t want to read, people don’t want to take any time. They want it to be fast and visual and this is a winner.
Betsy DiJulio: It is fast and visual and I think the icons are really cute. In fact, I had a graphic designer friend design some book plates, that I will be happy to send to people who purchase the book, that I can sign and personalize and she used all the icons on the little book plates. They’re really cute.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the big things that people that talk about vegan diets and say that they can’t do it because they’re going to miss cheese and we have lots of different cheese alternatives. I am not a fan of the packaged ones in the store.
Betsy DiJulio: I’m so glad you said that. Me neither!
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t want to knock any of those brands and people.
Betsy DiJulio: No, of course not. I’m glad they offer what they do.
Caryn Hartglass: They’re not good!
Betsy DiJulio: No, I don’t like them texture wise, taste wise; none of the above.
Caryn Hartglass: Get back in the kitchen please folks! There are just so many great cheesy recipes and I am looking at your blue cheese sauce here. That’s good with my favorite, sesame tahini. Tahini on anything.
Betsy DiJulio: Isn’t it good?
Caryn Hartglass: It’s fabulous and it is filled with vitamin E and all kinds of great nutrition. But this is great. It’s got a little beer in it.
Betsy DiJulio: That was my sort of contribution to the world of vegan cheeses I think. I mean I have seen it before and maybe somebody else had done it but in the development process of the cookbook I was desperate to find some ingredient that would give it that deeper fermented taste; a little more aged maybe. I’m racking my brain and needing to test a recipe and remembered that my husband had some beer in the fridge. Now, not all beer is vegan but you can just Google vegan beer and there’s a wonderful article and my blog has something about it as well. But anyway, it has to do with what they process it with for clarifying. Anyway, the beer is a great addition to these cheeses made from nuts. I have one in the book that’s made from white bean, but there are others that are made from cashews. I have since been using macadamias when I want a whiter looking cheese spread. It’s so easy you just dilute them a little more with soy milk or your favorite vegan nondairy milk and or the beer and you can use it more as a sauce and drizzle it or you can break it up and dollop it. It is so flexible and I have so many non-vegan friends that love it. I haven’t had cheese in so long, I don’t know that I exactly remember what it tastes like but side by side comparison you would know the difference but I think what people need to understand about vegan food is that you’ve got to appreciate it for its own specific profile and flavor notes. It is what it is and I like it best when it is not trying to be something else.
Caryn Hartglass: It doesn’t have to taste the same. What people are looking for is fat and salt.
Betsy DiJulio: Right!
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s just one version. I’m thinking macadamia and some other nuts like pine nuts tend to be a little pricey but when you think about a lot of cheeses some are exceptionally expensive.
Betsy DiJulio: Some of the vegan ones too. I agree with you. I find myself just craving them and one of the ingredients I know that I crave besides the oil and the salt is nutritional yeast. I was thinking it’s the golden powder from the gods. I love it!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, and if you get your red star version it has B12 in it, which we all need.
Betsy DiJulio: Which we all need. That’s a good tip. I would never go anywhere without it. I have a shaker bottle at the bottom of my backpack.
Caryn Hartglass: Don’t leave home without it.
Betsy DiJulio: Yes, fill that baby up and sprinkle it on some ridiculous restaurant meal that’s not very balanced.
Caryn Hartglass: It just has a multidimensional flavor.
Betsy DiJulio: It does, doesn’t it?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, It’s quite a good thing
Betsy DiJulio: Yeah, I totally agree with you and I love putting it on popcorn at the movies.
Caryn Hartglass: So we just have a few minutes left. Do you have some favorites in here?
Betsy DiJulio: It’s sort of like picking a favorite child or in my case a favorite dog. My husband and I don’t have children but we have a bunch of dogs that are being very good and they’re not barking in the background. I guess for winter, in the appetizer department there’s an Indian sag dip, it’s on page thirty-five, and I used tofu in it to give it a body that’s more like a dip or a spread and of course protein as well and it is just delicious and a little different. You get sag easily at an Indian restaurant, but you don’t often find it as an appetizer on someone’s buffet.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, or vegan.
Betsy DiJulio: Exactly right and I love spinach in anything so if you have the book there on page seventy-two there’s a spanakopita soup and I love spanakopita but it is kind of heavy and it’s got a lot of the filo and it’s real buttery. So just to kind of reduce all of that I use the filo as croutons over the top of it so you get that crunch and that butteryness but you don’t kill yourself in the calorie and fat department.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, we just have a couple minutes left. You’re a teacher. Do you share any of this food art with your students?
Betsy DiJulio: Absolutely! Yeah, our PE teacher who teaches the health unit asked me to come and do a presentation that was filmed by our computer resource teacher and he filmed all of her classes and just great feedback from that and in fact just yesterday I got an email from a student who is now in college, a freshman, and she said the she has been vegetarian for the past three months and she credits me with making the switch.
Caryn Hartglass: That always feels good doesn’t it?
Betsy DiJulio: Yeah, and I share nutritional information with my kids’ parents who are a little bit worried about whether they’ll get the proper nutrients because of course they will. So yeah, it is very much a part of who I am as a teacher as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Well that’s important because especially with the cut backs in schools, you’re lucky that your school has art to begin with.
Betsy DiJulio: Our district is so committed to our art program and yes I am very lucky.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a crazy thing because we know that art is so important to learning and for children and for growing creativity, it doesn’t make any sense at all that that would be cut. But also, nutrition rarely gets discussed, I mean there are little pockets here and there where there’s more information but it’s so important to talk about.
Betsy DiJulio: I have to tell you, really quickly, one breakthrough in our cafeteria is they are no longer serving French fries and the standard lunch of kids in the lunch line was pizza and French fries and they cannot get French fries anymore so I think that’s a great step forward.
Caryn Hartglass: That is. Especially since we recently heard that the USDA was considering it a vegetable.
Betsy DiJulio: Yeah, and that tomato ketchup is too.
Caryn Hartglass: Well Betsy, it was great talking to you and I am really enjoying your cookbook, The Blooming Platter. You have a wonderful website called thebloomingplatter.com with a few fun puns as headings, The Mad Platter and What’s the Platter, that’s always fun; a little humor.
Betsy DiJulio: Oh yes. Gotta keep it light.
Caryn Hartglass: Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Betsy DiJulio: Thank you! Happy Holidays.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay you too!
Betsy DiJulio: Okay. Bye-bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Bye-bye. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Talking about my favorite subject; food. And please visit responsibleeatingandliving.com so many more recipes and good information out there. Have a delicious week and next week we are going to be talking to John Schlimm who wrote the book, The Tipsy Vegan. I think more recipes with beer and other alcoholic beverages and the second part will be Vegan Pie in the Sky with Terry Romero and Isa Moskowitz. We’ll be back next week. Have a delicious one. Until then bye-bye.

Transcribed 12/28/2103 by Brandon Gonzales

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