Why Great Tasting Vegan?
Eight years ago I married Joe. He was definitely a carnivore. I wanted to find a way to keep us both happy and healthy. Every good Italian girl knows the way to a man’s heart is to his stomach! This is how I saved him from a lifestyle of fast food and stomach aches: I make healthy vegan food that actually tastes great!
I also believe thoroughly in having a great tasting life. This to me means practicing consciousness and sustainability, eating organic whenever possible, having respect for the planet and all of it’s inhabitants…and above all else having a great time while doing this stuff! Too many health foodies are serious or scared. I try to be neither. I have always believed in devouring life, living it to the fullest and embracing the adventure. Yes, there’s a lot to be freaked out and cynical about, but I try to focus on the positive, to have a sense of humor and to inspire others by living my dreams. Here’s to a great tasting life! I believe everyone ought to have one.
In my other life, I am a voice actor and singer. I love all the arts and also write, dance and do yoga. I grew up on an apple farm in upstate NY and went to college in New Hampshire. Then I lived in NYC for 10 years before moving out to the Los Angeles – so I am for sure equal parts city mouse and country mouse.
I come from a big boisterous Italian family and my mother is a wonderful cook, as was my grandmother. We Italians cherish our food and our meals. It’s how we express love and nurture our families. It’s how we celebrate holidays and mark special events. Some of my recipes are inspired by my family – but I’ve veganized them of course!
My husband was the first Italian I ever dated. It was obvious so quickly that this was “it”. We bonded talking about the Easter cookies we both had growing up – with the white icing and the sprinkles on top – and the Thanksgiving meal that consisted of Lasagna as well as turkey and Christmas with Ravioli as well as Ham. We got each other right away. The only thing was, he had a preconceived notion of vegans being militant and vegan food being bland tasteless and all out disgusting. Being in the music scene, he had his share of vegan friends who would cook for him and to quote him it always “tasted like dirt”. I know what he meant – I think everyone who ever went to college has experienced the dirt-flavored veggie stirfry… but I insisted I also knew another way – and boy, did I change his mind!
My mom brought me up in the kitchen with her, teaching me how to cook and bake without measuring- she was the queen of “a little bit of this” and a “little bit of that”. She taught me something simple – to TASTE! Taste it! What does it need? More salt? Lemon? Experiment and be adventurous! My mom cooked almost every night – we barely ever ate in restaurants and we NEVER ate fast food. She was by no means into “health” food, but everything was healthy and fresh…and everything tasted good. There is a simplicity to her cooking. It’s straightforward – not too fancy, not too many ingredients and always an abundance of seasonal local produce. That part was easy, because my parents were farmers. For a fun read about our family check out this article.
For some reason I was always into health and health food. I found it inexplicably exciting and interesting. At twelve years old I stopped eating red-meat. By the time I was in college and cooking for myself I was mostly vegetarian. After college I moved to NYC and started working at Manhattan’s best vegan restaurant Angelica Kitchen . That’s where my world really morphed. At Angelica, they were serious about the servers being well-informed and educated. We had to learn a six page glossary of health food terminology by heart. This was fun for me because I really enjoyed it. We had daily meetings with the chef, who would come out and explain the specials for the day, how they were made and the ingredients that were used. Everyone cared so much about the food. I learned that there’s a secret ingredient that needs to go into every meal – and without it, the food just won’t taste good: love. It genuinely does make a difference. There’s an energy that happens, a transference from chef to dish to eater that can most certainly be felt. I also learned from the customers there and got linked into an entire community that was passionate about the same things I was passionate about. I got book and class recommendations, vacation suggestions and had interesting and exciting conversations. I learned about intuitive cooking, businesses with a conscience and a whole new burgeoning Lohas community.
For more on my journey to veganism, click here.
Intuitive Cooking: I cultivate the practice of “intuitive cooking”. Many times I use and create things with whatever ingredients I have in the house. I have started listening to my body more than my brain-what is it telling me to eat? What does it want? What is my intuition telling me would be perfect right now?
Creativity: Cooking ought to be a creative endeavor- so I am all for experimentation. And yes, sometimes you fail! But you always learn and next time it’s a little bit better.
The best ingredients make the best dishes:
I believe in eating seasonally and locally. I believe in using fresh ingredients and I believe in organics. Not only are they way healthier, have higher vitamin and nutrient content – everything tastes better organic- I swear to you, if you try, you will notice an obvious difference.
I also believe in cooking to maintain the integrity and nutritional value of the food. That means using lower temperatures, healthy oils, and low to no sugar. (And when I say sugar I am referring to any sweetner- I don’t use white sugar at all, but I also limit my use of agave, maple syrup, honey, fructose and all other sweetners. I almost never use canned items. Canned food has to be cooked at high temperatures and therefore all the nutritional value is destroyed. I avoid a microwave as much as possible – I am guilty of using it occasionally to heat things up – come on, I’m a working woman! But I never cook in it. I also try to avoid soy and gluten, for the most part.
While this website focuses on food it is really intended as a jumping off point for a great tasting, healthy lifestyle. We only have one life, let’s make it taste good!!
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you peace joy and a healthy great tasting life!