As a vegan food blogger, I am admittedly a cookbook junkie (and can justify my “habit” with my career – ha!). I have shelves upon shelves of beloved favorites taking up residence in my kitchen and office. Even so, I never turn down the chance to read new offerings, and am delighted when one crosses my desk that’s as chock-full of delicious inspiration as Laura Theodore’s latest book, Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Classics (BenBella Books, 2013).
You may know Theodore as the jazz vocalist and host of the popular television cooking show Jazzy Vegetarian. She is a powerhouse of talent and enthusiasm, and I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing her about her journey to bring vegan cooking to the mainstream. At the end of this article, you’ll find two fantastic recipes from her book, plus a chance to win a free copy!
As a bonus, OHH flock members will also receive an insider’s view into the types of meals the Jazzy Vegetarian eats in a day, an exclusive recipe for Chocolate Date-Nut Lollipops, and an additional chance to win the cookbook!
Carrie Forrest (for Our Hen House): Laura, it is such an honor to interview you and talk about your brand new book. In the acknowledgments for Jazzy Vegetarian Classics, you gave a big thank you to the animals and said, “This cookbook is for you.” I thought that was beautiful! The obvious question that your statement brings up is whether the Jazzy Vegetarian is, in fact, the Jazzy Vegan?
Laura Theodore (LT): Many thanks, Carrie! Yes I am vegan, and all of my recipes are vegan. People always ask me why I am the Jazzy Vegetarian and not the Jazzy Vegan. Well, many years ago, when we were thinking of names for the pilot of our television show, we wondered if most people even knew what a vegan was. Back then, it wasn’t part of the common vernacular.
We knew that pitching a vegetarian show to the networks was a daunting task in itself, and Jazzy Vegan did not have that snazzy ring to it that we were looking for. Since a vegan is a vegetarian who does not consume any animal products, we felt it was a fitting title. So, yes, the Jazzy Vegetarian is vegan.
OHH: Would you please tell us your “going vegan” story?
LT: In the late 1970s, for health reasons, I became interested in becoming a vegetarian. I loved to cook and started recreating family favorites and cooking up some veggie dishes. Then, around 1982, I was walking past a McDonald’s in New York City, and it dawned on me that it was time for me to give up meat for good. Over the next several years I stopped eating chicken. I still ate fish, dairy, and eggs on and off for the next 10 years or so, but then, once I began to learn the facts about the mass factory farming of animals, I went vegan.
I am inspired to stay vegan for three reasons: First and foremost is compassion for animals. Second, for better health. And third, because it is environmentally sound. What keeps me vegan is my dedication to the animals. Plus, there are so many tasty vegan recipes these days – I do not miss animal foods!
OHH: Being the host of the Jazzy Vegetarian cooking show, have you ever felt pressure from those who wanted you to dilute your message to appeal to a wider audience?
LT: I have been fortunate to not have to dilute any of my recipes, or the show’s mission, which is: “Whether you are a dedicated vegan, or just looking to add a few vegan recipes into your weekly menu plan, this show is for you!”
OHH: I love that mission, Laura. Given the fact that animal exploitation is still widely accepted as the norm – and in that sense, given that vegans and animal advocates still have a long way to go until we penetrate the mainstream – what gives you hope?
LT: The fact that my television show is now available in nearly 90 percent of U.S. homes gives me hope. Several other wonderful shows are now available, too. Almost every time I walk into a restaurant, I find that more and more vegan options are available to order. Every week I receive hundreds of emails, Facebook posts, and Twitter messages from folks thanking me for what I do. Great organizations like Farm Sanctuary are now communicating in the mainstream. There is a shift in the works – baby steps – but it is happening.
OHH: What other projects do you have going on? And how can we stay on top of your happenings?
LT: I am working on a third book, and we are in the post-production process for season four of the television show. I am starting to collect ideas for season five now. We are in our sixth year of the podcast radio show, and I write and produce a new radio show every week. We are traveling quite a bit to promote the new book and to promote season three. On the artist side of things, I am recording new music, and working on a musical.
I am so grateful to be busy and productive. Gratitude is the key to good living. To learn more, I hope that readers visit my website.
OHH: Thank you, again, Laura, for taking the time to do this interview. At the very front of your book, you stated your mission as “making the world a better place, one recipe at a time,” and we wanted to tell you that you have certainly made a delicious difference in our lives. Best wishes for much more continued success!
LT: Thank you so much, Carrie!
Aren’t we lucky, OHH readers? Laura and her publisher have shared two fabulous recipes with us from the new book, Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Classics. Enjoy!
[print_this] Creamy Broccoli Soup
Recipe and photograph published with permission from BenBella Books.
Makes 3-4 servings
This delicate, tummy-warming soup makes a lovely light lunch or an ideal starter course for a formal soirée.
6 cups broccoli florets
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups cold nondairy milk, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon regular or reduced sodium tamari (to taste)
1 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fit a steamer basket into a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 inches of cold water, then add the broccoli. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes.
Put the steamed broccoli, garlic, nondairy milk, tamari, all-purpose seasoning, salt, and cayenne pepper in a blender and process on low until smooth, making sure to leave air space at top of blender to allow steam to escape. If the soup is too thick, add more nondairy milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, to achieve the desired consistency, pulsing or blending briefly after each addition.
Put the soup in a medium soup pot and cook over medium-low heat, until heated through, stirring often. Season with pepper. If soup is too thick, add more nondairy milk.
Serve immediately in deep soup bowls with whole-grain crackers or crusty bread on the side. [/print_this]
[print_this] Coconut Vegaroons
Recipe and photograph published with permission from BenBella Books.
Makes 24 cookies
Flaxseeds act as an egg replacer in this recipe, while garbanzo flour helps to bind it The result is a flawless macaroon that is egg-, dairy-, and gluten-free! Now that is jazzy.
2 tablespoons golden flaxseeds
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon filtered or spring water
1 1/3 cups raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple sugar
2 tablespoons garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons nondairy milk
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Put the flaxseeds in a high-performance blender or grain mill, and process into a very fine flour. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the water and whisk vigorously to combine. Let the flaxseed mixture stand for 10 minutes while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
Put the coconut, maple sugar, garbanzo flour, and salt in a large bowl, and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the flaxseed mixture, vanilla extract, and nondairy milk, and stir until well blended. For each cookie, drop 1 heaping tablespoonful of the dough onto the lined baking sheet, with a cookie scoop or rounded spoon, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Flatten each macaroon slightly using a flat spatula. Bake for 15 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
Put the baking sheet on a wire rack. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a serving platter to cool completely. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the cookies will keep for 4 days. [/print_this]
Want to win a copy of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics? Simply leave a comment below with the name of your favorite vegan cookbook, and you’ll be entered! We will randomly choose a winner in one week, so make sure you include your email when you enter. (That means you have until Monday, January 13 at Midnight EST to enter.) You may only enter one time (though flock members have an additional chance to win on today’s flock exclusive article). Good luck!
Remember, flock members not only have an additional opportunity to win a copy of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics, but they also get another bonus recipe – this one for Chocolate Date-Nut Lollipops. All that, and some very helpful tips for healthy vegan cooking, from The Jazzy Vegetarian herself!
Join the flock today. It’s tax-deductible, you get fantastic thank you gifts just for joining, and you’ll help support our efforts to change the world for animals. Help keep vegan indie media alive! Thanks!