Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan

Welcome to another installment of Friday with Friends. In this installment we’re super excited to introduce to you Allyson Kramer of the fabulous vegan and gluten-free blog Manifest Vegan. Hi Allyson!

Allison Rivers Samson: How did going gluten-free in 2009 change your vegan diet?
Allyson Kramer: It revolutionized my vegan diet! Before going gluten free my crutches were all-purpose flour and seitan. Obviously those foods are toxic to folks like me with celiac disease, so I had to find alternatives to make my favorite meals and desserts just as tasty as I always knew them to be. I was pretty sad about it at first since I loved baking and was only familiar with glutinous flour. But now that I understand how other types of flours work–and how healthy they are for you–I really love being gluten free. Sometimes I wonder if there were a miracle cure for gluten intolerance, how much I would even rely on wheat flour (or [gasp] even use it) anymore. The flavors and combinations of the types of other flours available, like sorghum, buckwheat, chickpea, teff and masa–to name a few–have really broadened my culinary horizons!

ARS: Share some of your favorite wheat-free finds.
AK: Besan, sorghum flour, Soy Curls and Tinkyada pasta are my favorite finds since I first went gluten free. I use besan and sorghum on a regular basis, and Soy Curls and Tinkyada are fun little splurges.

ARS: Mother’s Day is coming up – what cooking secrets or tips did you learn from your mother?
AK: I have to credit my mother’s massive recipe box for helping to teach me everything I know about cooking. She was in school full-time when I was growing up, but she left me with the recipes that spelled out years of her cooking expertise. I began tapping into these recipes when I was just eight years old. It’s hard to believe that my tiny little self was climbing up on the counters to reach the spices and flours in the cabinets, but it’s true. She was also home most weekends and would cook all day long as I stood on the sidelines, absolutely engrossed with each ingredient she prepared, the herbs and spices she tossed in, and every technique she used. Her shared information, along with my obsession with collecting cookbooks, added up and I too became a pretty darn good cook. Today we make the exact same dishes very differently, but her enthusiasm for simple and delicious food will always shine through in my recipe developing.

ARS: For Spring, which foods, meals, scents, and spices epitomize the season and inspire you in the kitchen?
AK: The first foods that come to mind for me are kale, morels, fiddleheads, asparagus and ramps. An ultimate spring meal for me would include all of these foods in one delicious dish.
Also this season I have been really into using lavender, vanilla, and sage. And, I am anxiously awaiting all my tiny basil sprouts to grow into colossal plants–so pesto is also on my mind.

ARS: What’s been your favorite part of blogging, thus far? What are your future goals with your blog?
AK: My favorite part of blogging has been the connections I’ve made with people from all over the world. I’ve been inspired, humbled, delighted, and amazed at the incredible amount of energy and passion people commit to blogging. I have met some of my dearest friends over the past two years and I couldn’t imagine not having had these experiences; I plan to keep blogging as long as I can. It’s the highlight of my week and it’s become a huge part of my life!

ARS: In addition to blogging, how else do you spend your time?
AK: I love to run. I try to run every day. I also love to read; non-fiction of any kind can captivate me for hours. I have a husband and two kids and we enjoy hiking and grocery shopping (okay, it’s just me enjoying the food shopping, but I drag them along and they never complain). I also love to make art—my preferred mediums being drawing and painting. I’m currently finishing up my first cookbook, which is really an extension of my blogging since it involves recipe development, food styling and photography. And just recently, my pals Jessy and Kittee and I launched an entirely vegan and gluten free info hub for GF vegans who need help deciding what’s good to eat: http://xgfx.org/

ARS: Which Allison’s Gourmet product would you most like to be eating right now?
AK: I could polish off an entire gift box of the chocolate covered caramels right now, no problem!

ARS: Yeah, I know how you feel; caramels have a special place in my heart!
If you could collaborate on a recipe with Allison, what would it be?
AK: I would love to collaborate with Allison to recreate the Nestlé Alpine White Bar. I don’t know how many folks remember this candy bar, but it was one of my very favorites back in the day. It was discontinued years ago, but essentially it was a thin bar of white chocolate with teeny tiny almond bits strewn throughout. Surely, if anyone, Allison can make that happen, right? Pretty please…?

We’ll see what we can do about that, Allyson. ;) Thanks for your wonderful inspiration and insights!

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