This week we’re very pleased to introduce to you Gail Davis Rhamy of the wonderful food blog, Hungry Vegan. Welcome Gail!
Allison Rivers Samson: You penned the book “So, Now What Do I Eat?” about veganism and convenience foods in 1998. You even included Allison’s Cookies in it! What are three of the biggest changes you’ve seen since then?
Gail Davis Rhamy: WOW! With respect to veganism in the United States, there have been so many positive changes in the last decade. If I had to pick just three, I’d say that the first is how the marketplace has really exploded with fantastic options. The first edition of “So, Now What Do I Eat?” contained more than 1,000 plant-based convenience foods, but at the time, there really were no palatable vegan cheeses that didn’t also contain hydrogenated oils. Now you’ve got Daiya, Vegan Gourmet, Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses, Sunergia Soyfoods, and Ste Martaen! And back then your milk, yogurt, and ice cream choices were very limited, but now we’ve got all these rich creamy milks, creamers, yogurts, and ice cream made from cashews, hemp seeds, hazelnuts, and my favorite—coconut!
The second change is the explosion of vegan cookbooks and blogs. Back then, there were maybe 400 vegetarian/vegan cookbook titles. Now there are thousands, with new titles being published every day. And there are thousands more vegan bloggers out there, giving people the opportunity to browse great-tasting vegan recipes with their eyes. How can you not look at the photos on blogs like fatfreevegan.com, veganyumyum.com, or any number of other great vegan blogs and not be tempted to try the recipes, even if you’re a hardcore omnivore?
The third change is one that’s hard not to notice. Fueled by the decades-long efforts of longtime vegan activists, veganism is finally going mainstream. With television personalities like Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Dr. Oz, and Martha Stewart dedicating segments or even entire shows to veganism plus articles in major magazines and newspapers extolling the virtues of going vegan, millions of people have begun to view plant-based eating in a whole new light. It’s starting to be seen as less of a fad and more like the true rational, healthful, sustainable, and compassionate dietary choice that it is. I’m excited that the film Forks Over Knives is out there in mainstream movie theaters across the country. It has the power to positively transform lives.
ARS: What are a few of your current favorite vegan convenience foods?
GDR: Haha! Let’s see…So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk Creamer. It’s so good, I have to restrain myself from drinking it straight out of the container. I bake with it, it’s wonderful in chai, and I mix a couple of tablespoons into my hot cocoa, too. Healthy Top Whipped Cream Topping is pretty darn amazing. I also like Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso (see recipe below) and evol Burritos Vegan Fajitas. (I wish they’d make more vegan options!)
ARS: What are some of your preferred vegan food blogs and resources?
GDR: A few of my favorite blogs include Opera Singer in the Kitchen, The Vegan Version, and Healthy Slow Cooking (Kathy Hester creates incredibly original oatmeal recipes!). Vegan Bite by Bite is a wonderful book by Marilyn Peterson, who is an awesome and inspiring example of living life as a vibrantly beautiful vegan. Vegsource.com continues to be my go-to source for all things vegan-related, and quarrygirl.com‘s reviews of Los Angeles-area vegan eateries make me sorry that I’m not living in LA.
ARS: Care to share with us a recent recipe you’re enjoying?
GDR: I’ve been enjoying shirataki noodles for lunch several times per week. They’re very filling, but calorie and fat-free. I particularly like mixing them with Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso and mixed veggies to create a simple, yet satisfying Mexican Pasta. In less than fifteen minutes, you’ll have a lunch that’s both filling and flavorful.
1 3.5-oz bag shirataki noodles
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup spinach, packed
1 tomato, diced
2 heaping tablespoons Nacho Mom’s Ultimate Vegan Queso
1. Prepare shiratake noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, sauté onions in broth for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add tomatoes and then spinach, stirring to combine. Cover, and heat until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add queso to pan, and stir all together, heating through for 2-3 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
ARS: If someone’s looking to “green” up their diet, but leads a very busy life, lives alone, or can’t really afford to prepare elaborate meals, what grocery store items would you suggest they pick up?
GDR: The simple answer is fresh fruits and vegetables. As much as I love to cook, there is nothing quicker or better for us than whole, ripe, raw, organic fruits and vegetables. But beyond that, I’d like to encourage people who feel pinched for time (who doesn’t?) or who feel they cannot afford to prepare elaborate meals to invest in a couple of wonderful cookbooks: The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, Supermarket Vegan, and Vegan Unplugged are filled with recipes that are easy, affordable, and can be made with ingredients found in just about any supermarket. Another book I really like is How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even If You Never Want to Be One.
ARS: What would you most like to create in the kitchen with Allison and what’s your most-loved Allison’s Gourmet item?
GDR: I’d love to be in the kitchen with Allison creating a vegan Napolean. If anyone could do it I know Allison, the queen of veganizing, could. Napoleans were one of my favorite desserts when I was growing up, along with rice pudding and chocolate eclairs. So creating a vegan Napolean with Allison would be living out a vegan fantasy.
Do I have to pick just one? Well, okay—If you would have asked me what my favorite Allison’s Gourmet item was a week ago, I would have said Pecan Brownies. But since then I’ve tasted her new Chocolate Rose Caramels (the Bulgarian rose she’s using is incredible!) and Salted Lavender Caramels. What’s really interesting is that I’ve never been a huge fan of caramels. But these two amazing flavors have not only made a caramel-lover out of me, but as soon as I finish one, I start asking myself when I’m going to treat myself to the next!
We’re so glad you like the new caramel flavors, Gail! You have so many great recipe, cookbook and food blog suggestions that just reading this post is making us hungry!