Marika Collins, Vegan Food Stylist Extraordinaire

She’s a food, lifestyle and travel photographer, and I’m certainly not, but Marika Collins and I have one big thing in common: a passion for vegan baking. Recently, I enjoyed the great pleasure of asking Marika a few questions about her love for vegan fare, especially our shared love of healthy, whole-foods based sweet creations.

Allison Rivers Samson: What got you into vegan baking?
Marika Collins: I always loved baking, so when I became vegan, I dove right in. In fact, I embraced vegan baking with such enthusiasm that it influenced my direction as a photographer. Prior to becoming vegan, food was not my main photographic focus—then, suddenly, I wanted to share it with everyone.

ARS: Do you think vegan baked goods/sweets can be healthy?  How so?
Definitely! First and foremost, I use quality ingredients: I think baked goods and sweets can be made better for us in general by using ingredients that are organic, not genetically modified, etc. I’m also a fan of unrefined sweeteners (they add a lot of flavor!) and, taking it a bit further, I experiment with 100% whole food sweeteners like date sugar, for example.While I moderate the amount of white flour and sugar that I consume, I don’t eliminate it entirely.My baking philosophy is to make it awesome and enjoy it fully in small doses.

ARS: I have a very similar philosophy about sweets both personally and with AG. What inspires you most about vegan baking?
MC: The possibilities. The challenges. The knowledge that anything and everything can be accomplished with audacity and imagination. I’m a bit of a science geek too, so I love that aspect of reverse engineering old recipes and finding just the right substitution for a particular non-vegan ingredient.It feels great to be able to present someone, who may have little or no experience with vegan sweets, with a dessert that knocks their socks off—that part never gets old. When I come up with something good enough to share, it goes up on my blog, Madcap Cupcake.

ARS: I, too, love the challenge of finding the perfect alchemy for substituting vegan ingredients for conventional ones. On the savory side, what’s your go-to quick and healthy meal?
MC: A well seasoned tofu and veggie stir-fry or scramble with tons of greens. Kale is usually involved. We probably eat a bundle of kale a day. Green beans rule, too.

ARS: We are nuts about kale around here too! And we grow tons of green beans in our veganic garden each summer. Back to sweets, do you have some long-standing favorite vegan baked goods or does your sweet tooth tend to change?
MC: Chocolate anything—easily my all-time favorite. And I might be obsessed with doughnuts. Beyond that I love all my children equally.Okay, chocolatey things get the edge—including plain solid dark chocolate: it’s always on the grocery list along with coffee and TP—the necessities of life. Seriously, I have a massive sweet tooth. For real.

ARS: Do you have a favorite Allison’s Gourmet goodie?
MC: I’ve had the good fortune of enjoying your Artisan Chocolate Assortment and the Pure Vanilla caramels just about knocked me over—OMG. And they’re all covered in fair-trade chocolate, of course.

I’m so glad you enjoyed our chocolates, Marika. The Pure Vanilla Caramels are one of my personal favorite too! Keep up the vegan baking and awesome food porn. I can’t get enough of your images!

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