She considers herself a nutritional muse because she inspires people to experience new and delicious nutritional experiences. She’s Lora Krulak, an active blogger whose posts appear regularly on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Meatless Monday. Lora’s new book, Veggies for Carnivores: Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate (Changing Lives Press), is influenced by her culinary adventures in Bali, India, Thailand, Italy and other countries. Veggies for Carnivores tempts palates to try veggie dishes that give a peek into these lands and introduces exciting flavors that even hard-core carnivores will find hard to resist.
“My mission is to demystify vegetables and show the world how sexy they are. They are more than just side dishes – they are worthy of center stage,” Lora says.
Meatless Monday followers will find her recipes uncomplicated, easy to follow and entertaining – they’re laced with stories and humor from her travels.
We caught up with Lora to ask her about her book and Meatless Monday.
What motivated you to write Veggies for Carnivores?
When I was in Rome taking Italian classes, I would walk through the outdoor markets every day. I’m also a chronic label reader, so even if I don’t buy something at the market, you can bet I’ve read the label on just about every bottle and jar in the store. At this one shop in Rome, I was so taken by the little purées they sold in jars. They had puréed arugula, puréed parsley, puréed everything. I thought, “What an amazing way to get people to eat vegetables.” I must have bought every variety and used them daily. A few days later I was in a restaurant and was mesmerized by their presentation and simple preparation of food. Every plate was gently packed with vegetables. That’s when the idea for this book hit me. I sat for a few hours and wrote out my ideas on the back of the menu right then and there.
When I returned to New York, I started making soups, purées, smoothies and dips out of different vegetables. Often we hear that we need to eat more vegetables, and people automatically think they have to eat an entire plate of carrots or spinach. But if your sauce is a vegetable, and if you include a dip or spread made from vegetables, then you’ve just upped your vegetable ante tremendously and you’ve escalated the nutritional value of the meal. That’s why this book and books like it are so important.
You say your book is a glimpse at your culinary style and at how you see the world. Could you expand on that?
When I arrive in a new city or town, chances are my first stop is the local market. It is the pulse of a town and a true illustration of how the locals live, eat and share traditions—such as tea and coffee. It is in the market that I learn about local habits: what types of flours and sugars they use, or perhaps there is a salt I have never tried, and what vegetables are popular or unique. My cooking is all about adaptability. I like to learn the staples of that particular region so I can learn to adapt to anywhere I am in the world. Each recipe in Veggies for Carnivores is a snapshot of a place I visited or a moment in my life that I captured with a recipe. I take the reader around the world with me.
You blog regularly for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living’s Meatless Monday. How do you decide what to blog about?
I find it easier to cook a vegetable-centric dish than to cook a meat-focused meal. Combining a few side dishes is my favorite way to eat, and I devoted a whole chapter of my book to small plates. However, it is all about perspective. If you think about it, there are an overwhelming amount of plants to choose from and only a handful of animal proteins. Pick a plant and go from there. Let’s say it’s zucchini—I can think of five ways off the top of my head to make zucchini into a meal. For example, zucchini noodles with puttanesca sauce, zucchini lasagna, grilled zucchini with pesto . . . I can go on and on.
In your book, you highlight “Fascinating Facts.” Can you share a fascinating fact about your experience with Meatless Monday?
There are so many! I think my favorite Fascinating Fact is the cucumber trick. If you slice off the tip of a cucumber and rub it against the base of the cucumber, a little white foam will start to form. Wipe the foam off and slice the cucumber peeled or unpeeled. The cucumber will not be bitter or have any waxy taste. I am not sure why this works, but it does!
Order Veggies for Carnivores from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. Follow Lora Krulak on Twitter: @lorakrulak. Friend her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/lorakrulak