Kathy Freston is a writer and plant-based diet advocate. Her latest book is The Book of Veganish, which is packed with plant-based recipes and interesting facts about eating less meat. We chatted with her to learn more about her remarkable new book.
You were interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011, the same show where Oprah announced she would be implementing Meatless Monday in the Harpo cafeteria. The word “veganish” popped up a few times during the interview. Is this a concept you’ve been thinking about for a while?
Yes, I think when most people hear the word “vegan,” and if they grew up like me eating chicken, hamburger and steak, they think vegan is so restrictive. Like “oh my god, all my favorite foods are going away. I’ll never be able to eat cheese fries again.” Veganish takes the pressure off to be absolute. There’s this joy and relief to explore other food choices.
The whole feel of your book is so fun and hip. Was it put together with millennials in mind?
Absolutely. Young adults are the ones who have the world in their hands. They want to make a difference. And eating less meat is one of the most focused ways to have a meaningful life – for the environment, for animals and for your own human health and your family. The book is meant to be happy! To be fun and inspiring. I love that most of the book is young adults weighing in. They’re young fresh voices. You really get a sense of this growing community.
Let’s talk about the recipes. What was your goal in putting this collection together?
Robin Robertson is the chef who wrote the recipes. She’s all about comfort food, speed and taste. For me, protein was the most important thing. Even though protein intake is not a problem in vegan diets, most people are still obsessed with it. So our goal was to get as much protein as possible and to get the veggies so they tasted good and weren’t boring. And Robin rocked it! You can make everything in 10 to 20 minutes using simple ingredients you have around the house.
We love that so many of the recipes are one pot meals. Apparently millennials aren’t even eating as much cereal these days because of the clean up!
Right. What’s nice is that a lot of the recipes are one-dish meals and are also great for leftovers. You can pack them and take them to the office or to class the next day.
What recipes would you suggest for newbies? Either someone new to veganism, or someone who wants to introduce their friends or family to meatless eating via Meatless Monday?
The mac and cheese is so comforting. And I love the tacos, they’re really “meaty.” There’s also a great burrito with tons of protein and some spinach or kale. It’s just really hearty!
Sounds like Mexican food is where it’s at! Thanks for chatting, we can’t wait to cook up these dishes!
“There are points in your career where you start to cook the way you want to eat; that’s where I am now.” – Chef David Burke
David Burke is world-renowned as a chef, artist, entrepreneur, cookbook author, innovator and inventor. In 2009, he won the James Beard Award for Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and was twice nominated earlier for Best Chefs in America. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a student at the École Lenôtre Pastry School in Plaisir, France, his 30-year career includes opening over a dozen celebrated restaurants. David is often recognized from his TV appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, NBC’s TODAY Show and as a featured guest on Rachael Ray’s Every Day Show. In 2015, David joined ESquared Hospitality as a Culinary Partner to open new restaurants nationwide including his latest restaurant, Tavern62 by David Burke which opened in October 2016 on New York City’s Upper East Side. For our first interview of the New Year, we sat down with David to ask what’s currently on his plate.
It’s the beginning of a New Year, a time when many are making a fresh start and making resolutions about diet and nutrition. What are some easy ideas to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into a daily diet?
Have pre-cut fruit and vegetables ready in your refrigerator and make olive oil-based dipping sauces for them. Winter is a good time to make vegetable soups and stews. I would also recommend buying an Indian cookbook (lay off spices if you don’t like heat) to get inspiration for vegetarian dishes.
Are there any professional secrets or tips you can share on your favorite ways to prepare vegetables?
I like to slowly sauté my vegetables. Cut them smaller and add olive oil, onion, and garlic, then let them caramelize. That works for home fries, a vegetable hash, a filling for a pasta, a purée, or the base of a soup.
When you’re cooking at home or for friends, what are some of your favorite meatless dishes?
Pasta. Cous Cous. Eggplant Parmesan. Stuffed Zucchini Boats. Couch potatoes, which we serve at BLT Prime by David Burke. Cabbage is also really underrated.
At your new restaurant Tavern62 by David Burke, what winter vegetables are you looking forward to using and where do you source them from?
Salsify, parsnips, parsley root, celery root, butternut squash, kale, and cabbage. We source produce from the Hunts Point Produce Market.
Sustainable foods are a topic of discussion these days. What are your thoughts on the subject and why is this important?
With any good business comes responsibility. Responsibility of keeping a sustainable supply is important for the future.
Your restaurants are typically meat heavy or meat-centric. Why are you interested in supporting and participating in Meatless Monday?
My restaurants are designed for great business that highlight hospitality and give our customers what they want. My personal choice and vision for the future is to start segueing into more vegetarian-centric and healthy eating options because no matter what other food trends come and go, customers being more aware of what goes into their food is a trend that will only continue to grow.
I think we go through cycles. There are points in your career where you start to cook the way you want to eat; that’s where I am now.
Strong Growth for the Movement in 2016
By all accounts, 2016 was a banner year for the Meatless Monday movement. Currently Meatless Monday is active in 44 countries and in over 20 languages – from Croatia to China, Brazil to Bhutan. People from all walks of life are embracing a diet that reduces their meat consumption one day each week. They’re eating healthier and helping to preserve the resources of the planet – one plate at a time.
More chefs and restaurant owners are also realizing the advantages of serving Meatless Monday options, which in turn is good news for you! Be on the lookout for restaurants in your neighborhood that are getting creative with vegetables. Or even better, try to convince your favorite local spot to participate in Meatless Monday.
Hospital, university, school and business cafeterias are also introducing Meatless Monday menus. The health benefits are simply too great to ignore. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables help prevent obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
What’s more, major cities have begun to officially declare their support of Meatless Monday. In the last year alone, Indianapolis, Sacramento and Pittsburgh have all joined the movement.
As more people become aware of Meatless Monday, the enthusiasm, support and commitment continues to grow – in the U.S. and around the globe. We thank you for your continued support and wish you a Happy New Year.
Looking to start New Year’s with an extra helping of ‘good luck?’ Then leave the champagne on ice and simmer up a family-size pot of our meatless version of Hoppin’ John. According to Southern folklore, each of the key ingredients in this hearty, savory dish relates to a symbol of prosperity. The black-eyed peas represent coins. The collard greens are paper money. And the traditional cornbread on the side stands for gold. And it gets even more interesting. As it turns out, a bowl of leftover Hoppin’ John is called Skippin’ Jenny, which is supposed to bring even more hope, luck and prosperity. So best of luck and Happy New Year from all of us at Meatless Monday.
Spend Less Time Cooking and More Time Savoring
This time of year, you’ve already got plenty to do. So don’t let long, complicated recipes slow you down. We’ve rounded up our tastiest recipes for the busiest of nights. Whip up one of these flavorful meatless meals in just minutes. And make your evening merry and bright.
Reality TV has certainly helped put Orange County, CA on the map. But if you prefer to “dish” with superbly prepared meatless meals, these three restaurants are our recommended Specials of the Day.
5675 East La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807
The True Seasons menu offers organic hot pot cuisine (Shabu-shabu) alongside their irresistible all-organic wraps, salads, bowls and desserts. Each menu selection originates from local famers and quality vendors with fresh, seasonal ingredients that are completely organic and GMO-free. In fact, Chef Saifon can often be found at the local produce markets, selecting unique and exotic vegetables for her renowned recipes. Perhaps that’s why True Seasons was recently named one of Orange County’s “Top 10 Best New Restaurants” by Orange Coast Magazine.
“True Seasons represents dining as a GMO free, truly organic food experience. We know many of our customers are vegan and vegetarian, so we’re excited to support the Meatless Monday movement and showcase some of our meat-free items.”
– Chef Saifon, True Seasons Organic Kitchen
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2435 East Imperial Highway, Brea, CA 92821
Green2Go is redefining the way America’s favorite meals are made. Imagine a deliciously healthy take on tacos, rice bowls and more. In addition to their tasty variety of meat-free specialties, they feature a healthy kid’s menu, not to mention an on-the-go food truck. Every step on their farm-to-fork path is designed with sustainability in mind.
“The team here at G2G loves what Meatless Monday stands for and is honored to support this important movement. Many of our food items are meat-free and we’re delighted to share these with our health-minded customers.”
– Anita & Joulia, G2G co-founders
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3325 East Imperial Highway, Brea, CA 92823
Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern serves up modern American regional cuisine with an artisanal point of view. This means the food is freshly prepared, hand crafted in small batched, made with high quality ingredients and cooked with traditional methods. They’re self-described as comfort food for the foodie. Respecting customers who don’t eat meat, they provide a flavorful selection of meat-free dishes and will gladly remove meat products from any menu item upon request.
Mark another milestone for Meatless Monday. Last week, the City-County Council of Indianapolis, home of the famous “Indy 500” race, passed a resolution in support of Meatless Monday. This new resolution encourages city residents and institutions to enjoy a meat-free day at the beginning of each week. The goal of the resolution is to raise awareness about healthy eating and to reduce the city’s environmental footprint.
Indianapolis is the 14th largest city in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of the adults and approximately 40 percent of children and teens are overweight or obese. This preventable condition has been linked to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis and cancer. By substituting fruits and vegetables for meat, growing evidence suggests it reduces the risk of heart disease. In addition, people on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices.
Indianapolis now joins other forward-thinking cities, such as Sacramento, San Diego and Pittsburgh, in advancing the Meatless Monday movement. The locally based Vegan Meetup Group has seen an 800 percent increase in membership over the past four years. What’s more, many city restaurants are now featuring meat-free dishes. To learn more about the Meatless Monday activities in Indianapolis and to get involved, visit their Facebook page.
Deck the halls and feast your senses on these wonderful holiday gift ideas. Perfect for giving and receiving…for those who have been extra nice this year. These tantalizing meatless gifts are at the very top of our shopping list. Tasty, yet also nutritious. It’s like giving the gift of good health. Wishing you and your loved ones the very best from all your friends at Meatless Monday.
Mario Batali – Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA – Hardcover: $25, Kindle $20
Mario is a long-time supporter of Meatless Monday. And he certainly knows his foods. His latest cookbook celebrates American fare, from the treasures of the state fairs to the dishes of local rotary clubs. Over two years in the making, he’s traveled cross country to collect the very best recipes in the U.S. Bring your appetite.
The Meat Free Monday Cookbook: A Full Menu for Every Monday of the Year – Hardcover $25, Paperback $11
You’ll never run out of ideas with this new cookbook. Fifty two weeks of fabulous meatless recipes with a forward written by Paul, Stella & Mary McCartney, the trio who helped launch Meat Free Monday in the U.K. in 2009.
HelloFresh Veggie Gift Box – $59.00
Fresh, flavorful farm-to-table ingredients, the HelloFresh Veggie Gift Box lets you write a personal season’s greetings on a card and include it in the delivery. You get everything you need for three meals for two people, complete with the chef-curated recipes. Taste for yourself.
The Happy Cook: 125 Recipes for Eating Every Day Like It’s the Weekend – Hardcover $20, Kindle $17
Make every day as tasty as it can be. Our dear friend Daphne Oz, cohost of ABC’s The Chew, has put together an irresistible collection of recipes that invite you to savor life fully, seven days a week. These delicious meals are as easy to make as they are to enjoy. One taste and you’ll be a happy cook, too!
De Gustibus Cooking School Gift Certificates – $100 and up
If you or your friends live near New York City, or will be travelling there for the holidays, consider a hands-on class at De Gustibus Cooking School. It’s more than a cooking institute; it’s a culinary theater. Located in Macy’s just off Herald Square in midtown, De Gustibus is legendary for providing the highest quality experience in all things culinary. Get your chef on!
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible – Hardcover $27, Kindle $13
We love this book. Think of it as your personal guide to culinary creativity based on insights from dozens of leading American chefs. It’s an ideal reference for how to cook and eat today – flavorful, nutritious plant-based dishes.
Veestro Gift Card – $25, $50 and up
If you’ve never heard of Veestro, you don’t know what you’re missing. They create incredibly delicious meals that happen to be made from organic plants – fresh-frozen and delivered to your door. Check out their irresistible selection of chef crafted dishes.
Harry & David Pears and Apples Gift – $29.99
Succulent Royal Verano Pears and sweet, crisp best-of-season apples. There’s a reason Harry & David remain at the top of the orchard tree.
Edible Arrangements Season’s Greeting Daisy – Small $45, Large, $55
A delectable variety of ripe, juicy strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew wedges mixed with pineapple shapes dipped in semisweet chocolate. Celebrate the holidays with this yummy bouquet. Dig in.
Your friends will go nuts for this lip-smacking selection. Snack on all your favorites: cashews, pistachios, almonds, walnuts and more. Help yourself.
We’re always on the lookout for new twists on meatless eating, so we couldn’t possibly resist registered dietitian Alexandra Caspero Lenz‘s new cookbook “Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation.” After all, it’s a book about pasta! We asked Lenz what’s new about the recipes her book provides.
Tell us a little about your background. What makes you so passionate about vegetarian and Italian food?
I grew up with an Italian father and Danish mother, so food was (and is) the center of everything. We were the family that was talking about lunch at breakfast. My mom adapted most of my Dad’s family meals for busy weeknights, and we enjoyed Italian food most days of the week. Of course, I didn’t realize it was a different cuisine, it was just the food I grew up with. I went vegetarian in high school on a whim, then picked it up again in college after reading “Diet for a Small Planet” in an ethics class. My vegetarian beliefs have evolved over the past decade, while I was at first interested in the nutrition aspect, now I’m much more passionate about the animal rights and environmental impacts. My goal is to show that plant-based Italian food is satisfying, wholesome and mouth-watering.
The title of your book is “Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation.” What’s different about these recipes that will appeal to this new generation?
To me, the new generation is interested in plant-based eating, even if they don’t consider themselves “vegetarian” or “vegan”. This book aims to show that the Mediterranean way of eating naturally incorporates a lot of plants, without feeling forced or different. The new generation is looking for healthy, quick meals that don’t require hours in the kitchen.
Italian food lends itself very well to being meatless but it also has a reputation for being indulgent. How did you reconcile these two concepts to deliver healthy meatless meals?
Exactly, that’s what I wanted to dispel. Traditional Italian cuisine, while not vegetarian, is heavy on plants. Lots of antipasti, cortoni (side dishes) and pasta with in-season produce. That’s how I grew up eating; we never had alfredo sauce and rarely enjoyed heavy dishes. It was mostly spaghetti with a variety of vegetables. Most of the recipes in this book follow my nutrient-density approach to food. Yes, I ate pasta daily, but it was rarely in excess. Instead of cups and cups of pasta, we were served a smaller portion, rounded out with vegetables and legumes.
What are your favorite recipes to recommend to someone who’s new to eating meals without meat?
I love meals that are naturally vegetarian, that don’t feel forced or trying to replicate a familiar meat dish. I don’t rely much on mock-meats, but instead like to get my protein from beans, lentils, tempeh and tofu. My caramelized onion fettuccini is really rich and satisfying, thanks to cooking onions on low until they almost fall apart.
With the holidays coming up, what recipes do you recommend that provide something special without relying on meat?
I like presenting recipes in a unique and show-stopping way, much like we approach main meat dishes. For the holidays, this usually looks like a vegetable wellington, stuffed squash or my wild mushroom lasagna in the book. Each is a special meal and looks gorgeous on the holiday table!
Looking for a unique holiday gift? Check out Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation and inspire a friend or family member to go meatless without giving up their favorite Italian food.