Homemade Podcast Episode 48: Delicious Vegan Ideas With Jessica Seinfeld and Kelsey Riley
We're learning more and more about the health benefits of a vegan (or plant-based) diet, but where does an omnivore start? On this episode, Homemade host Martie Duncan welcomes two guests who shed light on the ease, ingenuity, and cost-effectiveness of eating vegan, even if it's just once a week.
Philanthropist, mom, cookbook author, and home cook Jessica Seinfeld talks about her food philosophy as well as her new book, Vegan, at Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often. Then, registered nurse and Allrecipes Allstar Kelsey Riley of the blog Planted in the Kitchen tells us how she transitioned to a diet of plant-based whole foods. Listen to this episode of Homemade on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PlayerFM, and everywhere podcasts are available beginning July 21.
About Jessica Seinfeld
Jessica Seinfeld's love for cooking at home has led her to publish five cookbooks: Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food; Double Delicious!: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives; The Can't Cook Book: Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified!; Food Swings: 125+ Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue & Vice; and Vegan, at Times. The mother of three is also passionate about serving under-resourced families, founding the nonprofit Good+Foundation (formerly called Baby Buggy) in 2001 following the birth of her first child. Jessica lives in her native New York with her husband, comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
About Kelsey Riley
Registered nurse and recipe developer Kelsey Riley helms the blog Planted in the Kitchen, where she shares easy vegan recipes and eye-catching food photography. Additionally, Kelsey belongs to the Allrecipes Allstars, a group of home cooks who serve as brand ambassadors and some of the site's most prolific recipe creators, reviewers, and photo submitters. Follow Planted in the Kitchen on Allrecipes, Instagram, and Facebook.
MARTIE: Welcome to Homemade I'm Martie Duncan. If you listen regularly you know that I love to dig in and get the stories behind the favorite recipe, you know, the why and the how that recipe came to be. Most of the time the recipe in question is a time-honored passed down treasure and I just love that so much. But I do think there's a place for what's new and the why and the how of how those new recipes are finding a way into our homes and our diet.
There's a good bit of evidence around how a plant-based or vegan diet can improve your health, even positively affecting things like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. I grew up with veggie night at least once a week, especially in the summer when vegetables were abundant — and of course there was cornbread. But that was about the extent of my expertise until just a few months ago. So today I"m calling in some heavy hitters to help me with all the pluses and minuses of a vegan or plant-based diet.
Later in the show, registered nurse and Allrecipes Allstar Kelsey Riley, who has an extremely popular vegan blog called Planted In The Kitchen, walks us through her daily routine and talks about why she shifted to eating a vegan diet about two years ago.
But my first guest is here to tell us that yes you can eat vegan only occasionally and still reap the health benefits without going all in. You may know her as the better half to legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld, but she's also a philanthropist, a cookbook author with five books to her credit, and a busy mom of three who has made a career out of creating fun, simple, and delicious recipes that she uses to feed her family.
Her new cookbook Vegan, At Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often is coming out October 12th so you can go ahead and order it online right now. And we're also going to find out about the good work she's doing for parents who need a helping hand through her Good+ Foundation. So y'all please help me in welcoming the beautiful and inspirational Jessica Seinfeld to Homemade. Welcome, Jessica!
MARTIE: Hey! Here's what I want to know. I'm coming to New York, this summer. I was wondering, can I borrow your time machine?
JESSICA: Why? What do you mean?
MARTIE: OK, you have a 20-year-old kid, right?
JESSICA: I know.
MARTIE: You look like a 20-year-old kid.
JESSICA: You're so nice. Thank you.
MARTIE: So can I borrow your time machine when I come?
MARTIE: OK. That's what I wanted to know. OK, so I'm so excited about this new book because growing up, my mother would do vegetable night, like at least once a week and I still kind of do that a lot. I never really thought of it as vegetarian or vegan. It just was something we did. I'm not sure exactly how strict you are, like do you go like, no honey, everything? Or, kind of tell me what prompted the book and tell me a little bit about why you decided to do this as your fifth book.
JESSICA: That's a great question. And thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here. I'm such a fan of yours, by the way.
MARTIE: I'm such a fan of yours.
JESSICA: I only write books that are based on my personal experience and issues. So my first book, Deceptively Delicious, I wrote because I had a child who was beyond picky. Who would not eat one green vegetable ever, I felt, for her entire life. And so I found a way to purée vegetables and put them in her food...
MARTIE: Sneak them in there.
MARTIE: This is a great way to sneak those things into the food and they'll never know it. So you write books that have to do with where you are in life.
JESSICA: Problem solving. It's all about problem solving for me around food because I think food is such an issue in people's lives. There's a really deep emotional aspect to food. How you grew up. How you felt being in a kitchen. I think that all plays a part in how we eat. So Deceptively Delicious just came out of the idea that my child needs to eat more vegetables. How do I do it without fighting? I didn't want to fight. And what I learned later on is that there are people who just want to increase the nutritional density in their food. So they just puréed and added vegetables to their own meals. And, you know, Oprah was so kind and generous and had me on her show. I was very lucky to have had that opportunity because it really set me on a path towards helping people around food. And, you know, I'm a home cook. I'm not a chef in any way, nor do I ever come to the food space making people feel like I am. Like my knife skills are lacking. I work fulltime running our foundation. This is a job that I do because I love it. It's a creative outlet for me, and it's problem solving, which is kind of my life mission. And so after my first, second, third, fourth book I was like 'I am done, I need to focus on Good+ Foundation. My kids are getting older. I can be all in and really help change the lives of families in this country in a totally different space than food.'
JESSICA: But what I kept realizing as I was getting older is that what I put in my body really affects me. And I am someone who struggles with autoimmune diseases. And so I had to really start watching what I eat. And the bottom line is I felt better eating less meat and eating less dairy and my health really changed. I grew up with parents who are really progressive. And in the '70s and '80s they were really progressive around food. And my parents were doing yoga in the late '70s and early '80s. And, I just have always grown up with this idea that whole foods are the way to eat and non-processed foods are the way to eat. And that has been, I think, my theme since the beginning. And so when I started feeling better after getting a few diagnoses around my health and really doing a lot of reading about how you can feel better when you have autoimmune diseases, it was undeniable, honestly. I just kept going and I started making my own meals for myself that were vegan a few nights a week, not every night. And my husband started to notice and he thought, 'wow, that looks really good. Look at all those colors on your plate. I know we're supposed to be eating like this because it's certainly in the ether.' Veganism is in the ether more than ever these days. And so he started paying attention to what I was eating and how I was feeling and I kind of indoctrinated him by accident. He was like 'I'll eat that tonight, I'll eat with you.' So that continued and we started sort of doing it halfway.
JESSICA: And then the pandemic hit. The meat processing plants closed down. And everything seemed to really align. And my partner in all of my books, Sarah, she and I had been working on lots of vegan recipes already. And when it was safe to get back together, we realized, like, we have a really great concept here, which is that Vegan At Times is great recipes. They're all vegan. But we do not believe in this absolutism around veganism.
MARTIE: I was going to ask you that because, you know, there is sort of an attitude that goes with being vegan or being vegetarian that some people find off-putting. I love the subtitle of this book '120 recipes for every day or every so often.' It kind of gives you a little bit of a break. You don't feel like this big giant mandate that you have to make a giant change forever
JESSICA: The judgmentalism around food on social media, especially, to me is a real problem. And I think it is harmful to people. Because going back to what I said earlier, there is such an emotional aspect of food. That has everything to do with how you grew up. And I think when you start judging people for the decisions that they make around food, you really strike a deep nerve in some people that I think is inappropriate and sort of unkind. And so I like to take food and make it accessible and kind.
MARTIE: Well, I love the recipes that you've got in the book because many of them are like make-ahead things. I love that. I like the way you organized it. You've got breakfast, meal time, quick fixes, dessert, and then essential sauces, dressings, et cetera. And sometimes I think people think that cooking in a vegan or vegetarian style cooking is really complicated and expensive, too. And from these recipes, I can say that it is absolutely not.
JESSICA: One of our tests — thank you, by the way, for saying that. That's all intentional. My muses are my sisters, who work full-time or are pulled in a million different directions and don't have a huge budget. And my friends from college who, you know, are just trying to put food on the table and oh yeah, we're all getting a little bit older and we'd like to eat healthier. We'd like to do better for the planet. We'd like to start eating less meat and less dairy. OK, how do I do it in a way that is like really easy and simple and doesn't make me feel bad. And that's really my mindset for everything that I do is how do you make people feel good about what they put on the table and how do they impress themselves and at the same time impress their family and friends. But I assume that everyone is starting from the very beginning. And my first book, Deceptively Delicious, was really modeled after the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls. And, I continued that theme with The Can't Cook Book, which is my third book, which I realized after Deceptively Delicious and Double Delicious, I needed to go back and do the prequel for all of those people who can't cook. So that Can't Cook Book mentality, which is, 'I'm going to assume that you don't know what you're doing,' and I carry that through all of my books
MARTIE: I have books from the '20s and even beyond that. And it's so funny to look through these old cookbooks because they'll say, 'make a white sauce.' Today, you could not say, 'make a white sauce.' Nobody would know what it was. Or 'make a bechamel.' OK, let me just whip one up. I happen to know how to make one, but I would have to say 99 percent of the people would have to look it up. So you do have to write assuming that whoever is reading the recipe is going to need every step. You can't really take the cheffy shortcuts and call things by name because most people don't know what that means.
JESSICA: Which is why I do the 'quickie' section.
MARTIE: I love that. And I love how you have it on your website, too.
MARTIE: That's awesome.
JESSICA: Thank you. But it doesn't have to be about cooking. It has to be about producing something or putting something together for those people who are just trying to wade into the kitchen for the first time or as we always say, like, take their shoes out of the oven in New York. Like a lot of people store newspapers and shoes in there.
MARTIE: Their sweater.
JESSICA: Oh yeah.
MARTIE: Carrie Bradshaw...
MARTIE: ...Would store her sweaters in the oven. I remember that.
MARTIE: Well, I think one of the things that you say you love to experiment and you like it when things don't work out because you usually get something new out of it. And I think that's a great attitude to take in the kitchen.
JESSICA: Again I feel that we put so much pressure on ourselves because we have all these TV shows that we watch or social media stars that we watch that make it all look so effortless and seamless. And, you know, that's just not real life and certainly not my real life. And I'm pulled in a million different directions. And so I'll skip a step in a recipe by accident because some kid has come in and asked me for something and I walked away. And then it's like, oh, shoot.
MARTIE: That's everybody but it's so nice to hear that as a cookbook author and a mom, that you have the same issues, too. Well, listen, I love the new book and what you've done here. But I think one of the things that I really want to emphasize is the feeling better part. Because I have noticed I've started having a lot of problems with arthritis and swelling, and my fingers hurting. You can't really cook if you can't use your hands. So I've followed some of the same practices that you did with this book and I've noticed a giant difference. And that's why I think this book is so important and books like this. Michael Symon had some of the same issues and he did a book called Fix It with Food. And he said, 'I was just shocked, I had no idea the giant impact food was having on me.' So I think that's the really important thing to get out to everybody who's listening. If you've got those little things starting to creep in, offset them now. You can do it with food. It is food-based, I think a lot of it.
JESSICA: It is. Food is medicine, as they say. And I guess the fanciest, most important restaurant in New York is called Eleven Madison Park. And they've just become a vegan restaurant.
MARTIE: I did not know this.
JESSICA: Yes. It's, it's, it's huge news in the food world and it's wonderful for the vegan community. And it sets such a great tone, but again, this is a process being a full-time vegan, which 100 percent I am not. It is my goal. But it's not one that I punish myself with at all because I know I am a work in progress and I know everyone I know is a work in progress. And having a goal in mind is great. But kindness and compassion towards yourself as you work on your goal is really the way I think we need to start living. Because of social media and all the things that we see around us that inspire us to do better, but at the same time also make us feel bad, a little kindness and compassion will go a long way.
MARTIE: Well, I love the fact that you, you use ingredients that are easy to find. I love that you've made it easy for people.
JESSICA: As we started to get rolling on this book, we decided that everything in this book, ingredient-wise, had to be accessible. The ingredients had to be either at — we shopped at K-mart, we shopped at Wal-Mart, we shopped at Target, we shopped at Publix. We shopped at all different regional stores and national stores and then the pandemic hit and whatever we couldn't get shopping-wise at that point, we could order on Amazon. So there's nothing in this book ingredient-wise that you cannot find anywhere. That was truly intentional, because making vegan food accessible not only with the ingredients, but also with the process is really what this book is about.
MARTIE: What's your most popular recipe with your family? What do they love when you cook?
JESSICA: Chicken Parmesan is really our meal. It's just one of these celebratory meals. And now that we've moved into a different space we are doing eggplant Parmesan, which is...
MARTIE: I was going to ask — yeah.
JESSICA: ...Not doing its thing with the kids. And they're slow to get there with us, it will happen and all I can do is encourage and try and offer things that might not be their first choice.
MARTIE: Because your kids aren't little kids anymore.
MARTIE: You've got like grown kids, almost.
JESSICA: Yeah. I am basically just a touchstone at this point. They just remember that they have a mother, but they're all out there on their own. Twenty, 18, and my — luckily, my 15-year-old still needs his mommy.
MARTIE: OK, so, you touched earlier on your other work, your foundation. I do want to talk about that for a minute. Tell me how it got started. And I know in its beginnings it was, it was really small and then it got giant. Tell me about what you do and why you do it.
JESSICA: Sure. Thank you for asking about it. My mom is a social worker and I grew up around the idea of being in service to others in this world in any way you can. And so when I had my first child, almost 21 years ago, I really couldn't get over how expensive it is to bring a kid into this world and afford all of those basic necessities, and then you also want to do better than basic necessities and have nice things and sort of feel like other people feel. And I really felt for the families that are already struggling in life and then they just want to experience the same joy that people do when they have children without the financial stress. And so I grew up with a lot of financial stress in my life. And I — when I married Jerry it was the first time in my life that I didn't have this, you know...
MARTIE: Cloud sitting there?
MARTIE: I know what you mean.
JESSICA: ...Just, just, just this heaviness in my chest and on my shoulders at all times. It's really how I started cooking anyways because I could never afford to go out to dinner with all my friends. And when I was in college, I, you know, put myself through school by working waitressing jobs and working in kitchens. And so that's really how I got close to food outside of cooking with my mom and my grandma. But, still, I just felt really compelled when I had my own child to support other mothers. While I had been in college, I had worked at the probation and parole office in my town and I had had a caseload of young women my own age who had young children. While I got to go home and, you know, see my roommates and kind of have a college life, I would always think about these young women who had young kids and had written bad checks to pay for food. And so I just felt like it was my opportunity to do something good in the world when I had Sascha and I created a pipeline of goods in New York City with families in need, full of stuff from families who had extras or had grown out of the things that they had. And we grew very, very, very quickly. And we started to realize that yes, mothers need support, but the well-being of children and their outcomes improves greatly when you bring fathers in. Whether they have a relationship with the mother or not, whether they're living with the mother or not, when we start to include fathers in that support system around the family things improve for the whole family. And so we've been doing incredible work around fatherhood over the past decade.
MARTIE: Listen, I'm a daddy's girl, and I can tell you 100 percent it does matter. It absolutely does matter. It's just so important for everybody to have that touchstone.
JESSICA: And it's so important for fathers to have that touchstone. It's so important.
MARTIE: 100 percent.
JESSICA: A lot of our dads in our programs have grown up in poverty and have only grown up around violence and stress and trauma. And so when they become fathers, they may make mistakes and they may not know how to handle it, and they may be triggered by things that remind them of their past. And so we can't keep writing them off.
MARTIE: That's right.
JESSICA: We have to give them an opportunity to change.
MARTIE: So your sort of mantra for your cookbooks has always been you're a problem solver for other people. And it sounds like that's exactly what you do with your foundation, as well.
MARTIE: Well, congratulations for doing that. And listen, if I can ever help in any way, if you're ever doing something and you need an extra set of hands, you let me know because it sounds like a wonderful organization to get involved with, The Good+ Foundation.
JESSICA: Thank you so much.
MARTIE: All right, let's change subjects. So I made your chocolate fudge cake. That is the most delicious cake.
JESSICA: Isn't it?
MARTIE: Oh my God.
JESSICA: From Food Swings?
JESSICA: That's our birthday cake. That's our classic.
MARTIE: It's such a good cake.
JESSICA: Thank you.
MARTIE: OK. So I don't know. So that's y'alls whole family gets that for birthdays?
JESSICA: Birthdays. We change up the frosting. Sometimes we do a peanut butter frosting.
MARTIE: Ooh, that sounds good.
JESSICA: It just depends on who it is. Depends on which child or parent.
MARTIE: Which one does Jerry get?
JESSICA: Jerry loves the peanut butter frosting and sometimes we put like those chocolate, um, I don't know what you call — they're like rice...
MARTIE: Those little, uh, crispy Rice Krispy things?
JESSICA: Yes, crispy. Chocolate covered Rice Krispies.
MARTIE: Yeah, I don't know what you would call those. I love those.
JESSICA: I put those in between the layers.
MARTIE: Oh, that sounds good.
JESSICA: Yeah. My daughter likes strawberries in there. It's just a Seinfeld classic.
MARTIE: All right. So I want to know like your typical family meal growing up. I know you said sometimes your mom had brown rice and tofu and things like that. What would a typical meal look like growing up in your family? And do you still make any of those recipes now, like family tradition things?
JESSICA: My mom did a lot of casseroles because she worked and commuted. And that was how she taught me how to cook, which was starting at a very young age. She would leave me Post-it Notes and say 'could you take this casserole out of the oven at five o'clock, turn on the oven and then put it in' — like, very specific Post-it Notes. And that's what got me really comfortable, as a child, cooking.
MARTIE: How about that?
JESSICA: Yeah. Someone had to do it. That was what got me really comfortable in the kitchen being needed. It was necessary that I helped my mom. And so a lot of my early cooking was heating up. She did a lot of casseroles like baked ziti and then she started with stir fries, which is where she and I diverged because I can't stand making stir frys. I think it's too much work.
JESSICA: It's too much work. There's too much chopping. I don't have time and so she would make a lot of stir fries. At first it was meat and chicken, and then she started to take away the meat and add the tofu. And that's when, you know, things started to feel really weird in my house when they started to turn.
MARTIE: But I do love in your book, you did dedicate the book to your mom and your daughter and you said, 'Thank you, Mom, for making me eat tofu and brown rice before anybody knew what it was.' I thought that was precious.
JESSICA: Thank you. We always come home, don't we?
MARTIE: We do. So what do you have any family tradition recipes like things that are still to this day, like a go to? Wither from your family or Jerry's family, or things you all have created together?
JESSICA: My grandmother had this thing for turnip. And so we have turnip every Thanksgiving because my grandmother died several years ago. But we have a pot of turnip on our Thanksgiving table every year and not one person touches it.
MARTIE: I'll come and I'll eat it. I love them. I love turnips.
JESSICA: I know. Me too. I don't know what the problem is.
MARTIE: I love turnip greens.
JESSICA: So good.
MARTIE: We have a lot of collards and turnip greens. So, yeah, I love them. I'll come. If you make some cornbread dressing, not stuffing, but dressing with the greens, people eat it.
JESSICA: That's a great tip. Ooh, I do a cornbread dressing.
MARTIE: I think those things are just important to keep them going.
JESSICA: I think, too, you know, I live in New York, where it's very easy to just pick up a slice of pizza on the street. And to solve your meal issues at Chipotle, or whatever it is, because it's so easy here in New York to just press a button and have things delivered. And what was so, kind of, I guess, heartwarming, if that's an OK word to use...
MARTIE: Yeah, I love heartwarming.
JESSICA: ...Around the pandemic, was that we cooked together, we cleaned up together, and we just had meal, after meal, after meal together. And it just really served as a reminder, I think, how important mealtime is with your family. And that process of cooking together and that process of cleaning up together. While it doesn't always go seamlessly and there are certainly fights around who does what. It still brought my family back to the table and back together in every sense. Because these kids are so used to, you know, going to the 7-Eleven after school and grabbing stuff. And everyone's working and back to work...
MARTIE: Not present.
MARTIE: Not present.
JESSICA: Yeah, so I think you're really right about this.
MARTIE: I hope we keep it going. I love the very first recipe in the book, the Sweet Oat Crepes. I was lucky enough to get an advanced sneak peek copy. And so I have made this already. I go to Argentina sometimes and they have like the panqueques, you know, like con dulce de leche?
MARTIE: The pancake filled with dulce leche? But you don't use eggs or anything like that in this recipe because it's the vegan book, ya'll, don't forget. She has other books, but this one is the vegan book. And it's called Sweet Oat Crepes. And then you use oat milk and you stuff it full of goodies like you put applesauce in there, and jam, and fresh berries, and the batter is just flour.
JESSICA: How easy is that recipe?
MARTIE: And the plant-based milk. It's just so easy.
JESSICA: I did it on purpose. I chose that recipe on purpose.
MARTIE: And I love that you stuffed the applesauce in there.
MARTIE: That was just so easy and it sweetened it. It made it so delicious. And it felt almost like a typical egg crepe and it had the same texture and feel to it but a better flavor. I loved it and I like that you can kind of customize it.
JESSICA: I chose that recipe on purpose as the first because it, I think, sets a tone for the rest of the book, which is whole foods but easily done.
MARTIE: I was lucky enough, y'all, to get a little sneak peek. That's why I wanted Jessica to come on and talk about it with me so the y'all could get your pre-orders in and you can start cooking right away. The minute you get the book, you'll jump in and, like I did, and make some of these things. But if you make them for dessert or you make them for breakfast, your family's going to love that recipe. And there's lots of others like that in the book. So I hope y'all will get the pre-order and Jessica, I'm just so thrilled you had time to jump on with us today. We've certainly enjoyed it and we cannot wait to get the book. And for all of you that are hesitant cooks out there, because I know some of you, you probably want to get The Can't Cook Book right this minute. 'Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified' because I know you're out there. This is a good one. It walks you through it. It makes it really easy. And she has the same sort of thing on her website where you can see it in process. So that kind of helps you if you're scared to cook or you think you can't, you really can.
JESSICA: Thank you so much. And this is my first experience talking about this book and with you it's been such a pleasure. And I'm so lucky that you had me on here. Thank you.
MARTIE: You can follow Jessica on Instagram and her new book, out October 12th, is Vegan, At Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often, and you can pre-order that right now. You can also learn more about her charitable organization at goodplusfoundation.org.
Stay tuned and I'll be joined by registered nurse and vegan food blogger Kelsey Riley. Kelsey's going to walk us through her journey into the world of plant-based food and I'll be right back with her, after the break.
MARTIE: Welcome back to Homemade. I'm Martie Duncan. You know the Allstars are the heart of the Allrecipes community. Today I'm going to get a little help understanding the big picture and the small details of a plant-based diet from Allrecipes Allstar Kelsey Riley.
Kelsey is an expert on the subject. She's adopted an exclusively vegan diet over two years ago and she's got lots of followers on Instagram, you may already follow her at @plantedinthekitchen. You'll find her feed full of lots of pretty and colorful photos of all the recipes that she's created. Kelsey, welcome to Homemade!
KELSEY: Hi, Martie. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast today. I am so excited to be here chatting with you.
MARTIE: Your Instagram is beautiful. You have so many pretty pictures of all the pretty colors. That has something to do with a vegan diet, doesn't it? You have to eat all the pretty colors, right?
KELSEY: You are very right. All the hard lifting and the hard work when we're talking about a plant-based diet, it's all done with all the natural fruits and vegetables. They're the shining stars. They're naturally bright and beautiful colors. So...
MARTIE: Well a lot of us have questions about a plant-based diet. You see it everywhere now. So help us understand a little bit more. Now, you're a registered nurse and how long have you been vegan or plant-based and what's the difference between those two?
KELSEY: I started my plant-based journey about two years ago. My husband came home one day and he told me that he was no longer going to eat meat. And my initial reaction was, you know, I was a little bit shocked. It felt a little bit over my head. I didn't really know where to start. And after doing a little bit of my own research, my husband and I both started our plant-based journey together.
MARTIE: I have to tell you as a farmer, I do grow a lot of my own things. We put up, we, you know, preserve, we get from other farmers and put up all summer long. Peaches, tomatoes, peas, corn — especially, corn — and blueberries. I grow blueberries. And I know a lot of those things are very important in a plant-based diet, but I don't know the difference between plant-based and vegan. And what does it mean to be vegan?
KELSEY: So a plant-based diet can also be used interchangeably with a vegan diet. And to be vegan, it's more of an all encompassing lifestyle. Where when we talk about being plant-based, we are just talking about the food that we're eating. So when you hear people saying a vegan recipe or a vegan meal versus plant-based, they're both the same thing.
MARTIE: I think a lot of times these days people are reluctant to embrace a plant-based diet because they think it's one of three things. They think it's hard to get, they think it's expensive, and they think it's boring. So how do you offset those challenges?
KELSEY: Well, I think that eating a plant-based diet is actually very inexpensive. And just like with any other type of diet that you'd be eating or shopping for, cooking, there are always going to be more expensive foods within that type of diet. But, you know, the heart and soul of a plant-based diet — you have fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, lentils. All of which are extremely cost effective and budget-friendly.
MARTIE: And another question I hear people say is, what about the protein? Where do I get the protein in a plant-based diet? So what are options for us, except for maybe like peanut butter, what are options for us when it comes to getting enough protein? Because we can't eat eggs.
MARTIE: And you don't eat meat. So where do we find the protein?
KELSEY: That's also one of the things that I looked into when I first started my transition to a plant-based diet. And I don't think we realize that so many naturally plant-based foods are high in protein. You know, broccoli...
KELSEY: ...Is a great source of protein.
MARTIE: I didn't know that.
KELSEY: Yes. I was just as surprised.
MARTIE: And I do love broccoli, especially roasted broccoli. It's one of my favorite things.
KELSEY: It's delicious. But broccoli, quinoa, beans, nuts — they're all so high in...
MARTIE: Dried beans or — is that what we're talking about?
KELSEY: Any type of beans, you know, if...
MARTIE: So you mean, like my Black Eyed Peas might have protein?
MARTIE: Oh, how wonderful.
KELSEY: It's good news. It's good news.
MARTIE: Yeah, yeah. So if you eat like a plant-based chili, for example, with just tomatoes and vegetables, you add in your, either kidney beans or black beans or whatever, then you're getting that as a protein source right there. Plus, you're getting kind of a fun thing to eat.
KELSEY: That's exactly right.
MARTIE: Doesn't have to be so serious. I saw some of your recipes and they looked kind of fun. Like I saw that sushi bowl. And I have to tell you, I'm not a big fan of sushi, but your sushi bowl has no sushi. You just use sushi rice. But you have all the rest of the components of the sushi. That looked pretty yummy.
KELSEY: Thank you so much.
MARTIE: All right. So what's your number one recipe of all the ones that you've developed and that you have on your website or you've shared through your social media? What's your number one recipe and what's your number one recipe on Allrecipes.com?
KELSEY: Oh, my number one recipe on my blog is my Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich.
MARTIE: I was going to ask you about that. It looks just like a chicken sandwich.
KELSEY: Absolutely. And, you know, I think so many of our vegan and plant-based meals, a lot of the flavors are coming from what we're choosing to season and flavor with. And that buffalo cauliflower sandwich so much of that great flavor comes from the buffalo sauce and...
MARTIE: Yeah, the seasoning — the same seasoning you would use for buffalo chicken wings or whatever.
MARTIE: OK so do you slice the cauliflower into like steaks and griddle it? Or how do you do it?
KELSEY: I slice them into steaks and then I dip them in, actually, plant-based milk. I use almond milk, but you can also use oat milk. And I bread them and season them, roast them in the oven, toss them in a little bit of buffalo sauce, roast them a little longer, and toss it between two buns with some tomato and lettuce and a little drizzle of vegan ranch and poof, you've got yourself a meal. Even in the past year, I've started to notice so many more vegan options, even vegan ranch options on the shelves of my local grocery stores.
MARTIE: I think it's because a lot of people have chosen to make this lifestyle switch. And so I think the markets are just keeping up with it. I guess it won't be long till we see those kinds of things in fast food restaurants, too, if I had to guess.
KELSEY: You're absolutely right. And I think we are starting to see so much of that already start to happen. And especially with burgers.
MARTIE: Now I will say the one thing that I was really confused by is that if you're vegan, you can't have honey. But I guess a bee is an animal, so you can't have anything comes from an animal essentially.
KELSEY: That's right.
MARTIE: So including honey.
KELSEY: Including honey.
MARTIE: I was shocked to find that out. I did not know that.
KELSEY: Yeah. I'd say in the vegan community, honey is a major thing that people are kind of on the fence about. Some people feel really passionate that it's not OK to eat honey. You will find some vegans that do eat honey. I don't. I find that there are so many simple substitutes. I usually just use maple syrup as a sub...
MARTIE: Or agave nectar is good.
KELSEY: Exactly. Delicious.
MARTIE: On your website it says you have a holistic approach to health and to wellness. So that is the main reason that you and your husband decided to take on a plant-based diet. So tell me what you found in this two-year period. How has your health improved? Or has it? Tell me what you've experienced as a result of going vegan.
KELSEY: You know, there are a number of reasons that someone would go vegan. And it's funny, actually, my husband initially went vegan for environmental reasons. And then after a little research I started to go vegan for the animals. And now it's kind of just this big mixture of reasons that we are vegan. And health reasons, that is really high up there. There are so many great health benefits of eating a vegan diet. And of course, you want to be careful because when most people think of a vegan diet, they're thinking of a whole food, plant-based diet. And that's a really big focus on our whole foods, our fruits, our vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, lentils. And that's what most people think of as a vegan diet. But there's also I mean, Oreos are vegan.
MARTIE: But graham crackers are not.
MARTIE: They have honey.
KELSEY: You got it.
MARTIE: I get all the s'mores. You can have the Oreos.
KELSEY: Deal. That's a deal.
MARTIE: What health benefits have you seen personally? What's changed? Or has anything changed?
KELSEY: I would say that there are a number of things that have changed, personally, when I went vegan. One thing being my digestive system. I feel that my digestive system works much smoother and better and, you know, I have less bloating. My skin has become much clearer. The biggest change I noticed in myself was when I stopped eating dairy and my skin became much clearer. I have struggled with eczema for the past eight years of my life and I actually no longer have any flare ups. And I just feel that I have really good energy. I didn't have many health problems to begin with but...
MARTIE: Yeah, you're pretty young.
KELSEY: Yep. I'm 28 so I don't have many health problems but...
MARTIE: But it's preventative, right? I imagine as an RN that you see all kinds of people in your profession who dietary choices have led to serious health issues. So you really have seen not just the physical things like the prettier skin, but you've seen an increase in your energy and most importantly, that eczema has not flared.
KELSEY: Absolutely. And I think for other people, some really big health benefits. You will see your cholesterol levels lower and it's preventative and can actually reverse certain types of heart disease.
KELSEY: And — seriously. And type 2 diabetes. And...
MARTIE: Well, I do know that about type 2 diabetes. I do know that it is very helpful. And if you're trying to maintain or help stave off, you know, an increasing problem with diabetes, that switching to a plant-based diet is very helpful.
MARTIE: All right. So, let's walk through like what a typical day looks like for a vegan, somebody who's, you know, passionately vegan. What's for dinner?
KELSEY: Dinner. My go to for dinner is my Peanut Noodle recipe.
MARTIE: That sounded so good. I saw it on your website. I thought that sounded great.
KELSEY: It is so good.
MARTIE: I love peanut noodles.
KELSEY: I could eat it three or four times a week and it's really easy. I make it with a lot of things that I already have on hand, a lot of things in my pantry, peanut butter, soy sauce. I use a little sriracha, freshly minced garlic...
MARTIE: What kind of noodles do you use?
KELSEY: Usually, I just use what I have on hand and I, usually, just use regular spaghetti noodles.
KELSEY: Um, but you could use any kind. A rice noodle would be delicious. And, you know, you're getting your protein there from your peanut butter.
KELSEY: And depending on what type of pasta or noodle you're using, there are also some types of pastas. You could go for a chickpea pasta or a brown rice pasta, and those have protein in them.
MARTIE: And now we're getting to the important part of the day. The dessert.
MARTIE: I have to know what do you do if you're vegan? What does dessert look like? I mean, you've got all the berries, you've got all the fruit. So I imagine, like, even apple pie is OK as long as you don't use any, like, egg wash or anything like that. I'm trying to think what else I put in my apple pie that could be off limits. But I think for the most part, it's all good. I never thought about it. It's vegan! I'm making a vegan apple pie!
MARTIE: Who knew? Oh, gosh. I'm so impressed. I just have to leave off the egg wash. Other than that, I can use something else for the egg wash.
KELSEY: There you go.It's so easy. And I think we don't even realize sometimes that so many foods that we're used to eating either are already vegan or can really easily be made vegan. And just like you're talking about with the apple pie. By making a teeny tiny substitution and change, you have a vegan dessert.
MARTIE: How about that?
KELSEY: It's so easy.
MARTIE: How about that?
KELSEY: My usual dessert — and let me tell you, I love dessert. My favorite things to make for dessert would either be a chia seed pudding or homemade ice pops.
MARTIE: Chia seed pudding. Tell me what that is.
KELSEY: So chia seed pudding is really easy to make. You use chia seeds. You can find them at your grocery store, usually in the health food section.
MARTIE: Do they look like sesame seeds? Are they little bitty?
KELSEY: They do they're little bitty. They do look just like sesame seeds. The next time you want to make this recipe, you head to the health food section of your store and all you need is chia seeds and some plant-based milk.
KELSEY: You can use almond, you can use oat. And you just use a little bit of, you know, vanilla or a little bit of...
MARTIE: How do thicken it?
KELSEY: So that's the cool part, it thickens itself.
KELSEY: So you mix the chia seeds with your plant-based milk and then again you put in any add-in if you want to do a little maple syrup to sweeten it. If you want to add a little bit of vanilla extract, and you just mix it together with a fork or a spoon and you cover it. Put it in the fridge for about, let's say, five-minutes and you'll see that the chia seeds are already starting to really absorb the nut milk. And you want to take it out and mix it again at that five-minute mark so it doesn't get too chunky, pop it back in the fridge for about an hour. And after that hour you have this pudding-like consistency.
KELSEY: It can be creamy. You can add a little bit of plant-based yogurt and that will make it even more creamy, and you flavor it however you want. I love to add fresh berries on top at the end. And it's sweet. It's delicious. It's vegan dessert.
MARTIE: I did see you mentioning on your social media about plant-based yogurt, which I didn't know was the thing. You said it's like a miracle. Why is that?
KELSEY: It is. Oh my goodness. You truly would not know that some of these plant-based yogurts are plant-based. They make them with all the plant-based options as a base. So instead of using dairy, they use an almond milk base or an oat milk base or a soy milk base, and they're delicious. You can get them in a plain, no flavor, or you can get them flavored just like any of your other yogurts. Sometimes I put some berries and granola on top and eat them. I love to mix plant-based yogurt into my overnight oats. It makes it so creamy, so delicious. And same with chia pudding. You can mix it right in there and it just adds this creamy, delicious consistency to it.
MARTIE: OK, what about cheese?
KELSEY: Cheese. That's hard for me as a vegan. I, I do miss the taste of cheese. And I, personally...
KELSEY: I know. I have not found a great vegan cheese just yet. If anybody has one they'd love to recommend, send it on over, please.
MARTIE: Yeah, shout out. Yeah, we want to know. Oh yeah. I have a hard time giving up cheese. Like my diet consists mostly of cheese and cheese. No. No, I'm just kidding.
KELSEY: I haven't found that great replacement for a cheese to just snack on. But I do make, you know, whether I'm entertaining or whether it's Sunday and my husband and I are at home watching some football and just want something to snack on. I make plenty of vegan snack boards where you have still your nuts, your seeds, your fruits, your vegetables, pita chips, hummus and just kind of omit the cheese.
MARTIE: Yeah, all good.
KELSEY: Right? And you'll never know you're missing it.
MARTIE: Listen, I want to thank you, Kelsey, for being with us today. You can find her @plantedinthekitchen on Instagram. She's got a great website. Y'all, if you're interested in a plant-based diet, I think she's made some very valid points to why we should consider it, even if it's just a part time thing. Maybe you don't have to dive all the way in, but, uh, getting more of those fruits, vegetables, grains, and things into our diet can't be a bad thing. So, Kelsey, thank you for giving us such a good education on a plant-based diet and plant-based living. And we have enjoyed having you. And we certainly appreciate you being one of our Allrecipes Allstars.
KELSEY: Thank you so much, Martie. It's been great talking with you today and I hope we can chat again in the future.
MARTIE: PlantedInTheKitchen is where you can find Kelsey online and you'll find some of her recipes on Allrecipes.com. I hope this episode has made you just a little more comfortable experimenting with a plant-based or vegan diet, even if it's just every once in a while.
Next week fashion designer to the stars, passionate farmer, and cookbook author Zac Posen joins me on the show.
ZAC POSEN: My dad's a painter, he's an artist, and I grew up in Soho, New York, and I'm a real, like, downtown kid. And my mom was a professional woman, so she worked, but it was really important to my father and the family that we all ate together — me, my sister, my mom and dad. And growing up in downtown New York you get to shop in Chinatown, and I think just their generation was really a generation of, like, a food culture explosion, you know, it was a really big part of my life. So I watched my dad cook, but weekends were reserved for, like, baking and having time with my mom.
MARTIE: You don't wanna miss it. Be sure to follow Homemade on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen, and please, I'd love your feedback. If you could rate this podcast and leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.
And don't forget, you can find thousands of recipes, meal ideas, and cooking how-to's from the world's largest community of cooks at Allrecipes.com.
This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and produced by AllRecipes with Digital Content Director Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Jim Hanke, Maya Kroth and Erica Wong.
I'm Martie Duncan … and this is Homemade.