I few months ago I had the opportunity to review the cook Vegan 101 which is probably one of the most practical books you could own due to the simplicity of its recipes that result in delicious food.
The cookbook was created by sisters, Jenny Engel and Heather Bell, who own the Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company Spork Foods.
Recently, Global Looking Glass has the pleasure of asking Heather Bell co-owner of Spork Foods a few questions.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and what inspired Spork Foods?
We had always wanted a family business, since we’re sisters and both had a passion for veganism, we thought teaching would be a great way to mesh our passions.
What inspires you?
What we find inspirational changes all of the time, but what holds true is knowing that our business is helping to provide compassionate eating choices and education for our students, and then they may be inspired to share their knowledge and meals with others – creating a nice ripple effect. We love animals and value our planet, so feeling a connection with others who share these values, or want to learn more is inspirational too!
What do you love most about teaching your cooking classes?
We love being able to have our own business where we can determine what to teach, when and how. We love all of the challenges, and exciting moments that come with working for ourselves, together. We call each other boss.
Do you have a memorable teaching moment?
There are so many extremely moving and powerful moments that have taken place over the years. We’ve had marriage proposals in here, we’ve seen people become best friends through meeting in class, and we’ve seen peoples’ eyes open to making healthier, more compassionate food choices. To pick just one moment is too tricky.
How did your book come about?
Vegan101 was created because since we run cooking school, the school theme was a natural fit for a cookbook! We are also always getting requests for simple, yet delicious recipes, so Vegan101 has all of our more beginner recipes, with some information about making the transition to eating more plants.
Do you have a favorite recipe in your book?
Our Parmesan Orzo Salad with Toasted Pecans and Cranberries is one of our favorites since it’s really quick to make, but has a lot of flavor from the combination of all of the ingredients. (We would be happy to provide you with the photo and recipe if you’d like).
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about vegan cooking?
People may think vegan cooking is time consuming and complex because you do need to stock up on a few more pantry staples and ingredients than you may be used to. But once you get some of these items, you can throw together really great meals in a very short amount of time. There’s also no need to marinate anything overnight, or worry about lots of bacteria and salmonella found in other non-vegan foods.
For the new vegan cooks out there what are some essential vegan ingredients and products that they should always have on hand?
Fresh fruits and vegetables are always our go to ingredients to make any meal complete. If you’re looking to be able to make a wide variety of dishes quickly, go to the bulk bin and grab lentils, rice, beans and a few other dry ingredients that can store for a long time – that way when you need to put together a meal, you have a great start in no time. For some of our favorite products, Vegenaise is a staple in our refrigerators, because it’s delicious and rich, and we also have Earth Balance as well for when a recipe needs a buttery kick.
What are your favorite ingredients to work with?
We love working with seasonal ingredients, so depending on the time of year, we grab whatever is fresh.
Since becoming vegan how have you evolved?
Wow well this question is awesome, and to answer it fully would be a 17 year story, since that’s how long ago we made the switch. Just by being a part of the vegan community, you have a connection with people around the world who feel that compassion towards animals is important, and that is really powerful. Seeing how others live compassionately, and deciding to have our passion also be our business, allows us to keep striving to expand our business and personal relationship with veganism because there’s always more to accomplish for the animals and planet.
What is your vegan food guilty pleasure?
Vegan Ice Cream and Donuts (We’re looking at you Scoops and Donut Friend).
What is it like having a celebrity clientele?
Celebrities who are looking towards veganism are very much like our other clients. They’re just trying to make healthy choices, or choices that aren’t harming animals. What’s so wonderful about celebrities making the choice to be vegan advocates is that their fans really look to them as role models so they’re making such a huge impact on so many lives by being open about their choices. We love that, and want to help them along in any way we can!
What are some vegan items you always have in your purse or bag?
We love vegan fashion, so our bags are Matt and Natt handbags, with some Cri De Coeur wallets inside! Since snacks are important, and we do a lot of traveling, we always carry Pistachio Chewy Bites. They’re small, very pure pistachio bars that can keep the hungries at bay, and they’re made by a family owned business, which we love. We also always have Hurraw lip balm, and some Bare Bones Body Care moisturizer on hand too. We like big purses.
Do you have a favorite vegan t-shirt or company?
Thug Kitchen has some of the cutest, and wittiest apparel and vegan goodies on their site – so we’re big fans. And we love them as people.
What are you currently reading?
Mostly baby books at the moment since we both have pretty new little ones.
Courtesy Images: Spork Foods