Long time vegan and host of the PBS TV series “The Jazzy Vegetarian,” Laura Theodore, has just written a new book just in time for holiday gift giving. It’s called Vegan-Ease, a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to eat delicious food and get healthy. I recently talked to Laura about her journey to the vegan lifestyle.
- Ellen: How long have you been vegan and why?
Laura: I first gave up red meat in 1982, for both better health and for ethical reasons. I then began my journey toward becoming vegetarian, and then fully vegan. I have been vegan about 7 years.
2. Tell us about your previous books and what inspired you to write them?
I started writing my first cookbook in 1994. I had been creating recipes for many, many years and decided to start writing them down, so they could be shared. My first book, Jazzy Vegetarian, was inspired by the vegan recipes that I had been creating since the 1990’s, many based on vegan versions of my mother’s and grandmother’s omnivorous recipes. Jazzy Vegetarian Classics, was inspired by my continuing quest to veganize family favorites, while making them tasty, easy and delicious!
3. What inspired you to write this one?
I realized that I, like so many other people, struggle more and more to have enough time to get a healthy, plant-based meal on the table every night. So I decided to pen a book dedicated to sharing all of my quick and easy recipes, ideas and tips for making meals at home delicious and satisfying, but at the same time, reducing the time spent in the kitchen!
4. How have you best communicated your messages to the masses?
I feel so blessed to be able to communicate my passion and love for compassionate, vegan recipes on my Public Television show Jazzy Vegetarian, now in it’s 5th season! What a wonderful way to share the plant-based message all over the country!
5. In today’s world, we have some vegan groups screaming and chanting in front of Whole Foods and other establishments. What is your take on that and how do you believe we should most effectively be communicating the vegan message?
Peacefully, of course. As I mentioned, I personally feel blessed to be able to gently and effectively share the vegan lifestyle, through my books, podcast, television show, websites, lectures, cooking classes and social media.
6. What challenges have you had along the way and how have you overcome them? As we enter the holiday season, any good tips?
I think the biggest challenge these days for all vegans, is being accepted socially, particularly during the holiday season. Best way to overcome that challenge? Offer to host a holiday party yourself and serve easy, but impressive dishes! (That’s why I included an entire holiday chapter in Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease)! Going to an omnivorous party or potluck? Offer to bring a main dish casserole or big salad. Sharing vegan desserts are a nice way to spread plant-based cheer this time of year too!
7. If you had 3 take-away messages from this book that you would want readers to remember most, what would they be?
- Adopting a vegan diet can be easy, healthy and delicious!
- If you are a meat-eater and strive to be vegan, start by adding one vegan meal every week to your weekly menu plan and expand from there.
- Vegan desserts are the best desserts in the world. Most taste better than dairy and/or egg based versions! That’s why I have included two dessert chapters in the new book! And…one dessert chapter includes only recipes needing 5-ingredients or less!!!
8. What’s your fav recipe from the book and why?
Oh my! I certainly could never choose – I love them all! However, with the holidays upon us, I am a big fan of my Pumpkin Cheeze-Cake! YUM!
Laura Theodore’s Pumpkin Cheeze-Cake recipe:
Pumpkin Spice Cheeze-Cake
(Makes 8 to 10 servings / Ease Factor 3)
This delicate yet rich-tasting cake makes the perfect dessert for any winter holiday event. Served with a generous dollop of Vegan Whipped Topping (page 201), this cheeze-cake will be dressed to impress!
1¾ cups cookie crumbs (ginger cookies work well)
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
2 tablespoons rolled oats
14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu
1 can (about 16 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin purée
2⁄3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons cookie crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally coat a 10-inch round springform pan with vegan margarine.
To make the crust, put 13⁄4 cups cookie crumbs and the melted margarine in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a fork until well combined. Pat the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.
To make the filling, put the rolled oats in a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Add the tofu, pumpkin purée, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and allspice and process until smooth and creamy.
Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes, then carefully run a table knife around the perimeter of the cake to ensure it does not stick to the side of the pan.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cookie crumbs evenly over the top of the cake, gently pressing them into the top, so the crumbs adhere. Release the side of the springform pan to unmold.
Cover the cake very loosely and refrigerate 3 to 24 hours before serving. Serve with Vegan Whipped Topping (page 201) on the side, if desired. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, leftover cheeze-cake will keep for about 2 days.
Laura Theodore’s latest book is Vegan-Ease. You may order it by clicking on this link: