You’re being really treated in this post! I am bringing you a fantastic interview with Rita Serano. Rita has just realised her first vegan cookbook, Vegan in 7, which we are also going to give one lucky reader a copy of too! ( see details at end of post ) Along with this, Rita has kindly shared with us one of the recipes that didn’t make the cookbook, Fried Cauliflower Rice ( served above with Portobello Satay and Peanut Sauce from Page 65 ).
Health reasons. As a young adult I got an auto immune system illness, which I was told I had to live with. Not happy with that answer I started to look into natural healing and got into cleansing and a raw vegan diet. With doing intense cleansing and this diet it cleared fairly quickly and never came back (that’s more then 20 years ago now).
Growing up I was a raised on a macrobiotic diet, so I never really ate meat or dairy. Only hitting puberty I went a bit mad on chips, ice cream and soda’s. All the heavy processed stuff high in sugar, fats and dairy. When I got the auto immune disease I had a wake up call and cleaned up my diet. It was quite drastic as I had a very good reason, I wanted to be as healthy and energetic as I possible could get. In the same period I was doing kung fu training, almost 20 hours a week. In such a demanding time you notice straight away if you put garbage in your body or not. So I quit eating anything processed. That includes everything that is marked vegan as well. When something has a label ‘vegan’ on it, it doesn’t mean it is healthy! My Uncle who was vegan already when I was a child (in the seventies and eighties), walking on clogs and being all fanatic, died very young in his late fifties. His diet was high in fats (he ate vegan chips a lot for example) and very low in real food. My focus has always been on wholesome vegan food, high in starches and no refined sugars. I am eating a animal free diet for almost twenty years now.
Since it is winter I live on curries, stews and soups. As long as they are filled with seasonal veggies, grains and beans I am happy.
I really eat out to be honest. As a mum of a 6 year old that has to go to school it is not practical. But Amsterdam has some juice or salad bars where we eat when we visit the big city. If we are in France we never eat out since veganism is still not so common over there. Especially on the country side it is impossible.
That has to be Pure Food and Wine in NYC, but that has got to be 15 years ago. Raw veganism was not known in Europe and when I went to NYC I had to dip in the raw culture. That restaurant together with Angelica’s kitchen are still in my memory. And a couple of restaurants in Amsterdam Shizen (which is closed now) and small caterer shop called Olive and Cookie.
I am really into slow, sustainable fashion. I used to work in fashion so my focus is on buying good quality that might be a bit more expensive but will last longer. I have a small basic wardrobe and there are some items in it that are already over 10-15 years old. But with care they can last that long. If I buy something I buy either a brand that I know fits me second hand (there are lots of people out there that buy something and hardly wear it and resell online) or when I really want to treat myself I buy from a company called Not Perfect Linen. This is a small family run business that make beautiful linen clothing, which I love. The hardest thing for me is finding good shoes that are not only vegan, but also ethical and sustainable. Which I find really, really hard. Since I still have really old leather shoes that are still in good shape I wear them and repair them. So any advice out there, since I am also cutting out plastic in my life. Would love to learn about sustainable vegan brands that I am not familiar with!
Actually I feel a vegan budget, especially if you buy in season produce and bulk up on dry goods such as grains, beans and nuts, is the cheapest in the world. Look at the the traditional cucina povere from Italy for instance, the diet has a lot of grains, beans and veggies. No money for parmesan cheese so they invented roasted breadcrumbs with garlic. That is just one example of a so many food cultures that have a vegan/plant based basis in their food culture.
I eat a high starch low fat diet so staples are oatmeal porridge for breakfast in winter, for a lunch either leftovers, soups that are filled with lots of veggies, beans and grains or a salad with a big scoop of hummus and some bread on the side. At night we rotate a lot between family favourites that change with the season. So in winter, curries and a lot of oven-roasted veggies with grains and salad or dahl, which my girl loves. In summer we tend to eat more salads and quick food like pasta or ramen. This way we can spend as much time outside as possible. And I always like to do some periods of clean eating during the year too. The focus then is on juices and fruits and letting the body detoxify with herbs. I really love the ones from dr.Schulze. His bowel, liver and kidney cleanses I find the most effective and easy (and I have tried a lot).
Since I have been a former make up artist that was very conscious of what we are putting on our faces and our bodies I have quite a few. For general body care I love Pure ‘n Stuff, a company from the UK that is affordable, has great ingredients and is wonderful for the most sensitive skins. Make up brands that I love are German Sante, wonderful colors, modern items and really, really affordable: Logono. I also like home made care, baking powder used as toothpaste or deodorant. Coconut oil (only used exterior) as a body cream or hair treatment.
A dress from not perfect linen that in summer I can dress up or down with a linen belt and in winter I layer it over a t-shirt with long sleeves and and a skinny jeans.
A lot of friends and family are really supportive and by tasting and seeing great food they really add more vegan dishes into their diet. Also people that have been following my health story are really inspired by that and are moving towards a more plantbased diet. So in that sense I am really lucky.
It’s a cookbook that basically has lots of recipes that I have been cooking over the years. They are all refined sugar free and over 95% without added oils. I love to cook wholesome food that is in season and is great for our health. To make it easy I reduced the ingredients to a maximum of 7 ingredients. Just to show people that vegan, wholesome, healthy food made from scratch is very easy and doable!
I believe that people in general are getting more aware of the importance of eating a vegan diet. There are people that come from the animal standpoint. The last few decades meat consumption has grown immensely. Conditions that they are held in are becoming worse and worse, with scary diseases that are the immediate result of this- like mad cow disease. People are looking to eat less or no animal products. But also from a health stance, people aren’t getting more healthy. Countries that follow a western diet, with lots of animal products, highly refined and processed foods have a large increase of disease like heart problems, obesity and cancer to name a few. People are searching for a way to eat more healthy and feel more energetic. But also for the health of the planet it is vital to eat vegan,. The pollution that is a direct result of all the animals that are held for human consumption is far worse then all the emmission of cars, for example. Social media has helped raise awareness, but also documentaries like Forks over Knives and Cowspiracy all have contributed to more awareness towards this subject.
Let’s say that it already would be a fantastic that people realise that we don’t need to eat animals. I have read that all grains that is grown for animal food could feed the entire world for more then two years! So I am for a wholesome diet that can feed the whole world, that makes us all feel better- animals, humans and the earth. I am creating my own vegan family, getting friends and people inspired towards eating vegan and if we all do our part we are most definitley changing the world in the right direction.
Raised as a buddhist, I think we should respect every life form, we should take care of each other because we are all connected on this planet and with this planet.
Fried Cauliflower Rice
- I head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 200g peas, fresh or frozen
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3-4 tablespoons Asian Sweet and Spicy Sauce ( page 163 of the book )
- 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
- 200g Smoked tofu, can substitute with plain firm tofu- cut into small cubes
- tamari or coconut aminos to taste ( optional )
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted or raw
- 1 pepper, deseeded and diced
- Grate the cauliflower with a box grater or pulse in a food processor until it reaches rice like consistency.
- If you are using frozen peas, put them into a heat proof bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- Put a large pan or wok on medium high heat. Add the cauliflower rice to the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir frequently. After 2 minutes, add chopped garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Add the sauce, peas, spring onions and tofu, and tamari or aminos if using. Stir until well mixed.