I love cookbooks that offer interesting ways to cook familiar recipes while addressing the need to put healthy meals on the table despite our hectic lives as well as the need for economical ingredients that stretch to feed the whole family. What an added bonus it is to have a book that also offers hearty recipes without the meat for those days we want to skip it, or simply to try something a little different than what we’re used to. That’s why I love The Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook by Kathy Hester.
I met Kathy last May at the Eat Write Retreat in Washington, D.C. after hearing the buzz that the author of this book I was already familiar with was actually sitting among us. She is humble and sweet and very dedicated to showing the readers of her blog, Healthy Slow Cooking, how to make everything from main meals to desserts in a way that is healthy. She also offers food demos, tastings and book signings so check out her site to see if she’ll be visiting your area any time soon.
I interviewed Kathy to get the scoop on what it’s like to cook vegan and how we can do it, too, even if that’s not the way we eat every day. Read on and enter to win her cookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker, at the end. Trust me, you’ll use it…
MHK: What prompted you to cook vegan? I became a vegetarian when I was 18, almost 20 years ago. For me, I grew up being disconnected from where my food came from. Once I made those connections I realized I wanted to cause as little suffering as possible, so I decided to not eat meat.
While I decided to go vegan for moral reasons, some people do it for health reasons or just to add more variety to their diets. I call myself the non-judgmental vegan because I love to introduce everyone to new foods and cooking healthier no matter what they choose to eat.
MHK: What would you say is one of the most common misconceptions about vegan food? That it doesn’t taste good. Vegan food is food that you already eat. The joke is if you offer someone an orange in one hand and a “vegan” orange in the other, people will always choose the one you said isn’t vegan.
HESTER: Something as simple as a salad with farmers market fresh veggies and a homemade balsamic is a vegan dish that everyone eats and loves. So vegan doesn’t have to mean something odd, it can revolve around familiar foods you already love.
MHK: What would you say to the people who feel that vegan cooking is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to do on a regular basis? If you cook everyday it’s no harder vegan. If you don’t eat a lot of fresh veggies it will add a little time to your prep to being with. There is a good bit of chopping, but if you have a food processor you can use those shortcuts to make you meals quicker than ever before.
HESTER: If adding new foods to your menu rotation makes you a little nervous, do it one dish a month or a week. It’s easier to get your family onboard of they know it’s not an all or nothing change. And we can all use more veggies in our diets.
MHK: In your book, The Vegan Slow Cooker, you give a lot of details about how to use a slow cooker- is this kitchen appliance making a comeback in American homes?
Hester: It’s amazing how big the resurgence of slow cooking is. I’ve noticed more and more main stream and healthy slow cooker recipes popping up on food blogs.
The perception that the slow cooker is only for a big piece of meat and must contain a can of cream of mushroom soup had really fallen by the wayside. In addition to the recipes on my blog, HealthySlowCooking.com, there is another blog dedicated to slow cooking with fresh ingredients –SlowCookerFromScratch.com.
MHK: How would you suggest a slow cooker be used in order used to maximize time in the kitchen, particularly for those people who are out of the house all day long?
HESTER: I work a f/t job during the day and do my freelance writing in the evening, so I completely understand how hard it can be to fit in a from scratch dinner every day.
For me prepping many of my ingredients the night before makes it so much easier to wake up and start a slow cooker meal. It really only takes about 20 minutes of work every night to get ready for the next day.
Almost any soup or stew can be cooked in a slow cooker for 8 to 10 hours. That makes them perfect for long work days. Plus, after a long day of work you come home to a ready to eat dinner!
MHK: Thank you so much for all of your insightful information to slow cooking and how easily we can incorporate this into our busy schedules. Is there anything else you’d like to leave us with?
Hester: In addition to writing my blog, HealthySlowCooking.com, I’m working on 2nd new cook books that will be coming out next year. If all goes as planned one will come out in the summer and the other in the fall.
If you want to hear about recipes as I post them you can follow me on twitter @geekypoet or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/veganslowcooker
About the Giveaway
Kathy is giving away one copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker.
To enter, please read our Official Giveaway Guidelines page first then add a relevant comment answering the question below in order to be entered. Entering indicates you have read the guidelines. Giveaway ends at 12:01 am on August 23, 2012.
If you’re a vegan, what kind of recipes do you cook on a daily basis? If not, would you consider incorporating one or two vegan recipes into your weekly meals- why or why not? Do you find it a bit challenging to do?